Receiving the gospel is receiving Christ. And, Christ is everything. Having Christ is having it all (Ps. 73:25-26). It would seem inconceivable to ask for more and yet, there is more. Paul tapped into it more than once. For instance, in his letter to church in Ephesus, he says that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3). Yes, there’s more.
God is an abundant giver. He gives and gives. He loves to give to those whom He chose “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). He lavishes His riches upon us through His grace (Eph. 1:8) as children of His inheritance (Eph. 1:11). The gospel gives us endless privileges through endless grace.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Romans 1:1-7
Believe it or not, this is one long sentence jam-packed with theological truth. It tells us that God uses human instruments (Rom. 1:1) to spread the timeless message of salvation (Rom. 1:2) which is all about Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:3-4) who gives believers endless grace (Rom. 1:5). In the final verses, Paul’s words reveal the endless privileges that come through the gospel to all who believe (Rom. 1:6-7).
To appreciate your privileges in Christ, at least those found tucked away in these verses, you have to first appreciate a key verb that drives them. The word “are’” communicates being and existence. It is a powerful word. Notice in Romans 1:6, Paul says that “you are called to belong” which points to the state of being for all believers. We are “those who are loved” and “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). Paul is referring to the believer’s spiritual reality. We are something different than before. Something separated, loved, called, and treasured because we are something new in Christ. We are grace recipients eternally positioned to enjoy the exclusive privileges of God.
The Privilege of Being Family
It begins with us. Not you. Not me. But all of us collectively as a family of God. The endless privileges of God’s endless grace are for believers, “including you” (Rom. 1:6). The original Greek can be translated “among whom [the privileged] are you” (Rom. 1:6). Isn’t it good to be included? It means that you are not alone.
In these small words, Paul enlarges the circle of grace recipients. All of the realities in the prior five verses are true for Paul as much as they are true for you and me. People from “among all the nations” have received grace if they have “the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5). The gospel welcomes into the family people from every part of the world, and that includes you.
Pause and allow that to resonate with you. You belong to the family of God. “You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons” (Rom. 8:15) and enjoy the fellowship of brothers and sisters around the world. When you travel to another country and bump into a grace recipient, you bump into family. You belong. You do not wage war on sin by yourself. You do not suffer alone. You are not blessed in isolation. You share the privileges of grace with others. They will sharpen you, strengthen you, comfort you, carry you, and mourn with you. In return, you will reciprocate those graces to them in the most spiritual way.
The Privilege of Being Called
There’s more. We are “called of Jesus Christ,” as the original Greek reads (Rom. 1:6). The word “called” is theologically loaded. Originally, it was used to designate those who were invited to a banquet. Paul uses it to communicate a spiritual invitation to dine in the presence of God. In most contexts, it carries a more forceful idea so that it is often understood as a summons. Paul was summoned to serve (Rom. 1:1). Believers are summoned to be set apart (Rom. 1:7).
The force behind this word exists because of the one who is summoning you, Jesus Christ. For this reason, theologians refer to it as an effectual call. For example, Paul uses “called” as an unbreakable link in the golden chain of salvation. It always achieves its intention.
“For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many believers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”Romans 8:29-30
When Jesus calls, we respond. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Christ who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). The “heavenly call” (Heb. 3:1) pulls you out of sin and into righteousness.
The descriptor “effectual” is helpful to distinguish this call from the earthly call to repentance. Sometimes the two are distinguished by the word “internal” and “external” as well as “general” and “particular” respectively. The voice of the preacher, the parent, the friend, the evangelist is the external call to repent. It reaches the ear, but not the heart. The voice of God, however, is a summons that captures the heart and brings about repentance and faith.
In John 10:22-29, there is a wonderful illustration of this. “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27). Imagine the shepherd who calls out to his sheep by name who are grazing in the pasture. Some of the sheep lift their heads at the sound of his voice and turn from the grazing to follow the shepherd. The other sheep continue to graze because they don’t know the shepherd’s voice. Grace recipients recognize the Shepherd’s voice and follow Him when He calls.
The Lord called you by name. You were personally invited by God to join Him at the heavenly banquet. You were not invited by proxy. You are not a plus-one. You are wanted. God wants you to join Him. You are His possession, His sheep, His people. You were handpicked from the pasture and personally selected from among many.
The Privilege of Being Loved
There’s more. You are “beloved by God” (Rom. 1:7). This is purposely put in the present tense. You are continually being loved by God. Paul doesn’t say that you love God, which in itself is a privilege of grace. Instead, he points to the greater love. Your love is faulty, conditional, insecure, wavering, and full of failure. His love is just the opposite-unconditional and without any flaw. “In this love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us” (1 Jn. 4:10).
