Full Text for Romans- Volume 10 - Romans 1: Call and Ordination, and the Obedience of Faith (Video)

No. 10. >> Would you mind spending a little more time talking about Paul's introduction to this epistle in Romans 1 Verses 1 through 7? I have a particular question in mind, too. It has to do with the idea of a call. How does Paul's call compare or contrast with the calling that the Roman Christians received or the calling that all Christians receive today from the Holy Spirit? And as long as I'm on this topic, I might as well ask: Is the call Paul received the same as the call we will receive following our ordination? Oh, and finally, what is meant by the words: The obedience of faith, in Romans 1 Verse 5. >>PROFESSOR DAVID I. M. LEWIS: Well, Eric, thank you. Your question now actually allows us to get into reading and interpreting Romans. We've been doing this a little bit already looking at Romans 1:16 and 17. But the opening of this epistle is a part of the epistle that I think we ought to look at more closely. And so I read from the ESV: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his Son who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ our Lord through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all of the nations. Including you who are called to belong to Christ Jesus. Wow. I remember when we introduced the epistle and we talked about the opening to the epistles, and that one thing the author would do was identify himself as the author. Well, you know in most secular epistles all the author had to do was to state his name. Here it would simply be Paul. Yet Paul takes up what amounts to be six verses with that simple thing, with identifying himself as the author. Well in doing this Paul identifies himself further by explaining that he is a servant of God. And that he was set apart to be an apostle -- he was called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God. And then Paul gets into what this Gospel is about. This kind of references that earlier question. But this Gospel is about Jesus who was true man descended from King David. But who was also shown to be the Son of God by power according to the Spirit by his resurrection from the dead. And through whom Paul has received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the nations. And thus, here Paul is again right away establishing his authority as an apostle and also his responsibility as an apostle to preach this Gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles. And so you might say in a sense Paul has hit the deck running in this epistle. Before he even gets into the epistle proper, just identifying himself he gives us a long presentation about who he is and even more about what the Gospel is and what the Gospel is about. Well, Eric, you asked what does it mean -- what is Paul called to? Well, we see here again that Paul was called and set aside to be an apostle. And namely, that means he was to preach the Gospel of God's Son Jesus Christ among the nations. That was his call. And it's very expansive and wide call that Paul received. Paul was not called specifically to preach in one congregation here in this place to these people. His commission was very broad. It was to basically bring the Gospel to the Gentiles wherever they might be. Which again is one reason why Paul believes he has both the authority and the responsibility to write this epistle to those who are in Rome. Well, let's go on. Verse 7 Paul identifies his audience. To all those in Rome who are loved by God, and note, called to be saints. Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And so in identifying his audience, Paul identifies those who are loved by God and those who are called to be saints. And so Eric, you bring out this duality of calls that Paul is called to be an apostle. The Christians in Rome are called to be saints. And now who is the one who called Paul? It was God. Who is the one who called the saints in Rome? It was God. But notice that there's a unique call that each receives. Paul's call is that very broad authority and responsibility to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Now, what are the Christians in Rome called to? That's a good question. Well, Paul says they are called to be saints. In other words, they are called to be holy ones and here we get that aspect of holiness. What does it mean to be holy? Well, in the Old Testament sense in a very basic way, that which is holy is that which has been set aside from everything else. And so God calls Israel holy because of all of the nations he chooses them, makes them his people, gives them the torah and then sets them aside in distinction to everybody else. And so what does it mean to be a saint today, to be a holy one? Well, those who have been loved by God, those who have been saved by God, have received the Holy Spirit. They are holy in that they are now unique. They are now God's people set aside. And in being called to be a saint, they are actually set aside to live a holy life. So you might say that Paul is saying: I have been called to preach the Gospel to the nations as an apostle. You in Rome, you've been called to lead a holy life. And of course that holy life you might say begins and ends with faith in Jesus Christ. But in the middle there's all the things that go with that. And so in referencing what the people in Rome have been called to, probably that part of Romans that speaks more specifically to that way of life would be the great exhortation section that begins in Romans 12 Verse 1. That the saints in Rome are -- they've been called to be saints. That means they have been called No. 1, to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But then No. 2, to live accordingly. To live in light of the mercy and grace that they received. We'll see in Romans 12 they've been called to present their bodies to God as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is a very great call to be a saint. But they are called to this holy way of life. And that way of life is outlined in the exhortation section of Romans 12 Verse 1 through Romans 15 Verse 13. Now, this becomes very key for you, Eric, because when you preach to your people and you tell them about the calling they have received, you shouldn't be afraid to reference the holy life that Jesus speaks about, that the Apostle Paul speaks about, and that the other New Testament authors speak about, too. That we as Christians have been called to faith in Jesus. And once we have that faith, we have been called to a way of life which is to be modeled after the exhortations that Paul gives and that in fact our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives