14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Good news is only good news in contrast with bad news. If there is no bad news, then good news is not necessary. But all do not agree on the bad news even. So, that is where we need to start, with the bad news. Paul will spend the majority of the next two chapters on the bad news. That makes the good news good. So, let’s begin by talking about problems with the way that people view reality.
- Worldview Problems
Every person decides their own worldview. What you believe does have an impact on me, so there is social pressure. My high school humanities teacher used to say, “You pay your money and you take your choice.” Or, like the old beer commercial, “You only go around once in life, so grab all the gusto (enjoyment or vigor in doing something) that you can. That’s a hedonistic worldview. It has its positive arguments. Paul mentions Greeks, non-Greeks, wise and foolish. I think what he means by this is that there are people who are rational and have thought out their worldview, and there are folks who are along for the cultural ride and just act out whatever they feel. Those people are still around today!
- Greek problems: Rationalism
There is nothing wrong with being rational. But, rationalism as the basic fundamental truth claim has some real weaknesses. The fact that we are even talking about an issue this morning, that we would reason together, is rooted in rationalism. But there is something behind our trust in rational faculties! There is a place of greater epistemology. Pistis: faith. How we know what we know.
- Whose rational faculties are securely perfect?
- Is there a source of knowledge that is not based in personal discovery? See, we change?
- Presuppositions are everything! Is there a God?
- If there is a God, then rationalism is under Him, If there is no God, then you are not safe from the tyranny of the thinking of others. Stalin, Mao, Hitler. They all have arguments.
Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self- evident: They are NOT! That is a Biblical truth, that all men are created equal in the sight of God. In no single way are we equal. And it’s not hard to see ways in which the world would be better off without some people.
- Jewish problems: Legalism
God as the ultimate source of our existence.
God as the definer of all that is good.
God as the judge of our lives.
Human effort in keeping the law as the source of being right with God. (Source of being right with God is the definition of righteousness.)
Again we get to human abilities and we fall short!
- Agnostic problems: I won’t decide
There are lots of different people in the world who are really bright with different ideas. They share a lot of similarities. Since there is no real consensus, then I don’t feel the need to decide for myself. Even if I did decide, my opinion changes over time, so it doesn’t really concern me. The big trouble with this is that it is self deception:
To not make a decision is a decision. You pay your money and you take no choice. This is the ultimate bad choice!
Hebrews 9: 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
The gospel or good news about Jesus Christ.
- Jesus Christ as Good News: A Worldview
In what way is the NT information presented about Jesus good news?
- If you have seen Me you have seen God
If we are going to talk about good news resident in Jesus Christ, you have to start with Who Jesus is.
Jesus wrote nothing down, so all of the claims He makes in the gospels are of the same authority as the claims that the gospel writers make about Him. It is no different for John to say, “The Word of God was God, created all that is and became a man and we saw Him with our own eyes.” Than it is for John to say that Jesus said:
“I and the Father are One. Before Abraham was, I am. I am the light of the world. I am the bread of life. I am the good shepherd. I am the Resurrection and the life. If you have seen me, you have see the father. I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.”
Jesus claimed to be able to forgive the sins committed by other people.
Jesus equated His teaching with OT Scripture and even further elucidated OT Scripture.
Jesus did miracles on an unprecedented scale. (Even His enemies do not dispute his miraculous deeds, just His source of power.)
Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God, second person of the Trinity, He is God incarnate. This is a faith claim. I don’t believe it can be rationally proven. There are rational reasons to believe that it is true, and there are rational reasons to exclude the possibility of it being true, depending on what presuppositions you have about reality.
And this is where most people land who reject Christ. It is not possible for God to become a man. There is no God. Since God is not more obvious, He is irrelevant. Etc.
Beyond Who Jesus is being good news, what He did is also the most excellent news!!
- Jesus destroys the works of the serpent
I John 3:
8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
From the beginning, there have been worldviews at odds with what is presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden. God is good, creation is good, you are good, do what I say.
Satan, God is not good. Doing what He says will keep you from special knowledge that you need. Pleasure is good. Do not follow God, follow pleasure. Trust what you feel, follow your heart.
But why is it good news that Jesus Christ is God as a man? Jesus sets us on the correct worldview path.
- Our ethical knowledge dilemmas are solved. We know how to live best as it relates to other people and all of the rest of creation. (Love your enemies. Do not repay evil for evil. Don’t practice your righteousness before men to be noticed by them.)
- We can understand how it is possible for God to be the ultimate source of truth, life and creation and still be so hard to know. (Jesus helps us understand the power of sin. And then Jesus destroys the power of sin.)
- Jesus defines God for us.
- Jesus defines our individual responsibilities for us.
- Jesus explains that judgement is real and is a profound personal problem.
- Jesus solves our judgement problem.
- Jesus answers our questions about what happens after death, and He secures us in eternity.
- Jesus provides a confident foundation for life
For all who will believe in Who He is and What He did
To the Jew first
To the Greek
This leads us to my next point: Because of the Good news relating to who Jesus is and what Jesus does,
III. Jesus Provides Salvation and Righteousness
- Jesus provides salvation for all
Luke 2: 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This is why the news is for all the people!
5 And now the Lord says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
7 This is what the Lord says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
This is why the Magi come to see Jesus! The scope gets to the Magi!
This is why the thief on the Cross confesses Christ.
This is why the Roman Centurion at the Cross confesses Christ.
This is why it is the women who first see the Resurrected Christ.
This is why people who rely on position and reputation will be excluded from the life of God. Because…
- A new pathway to righteousness
Righteousness is going to be defined in a new way. Instead of righteousness being ethical perfection, which is the true standard of perfection, righteousness will be a right standing with God in spite of sinful imperfections. It will be righteousness that comes to a person that they receive, like a gift. Chapter 3 will make this abundantly clear. There is no one who is righteous before the law. So, there must be a different pathway to righteousness or else there will be no way to get there. Jesus is the way! This different avenue to be righteous is not really a different understanding from the Old Testament. They also required redemption, but
Hebrews 10: 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
When you understand righteousness as a gift, you begin to see gifts of grace throughout the Old Testament that are brought forward to us in Jesus. Manna, Rock that produces water, Passover Lamb, Abraham’s ram, the Rock that produced water and so on and so on etc.
- The people made righteous live by faith
They enter into righteousness by faith in Who Jesus is and What Jesus did.
They walk in righteousness by trusting in Who Jesus is and What Jesus taught about life.
They never leave the pathway of faith. The righteousness of God is by faith from first to last. For the righteous will live by faith. And the reason they live by faith is because they cannot see God and they must trust in the reality and revelation of a God that they cannot see.
You only go around once. You pay your money and you take your choice. Trust in Jesus and have life. A confident relationship with God now, a lighted pathway to abundant life today, and a promise of eternal life with Christ and God clearly seen in the future!
Hence the term good news. Hence the term gospel. But, good news is only good news in contrast to bad news. And that is what Paul turns to next. There is bad news for both Greeks and non- Greeks, both the wise and the foolish.