Saturday, September 21, 2013

Academic Paper: Basics of the Faith, Book of Romans

Romans is a systematic presentation of what it means to be a Christian. Romans was written by Paul during his stay at Corinth, to the early church forming in Rome. Romans chapters 1 through 8 has a lot to say about the natural world, human identity, relationships, culture, and civilization. A basis is described for a firm foundation in Christianity, which goes to why the book is popular and widely interpreted. Romans 1-8 deeply affects my worldview and how I act and think.
Romans teaches a great deal about the natural world. Romans 1:20 (NLT) states "20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." This indicates that the natural world is a physical display of who God is. In addition, the natural world is direct evidence for the existence of God. The sky is beautiful, the earth is amazing, and these are two qualities God has in abundance. When I first started to seek God, it was the beauty of his creation that first opened my mind to it. Instead of seeing the world as a random gathering of evolution, I see Earth as a temporary construct, and a fallen planet riddled with sin. I also see the beauty and majesty of the mind of my creator. Sometimes it's hard to see the world so starkly, but in the end the peace God gives is greater than my own fear.
Romans teaches that every individual's identity is with God, through Christ. Romans teaches that we are all sinners and deserve death (Romans 3:10). There is no way humanity can earn eternal life. Eternal life is a free gift from Jesus Christ, through our faith in him (Romans 3:22). Humanity could not fulfill the requirement of the law and all fall short of God's standard (Romans 3:23). All humans are sinners in identity, but find true identity through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21). Before I had my identity in Christ, I considered what the world said about me. The world constantly told me I wasn't attractive enough. It told me I needed more money, more stuff, and more power. Now I understand that I have great value through the eyes of my God. I am chosen, loved, and protected by the living God.
According to Romans 4:13 (NLT) "13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith." Romans teaches that our righteousness with God is predicated on our relationship with him and our trust in him. A close relationship with God is only possible through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:2). Humans are relationally slaves to that which they serve, which makes those saved, slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). When Adam sinned, all humanity received the curse of death. My worldview on people is that they all fall short of God's perfection. At first this gave me a very negative view of people around me. But knowing that I'm not any better, I come to love those around me, and want them to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Romans says quite a bit about human culture. As far as Jews are concerned, the law of Moses had become a huge part of their culture. Unfortunately Jews had gotten too far into the letter of the law, without obeying the spirit of the law (Romans 7:6). They were arrogant about their position in relation to God, and had begun to see themselves as better than gentiles. This caused them to set a poor example for gentiles, and then gentiles would speak poorly of God as well. The law of Moses could not save the Jews, because of sin's power (Romans 8:3). Due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, there is now no condemnation for those who belong to him (Romans 8:1). Jew and Gentile alike can now receive the free gift of eternal life. This affects my world view in that I don't need to feel utterly defeated when I'm not living up to the ten commandments. The law of Moses simple displays that I am a sinner. It also reminds me that all have the offer of salvation through Christ. Every person in every country on the planet has this possibility in front of them. I am unable to discriminate, even if I don't like someone.
Romans 8:19-21 (NLT) says " For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay." This is a powerful statement on the path of civilization itself. All of creation awaits the return of Jesus Christ. The entire path of civilization is relational to God. It all draws from the sin of Adam, that lead to the curse of sin being placed on all mankind (Romans 5:12). This curse of sin is why there is so much suffering and disaster in the world. Civilization crumbles due to it's own sin. Jesus Christ performed an act of righteousness by his sinless life and allowed for humanity to have a right relationship with their creator (Romans 5:18). Those who belong to Jesus Christ have received a spirit which they obey, which leads to good deeds and actions (Romans 8:6). Thanks to Jesus Christ, there is now nothing that separate God's children from the love of God (Romans 8:39). This affects my worldview in about a million ways, but I'll just go into a few examples. I understand that I'm a sinner, and that I must avoid listening to that part of myself. I need to listen to the holy spirit within me, and let it convict me to do right. There is a lot of peace in waiting for the return of Jesus Christ.
I learned a lot from the teachings in Romans, chapters 1 through 8. My worldview has changed drastically from when I was an unbeliever to right now. I can have hope, and greater than hope, assurance that I am saved and will live on. Love and compassion for others is my creed, and the course of civilization and culture speak to the truth that I am a child of the living God.