us, as well. We should not be afraid to tell people: This is what God is calling you to. He's called you to be saints. He calls you saints. And that is what you are, holy through what Jesus Christ did. But in calling you to be a saint, he's called you to this pattern of life. Now I think often we Lutherans are a little reluctant to talk about that holy life. Well, we shouldn't be. Because if we're people of the Word, the Word definitely presents this call to us and to our people. And so we shouldn't be afraid to exhort or people to live as disciples, to live as God's children. To live as saints. That's what they are by grace. We shouldn't be afraid to call them to live accordingly. Often there's a lot of reluctance I think in Lutheran circles to do this. But I think we should be a little more bold in doing that. And in doing that of course always reference God's grace. Often we fall short of what we should be doing as saints. When we fall short, what are we called to do? Well to confess our sins and to believe in God's promise of forgiveness. But once God picks us up from stumbling, we're on the path of the saint once again. So it's very key, Paul was called to be an apostle. The Christians were called to be saints, to be God's holy people who are holy because he says they are by his grace and who are then to live accordingly. To live a holy pattern of life. Well, now, Eric, you challenge me with an additional question about what this means for you. Well, Eric, I could point out first that you, too, by virtue of your baptism and by virtue of your faith in Jesus Christ just like the people in Rome have been called to be a saint. And once we consider our calls to be saints, we realize how hard it can be in this earthly life to always follow the pattern that Jesus and his apostles have sat down for us. Which is why we always need to go back to God, confessing our sins and constantly need to be reminded of the Gospel, that is the power of God for saving those who believe in Jesus Christ. But with your ordination will come another call. You, Eric, and all of you other students will be called specifically to preach the Word of God. Now, in some ways, your call is very different from that of the Apostle Paul. He was called to be a man of the Word, to be a preacher. But he was one of those unique men who was given the office of apostle. And as I mentioned before, that office has not been repeated again in the history of the church. In other words, Paul had the authority being called directly by Jesus to speak in Jesus' name as if Jesus were speaking. And his ministry was very broad. It embraced all of the Gentiles, wherever they might be. You will receive a call not to be an apostle but to be a pastor. And your job, however, is very similar to that of Paul's. You will not be called immediately by Jesus. You will be called what we say mediately, by the Holy Spirit through the church. Nevertheless, you will have the authority and the responsibility where you are called and placed at that congregation where you are serving, you will have the authority and the responsibility that Paul had to preach the Gospel to those people who are there. So you're not an apostle personally called by Jesus. However, you are a pastor called by Jesus through his church. And so what you share with Paul and his calling is the authority and the responsibility to be a man of the Word, preaching the Word of God, exhorting your people to be saints. And especially declaring to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, Eric, in addition you asked about the meaning of those words, the obedience of faith. Turning back to Romans 1. This seems to be the goal of Paul's apostolic ministry when we read through this again. He says: Through whom, through Jesus, we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations. And the ESV gives us a very literal translation. What we see in the Greek is literally the obedience of faith. Now, what does that mean? It's actually -- this is actually -- these are actually difficult words. And there are different interpretations of these. And I will give you two standard interpretations. The first one is that the obedience of faith is actually the faithful life that follows believing. In other words, the people in Rome, these Christians are saints. That is what they are when they believed in Jesus. They are God's holy ones. Well, the obedience of faith then would be the faithful life that follows upon becoming a Christian. God calls you to faith in Jesus. You believe in him. You're saved. What happens next? You now obey God. You live for God. You follow that pattern of exhortation that we will find later on in Romans 12 Verses 1 through 15 Verse 13. This is one interpretation of the obedience of faith. Another interpretation is that the obedience of faith is simply the response of believing the Gospel. Let me say that again. Some people interpret the obedience of faith here as simply this is the response that when the Gospel is proclaimed to you, you believe it. That would be what you should do when the Gospel comes. The proper response is to believe the Gospel. To have faith in Jesus. And so some people say the obedience of faith is simply responding that way, believing in Jesus. Now, does -- are these words are used together, obeying the faith? Well, there is one place in the Book of Acts, Chapter 6:7. Let me turn to that passage. Here in Acts 6 Verse 7 this is a summary statement in the Book of Acts. And it says the Word of God continued to increase and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem. Now listen to this third part: And a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. Now, what does it mean when it says a great many priests became obedient to the faith? Well, all that means is that they believed the Gospel. They believed in Jesus. And so obeying of the faith was simply believing. And that this was one way that you would talk about coming to faith is obeying the faith, responding to the Gospel in the right way. And so your question about what does obedience of faith mean? Here are two common interpretations. No. 1: The obedience of faith refers to the faithful life that the Christian lives once they have been saved and called to faith. No. 2: It could simply be the response of believing the Gospel. And so Paul says that he received apostleship for the obedience of faith. He could be saying so that people who are called to faith would then lead a Godly life. If you go with interpretation No. 1. Or so that when he preaches the Gospel, people would simply respond by believing the Gospel. That would be interpretation No. 2.