Bible Studies

The Gospel as Union with Christ,
An Annotated Outline of the First Eleven Chapters of Romans

The heart of the matter in salvation is our union with Christ. The moment that we turn from our sins and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as he is offered in the Gospel, we are joined to him. It is God’s gracious initiative that ultimately prompts us to come to the Lord Jesus at the outset, and it is that same grace that results in our continuing to keep on coming until that day when our faith becomes sight as we finally meet our blessed Savior.

I have laid this out as an outline. I’m sure that it could be much improved upon in terms more sub points being expanded or contracted, and there may be some disagreement concerning at which point in the biblical text the subject matter changes. But I offer it for your consideration.

Introduction: The Gospel is the power of God that brings about Salvation. (Romans 1:1-17.)

1.         The entire human race, whether Jewish or Gentile, is in bondage to sin and powerless to deliver itself from the dreadful, damning wrath of God. (Romans 1:18-3:20.)

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3:19, 20.)

2.         The Lord Jesus Christ is our Substitute before God. If we know that we have been united with him through faith, we know that we are no longer under God’s wrath and cannot come into condemnation. (Romans 3:21-5:21.)

2.1.      We are delivered from God’s wrath and commended to him because of what God did for us in Christ, the benefits of which we receive by means of faith alone. (Romans 3:21-31.)

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22.)

We are “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith.” (Romans 3:24, 25.)

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” (Romans 3:28.)

2.2.      A right relationship with God is received only through faith, whether people lived under the Old Testament or the New. (Romans 4:1-25.)

2.2.1.   By faith our sins are imputed to Christ, and we possess God’s own righteousness. (Romans 4:1-8.)

“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David (the man who committed two capital crimes, adultery and murder) says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.” (Romans 4:4-6.)

2.2.2.   Sealing ordinances do not bring about salvation; they are God’s stamp of approval declaring his work of salvation, the benefits of which we receive through faith. (Romans 4:9-12.)

“And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.” (Romans 4:11.)

2.2.3.   As in the case of Abraham, by faith we have God’s own righteousness credited to our account. (Romans 4:13-25.)

‘The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.’ (Romans 4: 23, 24 .)

2.3.  Salvation is entirely by God’s initiative: he declares us righteous while we are still sinners. (Romans 5:1-21.)

2.3.1.   We possess a right relationship with God that never changes. (Romans 5:1-11.)

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1.)

2.3.2.   Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is similar to the relationship we once had with Adam. (Romans 5:12-21.)  In Adam we received a bad record and a sinful nature, with dreadful consequences.

“The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation.” “The result of one trespass was condemnation for all men.” (Romans 5:16, 18.)

“Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:19.)

“The many died by the trespass of the one man.” (Romans 5:15.)  In the Lord Jesus we receive a righteous record and a godly nature, with blessed consequences.

“The gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.” (Romans 5:16.)

“The result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.” (Romans 5:18.)

“Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19.)

“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20, 21.)

3.         Even though salvation is entirely by God’s grace and received solely through faith, (Romans 3:21-5:21.) true faith is always accompanied by a changed life.  No one can be in union with Christ and live on and on in sin, because God has given victory in Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:1-8:39.)

3.1.      The doctrine of a gospel that is entirely by God’s grace will not lead to ungodly living because we have been united with Christ.  Baptism is God’s stamp that seals the reality that union with Christ is always accompanied by Christ-like living. (Romans 6:1-4.)

“We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2.)

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4.)

3.2.      In our union with Christ, we have died to the cursed consequences of law-breaking: not only condemnation, but abandonment to the increasing bondage to sin. Because we are now declared righteous, we can begin to enjoy the blessed benefits of that right relationship: increasing freedom from the power of sin. (Romans 6:5-7:6.)

3.2.1.   We have died to our old master, sin, and have a God as our new Master. (Romans 6:5-23.)

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14.)

3.2.2.   Our old husband is dead, and we are free to be married to Christ; the result is that we experience the Spirit’s power to do God’s will. (Romans 7:1-6.)

“So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.” (Romans 7:4.)

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6.)

