Paul began his letter by establishing rapport with his listeners, remembering that he had not as yet taught them face-to-face. (Romans 1:8-15) Paul then revealed the theme of his letter to the believers in Rome; “a righteousness from God by faith in Jesus Christ.” This was in comparison to man’s relative righteousness, which falls well short of the righteousness of God. (Romans 1:16-17)
Paul then demonstrated how God’s righteousness is revealed in condemnation. God’s condemnation is towards heathen humanity. He then gave the reasons for this condemnation and the results of this condemnation. (Romans 1:18-32) God’s condemnation of sinful humanity is based on divine standards. The first standard is truthfulness, the second is impartiality and the third is Jesus Christ Himself. (Romans 2:1-16) God’s condemnation against unfaithful Jews is found in Romans 2:17- 3:8. The reasons for this condemnation were given: 1) because of hypocrisy 2) because of dependence on rituals and rites 3) because of their lack of belief. Everyone is under the condemnation of sin and everyone is conscious of sin. (Romans 3:9-20)
Paul then began a discourse on how God’s righteousness is revealed in justification. He explained how righteousness is provided, how it is illustrated, how it is enjoyed and how it is contrasted. (Romans 3:21- 5:21) Following this, Paul showed how God’s righteousness is revealed in sanctification. In order to demonstrate this doctrine, Paul gave the grounds for sanctification and the attitudes for sanctification using words such as “reckon,” “yield,” and “serve.” According to Paul, there are conflicts in sanctification involving the believer and the Law, the Law and sin, and the believer and sin. He also taught that there is a power for sanctification, there is a goal of sanctification and there is certainty of sanctification. (Romans 6, 7, 8)
In Romans 9-11, God’s righteousness is revealed in sovereign choice. God’s sovereign choice is stated in Romans 9:1-29, which included Israel’s privileges, Israel’s choice illustrated and the choice explained. In Romans 9:30-10:21, God’s sovereign choice is applied. The first application is Israel’s stumbling, second is God’s gracious offer and third is Israel’s rejection. In Romans 11, God’s sovereign choice is fulfilled in the election of grace, with regard to the Gentiles, in Israel’s salvation and to God’s glory and praise.
Paul then taught how God’s righteousness is revealed in the execution of the Christian Way of Life. First we see basic dedication of the believer to God as a “living sacrifice.” Second, God revealed His righteousness in the fulfillment of Christian ministry by the believer. God’s righteousness is revealed through impersonal love. God’s righteousness is revealed in the keeping of divine establishment principles, specifically with regard to authority orientation. God’s righteousness is revealed in a believer’s relationship to other believers with regard to judging other believers, hindering other believers and setting an example for other believers. (Romans 12:1- 15:13) Paul then revealed his personal plans, by giving personal greetings and by giving a few final words of encouragement. (Romans 15:14-16:27)
Paul addressed the Book of Romans to both Jews and Gentiles, even though Rome was primarily a Gentile city. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that most believers in the churches at Rome were Gentiles. The reason that this was important is that the Judaizers continued to infiltrate the local churches and Paul was determined to stop their false message of adding law-keeping to grace from taking root, and to demonstrate that the Gospel is for all, Jews and Gentiles.
Paul eventually travelled to Rome after being sidetracked by his own bad decision to go to Jerusalem first. He had written to them in order to clarify the doctrine of justification by faith. He asked and answered the question as to the source of justification – the deeds of the Law or the work of God? Furthermore, Paul explained the reason for the unbelief of Israel in the past dispensation and had shown them how God can turn a cursing into a blessing for the individual Jew through faith in Christ.
Paul also took the opportunity to explain the Christian Way of Life, which he explained was on the basis of a new law – the Law of Christ and not on the Mosaic Law. The new law was a system of grace, not law-keeping. In explaining the Christian life, Paul helped the Roman believers understand how a Christian can have victory over the sin nature. Some in Rome thought that the sin nature was eradicated at salvation. Others thought that not only could the sin nature not be eradicated, but that a believer could not gain victory over it. Therefore, this group said that you might as well go ahead and sin all you want until you die.
