February 15, 1976

Romans 1:5 7

Like all of the epistles of the New Testament, Romans was written to the Christians. Only the Gospels were
written with the unsaved world in view. They were written to con¬front men with a witness concerning the
triumphant Christ and to call upon them to become His disciples. The letters of the New Testament were written
to explain the meaning and the way of the Christian life to the Christians. So if you are a true Christian, this is
your letter.

Though the letter is addressed to the Christians who lived in the city of Rome, Paul does not so call them.
Rather he gives us three very helpful descriptive words. In these words he gives us insight into the true nature
of the Christian's relationship to God. Though they too were citizens of the earthly city of Rome in the first
century A.D., they were more than just Roman citizens. The same is true of each true Christian among us.
Though you live in the state of Texas in the twentieth century A.D. you are more than a citizen of Texas. You
enjoy a privileged relationship with the eternal God. Just reading this salutation of Paul brings this unique
relationship before us.


"Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ." Christians are "the called ones" who belong to Jesus
Christ. Two great ideas are found in that statement. Jesus spoke of the many who were called, but He used the
word in the sense of the invited. Jesus emphasized that God's gracious invitation to salvation has gone
throughout the world, inviting men of all backgrounds to come to the great salvation feast of the Lord. However,
most of those so called refuse the invitation according to our Lord. The epistles, especially those of Paul, use
the word in a different sense: in this epistle those who are the "called" are those who have heard the invitation
and have responded to the invi¬tation positively. They are those who came in response to God's gracious call.
They stand in the presence of the Lord justified as the "called". The theologians have an expression for this.
They refer to it as the effectual call. By this they mean that it is the call that is powerful enough to produce the
desired effect. The called then are those that God has so powerfully and compellingly called that they could not
but respond. It is a word that confronts us with the sovereign grace of a gracious God.

Too often in defining our Christian experience, and relating our understanding of it, it comes out man centered.
The Biblical presentation of Christian experience is God-centered. Men are Christians because God has acted,
God has willed, God has chosen, God has called--thus all of the praise and glory must go to God.

While we should probably understand that the call comes from God, the result of the call is that we belong to
Jesus Christ. He is the Lord and owner of the called ones. If you have so experienced the grace of God, you
are then both a Christian and the recipient of this wonderful correspondence from God through the heart of the
Apostle Paul.


"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God." There in the wicked city of Rome were some divine favorites. There
were some upon whom God has set His heart in a special way. The true Christian is one who is the object of the
eternal love of God; yea, he is a beloved one to God.

In the Old Testament there was an emphasis upon God's love for the nation of Israel. Usually the emphasis was
upon God's love being revealed in His choice of Israel or in His physical and material blessings upon Israel.
They were considered to be beloved be¬cause they had been chosen and blessed. The New Testament
emphasis is different. We are the beloved of God because we have received special grace and the forgiveness
of sin through the death of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. We are the objects of the deed of the Cross,
therefore, we are the beloved of God. The sign of this love is not some material or physical prosperity that has
come to us.

But does the Bible not bear witness to the universality of God's love? It does. It declares, "For God so loved the
world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal
life." However, this must not be understood in a way that would exclude God setting His heart upon His people
in a special way. There is a universality to God's love, but there is particularity to it. God has set His heart upon
those who respond to Jesus Christ as Lord in such a way that they are called His "beloved".

How do you understand this? The Bible helps us with several illustrations. God's people are His "jewels", "His
treasure". Jesus spoke of the pearl of great price. God has set His heart upon His people to make them His
very own treasure. God's people are the apple of His eye. This is a reference to the promptness with which
each of us respond to any threat to the pupil of our eyes. Our protective response is immediate and instinctive.
So is God's protective response to His people. However, the most meaningful illustration of this word beloved is
that of the husband wife relationship. As many have read the very intimate love language of the Song of
Solomon they have found an exposition of the meaning of this word "beloved". God delights in His people,
provides for His people, prizes His people just like a faithful husband delights over, protects, and prizes his
companion, his beloved.

Are you tempted to doubt that you are His beloved? The man who used this descriptive word would never have
pointed to some circumstantial or physical evidence; rather, he would have pointed you back to the historic
offering of Christ upon the Cross in your behalf. On the basis of that deed, he describes you as the "beloved
ones of God." Is this not a precious aspect of being a Christian?


"Called to be saints". Do you know that saint is one of God's favorite names for the people we call Christians?
Actually in the New Testament God's people are called Christians only three times, and each time it was in
derision and mockery by the world. "Christian" is the name the world hung upon the people of Christ; "Saint" or
“holy ones” is the word that God hung upon them. The root idea of the word "holy" is separate. That which is
holy is that which has been set apart, that which has been separated. There are two sides to this action of
separating. There is a “from" and an "unto". The people of God have been separated "from" the world and sin
"unto" the Lord God.” Consequently they are God's people in a special way.

It is in this sense that Israel is the "holy" land. That little strip of earth was separated by God from the nations
unto Himself to be the home of His people Israel. It was in this sense that the temple was a "holy" place. It was a
beautiful building that was separated from any common usage unto the Lord God to be His home and to be the
place of worship for His people. It was a holy house. In this sense we have been separated from the world, from
sin, and from Satan, unto the Lord God for His own holy ends and purposes. We are not a common people, for
we are God's very own people.

The word does have a moral implication, though in the Bible this is not primary. God's people, the saints, do live
morally different from the rest of the world, but it is because God has already set them apart. We do not live
saintly in order to become saints, but rather we live saintly because God has set us apart to be saints. We are
saints so the burden of living saintly has been settled upon us.

Interestingly this word is never used in the New Testament to refer to an indivi¬dual. It is always a plural word.
When God sets us apart unto Himself, He made a part of a larger whole, the whole people of God. If you feel
yourself to be superior and different from the other people of God, you ought to be careful. We are saints
together with all of those God has set apart unto Himself.


Surely if a man is called of God, beloved of God, and so set apart to God, he must be too good for this world!
Not so! Those first addressed in this manner by Paul were residents of the capital city of Rome. In the midst of
the moral corruption of that famous city, they lived and served God. They were saints while working right in the
household of the Caesar. Some of them were carpenters, some were masons, some were soldiers, some were
slaves, some were wealthy, some were poor, but they were each the people of God. This is an aspect of the
Christian life that needs fresh emphasis. We are to live out this life right in the midst of the Watergates of the
world. Indeed, we are in the world to be the colony of heaven, the light of the world, the salt of the earth. So was
this little group stationed in Rome, so to them goes this inspired correspondence from the beloved Apostle.

Dear Christian brother, this letter is to you. The message found in this letter is the message you need. It is a
message that will be understood only by those who are in the family, those who are called, beloved, separated
unto God. If you are not a Christian, you will probably find the message of Romans to be very confusing. Before
you try to understand the epistles, you need to go back to the Gospels and see Jesus Christ as the only Lord.
You must acknowledge Him as the only Lord and Savior of your life, before His correspondence will ever mean
anything to your life. Won't you so act toward Him today?