The focus of the book of Romans (Romans 1:16,17) is the impact of the gospel on the lives of people who believe the gospel. And note the two aspects of the gospel’s work, salvation and righteousness. The gospel is God’s power for salvation. Refer back to Chapter 2 of this book regarding what salvation is. The gospel is God’s power – not our power, not our brilliance, not our methods or devices. If a person hears the gospel and believes, it is the work of God alone. And when that rescue of a lost person happens, those of us who watch and share that time with the newly-saved person can rejoice even more because we have actually seen the power of God at work. God Himself in action doing what only He can do. Amazing!
Also, in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. Through the gospel, salvation comes through the power of God and God’s righteousness is revealed in people who believe the gospel. Not man’s righteousness – God’s. I find it extremely interesting that Christians put so much emphasis on getting saved (escaping sin and hell) and miss the resulting impact of that deliverance – God’s righteousness in life. Even the book of Romans itself makes this clear. The words “salvation” and “saved” are mentioned thirteen times in Romans. The word “righteousness” is mentioned thirty-nine times. Three times more mention of righteousness than salvation. When a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ and goes from being lost to being found, from being dead to being alive, the next gospel work that should be visible is God’s righteousness starting to show through that person’s life. This might be where we start to get frustrated. We don’t see it. God says this should be the result of the gospel, but most of the time, we see exactly what we always saw in our lives before the gospel came in. Is God lying? Am I not trying hard enough? What am I doing wrong that keeps me from seeing God’s righteousness?
Those are important questions. Can you, can I, live anyone else’s life? Can I live your life? Could I live some famous person’s life (see Chapter 7 about Mike and Mike)? Can I live the life of Jesus Christ? No. Can I produce the righteousness of God? No. What can I do? First, that’s not a good question. We all know that “all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). How can God expect us – you and me – to produce His righteousness, knowing what He knows about us?
Here’s good news! He does not expect us to produce His righteousness. Well, isn’t that what Romans 1:17 says we are supposed to see in our lives? Romans 1:17 does not say, “Produce righteousness in your life because you are a believer.” It says that the work of the gospel in believers is God’s righteousness. And only God Himself can produce His righteousness. “What can I do?” is not a good question because there is nothing we can do to produce God’s righteousness.
A better question is, “What can Christ do?” None of our works of righteousness bring about the results God is looking for (see Titus 3:5). Only God produces those results. And He has worked through the gospel to bring salvation to us who believe – rescue from sin and the flesh and the devil – which puts us in the place where He can produce His righteousness. It is not what you or I do, it is who you and I are and whom you and I know. It is all Jesus Christ.
Eleven-session study guide included
Check out the A REAL Human Life website at www.arealhumanlife.com. Especially look for the brief promo video explaining the book on the "Book" page