Paul was also concerned about the amount of legalism that had already infiltrated the local churches, which included the churches in Rome. Therefore, he wrote to them to explain the doctrine of grace. Finally, Paul wrote to the church at Rome and recommended to them Phoebe as a trustworthy fellow-believer and businesswoman. It was Phoebe who carried the letter to the churches in Rome.
Paul was the apostle of grace having been steeped in the legalism of the Mosaic Law early in his life until his dramatic conversion to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. More than any other apostle, Paul understood the grace of God and boldly proclaimed it everywhere he journeyed.
Lack of grace orientation leads to misinterpretation of the Word of God, legalism, greed, arrogance, power lust and many other sins. On the other hand, being oriented to grace leads to the proper and accurate interpretation of God’s Word and a life free of the above arrogance complex of sins.
Grace is all that God is free to do for mankind on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Grace is undeserved mercy and unmerited favor. Grace is the title of God’s plan and His policy for mankind. Orientation is defined as familiarization with a particular person, thing or field of knowledge. To orient means to set right by adjusting to facts or principles; to put oneself into correct position or relation or to acquaint oneself with the existing situation. Grace orientation, therefore, means to become familiar with God’s grace plan and grace policies by adjusting to the facts and principles found in the Word of God, which puts you in correct relation to God and others. You will never be grace-oriented until you understand that your personal sins don’t condemn you. Adam’s original sin, which was imputed to you at birth, is what condemns you (spiritual death). This means that God’s grace was operational when He imputed Adam’s original sin to you, because condemnation must precede salvation. This is just another part of God’s ingenious grace plan of salvation.
The maximum expression of God’s grace is the Cross. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all sin. (I Peter 2:24) We are free to accept or reject God’s free gift of eternal life. The plan of God is for all of mankind to come to know His Son, Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:9) Because Jesus Christ completely satisfied the righteousness and justice of God, God is now free to give eternal life and the other 40+ spiritual assets at salvation. (John 2:1-2) Our salvation brings glory to God. (Hebrews 2:9) When we trust Christ as our personal Savior we are adjusting to God’s grace. (Romans 3:24)
God’s grace has always been operational in relation to mankind. Even under the Law, God’s grace was at work in the lives of believers and unbelievers alike. God, in His grace, has revealed Himself to the entire human race beginning with Adam. Salvation for mankind has always been on the basis of God’s grace by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. Even the Mosaic Law was a grace gift from God, to show the unbeliever his need for a Savior and to guide him to the Cross. The Levitical offerings pointed to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:20, 4:3; Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:24)
In the Christian life, when allowed to do so, God the Holy Spirit does all the work of producing the character of Jesus Christ in a believer. (Romans 8:29, Galatians 5:22-23) We should be truly thankful that God’s plan does not depend upon us, but upon Him. If you have your eyes on what you are doing for God, or even what someone else is doing for God (even the pastor), you will never be grace-oriented. Our focus should always be on what God is doing. God treats us in grace because of His character. Therefore, we are able to treat others with grace by using Divine Viewpoint Thinking.
God has a perfect plan for each one of us, but it is up to us to discover that plan. The filling of the Holy Spirit, which means we are being controlled and guided by Him, is a grace provision from God. This gives every believer the potential to understand His Word, regardless of education or IQ. Therefore, we are commanded to be strong in grace. (II Timothy 2:1) We are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:8) We find grace in our prayer life. (Hebrews 4:16) There is stability in grace. (I Peter 5:2) God gives us grace to become the person He wants us to be. (I Corinthians 15:10) God’s grace is always sufficient in our time of suffering. (II Corinthians 12:9) God is waiting to show His grace to every believer. (Isaiah 30:18-19) The Christian life, under grace, is a system of thinking according to Paul in the book of Romans. (Romans 12:1-2)