Paul’s letter to the Romans is his most theologically significant letter. Whereas most of his other writings were regulatory in nature, his epistle to the Romans was purely theological. This makes this letter a treat for those who wish to gain greater insight into Paul’s understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The letter was probably written sometime early in the spring of A. D. 57 while Paul was on his third mission. It appears that Paul was at Corinth when he wrote this letter. He wrote this epistle in advance of his coming to Rome as part of his future mission to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28). It seems that at least one of the reasons for writing the letter was to inform the Roman saints of his coming and to establish his call of taking the gospel to the gentiles, of which Rome was the political center. In part, then, the letter was to set forth the doctrinal basis of the gospel going to the gentiles. Indeed, the epistle to the Romans was the doctrinal approach Paul would use in teaching the gentiles!
Of a truth, life is what happens to us while we make other plans. Paul’s journey to Rome came not the way he expected. He first planned on visiting Jerusalem to take the offerings made from many of the branches of the Church in Macedonia and Achaia to help relieve the poverty-stricken saints in Jerusalem (see Rom. 15:25-27). As revealed in the Acts of the Apostles, his visit to Jerusalem turned out quite different that he expected–eventually leading to his arrest and captivity (see Acts 21-26). Eventually, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to reject one court in favor of another and asked to be tried before Caesar (Acts 25:9-12). This brought Paul to Rome, but under house arrest (see Acts 27-28). He apparently made his way to Spain after his release from imprisonment.
The Roman Church
We know nothing for sure of the beginnings of Christianity in Rome. We do know, however, that the early Christian church in Rome was a mixture of both Jew and gentile. There was a large Jewish community in Rome during the New Testament time period boasting a population of between 40,000 to 50,000. It appears that many of Jews in Rome had joined the Christian movement. Most likely, many gentile proselytes to Judaism likewise joined the Church. But the letter to the Romans implies that many other gentiles had joined the Church as well (Rom. 1:13-32 and 15:7-12). This means that the Roman church was a mixture of both Jewish and gentile members.
Such a mixture would have automatically raised questions regarding both Jewish and Christian identity with specific questions being: Who is a Jew? What is the difference between Jew and gentile in Christian theology? Who are the elect or chosen people of the Lord? The answer to these questions became an important element in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
At the beginning of his letter, Paul wrote of his hope to teach the gospel in Rome: “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Rom. 1:13-15).
Then Paul stated the thesis of his letter: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Two things are made clear in this statement. First, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for the salvation of man. Second, the gospel is for all of God’s children, not just the elect.
The Power of God unto Salvation
Paul’s first point is very important. Often, the gospel is looked upon by members of the Church as a way of life. Such a view diminishes the relevance of the gospel. President Harold B. Lee once stated, “What is the gospel then? . . . So often I hear my brethren saying something that I wish we would not say quite that way–that the gospel is a way of life. It is not a way of life–it is the way to eternal life. It is the science of salvation.”[i] [i]
Paul explained that the power of the gospel is obtained by faith: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). This statement raises two questions. First, what is meant by faith? Second, how do the just live by faith?
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin answered: “‘The just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:7), we are told in holy writ. I ask again, What is faith? Faith exists when absolute confidence in that which we cannot see combines with action that is in absolute conformity to the will of our Heavenly Father. Without all three—first, absolute confidence; second, action; and third, absolute conformity—without these three all we have is a counterfeit, a weak and watered-down faith.”[ii] [ii]
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the faithful conform to the will of God when complying with the gospel plan of ordinances: “Now, what is the gospel of which we speak? It is the power of God unto salvation; it is the code of laws and commandments which help us to become perfect, and the ordinances which constitute the entrance requirements.
“The ordinances begin with baptism by immersion by proper authority for the remission of sins and for entrance into the earthly kingdom of God. It is followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost, which is promised to every person who qualifies. The priesthood is given, which opens further doors; the endowment is an indispensable feature in preparation for eternal life; and then, the sealing in the holy temple of a man and a woman for an eternal relationship. These are indispensable! No one can ever reach the heights of exaltation and eternal life without all of them.”[iii] [iii]
Only by compliance to the laws and ordinances associated with the gospel can the atonement of Jesus Christ be fully realized within the life of a sinner.
