Today, in week three of Quest, I preached about the Epistles (letters) of Paul. Today, we begin reading his letters – starting with the book of Romans.
First- a word of caution:
Don’t be intimidated by the complexity of Romans. Most people realize that they cannot grasp some of the in-depth theological concepts that Paul presents here. Romans is utilized by arguers on many sides of many issues to prove their points. Let’s not waste the Word with that approach. Let’s just read it and absorb it and let the Holy Spirit teach us.
On a positive note, you will notice a lightening of the reading load. The chapters from here on out are a little shorter. We are more than half-way home with the Quest!
Chapter one of Romans is pretty well known for its straight-forward condemnation of a variety of sins – most notably, homosexuality. While the verses leave no question about how God feels about this sin, and how terrible it really is, make no mistake that there are additional problems that also need to be addressed. In this same chapter are lots of things that many people are guilty of (see Romans 1:29-31). Many people who want to condemn people who are guilty of one sin are just as guilty of committing other sins. I believe that is the exact reason that Paul admonishes us in chapter two to stop judging other people when we are guilty ourselves. He makes it clear, there is only One Judge, Jesus Christ. The rest of us need to work on our own salvation.
The well-known “Romans Road to Salvation”, a little memory verse exercise that may assist us as we attempt to lead people to Christ, is included in Romans. Here is it in a nutshell:
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
This may be a helpful tool for you.
Romans provides some great teaching on the hope of resurrection and our ability in overcoming sin. Chapters 6 and 8 are most helpful.
I am including some verses in chapter 8 as paraphrased in The Message:
Romans 8:31-39: So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Tomorrow, we will finish up with Romans. Can you detect spiritual growth? Can you measure your progress?