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“Paul’s Thanks to God for the Romans”

(Romans 1:8)

I. Introduction.
A. In this letter, we have seen Paul’s introduction, telling us who he is – a slave and
apostle of Jesus Christ – what he was called by God to do – to preach the Gospel to
the Gentiles – and who this Gospel had to do with – the Lord Jesus Christ, the One
who is both God and man.
B. We’ve also seen to whom he was writing – the saints in Rome, those who were
loved by God from all eternity, and called to salvation by Jesus Christ – called to be
separate from the world and from sin, to be saints not in name only, but also to be
personally sanctified.
C. And we’ve seen something of his continued desire for them – that they would
receive additional grace – to give them strength – and peace – that their sins might be
covered, that they might have objective and subjective peace – from the Father, and
His Son – for Christ is the only basis for that grace.
D. In this next section, Paul does two things: he thanks the Lord for the saints of Rome
because of the reality of their faith which was shown through its being spoken of
throughout the whole Roman empire, and he prays that he may soon come to the
Romans to minister his gift to them and to be the instrument of bringing more of the
Lord’s people to faith in Christ.
E. This morning, we’ll look just at the first of these two things: Paul’s thanksgiving to
God for the faith he has heard of in the Roman saints. It’s my hope that we will be
encouraged through this passage to let the light God has given us shine more that
other believers might also give thanks for us, but especially that those who are lost
might find Christ.
F. The Bible can often teach us a lot in a very little space. There is a great deal of truth
contained in this one verse. Paul writes, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ
for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.”

II. Sermon.
A. First, what is it that Paul was doing here? He was thanking God.
1. God is to be thanked for every good thing. “Every good thing given and every
perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom
there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). There is much we should
be thankful for: for Christ, for husband or wife, children, the communion of
believers, our daily bread.
2. But we need to remember that He is also to be thanked for every bad thing, not
for that bad thing in itself, but for the good He will work out of it. Remember,
God’s plan is best, the best possible, not necessarily for us personally, but overall
for God’s glory, and in that we should be thankful. As God glorifies His name,
He also brings blessing to His people.
3. Paul thanked God for what he saw in the Romans – for them and for their faith, as
we’ll see. The grace to believe only comes from God, and when someone has this
grace, it makes him into someone we can thank God for.
4. Grace also enables us to thank God for what we see in others, instead of being
jealous of them.
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5. From the tense of the verb, he didn’t thank God only once, but continually.

B. But notice secondly, who it was that Paul thanked? It wasn’t just God, but “my
God.”
1. The word “my” here shows that a relationship existed between Paul and God, a
covenant relationship.
2. God’s taking us to be His people and giving Himself to us to be our God, is the
essence of being in covenant with Him. Jeremiah writes, “‘But this is the
covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the
Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will
be their God, and they shall be My people’” (Jer. 31:33). This is the relationship
Paul had with God.
3. This is what we have as well. The Lord has taken us into this relationship in
Christ. We can not only call Him “our God,” but “Abba, Father,” the very words
Jesus used when He spoke with the Father (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; cf. Gal. 4:6).
He is our Father; we are His children. He is our God, we are His people.

C. But notice how Paul thanked Him, “through Jesus Christ.”


1. Paul could not approach God without a Mediator, neither can we.
2. Nothing we do is acceptable to Him. Even our thanks must be offered through
Christ.
3. We are not good enough by ourselves. We never will be. We will always need
Jesus, and so the Father had ordained that Jesus will always be the God-man and
our Mediator. This is how great His grace and love is towards us.
4. The Father has also given us to His Son as a bride and Him to us as a groom. We
are God’s children and He is our Father. He is our God, we are His people.
These are very close relationships, the closest we can have. This is how we are
related to Him.

D. But now what was it that Paul was thankful for? He was thankful, “For you all,” for
all the Roman saints.
1. We need to learn to be thankful to God for all of His good gifts, as we’ve seen.
2. But we also need to be thankful for one another.
3. We really don’t realize how much we need and should be thankful for each other.
We might have a better idea if the church went through persecution. Fire tends to
melt us together and close up the gaps, the same way it does pieces of wax or
metal. Perhaps in the Lord’s plan, we will.
4. But even so, now we all have a job to do, and the more workers, the better. We
all have a war to fight, and the more soldiers, the better. The job is so great, the
war is so great, that we should be thankful for other helpers and not jealous of
them.
5. We should be thankful for each other, especially when we see in each other what
we will see in the Romans.

E. What was it about the saints at Rome that Paul was thankful for?
1. He says it was because their “faith was being proclaimed throughout the whole
world.”
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2. The whole world here refers to the Roman Empire. Rome was the capital of the
world at that time. People who went there could see their faith. Their faith was
being talked about everywhere Paul went.
3. Notice, it wasn’t just being spoken of, but proclaimed. It was remarkable. And
this didn’t happen only one time, but continually (present tense).

F. But how was their faith seen?


1. We’re not told here, but it’s not hard to guess. There’s only one way faith can be
seen: through our works.
2. Now it may not have been that their works were so astounding that people
everywhere were talking about it, but the fact that they weren’t afraid to show
their faith. They were showing it openly. And they were doing this in the capital
city of the Empire, under Caesar’s very nose.
3. They were very open about their faith. How else can someone see it?
a. If you speak about Christ, but don’t live the life He calls you to, people will
think you’re a hypocrite.
b. If you do what He calls you to do, but don’t give the glory to God for it, people
will think you’re a legalist, or at least that you’re trying to take the credit for
yourself.
c. If you don’t speak of Christ or do His works, they won’t suspect you of being a
Christian at all.
d. But if you speak the truth and live as a Christian openly, then people will see
that Christ really is alive in you.
e. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before men in
such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is
in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). That light consists both of our profession and our
walk.

4. These people were not afraid to show Christ to others. And in doing so, as we’ve
seen, the Lord revealed Christ in a saving way to others, Christ’s kingdom
continued to grow, and God was glorified.

III. Conclusion.
A. We should be thankful for many things:
1. That God has taken us in covenant relationship with Himself.
2. That we are sons and daughters, that we are the bride of Christ and He is our
husband, that He is our God and we are His people.
3. That God has given us a Mediator to bring us to Himself, so that not only our
thanks would be acceptable to Him, but also we ourselves.
4. And that the Lord has given us brothers and sisters to help in the work, to help
fight in the battle, especially those who are very active in this.

B. But we should also let these considerations stir us up to several things:


1. To trust in Christ more for our acceptance with the Father, and not in our works.
2. To not only give thanks for our brothers and sisters, but pray that the Lord would
bless them to produce even more fruit.
3. To be more open about our faith and do more to bring the knowledge of Christ to
others. May the Lord help us to do so. Amen.