THE ‘ROMAN ROAD’ MESSAGE: SOTERIOLOGY
How many times have you heard the Roman Road as describing the verses of the Bible to explain concisely the teaching of how to be saved? (link: matthewmcgee.org This is a brilliantly written website showing the verses and more.) I have heard them again last Sunday for the most authoritative context all my experience. Now I feel authorized to share them with you.
The church we (wife and I) belong to, (as certificated members) is called the Rock Family Worship Center, in Huntsville, Alabama. It has the most laid-back approach for the phenomenal growth I’ve ever witnessed, that I believe we are seeing a movement of change for the Body of Christ. Today, the Roman Road here is supported by their Bible references and actual context, along with their historical theology.
Although, our fellowship is non-denominational and intercultural, the theme of Christian Rock music is pronounced enough that it actually is a draw that overwhelms the details of technical structure. In other words, the teachings (official doctrine) is made so informally, that everyone more or less assumes, that their whole family can be accepted into the real kingdom fellowship. The Body of Christ does have certain doctrinal foundations that everyone should learn. The fellowship is where it begins — genuine relationships help people just discover their way in.
Here is a road in Pompeii (taken from wikipedia commons), and notice there is not a signpost in sight (because it was reclaimed archaeologically). This is unheard of. Also of course, it looks like a ghost town. But that is not what our fellowship is about . . . maybe the Holy Ghost is present, but even the term ghost is discouraged any more (use Spirit instead). But I want to go doctrinal for a minute. Do you know or can name some of the signposts for the Roman Road of our fellowship?
Let me begin with the doctrine of Salvation. (Bible.org) Here is a comprehensive post by Hampton Keathley that covers all the bases . . . Remember, this is without the fellowship, we don’t have to go to church to learn this, but that is the easy way to go — experiencing its reality. (linked to Wikipedia)
The signposts of historic doctrine
Here is a very old and reliable signpost (mile marker), “A provincial roman milestone, at Alto Rabagão, Portugal (road from Bracara Augusta to Asturias)” The first sign.
I. The first mile marker is about the doctrine of love.
“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. (Romans 8:29,30)
Redemption began with God’s foreknowledge: A believer is first of all someone whom God foreknew.
“Salvation is not initiated by a person’s decision to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Scripture is clear that repentant faith is essential to salvation and is the first step that we take in response to God, but repentant faith does not initiate salvation. Because Paul is here depicting the plan of salvation from God’s perspective, faith is not even mentioned in these two verses.” (taken from John MacArthur’s Grace To You website)
To find this passage, I had to do some figuring like count all the verses in Romans’ 16 chapters and come out with Romans 8:20 as the very center of the book. I hadn’t seen that before. So that context is about how the whole creation is pregnant and anticipating a full deliverance . . . with a joyful anticipation. (Now this is what the theme of love has to lead us through) I found four verses that describe love in Romans eight. Three are for God’s love for man, and one for man’s love for God. Romans 8:35, 37, 39, and 28:
Romans 8:37 We are not phased by persecution “because Jesus loves us“.
I cannot even imagine the pregnant woman’s growing anticipation of relief by delivering her baby — it has to be her joy that brings her patiently along — now along a Roman road, we have to be patient as all creation (including mankind) is patiently awaiting full deliverance.
And why haven’t we known of God’s love like this before?
Here is a very old and large signpost (mile marker), This tells us why. (Rome, Campidoglio: the Miliarium (milestone), point of departure of the consular roads by Lalupa, Wikipedia) upon it there reads:
Romans 3:10-12 tells about who needs deliverance (salvation). As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Romans 3:23 “. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
I have learned that depravity is interesting, (see the above link) If you can see such a definition there, it can make the position of mankind as very bad standing with our Creator God. Exactly right!
Romans 6:20,21 “As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead-end.”
What this means that without receiving God’s love, we are already dead. The only hope for a dead man is to hear the voice of his Creator . . . and that is what we are showing here. That’s why we need saving.
(Turda, Romania: 1993 copy of the Milliarium of Aiton, dating from 108 and showing the construction of the road from Potaissa to Napoca built by Cohors I Hispanorum miliaria in Roman Dacia, by demand of the Emperor Trajan wikipedia commons) Here is found the sign: Atonement is how God has provided for our depravity.
III. The Doctrine of Atonement gives us some hope
Romans 5:8 “But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use to him.” (The Message)
How we can receive God’s provision is with the Doctrines of the Covenant of Works, and Saving Grace.
Romans 10:8-10 “The word (of faith) that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart(desire) in your chest.” (also Deuteronomy 30:14) “It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” (parens mine)
And, verse 13, “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”
Romans 3:24,25 msg “Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.”
The Solution Is Life on God’s Terms
(Remains of the miliarium aureum in the Roman Forum, from Wikipedia Commons) The final sign.
IV. What happened to the Christian dead who were martyred at the last mile marker?
Romans 8:1,2 Msg “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”
Romans 1:16,17 Msg “It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.” (Habakkuk 2:4)
The conclusion of our small four-mile journey on the Roman Road here, is with the verse from the Message Bible which explains to my satisfaction, what we can expect from you, the reader. You can believe this, truly.
Romans 8:26,27 Msg “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.”
Review the above outline. Think about the verses shown here under each of the four signposts (mile-markers) and think about how the Roman Authorities who hated Christians were so filled with rage about these details — that they refused to accept. You certainly have a choice. But we have taken you to this place where we know many were killed and submitted to such a fate willingly. How could they do this? They believed they were justified before God because of what his Son had done for them, and they counted their lives already dead in the resurrected Savior.
If you believe this, then you will be glorified like they were.
Charles (link to “introduction-contents”)
See short video: by Pastor John Hagee here