As our church’s pre-service meditation this week will make clear, Paul’s Epistle (epistle is a fancy word for letter) to the Romans has been one of the most historically important for readers of the Bible to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Mention is made in the notes both of Martin Luther and Charles Wesley. Luther’s meditation upon Romans 1:17 led to what we now label as the Protestant Reformation. The letter caused revolutions and revivals throughout church history.
But one need not be a monk or a scholar to wield or to feel the letter’s power. Even, Augustine, the most important figure in early church history, was converted after a child handed him Romans 13:14 and told him, Tolle Lege, take and read. A child slew a grown man with a verse from the letter written on parchment. The letter’s power far surpasses our own, and when in our hearts and on our mouths it breaks and builds up.
Indeed, Romans in the hands of a child has the power to bring grown men to their knees, how? What it does precisely is bring all kinds of men and women from one realm of existence and into an entirely new realm of existence. It centers on a gospel, a good piece of news concerning what Jesus did in history. Believing in this gospel transports a sinner fraught with enslavement to sin and misery and delivers him or her over to spiritual freedom. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, not only started movements and brought men to their knees, but it brings people out of the flesh and into the Spirit, or out of the old dominion of the devil and into the kingdom of Christ. It’s the gateway to a new realm of existence.
Romans, therefore, stands as a majestic entire letter which explores the need, the content, and the effect of the gospel of Jesus Christ when believed, yet it has also been very effectively broken down into an easily memorized cliff’s notes version of the plan of salvation and nicknamed the Romans Road which has been a tool to lead many to salvation. I was trained as a college student to do just that, and have led people down the steps of 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9. I have seen that the letter is thorough in its content and this has allowed it to become simple enough to be understood and of great benefit even from a superficial survey of its contents.
Therefore, it is due to its personal impact upon me and not just the letter’s historic effects that I prepare to present it to our church beginning on the first Sunday of 2021. Probably no other book of the 66 in scripture has been as instrumental in my understanding of God and transforming my life as Romans. I remember the first time I read the book. I was killing time at a lake house in Hot Springs, AR. I was invited there to spend time with friends, many of whom were instrumental in my conversion to Christ almost three years prior. I opened the book and was struck by the book’s internal logic. My understanding of how I was saved was both clarified and flipped on its head and clarified again. As I read it, the letter seemed to both strike at my personal pride and provide me with more confidence than is naturally available to anyone in the world. The letter forced me to raise questions I had never asked about God’s work of salvation. As I read and re-read Paul articulate the gospel and its application, he (carried along by the Holy Spirit) decimated any notions I have ever had of having kept God’s holy standard, but also fully convinced me of my righteous standing received by grace through faith in Christ and challenged me to new ethical devotion to Jesus out of gratitude for God’s mercies to me. God has been so good to me through Romans. In the twenty-one years since I first read it, I have read and re-read it, hoped and longed to understand and memorize it, prayed through portions of it, and now I stand longing to know and delight in it more. I have taught through it in bible studies and seen people moved by it. Now, it is both my duty and pleasure to preach it for our church plant in Norman, OK. May the Holy Spirit give many good gifts to his church as we read and study God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible, word contained Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. To God alone be the glory, soli deo gloria.
We encourage you to leave a comment below with your “Romans stories” this year.