3.3.      The law is our Schoolmaster to lead us to Christ by showing us that we can never successfully keep the law perfectly this side of heaven. (Romans 7:7-13.)

“The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good . . . but in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:12, 13.)

3.4.  Conversion to Christ introduces us to a life-long struggle to become fully like him. (Romans 7:14-8:39.)

3.4.1. While ultimate victory is assured, this struggle is imperfect in this life, and the quest for holiness is often marked by frustration. (Romans 7:14-25.)

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21.)

3.4.2.   Victory is assured because in Jesus Christ God has broken the vicious cycle of sin leading to more bondage, which, in turn, leads to more sin, which, in turn, leads to more bondage.  We are now God’s children and have been adopted into his family.  We are therefore free from guilt and can pursue the quest to be like Jesus without condemnation. (Romans 8:1-17.)

“Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2.)

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9.)

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.” (Romans 8:15.)

3.4.3.   Victory is assured in spite of our living in a fallen, sin-cursed world, because Jesus Christ has fully secured our complete salvation and nothing can thwart God’s purpose. (Roman 8:18-39.)  Life will be difficult until Jesus returns. (Roman 8:18-25.)

“We ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23.)  But the Holy Spirit is at work changing us from the inside out, while God is sovereignly causing everything to be subservient to our salvation in Jesus Christ. This sovereign God has done everything from first to last to guarantee that all of God’s people will be saved; none of them can ever be lost. (Roman 8:18-39.)

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (Romans 8:26.)

“God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28.)

“Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30.)

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:32, 33.)

“Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39.)

4.         God is sovereign, not only in bringing about the basis for salvation, but also in seeing to it that all of his people appropriate it as well. (Romans 9:1-11:36.)

4.1.      God established a covenantal system through which he worked among the Jewish people. (Romans 9:1-5.)

“The people of Israel—Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” (Romans 9:4.)

4.2.      While God’s covenant was with Israel as a whole, it is only God’s elect who ever enjoyed the true blessings of a covenant relationship with God.  Apart from converting grace, mere external involvement in the covenant community does not produce blessing ultimately, but greater condemnation in a life lived under the wrath of God. (Romans 9:6-13.)

“Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” (Romans 9:6.)

“It is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (Romans 9:8.)

‘Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:11-13.)

4.3.      God is in absolute control of the world and does all his holy will. What he does is right because God is God and there is no moral standard that is independent of God’s own character. (Romans 9:14-21.)

‘One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”’ (Romans 9:19, 20.)

4.4.      In God’s election of certain individuals, under the New Testament, he has begun to call masses of Gentiles to become one people alongside the elect remnant of Israel. (Romans 9:22-11:10.)

4.4.1.   There has always been a remnant according to the election of grace.

“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.” (Romans 9:27.)

4.4.2.   The rejection of the non-elect within Israel is related to a confusion about the relationship of works and grace; God’s way of salvation results in the individual personally appropriating God’s free gift of grace by means of faith.

‘Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”’ (Romans 9:31, 32.)

“Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:3, 4.)

‘That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”’ (Romans 10:9-11.)

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13.)

“So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:5, 6.)

4.5.      In God’s election of certain individuals there is the hope that one day the elect Jewish remnant may become the elect mass of Israel. (Romans 11:11-36.)

“But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” (Romans 11:12.)

“Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25, 26.)

“For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Romans 11:33.)

As imperfect as my attempt is, I pray that it illustrates that we may take a particular passage of Scripture and outline it so that the gospel is clearly enough stated that ordinary folk can understand it—you don’t have to go to college in order to grasp the basic truths of the Bible.  

However, merely understanding these truths is not enough.  Have you applied them to yourself?  Have you turned to the Lord Jesus Christ and put your trust in him?  Becoming a Christian does not mean that you will now live without ever committing sin again, but it does mean that you are self-consciously turning from your sins to Christ.

If I may help you in understanding this or in being sure of your relationship with Christ, please contact me. 

Bob Vincent

Office:  (318) 445-7271
Home:  (318) 793-5354

4900 Jackson Street
Alexandria, Louisiana 71303-2509