All Are Subject to the Consequences of Sin
After defining the gospel, Paul set forth the necessity for the gospel. “For the wrath of God,” Paul wrote, “is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Who are the unrighteous? To answer this Paul first examined the world of gentiles among whom he lived and described their wickedness (see Rom. 1:19-32). But the gentiles are not alone in their wickedness. Paul then examined the activities of the Jews noting that their sins lay in the fact that they lived the law outwardly and not inwardly (see Rom. 2:1 – 3:8).
He concluded: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. . . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10-12, 23).
All Need the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Therefore, all are in need of “the power of God unto salvation”! Paul declared that all mankind can be “justified only by [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom 3:24-26).
To be justified is to be pronounced innocent. Justification is a legal term that means to become acquitted from sin. It is the act by which a sinner is freed from the penalty of sin and is accepted by God as righteous.
It is not possible for a sinner to justify himself in the legal sense from sin since he must endure the eternal consequences of the sin. The Lord stated that justification comes “through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:30). As part of the process of the atonement, Jesus Christ suffered and paid the eternal consequences of each man’s “individual sins” (D&C 138:19). The atonement for individual sins satisfies the demands of justice and establishes a “plan of mercy” that can save each man from their individual fallen condition. Alma said: “And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).
Justification does not come from the works that we do. It can only come through the grace of Jesus Christ. However, one must qualify for justification. It requires the sinner to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of their sinful acts, and enter into a covenant with God through the ordinance of baptism. The Lord declared: “That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved” (D&C 20:25).
The Book of Mormon emphasizes the necessity of repentance to appease the demands of justice as part of the justification process. Because Christ suffered the eternal consequences of our sins, repentance will release man from the grips of justice. Alma explained: “according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men . . . for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice” (Alma 42:13). “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah,” said Lehi, “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Nephi 2:6-7). Because of his sacrifice, Christ stands “betwixt them and justice” having “satisfied the demands of justice” (Mosiah 15:9). Thus, Amulek stated: “And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.” (Alma 34:8,15-16)
Justification Through Faith
Paul emphasized the necessity of faith on Jesus Christ to secure justification (see Rom. 3:21-26). The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was foreshadowed through the law of sacrifice associated with the Mosaic law. The Jewish Christians would have been familiar with the concept of sacrificial substitution for sin found in the law of Moses. Indeed, the Jewish Christians felt that it was the law of Moses that set them apart from the gentiles. Because they had received “the law” – referring to the law of Moses – the Jews felt they had a privileged position before God (see Rom. 2:12-29).
Their belief in their favored position marked by their compliance with the regulations of the Law led to their boasting of the same (Rom. 2:23). Paul countered their pride with a discussion focused on faith. Declaring that justification can only come through the atonement of Jesus Christ, Paul asked: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works?” He answered: “Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:27-28).
Paul used lessons from the Old Testament to point out the foolishness of believing that men through their own works can save themselves (see Rom. 4). Though such great men as Abraham performed the works of the Lord’s law, it was their belief in things they could not see that gave them access to the grace of God. Likewise, only through faith will we find passage to the grace of God. Paul wrote: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1-2).
The Grace of Christ
Why is the atonement of Jesus Christ considered an act of grace? Paul answers: “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” (Rom. 5;6-8).
Through the grace of Christ’s atonement all mankind, not just the Jews, may be saved from sin. “We also joy in God,” Paul declared, “through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man [i.e., Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned . . . For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Rom. 5:11-15).
Grace and the Natural Man
Since the grace of Christ saves man from the consequences of sin, cannot one then continue in sin and then simply rely upon the salvational effects of Christ’s atonement? “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” “God forbid” Paul responded (Rom 6:1-2). Such a question disregards the premise that the grace of Christ’s atonement is accessible only through the ordinances of the gospel.
