Full text of renowned Bible teacher Derek Prince’s teaching on the book of Romans titled ‘The Roman Pilgrimage, Vol 1, Part 2’. This session covers Romans 1:18 – 2:16 and is titled ‘STAGE 1: Romans 1:18 – 1:32: God’s Self-revelation’.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Derek Prince – Bible Teacher
In our previous two sessions, we have worked through more or less the first 15 verses of Romans, chapter 1. In those, Paul has introduced himself, the Christians at Rome, and the Gospel.
To complete the introduction of the Gospel, we’ll turn now to verses 16 and 17. Very powerful famous verses.
Romans 1:16-17: Paul says, ‘for I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, for in it (that’s in the Gospel), the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
Paul sums up the Gospel there, and he gives one good reason why neither he nor we should ever be ashamed of it: because it’s the power of God.
If we are ever prone to be ashamed of the Gospel, it’s because we have lost sight of the fact that it is the power of God. No one today is ever ashamed of power, least of all of the power of God.
It’s the power of God not for destruction, but to salvation, for total deliverance, for human personality, spirit, soul and body, for those who believe, the key word is ‘believe’.
And then Paul says it’s to the Jew first and also to the Greek or the Gentile. Historically, the Gospel was presented first to the Jewish people and then to the Gentile world.
And then Paul further sums it up in verse 17. ‘For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’.’
In those two verses, we have either the verb ‘to believe’ or the noun ‘faith’ four times. And bear in mind, in the Greek they are closely related. Faith is ‘Pistis’, to believe is ‘pisteúō’. So whereas we have two quite different words in English, the verb and the noun, in Greek they’re the same.
So the essence of this is believing. It’s the power of God to those who believe, and it reveals God’s righteousness.
You remember I said the keyword of Romans is ‘righteousness’. And here Paul emphasizes that through the Gospel, God has revealed a way by which man can become righteous in the sight of God.
And he again quotes from the Old Testament, from the prophet Habakkuk chapter 2, verse 4, to prove that what he’s saying is not an improvisation of his own, but something that was determined and prophesied by the prophets of God many years previously.
So the key blessing of the Gospel is that it brings us righteousness, a righteousness which God accepts. And we shall see as we go on that it’s only on the basis of righteousness that we can receive any of the other blessings of God.
In Romans, chapter 5, we’ll see that Paul speaks about the ‘gift of righteousness’. And then in chapter 6, he speaks about the ‘gift of eternal life’. The order cannot be reversed. We would not qualify to receive the gift of eternal life unless God had reckoned us righteous. A righteous God could not bestow his gifts on unrighteous men and women.
The first problem was to resolve the issue of righteousness. You remember the question of Job that I directed you to earlier? ‘How can a mortal man be righteous before God?’ The answer is through believing the Gospel.
But when we use the word faith, we need to be on our guard against a misunderstanding that has arisen in the Church over the centuries. Both in Hebrew and in Greek, the word for faith primarily describes character and then what you believe.
So to reduce the Gospel just to a theological proposition is to rob it of its truth. The word means initially faithfulness or commitment. So the Gospel is the power of God only to those who, out of commitment to God, believe what He declares. Remove commitment, and you have a kind of desiccated theological faith that doesn’t produce the results that God has promised.
You cannot be a believer in the biblical sense without being personally committed to God through Jesus Christ. Commitment is the basis.
Now, Paul goes on in the next half of this chapter with the opposite side of the coin, he’s talked about the revelation of God’s righteousness. Now he talks about the revelation of God’s Wrath, and both are contained in the Gospel, because when we look at what happened to Jesus on the cross, we need to bear in mind that He endured the wrath of God.
Why? Because He became the sin offering. He took our sin. He took the judgment for our sin, He paid the penalty. And once He became sin, the total wrath of God was poured out upon Him on the cross.
It had to be. And so if you ever think that the Gospel is simply a sloppy, sentimental, Father Christmas message, you’ve got to see the other side.
‘In it is also revealed the wrath of God against all sin.’
And I’ve said this to people many times. If anybody could have commended sin to God, it would have been Jesus. But when He became sin, God disowned Him, God abandoned Him, and the wrath of God was poured out upon Him.