Romans 1:8 “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (ESV)
Welcome to the new series of posts from Berean Husband. I have been studying through the book of Romans for the last month or more and thought that some of you might be interested in small bits of enlightenment I’m getting in my journey. This series is not intended to be an all-encompassing exposition of the book of Romans, it is merely some of the jewels that I have been mining along the way.
We read in Romans 1:8 “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (ESV) In the introduction to the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul begins with his own credentials, but quickly moves to the credentials of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:3-6). Then in verses 7-13, Paul turns to the recipients of his letter, the church which is in Rome. Now, when Paul thinks about the church in Rome, what goes through his mind? As far as we know, Paul has never been to this church personally, and he is acquainted with only a few people in the church of Rome. What he knows of this church comes from reports he has received. So, in verse 8, we see what Paul pulls out from these reports to be of utmost importance – their faith which is proclaimed in all the world.
Why is this so impressive to Paul? Well, think with me for a minute. How many churches in America that you know of today are known by their faith in all the world? Not many. Churches today are known according to their number of members, or their programs, or their choir, or their charismatic pastor. In other words, churches are generally known according to their works. Churches are not generally known according to their faith.
It makes we wonder if this fact is symptomatic of the gospel which is preached in the typical church. Churches which are known for their works may well be preaching a works-centered gospel. Oh, they may quote Ephesians 2:8-9, but what they really mean is that you must stir up your own faith and come receive Jesus Christ.
One final thought. Paul commended the faith of the church in Rome which was known throughout the world. This stands in stark contrast with the church in Sardis, which Jesus condemns for being known for their works while their faith was dead. Read Revelation 3:1-4:
1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. (ESV)
Are you a part of the remnant who is a member of a Sardis church? Jesus gives you four instructions:
1) Wake up. Don’t sit in your pew ignoring the lack of faith in your church.
2) Strengthen what remains. Find ways to shore up the faith you find in your church.
3) Remember the gospel. Don’t trade in the preaching of the gospel for programs.
4) Repent. This is not directed at the person who sits on the other side of the church. This is directed at me and you.