The ordinances symbolize the actions man must take when entering the covenants associated with each ordinance.
For example, the first ordinance of salvation is baptism. What is the meaning of being fully immersed in water? “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).
What is the newness of life? President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “You have been buried in the water and put away the old man, so to speak, and come out of the water with a newness of life, your sins remitted, and ready to do that which the Lord would have you do. What does He expect of me and you? What has He commanded us that we do? He expects us to be good men and women—men and women of honesty, men and women of integrity, men and women of faith, men and women of goodness. That is His great teaching, that we might become perfect even as He is perfect. That is one of the expectations of those who have become members of His Church and kingdom. He expects us to love Him, to worship Him, to do His will. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment’ (Matt. 22:37–38). Those are not idle words. Those are words which tell what He expects of us—to love Him and to grow in the pattern of His beautiful life.”[iv] [iv]
Such newness of life is lost if one continues in sin. Therefore, those who through the ordinance of baptism have gained access to the atonement must abandon a sinful life. They should become dead as to sin. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Rom. 6:6-12).
It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that men can free themselves from the captivity of the natural man. “When we receive the Gospel, a warfare commences immediately,” warned Brigham Young. “We have to fight continually, as it were, sword in hand to make the spirit master of the tabernacle, or the flesh subject to the law of the spirit.”[v] [v]
Paul spoke of this warfare in these words: “And now I see another law, even the commandment of Christ, and it is imprinted in my mind. But my members are warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. And if I subdue not the sin which is in me, but with the flesh serve the law of sin; O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He answered his own question: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, then, that so with the mind I myself serve the law of God” (JST Romans 7:24-27).
Paul’s lament over the natural man in Romans 7 was a reflection of his life under the law of Moses before he became converted to Christianity (see JST Romans 7). The law of Moses gave Paul no power to control the natural man. But when he accepted the atonement of Jesus Christ, he was enabled to fight the natural man in ways he had never experienced before.
The Weakness of Rituals
Paul urged the Romans not to “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1). The law of Moses was only a foreshadowing of the law of Christ. If only the rituals of the law were kept, the law offered little strength to battle the natural man. Therefore, Paul wrote: “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:2-3).
The Power of Rituals
Salvation does not come through mere rituals and ordinances, even if they are the ordinances of the higher gospel. It is the atonement of Jesus Christ that give the ordinances their power. Yet, these ordinances are useless unless the covenants associated with the ordinances are kept and kept with real intent. Thus salvation comes through the grace of Christ to those who live the meaning of the rituals by controlling the natural man. The gift of the Holy Ghost is an essential blessing necessary in the war against the natural man.
Through compliance to the covenants made at baptism, we may receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by ordinance. This gift has power to help us truly overcome the natural man. Paul explained: “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:10-13).
Power to Become Sons of God
An important aspect of ordinances is the power given to man to become sons of God. Though we are the spirit offspring of God, because of the fall we have lost our heirship and are doomed to inherit the consequences of our fallen condition. But through the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can become heirs of God again. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God,” Paul wrote, “they are the sons of God.” They become free from the bondage of sin. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:14-15).
This adoption applies to all mankind, not just to the Jews. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “By the law of adoption those who receive the gospel and obey its laws, no matter what their literal blood lineage may have been, are adopted into the lineage of Abraham.
