THE SECTIONS OF ROMANS
At this point we need to consider the sections of the book of Romans. The Lord has given us eight words to denote the eight sections of this book: introduction, condemnation, justification, sanctification, glorification, selection, transformation, and conclusion. We all need to remember these eight words.
A. Introduction - the Gospel of God
The introduction (1:1-17) delineates the theme of the book of Romans, which is the gospel of God. This is the content of the introduction.
B. Condemnation - the Need of Salvation
Following the introduction, we have the section on condemnation (1:18-3:20) that unveils to us the need of God’s salvation. We all are hopeless and helpless cases and are under God’s condemnation. We need God’s salvation.
C. Justification - The Accomplishment of Salvation
The third section, justification (3:21 - 5:11), reveals the accomplishment of God’s salvation. Related to this matter of justification we have three other items - propitiation, redemption, and reconciliation. We will cover these terms when we come to chapter 3. God’s justification depends upon the redemption of Christ. Without the redemption of Christ, God has no way to justify sinners. Therefore, justification depends upon redemption, and redemption has one major aspect - propitiation. Propitiation is the major structure of redemption. Propitiation is the major part of the redemption of Christ because, as sinners, we owed God a great deal. We were held by God to pay this debt, and this caused a tremendous problem. That problem has been resolved by Christ as our propitiatory sacrifice. Since this propitiation has solved our problems with God, we have been redeemed. Based upon the redemption of Christ, God can easily and lawfully justify us. Thus, justification depends upon redemption, and the major part of redemption is propitiation. What, then, is reconciliation? Reconciliation is the issue of justification. God’s justification issues in reconciliation. All of this has been accomplished. Hallelujah! Although you may not be clear about all of these words at present, you can say to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t understand all these terms, but I praise You that everything has been accomplished.”
Justification brings us to God. In fact, it not only brings us to God, but also into God. Therefore, we may have the full enjoyment of God. The King James Version says, “We joy in God” (Rom. 5:11). We not only joy in God; we enjoy God. God is our enjoyment. This is justification.
D. Sanctification - the Life-process in Salvation
Following this, we have sanctification (5:12 - 8:13). How good it is to be in God and to enjoy God! However, do not look at yourself. After being justified, we need to be sanctified.
What does it mean to be sanctified? Once again we may use the illustration of tea. If we put tea into a glass of plain water, the water will be “teaified.” At best, we are plain water, although we are actually not plain, but dirty. Even if we are plain water, we lack the tea flavour, the tea essence, and the tea color. We need the tea to come into our very being. Christ Himself is the heavenly tea. Christ is in us. Hallelujah! God is progressively revealed throughout the book of Romans. In chapter 1 He is God in creation, in chapter 3 God in redemption, in chapter 4 God in justification, in chapter 5 God in reconciliation, and in chapter 6 God in identification. As we come to chapter 8, we see that our God is now within us. Christ is in us (Rom. 8:10)! He is no longer merely in creation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, and identification, but He is now within us, in our spirit. Christ is in us doing a transforming and sanctifying work, just as the tea, when put into the water, works the element of tea into it. Eventually, the water will be wholly “teaified.” It will have the appearance, the flavour, and the taste of real tea. If I serve you some of this beverage, I will be serving you tea, not plain water. “Hallelujah! We have been justified because Christ has accomplished redemption. God has reconciled us and we are now enjoying Him.” This is wonderful. However, what about sanctification? Have you been sanctified? If some of the married brothers claim to be sanctified, their wives will disagree, saying, “The brothers certainly have been justified, but it is very doubtful that they have been sanctified.” Brothers, have your wives been sanctified? Wives, do you think that your husbands have been sanctified? Some may say that their husbands have been sanctified a small amount. Others may feel that they are somewhat improved. However, I am not talking about being improved, but being sanctified - that is to have Christ wrought into our very being, just as the essence, flavour, and color of the tea are wrought into the water. This is sanctification.
E. Glorification - the Purpose of Salvation
The next section in the book of Romans is glorification (Rom. 8:14-39), unveiling the purpose of God’s salvation. Following sanctification, there is the need of glorification. Our body needs to be glorified. Although a person may be quite saintly, his body needs to be glorified because of its physical defects and limitations. When the Lord Jesus comes, we will be glorified. Presently, I must wear thick, peculiar eyeglasses, but when the Lord comes I will be glorified. We shall not only be justified and sanctified; we shall be glorified, that is, our body shall be redeemed. Glorification is the full redemption of our body. This glorification reveals the purpose of God’s salvation. The purpose of God’s salvation is to produce many brothers to Christ. Originally, Christ was the only begotten Son of God. Now the only begotten Son has become the firstborn Son. We ourselves will be processed into the many brothers of Christ and the many sons of God. Christ is the prototype and that we are His duplication, the mass production. The little Jesus has been processed and designated as the Son of God, and we also are in the same process to be designated as the many sons of God. He is the firstborn Son, and we, the many sons, are His many brothers. This is the purpose of God’s salvation.
F. Selection - the Economy of Salvation
After glorification, we come to selection which reveals the economy of salvation (Rom. 9:1 - 11:36). God has a purpose and an economy. His economy is for the fulfillment of His purpose. God is very wise and He arranges everything for the fulfillment of His purpose. He knows what He is doing. He knows who His chosen people are and He knows when His chosen people should be called. In relation to God, selection is for the accomplishment of His purpose; in relation to us, selection is our destiny.
G. Transformation - the Life-practice in Salvation
After this, we have the section on transformation, unfolding the life-practice in salvation (Rom. 12:1 - 15:13). In this section we see the life-practice of all that has been produced by the life-process. Whatever is produced in the section on sanctification is practiced in the section on transformation. Eventually, sanctification becomes transformation. In one sense, we are in sanctification; in another sense, we are also in transformation. We are in the process of life and in the practice of life that we may have the Body life with a proper private life. Every aspect of the proper Christian life and church life is included in this section on transformation. While we are being sanctified, we are also being transformed from one form into another form and from one shape into another shape. Praise the Lord! We are all under the life-process of sanctification for the life-practice of transformation.
H. Conclusion - the Ultimate Consummation of Salvation
The last section of the book of Romans is the conclusion, indicating the ultimate consummation of salvation (Rom. 15:14 - 16:27). The ultimate consummation of God’s salvation is the churches - not just the Body, but the local churches as the expressions of the Body. Hallelujah! The book of Romans begins with the Gospel of God and concludes with the local churches. In Romans, we do not have the local church in doctrine but the local churches in practice. As we will see in later messages, many churches are mentioned in Romans chapter 16.
III. THE MAJOR STRUCTURES OF ROMANS
The major structures of the book of Romans are three - salvation, life, and building.
The first major structure of Romans is salvation, revealed in 1:1 - 5:11 and 9:1 -11:36. Salvation includes propitiation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, selection, and predestination. In eternity past God predestinated us. Then He called us, redeemed us, justified us, and reconciled us to Himself. Thus, we have full salvation. We need to differentiate between redemption and salvation. Redemption is what Christ accomplished in the eyes of God. Salvation is what God has wrought upon us based upon the redemption of Christ. Redemption is objective, and salvation is subjective. When redemption becomes our experience, it becomes salvation.
Salvation is for the life unfolded in 5:12 - 8:39. In this section the word life is used at least seven times and, according to chapter 8, this life is four-fold, which we will see as we come to that chapter.
In the last part of Romans, 12:1 - 16:27, we have the building, the Body with all of its expressions in the local churches. Salvation is for life, and life is for building. Thus, the three major structures of Romans are salvation, life, and building.