Letter to Christians in Rome: Introduction (pt 4 of 5)

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Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians is important because if you think about it, they are no different from us. In fact, our whole faith grapples with human beings like you and me (and that is the central problem). That is what these Roman Christians were. They were the basic material in which God begins this work. Everything described about them in this letter is true of us, as everything that is true of us was true of them. They had jobs to go to; they had children to care for; diapers to change; relatives to relate to; neighbors to argue with; whatever you deal with day-to-day, they dealt with day-to-day. Paul also writes about himself because he is the pattern of what Christ can do in a person’s life; he is “Exhibit A,” a living example of God’s grace. All this is simply to make visible and clear to us what God intends to do in Christ.

Many people read my “Morning Messages,” or the studies I prepare and have different reactions. Some read them and are moved in their hearts to seek the Lord with their whole being. Others, in essence, shrug their shoulders and although they believe the claims of Jesus, don’t allow it alter their lifestyles or their “hearts.” They continue on unchanged in their lives or abitions. To obtain any benefit from your reading, you have to allow these words to transform your life. It must consume you so they your thoughts are purified; your reactions to various situations are not reactionary, but gently and peaceful; your conversations are uplifting and encouraging, instead of insulting and degrading. More importantly, though, so you can know your Lord.

In a study entitled, “Heeding our Hearing,” Ben Johnson wrote:

“We assemble every first day of the week and other times of the week to hear the preaching and teaching of the Bible. We study in our homes; we have classes; we have special classes; we have gospel meetings; we have lectureships; we have vacation Bible school and many other times of assembling for the purpose of studying his word. There is but one reason ‘why we hear’ and that is to learn the will of God for our lives in order to prepare ourselves for the judgment day. Everything we do is predicated upon hearing the word of God. As Paul put it in Romans 10:17, ‘So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.’ When we couple this with Hebrews 11:6, which says, ‘Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,’ we can clearly understand the importance of hearing God’s word. The Hebrews affirmed that without faith it is impossible to please God” (Ben Johnson, Heeding Our Hearing)

Whenever I study the books of the Bible, I try to catch the main themes, the principle thoughts of the book. I do this so I can get the full force of the message. However, Paul’s letter moves in such a logical way that the best way to understand it is to follow through his arguments, one step at a time without getting bogged down in all the details. This is the only way to grasp Paul’s devastating logic. When we are through with this study, we will see how magnificently he has captured all the mighty truths of the Gospel for us.

Oh, one more thing. If you allow it to, this book of Romans can have a powerful impact on your life. James Boice said Romans “is the most basic, the most comprehensive statement of true Christianity.” If this is true then we must clearly understand its message. Whether we do will depend on how we approach our study.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome


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