(Abra. 2: 9?11) “The effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile,” the Prophet says, “is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham.” Such a person has “a new creation by the Holy Ghost.” (Teachings, pp. 149?150.) Those who magnify their callings in the Melchizedek priesthood are promised that they will be “sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham.” (D. & C. 84:33?34) Indeed, the faithful are adopted to the family of Christ; they become “the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters”; they are “spiritually begotten,” for their “hearts are changed through faith on his name,” thus being “born of him,” becoming “his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7.) Paul explained the doctrine of adoption by saying, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” because they receive “the Spirit of adoption,” being or becoming Israelites, “to whom pertaineth the adoption.” (Rom. 8:14?24; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5.)”[vi] [vi]
Again, he wrote: “Because of the atonement and by obedience to gospel law men have power to become the sons of God in that they are spiritually begotten of God and adopted as members of his family. They become the sons of God and joint?heirs with Christ of the fulness of the Father’s kingdom. (D. & C. 39:1?6; 76:54?60; Rom. 8:14?17; Gal. 3:1?7; 1 John 3:1?4; Rev. 21:7.)” [vii] [vii]
Heirs of God
Paul declared that those who become sons of God then become “heirs; heirs of God, and join-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Joseph Smith taught that this requires the full ordinances of the gospel: “All men who become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ will have to receive the fulness of the ordinances of his kingdom; and those who will not receive all the ordinances will come short of the fullness of that glory, if they do not lose the whole.”[viii] [viii]
Joseph Smith also taught that to be an heir is to become as God: “but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before.”[ix] [ix]
This adoption ought to be looked for with great anticipation by every one of God’s children for all have lost their heirship. But through the atonement of Jesus Christ all may be heirs again. When fully understood, one would suffer much to receive heirship with God. Thus Paul wrote: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation [i.e., all of God’s children] groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:8-23)..
The Law of Election
Continuing his letter, Paul again pointed out that “there is no difference between Jew and Greek [i.e., gentiles]’ (Rom. 10:12). They are both are spiritually in trouble and in need of the atonement of Jesus Christ which is available to all mankind. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13).
So what is the meaning of the Lord’s choosing the House of Israel and His chosen people?
The House of Israel, according to Paul, have received an “election of grace” (Rom. 11:5; see also D&C 84:99). What is this election of grace? In order to understand this doctrine, one must understand a few things about premortality.
We learn from Abraham 2:22, that in the premortal existence, the spirit offspring of God were not all the same. Abraham saw that there were both noble and great and less than noble and great spirits in the premortal realm. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “The spirits of men had their free agency, some were greater than others, and from among them the Father called and foreordained his prophets and rulers. Jeremiah and Abraham were two of them. . . . The spirits of men were not equal. They may have had an equal start, and we know they were all innocent in the beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it.”[x] [x]
Those who were more valiant in the premortal world earned certain blessings in mortality. One of the major blessings they earned is the right to have access to the gospel in mortality. To ensure this right, the valiant of God’s spirit children were foreordained to be born into a particular lineage: the House of Israel. “There was a group of tested, tried and proven souls before they were born into the world,” Elder Melvin J. Ballard taught. “And the Lord provided a lineage for them. That lineage is the House of Israel, the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their posterity. Through this lineage were to come the true and tried souls that had demonstrated their righteousness in the spirit world before they came here. We came through that lineage. Our particular branch is the House of Joseph through his son Ephraim. That is the group from whence shall come the majority of the candidates for celestial glory.”[xi] [xi]
Likewise, President Harold B. Lee taught: “It would seem very clear, then, that those born to the lineage of Jacob, who was later to be called Israel, and his posterity, who were known as the children of Israel, were born into the most illustrious lineage of any of those who came upon the earth as mortal beings. All these rewards were seemingly promised, or foreordained, before the world was. Surely these matters must have been determined by the kind of lives we had lived in that premortal spirit world. Some may question these assumptions, but at the same time they will accept without any question the belief that each one of us will be judged when we leave this earth according to his or her deeds during our lives here in mortality. Isn’t it just as reasonable to believe that what we have received here in this earth [life] was given to each of us according to the merits of our conduct before we came here?”[xii] [xii]
As members of the House of Israel, the valiant were rightful heirs of the gospel.
Of this Elder McConkie stated: “Israel is an eternal people. Members of that chosen race first gained their inheritance with the faithful in the pre-mortal life. Israel was a distinct people in pre-existence. Many of the valiant and noble spirits in that first estate were chosen, elected, and foreordained to be born into the family of Jacob, so as to be natural heirs of all of the blessings of the gospel.” [xiii] [xiii]
This is the election of grace Paul spoke of. Elder McConkie explained further: “This election of grace is a very fundamental, logical, and important part of God’s dealings with men through the ages. To bring to pass the salvation of the greatest possible number of his spirit children the Lord, in general, sends the most righteous and worthy spirits to earth through the lineage of Abraham and Jacob. This course is a manifestation of his grace or in other words his love, mercy, and condescension toward his children.