God’s love doesn’t depend on your loveliness. His love is not rooted in your works but in His mercy (Eph. 2:4). It is an eternal and unbreakable love. “Who shall separate us front the love of Christ?” Paul asks rhetorically (Rom. 8:35).
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:38-39
You are loved by God with an endless and inseparable love. It is eternal, undying, and continual. It is an abundant, more than-necessary love. When you fall into temptation, you are still being loved. When the enemy of your soul launches his fiery arrows at your soul, you are still being loved. Take up your shield of faith and trust that His love is never-ending.
The Privilege of Being Sanctified
There’s more. We are also “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). All grace recipients are set apart like fine China in grandmother’s glass shelf. We are a special kind of people, set aside for special use. We are not used and disposed of in the garbage. We are put on display to show the purity of God’s sanctifying power.
In the Old Testament, God set aside the temple and tabernacle along with all their furnishings. He set aside the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. He set aside the Levites as priests, the nation of Israel as light, and the tithes as a special offering to Himself. In the New Testament, however, God sets aside a people, a spiritual sheep called out of the pasture of the world. We are God’s temple, set aside and erected to display His glorious grace.
You may not feel polished and worthy of display, but God has positioned you as a holy object of His affection and He is making you more and more holy in practice. You are not disposed but treasured. You are not cheap but purchased with the high cost of Jesus’ life. You are valued and cherished by God.
The Privilege of Being Favored
There’s more. Paul says to the Romans, and to all who read the epistle in faith, “grace to you” (Rom. 1:7). Grace is the provision of the gospel, our daily manna, and living water. It flows to us in abundance for the day and is given to us through Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:5). It is received with open and empty hands. It is poured out to only those who believe. It empowers the Christian’s life, fuels the Christian’s work, and energizes the Christian’s growth. It comforts, cleanses, saves, and transforms.
Paul was a recipient of grace and so he wishes this grace upon others. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Blessed men scatter blessings.” Paul was a blessed man. So, he blesses us by wishing upon us the grace that flows from God. He doesn’t wish us good health, great success, positive experiences, or job promotions. He wishes us what we need. We need grace moment by moment and day by day.
“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”1 Corinthians 15:9-10
Grace is for today. You need grace. And, you receive it through Christ as a privilege of the gospel. In Christ, you have a fresh supply of all that you need to obey God. You are looked after, not left to your own strength. You are equipped by God for difficulties, energized by God when weakened, and comforted by God when suffering. You are favored in every way as God’s masterpiece who is transformed from glory to glory.
The Privilege of Being Tranquil
There’s more. Paul also wishes “peace to you” (Rom. 1:7). While it is a privilege to have peace with God, grace recipients are already justified and “have peace” (Rom. 5:1). Paul is wishing you peace from God because God is the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33). It flows from Him to you and permeates the entirety of your inner being.
Paul wishes that you experience the rest that comes from God when the trials of life encompass you. He wishes to you a calmness in the heart and the serenity of the soul. It is a disposition of peace, a solemnity to enjoy when others are stirred to anxiety and fear. You are eternally safe and satisfied. You are covered by Christ.
The Privilege of Being Fathered
There’s more. Many know the pain of being parented by sinful fathers. Others know the pain of absent fathers. No father is perfect, even the good ones. God, however, is the perfect Father. All the grace and peace that we experience comes to us “from God the Father” (Rom. 1:7).
God is not only the perfect Father, that never fails us, He is the eternal Father, that will never fail us. He is good to us all the time and in every way. He is gentle, loving, caring, understanding, instructing, merciful, forgiving, and faithful. You are His privileged child. His tenderness is for you. His affection is for you. His will is for you. You are particularly and especially loved by the only benevolent Father.
The Privilege of Being Guided
There’s more. Grace and peace also come to us through “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7). While this world has tainted the idea of being ruled by another, we who have been summoned by Christ experience a gracious rule by a sovereign Lord.
We are not lost to our own demises. We are not abandoned to find our way on our own. Jesus rules our life and guides us to heavenly treasures like a light in a dark world. He does this because He purchased us from the slave market to belong to His Kingdom. You are a citizen of Jesus Christ. He gives you purpose, value, and a place to live in Him.
In high school, I had a friend who was the envy of all the guys and the girls. He was prized. He was intelligent seemingly without practice. He excelled in just about every sport and won nearly all the awards. He graduated top of our class. He went on to excel in the world. He taught at multiple universities and was celebrated by many. However, in a recent vacation out of the country, he was murdered and lost it all. He didn’t know Christ as Lord nor God as Father. He was not a grace recipient. In the end, he had nothing.
Believers, you have it all. You have Christ, which is enough, but in Christ, you have even more. The gospel gives us endless privileges through endless grace. And yes, there is more. We just scratched the surface.