Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 1:7b “. . .called to be saints:”
“Saint” is God’s designation for a believer. The word we use most often, “Christian,” was coined by the lost world as a term of derision. “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament, and each time it is in the context of being an appellation forced upon us by outsiders. “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (AC 11:26). Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian” (AC 26:28). IP 4:16 “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed” (1 P 4:16). Peter was speaking of persecution based on the “crime” of being a Christian.
The world said “Christian”; God said “saint.” “Saint” means holy one, one set apart. Saints are set apart as belonging to God. We are His. He claimed us for Himself when He gave us Jesus Christ.
The yielding of ourselves to Him is only the echo of His giving Himself to us. His love comes first. We love Him because He first loved us. Unfortunately, there is much confusion over the word “saint.” There are two reasons for this:
1. Roman Catholicism uses the term for its super-heroes. This is sad, because every believer has the right to the title of saint as much as Peter, Paul, and Mary do. Exalting a few super-saints puts honor on individuals rather than on the Lord Jesus.
Saying that a sinner has been made a saint glorifies God. Look at the material God has to start with, and then look at the final product. The rainbow is more beautiful because of the ugly cloud that is its backdrop. The pearl is even more beautiful when contrasted with the ugly oyster. The butterfly is an unspeakable miracle of loveliness when compared to the caterpillar. The diamond gleams even brighter when viewed next to the ugly black coal it came from. “Saint” is the new name. “Sinner” was the original. The difference between a sinner and a saint is a Savior.
2. The world uses the term to describe “goody-goodies.” The word “saint” does not refer essentially to our moral conduct, but to our spiritual condition. Nevertheless, we who are saints in fact should realize we are under obligation to be “saintly” in conduct. Too many saints live low-level lives.
If a letter addressed to “saints” were dropped in our streets, do you think anybody would recognize for whom it was meant? The world would taunt us if we began calling ourselves saints. I wish their taunts would be undeserved. It is said that “saint” is not always synonymous with “good man.”
The idea of holiness is prominent in the first few verses of Romans. The Scriptures are holy (v.2), Jesus’ spirit is holy (v.4), and now believers are called holy ones. Holy writing, a Holy Savior, and a Holy people: the three go together. The Holy Ones should obey the Holy writings and live like the Holy Savior. If you are in the trilogy, get in it all the way. Never forget that when you said, “I believe,” it also involved, “I belong.”
Romans 1:7c “Grace to you. . .”
Anything bestowed on the undeserving may be called grace. Grace pleads the merit of God for those who have no merit of their own. Grace is not meant for the good, but for the sinful. There can be no grace applied until there is a sinner who confesses he needs it. And every man needs it.
Adam and Eve both sinned. The whole race, in essence, was present when that happened. We were in the loins of Adam and fell when he did.
Grace is the beauty that lures men to the Lord. You cannot argue a man into loving God, any more than you can hammer a rosebud open. To attempt such a thing would spoil its petals. Sunshine falls on the closed flower and expands it into beauty.
Love that looks up is worship; love that reaches out is affection; love that stoops is grace. We were not lovely nor loveable when God reached out for us. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners.
Oh! the love that drew salvation’s plan,
Oh! the grace that brought it down to man,
Oh! the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
Grace “brought it down.” Revel in it.
Romans 1:7d “. . .and peace. . .”
Peace is the outgrowth of grace. Peace involves rightness with God, others, and self. Such peace is impossible apart from the grace of God.
That is why Paul always put “grace” before “peace.” The order is important. Never reverse it or use peace alone. Peace can spring only from the grace of God. Grace is the cause; peace is the effect. To say “peace” to a lost man is a waste of breath. There is no peace to men separated from God.
“Grace and Peace” was probably Paul’s attempt to unite the Greek and Jewish modes of greeting. The Jewish greeting was “Peace,” but Paul knew that was hollow and meaningless apart from Jesus. It needed something more.
The Greeks greeted one another with “Chaire!” which means “Rejoice!” Paul also knew that was meaningless apart from Jesus, the source of all true joy.
Paul changed “chaire” to the similarly sounding and more distinctively Christian word “charis,” which means “grace.” Hence, the new greeting was born–Grace and Peace.
Romans 1:7e “. . .from God our Father, and the Lord
To Paul, this greeting was not a pleasantry only. It was a serious matter. He rendered it earnestly.
The greeting was not given as a good wish, but as having the authority of a blessing. This is a significant fact, because a blessing is actually a form of prayer.
And notice that the prayer is offered to the Father and to Jesus equally as objects of prayer. Paul obviously regarded Jesus as God.
The Father is Author of grace and peace; Jesus is Bringer; Holy Spirit is Maintainer. None of these functions is more important than the other. Grace and Peace hinge on all three equally.
Grace and peace can be yours right now. The Lord delights in mercy. God regretted one time that He created man, but the Bible never hints that He ever regretted showing grace to us. Jesus wants to save you now.