Whenever I find my self struggling spiritually I turn to the book of Romans for comfort and assurance. I can have a terrible day where everything goes wrong and life seems to be spiraling out of control, but a half-hour perusing through Romans lifts my spirits.
Of all the books in the Bible Romans has had the greatest impact on post-reformation theology. In the preface to the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans Luther wrote, “This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”
I haven’t memorized it, though I should, and I have to admit that I don’t meditate upon it daily, though I should; but I can agree with Luther that the more we read and study the book the more precious it becomes.
Luther isn’t the only one who discovered the unmerited love of Jesus through the pages of Romans. In 386 A.D. Aurelius Augustine had his life transformed by reading a passage in Romans. That transformation gave the church one of its greatest theologians and leaders.
John Calvin said regarding Romans, “When one gains a knowledge of the Epistle, he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture.” And on May 24, 1738 a minister by the name of John Wesley wrote in regards to his study in Romans, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins.”
William Tyndale, the great Bible translator’s encounter with Romans transformed his life. He wrote, “It is the principle and most excellent part of the New Testament…No man can read it too often, or study it too well; for the more it is studied the easier it is; the more it is chewed, the pleasanter it is….the more it is searched, the preciouser things are found.”
From these handful of quotes we can easily see that the Protestant reformation and its subsequent movement have its roots deeply planted in the Book of Romans.
As Christians it would serve us well to take time to read and study the book of Romans. If we honestly wish to understand the Gospel and the grace that was poured out for us at Calvary then we cannot dismiss Romans in our study.
Where would we be without words like these, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (6:14)
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (8:1, 2)
“For no human being will be justified in His sight by works of the law, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (3:20)
“Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” (3:23-25a)
And of course we can’t skip the central theme of the book, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (3:24)
I could go on and on quoting from Romans but we will have fun exploring some of these verses over the next number of posts here at The Beggar Danced.
I realize that not all of you are going to agree with what I write regarding Romans, but I hope that all of you will engage in the study of the book and make your opinions and ideas known through the comments section of the post. That way we can all learn together and grow spiritually.
Over the last year I have had to come to grips with a number of issues in my spiritual life and have found myself rethinking cherished positions, and in some cases having to change my opinion on the validity of what I believed. Looking back over the transformation that has taken place in my life I realized that many of the things that caused me to change my thinking on certain spiritual issues stemmed from my readings in Galatians and Romans. (If you are interested I have put up 34 studies in Galatians here at thebeggardanced.com under the check it out menu.)
Any of you who attend the Bible studies, or read my studies on James and Galatians here at the blog, or for that matter even read the posts, know that I don’t have all the answers. In fact you’ve probably noticed that I have more questions than answers, but I long to draw closer to Christ and walk more fully in His footsteps. I crave for a deeper relationship and a growing faith that puts my life more fully in His nail pierced hands. And I believe the vast majority of those people who read this blog want that experience as well.
If we study together, share together and allow ourselves to be open to the leading of the Spirit we will encounter a wonderful spiritual journey in the book of Romans. We are not going to cover every verse like with Galatians but instead try to pick up the general direction and meaning of selected verses that give insights into the theme of the book.
So, every second day for the next couple weeks get out your Bible, flip open to Romans and read along with me. And I have one more challenge for myself and for you and that is to take Luther’s instructions to heart. Over the next couple of weeks try reading in Romans every day and even consider memorizing some of the verses you find there.
Oh, one last thing, please let some of your friends know about our study in Romans so they can join in. Through the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit we should not only learn together but also have fun doing it.
* Please remember in prayer those who are persecuted for their Christian faith. Go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for updates on persecution of Christians