The called ones receive the gospel of God through the obedience of faith (1:5). What is this? Under the law of Moses, God gave people ten commandments to obey. That kind of obedience was the obedience of the law, the obedience of the commandment. In this age of grace, God has given us one, unique commandment—to believe in Jesus. God does not require us to keep any commandment other than this. Regardless of who we are, we must obey God’s commandment to believe in Jesus. Whoever believes in Christ shall be saved, and whoever will not believe in Christ has been condemned already because of his unbelief (John 3:18). When we obey God’s unique commandment, we have the obedience of faith. This is why the Lord Jesus said in John 16:8-9 that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin for not believing on Him. Today there is one, unique commandment—believing in Jesus—and there is one, unique sin—not believing in Him. If you believe, you have the obedience of faith and you receive the gospel of God through such obedience. In the eyes of God the most obedient person is the one who believes in Jesus. The most disobedient person is the one who will not believe in Him. Nothing is more offensive to God than not believing in Jesus, and, on the contrary, nothing is more pleasing to God than believing in Him. If any sinner, any prodigal son, will say, “O God, thank You for sending Jesus Christ—I believe in Him,” the Father will be pleased. God is happy with you when you have the obedience of faith.
The receiving of the gospel through the obedience of faith results in grace and peace. Grace is God in Christ as everything to us for our enjoyment, and peace is the issue of the enjoyment of God’s grace. This peace is the inward rest, comfort and satisfaction, not something outward.
This gospel is the power of God unto salvation (1:16). In the book of Romans salvation means a great deal. Salvation not only means to save us from God’s condemnation and from hell; it means to save us from our naturalness, our self-likeness, our individualism, and our divisiveness. This salvation saves us to the uttermost, enabling us to be sanctified, conformed, glorified, transformed, built up with others as the one Body, and not divisive in the church life. The gospel of God is the power of God unto such a full, complete, and ultimate salvation. It is the power of God for all who believe. Praise the Lord! We believe.
Why is the gospel so powerful? It is powerful because the righteousness of God is revealed in it (1:17). According to John 3:16, salvation is out of God’s love. According to Ephesians 2:8, salvation is by God’s grace. But here Paul does not say that salvation is out of the love of God or by the grace of God; he says that it comes by the righteousness of God.
Neither love nor grace is related to the law. No law forces people to love and no law compels people to give grace. Whether I love you or not, I am still lawful, and whether I extend grace to you or not, I am still legal. In a sense, God is not bound to love us. If He likes, He may love us; if He does not like, He may forget about us. Furthermore, God is not legally held to show us grace. Whenever He feels happy, He may say, “Here is grace”; when He feels unhappy, He may stay away from us. God is not bound to love; neither is He legally held to extend grace. Righteousness, on the contrary, is very much related to the law. Since Christ has fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law, God is bound to save us. If you say, “Lord Jesus, You are my Savior,” you can turn to God and say, “God, You have to forgive me. Whether You like it or not, You must forgive me. You are righteous if You forgive me, but You are unrighteous if You don’t forgive me.” Be strong to speak to God in this way. Because Christ has fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law, God is bound by His righteousness to save us. Righteousness is a mighty bond. God is under such a bond to save us. God cannot escape—He has to save us because He is righteous. First John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, God is righteous to forgive us our sins because Christ has died for us and has shed His blood for us. Therefore, God must cleanse us. There was power in the gospel preached by Paul because the righteousness of God was revealed in it. When we come to chapter 3, we will see God’s righteousness.
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