Through our teaching series in Ruth, we learnt that “Ruth strikingly exemplifies the truth that participation in the coming kingdom of God is decided, not by blood and birth, but by the conformity of one’s life to the will of God through the ‘obedience that comes from faith’ (Rom. 1:5)” [NIV Study Bible, Introduction to Ruth]
What does that “obedience” look like, and why it is helpful, or even important, for us to know? That’s what our focus will be as we work through the book of Romans.
This letter is described by some commentators as Paul’s “masterpiece”. N.T. Wright describes it as a “symphonic composition” – more than just a few bars but a whole movement that includes themes that are repeated and developed. Put another way, Romans shows us the whole of God’s way of salvation, with God’s righteousness at the forefront of everything.
Don’t think, though, that this is all about Paul presenting the facts of salvation, such as the separation caused by sin, and God’s way of redemption through Christ. That’s all in there, but so is our part – our calling to be the ones “living the gospel”. As we look to gain a deeper understanding of God and his salvation plans through this series, we’ll discover that it isn’t all made complete when we are “living the gospel”.
In Eph. 4:1 Paul encourages us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. Our verse for the year tells that it’s “In Christ” that we find out our purpose” (Eph. 1:11). And here at the start of Romans, Paul talks about our “obedience that comes from faith” (Rom. 1:5). All of these verses are foundational to our lives of faith. How will respond to them as we begin to think about “Living the Gospel”?