I just began studying Romans again, and I was struck by Paul’s train of thought regarding grace.
Through [Jesus] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles, including you who are also called by Jesus Christ. (1:5-6)
We have received grace to bring about the obedience of faith
Paul spends a great deal of time in this letter defining the vocabulary of our belief. In Romans, grace brings us completely into God’s favor through the mediating work of Jesus. When God says, “What about sinful John Smith?” Jesus replies, “Don’t look at him look at me. His identity is forever wrapped up in who I am.”
Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God…Faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. – Martin Luther, Preface to Romans
We are saved from sin for a purpose. Our salvation by grace is evident through actionable obedience to God calling us out of our old life.
…for the sake of his name…
Individuality is sacred today. Everyone must be free to express themselves and pursue their own interests. But salvation is not about us. It’s not for our joy and success. It is for the glory and honor of God. It’s so that he would be the focus of all respect, recognition, and honor. Paul, wants us to see from the very beginning that the purpose of our salvation and our call to evangelize is rooted in God’s glory and fame.
…among the Gentiles…
God’s interest in us doesn’t stop with our conversion. He wants our changed lives to be contagious and multiplying. When Paul talks about Gentiles here, he means those who haven’t heard about YHWH, the God of the Bible. Many of Paul’s fellow workers were still struggling with the idea of crossing the cultural divide between Jew and Gentile. But the gospel is for all, especially those who have never heard and few are working to reach.
…including you who are also called by Christ Jesus.
The message of Romans is not just for the lost. It’s been used as an effective evangelism tool for years because of its foundational truths on the human condition and the process of salvation. But our contagious grace and our life of faith must be seen by those in the church. The building up of the church and the strengthening of believers is God’s plan for evangelism. We must understand these words like law, gospel, grace, and faith. They must be a source of joy and strength in our church people.
Your personal salvation is not the conclusion of grace. The impact of grace in your life ripples out into your church and community. It has lasting, eternal impact for the glory of God.