Aren’t you grateful that you are not depending upon someone’s imagination as a believer? Stories did not capture the attention of the first generation of Christians. Captivating, inventive perceptions about the origins of human life didn’t spread through the ancient Roman Empire when Christianity flourished. The faith of God’s people captivated the world. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (see Hebrews 11.1).
“Obedience to the faith” in Romans 1.4-5 is a faith that obeys. Part 1 explored the first-mention of faith in Romans. It emphasized that all people without exception have faith, but the object of any person’s faith is crucial. Once anyone’s faith is placed in the name of Jesus Christ (His person and work), God assuredly saves that person (John 5.23; 6.47). However a Christian must continue to believe in order to be assured of what he most certainly possesses (John 20.31; 1 John 5.13). Next, Paul writes:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1.8).
Paul had never visited Rome. Yet he thanks God for these believers through the one and only Mediator, Jesus Christ. There were Romans present at Pentecost when Peter preached and the Holy Spirit indwelt the body of Christ. These Roman Gentiles placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Note the text states that it was clearly their faith. They possessed it. It belonged to them.
Such vibrant faith is so radiant that it gains a reputation in the world. But it cannot be vibrant and radiant if it is not placed in Jesus Christ. All other faith is dead according James 2.14-17. Even the demons have faith, and they are supernatural beings. Paul will later contrast the law of works with the law of faith (Romans 3.27-31). This passage clearly teaches that faith cannot be a work. Again, it is reliance upon the work of God. God’s grace is at work in a through the Roman believers as they continue to believe. They believed at a point-in-time to gain their position (Romans 1-4); they continue to believe throughout the remainder of their lives so that they may gain a reputation (Romans 6-8).
Many are ambivalent when it comes to what others think of them. They are not too concerned about their reputation. Although, admittedly, some are way too concerned about it. Often Christians make sanctimonious and pretentious statements to cover up spiritual immaturity and bolster a pseudo-spirituality which will not stand. The fact of the matter is that a Christian’s testimony or reputation is very important. But it must be genuine. We produce holy lives for the glory of God by faith. This should be spoken of throughout the whole world.