Why Romans? Just before we launch into the second chapter of Romans …besides being the book written after 1 and 2 Corinthians, and where we find
ourselves in our travels with Paul--why wade through Romans?? Some
of the more difficult passages are tedious—some directed to the
Gentiles, others to the Jews of the day, living under the heavy hand of
the Law. Really, can’t we just read something LIGHT for a while? Is Romans that important? Yes.
Romans is the best summary of the Christian gospel in all the Bible. Martin Luther called it "really the chief part of the New Testament, and . . . truly the purest gospel." John Calvin said, "If we have gained a true understanding of this Epistle, we have
an open door to all the most profound treasures of the Scripture." In
other words, if you get Romans, you get Christianity.
The author, the apostle Paul, saw Christ after his resurrection from the dead and was commissioned by
him to be his authoritative spokesman (1 Corinthians 15.8-10). The word
"apostle" means one who is sent by another as his authoritative
representative. In other words, if this is true, Romans is not just the
words of a man, but the word of Christ that he revealed to Paul, and
through him to us. But is it true?
Because Paul knows the veracity of the book will be in question, he points people to how radically he opposed Christianity as a Pharisee before Christ appeared to him on the Damascus Road. (Paul's persecution of Christians was widely known.) Then he argues that the best explanation for his
radical reversal from a persecutor to a defender of this very faith is
that Christ appeared to him (Galatians
1.12-16) and made him his apostle. He tells these things to hostile
people who can easily verify them or reject them as outright lies.
Paul's calling and status as an apostle were confirmed by the other
eyewitnesses of the resurrection, so that he was not a mere renegade
making unsupported claims about his private experiences. He presented
himself and his message to the other apostles, especially Peter, James
and John, who gave him the right hand of fellowship when they saw the
evidences of Christ's apostleship in his life (Galatians 2.7-9).
Besides all that, Paul spent the rest of his life suffering extraordinary
persecution and hardship for the truth of what he had once tried to
eradicate (2 Corinthians 11.23-28). In other words, he had not been
motivated to change his mind because there were perks in this life. He
said at one point, "If Christ is not raised from the dead, then we are
of all men most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15.19). He saw his
sufferings and the scars on his back as the "brand-marks of Jesus"
(Galatians 6.17), and pleaded his authenticity by the sufferings he was
willing to endure.
For millions of people, this letter of Paul, together with the other
letters he wrote (12 others in the New Testament) have for 2,000 years
proved, to make more sense out of reality than any other worldview.
These inspired writings have shed so much light on the biggest issues of
life: God, and human personhood, where we came from, and why we are
here; what the future holds, what evil and sin are, and what God has
done about our sin in the death of Christ. These
writings have described true happiness, and how life on earth is to be
ordered so that society flourishes instead of collapsing into chaos. For
2,000 years people have embraced this book as true because it answered
the biggest, most important, and hardest questions in a way that helped
make sense out of all reality.
Finally, the impact of this letter on the church and the world has simply been
unparalleled. It was a quote from this letter that God used in 386 to
convert St. Augustine, who became the most influential teacher in the history of the Church. It was Romans 1.17 that converted Martin Luther and unleashed in the sixteenth century what we know today as the Protestant Reformation. It was the exposition of this letter in 1738 that awakened John Wesley and unleashed what came to be known as the Great Awakening
in England and America, with all its amazing transformation for the
good of our two countries. And, to take just one 20th century example,
an unconverted Greek Orthodox student,
Dumitru Cornilescu, started translating the New Testament in Bucharest
in 1916. In Romans he was overcome with the reality of the great truths
of the gospel of Christ
and was converted. He published his translation in 1921 and it became
the standard Romanian translation, but he was exiled by the Orthodox
Patriarch in 1923 and died some years later in Switzerland.
I believe we are among the millions of Christians who have been won over by the truth and penetrating power of the Bible. And I pray that we will apply ourselves to the understanding of Paul’s Letter to the Romans - perhaps the greatest book in the Bible. Tomorrow, Romans 2!
I drew a lot of this from John Piper – there simply was no reason to recreate the entire wheel!
© 2023 Created by AllAboutGOD.com. Powered by
You need to be a member of All About GOD to add comments!
Join All About GOD