Romans reveals the gift of the Gospel, Schreiner says at SBTS January Bible Study Conference

Communications Staff — October 24, 2007

Romans reveals the gift of the Gospel, Schreiner says at At its core, the book of Romans is about the righteousness of God given to people in Jesus Christ, Thomas Schreiner said Oct. 15 at the January Bible Study Preview Conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What is the righteousness of God? Schreiner, associate dean of Scripture and interpretation in Southern’s School of Theology, said when Paul uses this phrase in Romans he is typically referring to the righteousness of Christ given to those who believe in Christ.

“The righteousness of God is a gift from God that comes from God and results in right standing with God,” said Schreiner, who also serves as James Buchanan Harrison professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern. “It is a righteousness that is given to us by God.”

This righteousness can only be received by faith, Schreiner argued, for no one does the work necessary to earn God’s acceptance. Only Christ fulfilled all the commands of the law, and it is His righteousness that brings someone into right standing with God, Schreiner noted. Paul puts forward Abraham as an example of this in Romans 4, going against Jewish tradition that often viewed Abraham as being righteous because of his works, Schreiner said.

“How was Abraham right before God? Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness,” he said. “What Abraham believed about God is what saved him, not his works.

“The Gospel is we, the ungodly, believing in Christ and our faith being counted as righteousness because faith unites us to Christ and the righteousness given to us at the cross. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.”

This year’s adult learner guide for the January Bible study, titled “God’s Amazing Grace,” was written by Dean Register, senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Schreiner noted that some people have said Romans is a treatise of Paul’s theology. While Romans does contain much of Paul’s theology, Schreiner said, it does not exhaust all of Paul’s doctrinal teaching. Schreiner cited Christology, ecclesiology and eschatology as doctrines Paul does not discuss in detail in the book. Like the rest of Paul’s epistles, Schreiner said, Romans is directed to a specific audience for a specific purpose, in this case to bring about unity between Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome.

To accomplish this purpose, Paul begins Romans by arguing that Gentiles (Romans 1) and Jews (Romans 2) alike stand condemned before God. Gentiles earn condemnation by suppressing the truth that God created all things and is worthy of worship, Schreiner said.

“All people, everywhere with the most elementary rational capacity know that there is a God who deserves their worship and honor and praise,” he said. “They have clearly perceived it from creation, from the world. The fundamental sin of human beings is to not honor and praise and give thanks to God. Every sin we commit has idolatry at its root.”

While Jews rightly condemn Gentiles for their ungodliness, Paul argues, the Jews are also guilty before God, for they do not keep the very law they thrust in the face of others.
“Paul says the Jews know the law, and even teach the law, but they don’t practice what they preach,” Schreiner said. “The Jews were guilty because they had a hard heart. They sinned and did not repent.”

Having established that all people deserve God’s just condemnation, Paul presents the beauty of the Gospel in Romans 3:21-26, which Schreiner described as one of the most glorious sections in all of Scripture.

“We are redeemed at the very cost of Christ’s blood,” he said. “God’s wrath is satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice. The cross is the greatest event in human history. Only someone who is infinite can satisfy the punishment necessary for the infinite heinousness of sin.

God is both just, through the sacrifice of the Son, and the justifier. At the cross, both the love and the justice of God meet.

“We come as children, we come as beggars,” Schreiner continued. “The great thing about salvation through Christ is that it gives all of the glory to God. We can say to anyone, anywhere ‘you are a wicked person, but I am also a wicked person.’ You can say to everyone, ‘come and worship with us, for we are a collection of wicked people who recognize that we are wicked people.’

“This is designed to evoke praise in our lives as we realize that we didn’t deserve this. We deserved to go to hell forever. If we are not grateful for this, we have forgotten that it is mercy. We are saved, not be doing, but by receiving. We don’t earn it.”

In both the introduction and conclusion to Romans, Paul says that the Gospel fulfills what was spoken of in the Old Testament, for Jesus is the Messiah.

“The Gospel is both prophecy fulfilled and a mystery revealed,” Schreiner said. “There are prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in Christ and there are mysteries in the Old Testament that are revealed in Christ. The Gospel is not contrary to the Old Testament, but is a fulfillment of what we read in the Old Testament.”

Finally, Paul says the point of the Gospel is to bring about the obedience of faith, which gives God the honor and praise He deserves.

“Faith gives glory to God. That is the theme of Romans,” Schreiner said. “Faith trusts God. I give glory to my mechanic when I trust him with my car. I don’t glorify my mechanic when I go in and say ‘did you cheat me?’ Now, mechanics are fallible. But God is infallible. And I glorify Him by trusting Him.”

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