Romans 1:7 — “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul had many kind things to say about the saints at Rome, but the first kindness that he had for them was not about them, it was to them; and it did not originate with him, but it was from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” is much more than just a warm salutation from one Christian to another. It was God’s message to the saints at Rome of that day, and it is God’s message to the saints of today as well. His “grace and peace” is in stark contrast to the wrath, judgment, and war that we should expect from Him. That is what the world can expect when Jesus Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of Lords:
Revelation 19:11–16 — “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His Name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
This is what the world is awaiting when our Lord returns to the earth to take what is rightfully His. The Prince of Peace will make war with the nations and smite them. But now, He is speaking in peace to the nations, and has given the world the message of good news (gospel) about His grace: the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), and this gospel of God is for obedience to the faith among all nations (Romans 1:5). The peace is not the condition of the world as we see it, for this world is always teetering on war, and it seems now more than ever. The peace is the relationship of God to mankind at present. God is not sending His wrath against the world right now. It is the dispensation of His grace, and He is governing the world by His grace. God’s business now is saving sinners out of this world so that we do not have to be trodden under the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Now, who are the saints, and what makes them saints? Particularly, it is to “all that be in Rome”. Think of what that means, relating to “obedience to the faith among all nations” as stated in verse 5. We see from the earlier passage in Revelation that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to come out of heaven and smite the nations with sharp sword from His mouth, but here, the city that was at the time the chief of nations is receiving a message to its saints of grace and peace! These are called to be saints because they are made holy. They are sanctified (“saintified”), as the apostle says to the Corinthians: “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2). He also called them “beloved of God”. This “saintification” is because of who they are in Christ:
1 Corinthians 1:30 — “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption…”
The saints in Rome were representative of what all in Rome could be. All mankind, in fact, is rendered reconciled to God, in other words, savable. The sins of mankind, whether the sins of those in the cities or of those “in the sticks”, are not what is standing between sinful men and our holy God. It is the “gospel of God” that “by [Jesus Christ our Lord] all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39). The law of Moses speaks condemnation to the sinner. The gospel of the grace of God blesses those that the law curses, when the condemned sinner only believes the gospel of first importance, how that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). God set forth Christ to be a “propitiation through faith in His blood…that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom 3:25–26).
The plain fact of Biblical revelation is that God has concluded all under sin (Romans 3:9). No one has any better standing before God, and therefore not one of us is more worthy of salvation than anyone else. No amount of repentance from sin and self-reformation will get anyone closer to salvation. The only way any of us is savable, or in a term that we may be able to relate to, salvageable, is because God has reconciled the world to Himself in Christ by the cross (2 Corinthians 5:19, Colossians 1:20–22). I want to be perfectly clear in saying this, that not everyone is saved, but everyone certainly can be saved. The hope of the unbeliever is that they are salvageable, and therefore can be saved. The hope of the believer is life eternal because when he was salvageable, he took hold of the hope of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and God by His grace has saved him. Just because the unbeliever is salvageable does not mean that he is saved, but it does mean that the only barrier in the way of that salvation is whether or not he will receive by faith the salvation that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ by His death on the cross and His resurrection. The sin question is settled: we are all under sin, yet we all can be justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). The natural state of man the that he is the enemy of God, yet see how God dealt with us when we were His enemies:
Romans 5:6–11 — “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the atonement.”
This is the grace and peace that our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ is offering and speaking. Remember these words of “grace and peace” when wondering if God is judging the world with natural disasters dubbed as “acts of God”, or terrorism, or wars, or anything else that comes up. The wars and terror and all such evils are the evils that mankind does and is capable of and when we see this, it evidences that what the Lord says in His Word is true. We will discuss that more when we get into chapter 3. When we see moral decay (and it is decay), as we will discuss further in Romans chapter 1, this is how God dealt with a world that willfully gave up knowledge of Him. They wanted to be ignorant of His truth, so He let them have their way. The natural disasters are the creation groaning, which in a sense is God’s judgment on sin, but it is God’s general judgment on the fallen world and not the direct result of particular sins of people or of a nation, or of “the Church” not repenting of something. When God’s wrath does fall on the earth, the world will know what happened and that it is God that is pouring out His wrath, and as the prophecy of Revelation lets us know, the world will still not repent.
But know now that God is dealing with the world in His grace, and you can be a recipient of His saving grace when you are justified by believing on Him that “raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24–25).