“This election to a chosen lineage is based on pre-existent worthiness and is thus made “according to the foreknowledge of God.” (1 Pet. 1:2.) Those so grouped together during their mortal probation have more abundant opportunities to make and keep the covenants of salvation, a right which they earned by pre-existent devotion to the cause of righteousness. As part of this election, Abraham and others of the noble and great spirits were chosen before they were born for the particular missions assigned them in this life. (Abra. 3:22-24; Rom. 9.)
“As with every basic doctrine of the gospel, the Lord’s system of election based on pre-existent faithfulness has been changed and perverted by an apostate Christendom. So absurd have been the false conclusions reached in this field that millions of sincere though deceived persons have devoutly believed that in accordance with the divine will men were pre-destined to receive salvation or damnation which no act on their part could change. (Teachings, p. 189.)
“Actually, if the full blessings of salvation are to follow, the doctrine of election must operate twice. First, righteous spirits are elected or chosen to come to mortality as heirs of special blessings. Then, they must be called and elected again in this life, an occurrence which takes place when they join the true Church. (D. & C. 53:1.) Finally, in order to reap eternal salvation, they must press forward in obedient devotion to the truth until they make their “calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1), that is, are “sealed up unto eternal life.” (D. & C. 131:5.)[xiv] [xiv]
The LDS Bible Dictionary states that the election of grace “has reference to one’s situation in mortality; that is, being born at a time, at a place, and in circumstances where one will come in favorable contact with the gospel. This election took place in the premortal existence.”[xv] [xv]
A Living Sacrifice
The election of grace only ensures that the valiant of premortality will receive gospel privileges. It does not ensure their eternal salvation. Like everyone, the elect must accept the gospel and live up to covenants made therein, and put off the natural man and devote their lives to the building of Gods kingdom. Therefore, the difference between Jew and gentile is that the Jew had the inherited right to the gospel of Jesus Christ whereas the gentiles did not. But in either case, the benefits of the gospel was dependent upon living a righteous life.
Therefore, Paul concluded his discussion regarding the gospel outlining the many things the Roman Christians ought to do in living and maintaining a righteous life (see Rom. 12 – 15). Particularly to the Jewish members of the Church, he taught them to live the spirit of the gospel and not just the ritual. Said he: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice [as opposed to rituals], holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). Similarly, the Book of Mormon states: “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved” (Omni 1:26). Only through such a personal sacrifice would the sacrifice of Jesus Christ be validated in their lives of the Christian community in Rome.
Likewise for the latter-day reader of Paul’s letter to the Romans, we must sacrifice all we have for the building of the kingdom. That we may all be able to do this is my sincere prayer.
[ii] [ii] . Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Shall He Find Faith on the Earth,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, pp. 82-84
[iii] [iii] . Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), p.502.
[iv] [iv] . Gordon B. Hinckley, “Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, June 1999, p. 5
[v] [v] . Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.9, pp.287?288.
[vi] [vi] . Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (2nd ed., rev. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), p.9.
[vii] [vii] . McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 65.
[viii] [viii] . Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. Sal Lake City: Deseret Book Press, 1938.), p.309.
[ix] [ix] . Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.347.
[x] [x] . Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith (3 vols. Edited by Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954?1956), 1:59.
[xi] [xi] . Melvin J. Ballard, Three Degrees of Glory: A Discourse by Melvin J. Ballard (22 September 1922, Ogden, Utah. Salt Lake City: Magazine Printing Company, 1955), p. 20.
[xii] [xii] . Harold B. Lee, “Understanding Who We Are Brings Self-Respect,” Ensign, January 1974, pp. 4-5.
[xiii] [xiii] . Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:284.
[xiv] [xiv] . McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.216.
[xv] [xv] . “Election” in the LDS Bible Dictionary, pp. 662-663, English edition.