The more you eat, the better it tastes
Fervr feasts on the book of Romans.
"It is the true masterpiece of the New Testament, and the very purest Gospel, which is well worthy and deserving that a Christian man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, but also that he should daily deal with it as daily bread for man's soul. It can never be too much or well read or studied. The more it is handled the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes."
Martin Luther, Church Reformer, on Romans (and how awesome it is).
Ever had one of those moments where you’re really puzzling over something, and bam! – the answer just hits you in the face? Or you’re sitting and thinking about things and in-a-flash, like a lightning bolt, it all suddenly makes sense? Well, Romans happens to be a whole book of one blinding insight after another. It’s a veritable 16-course (16-chapter) theological buffet meal!
The letter to the church in Rome has been called “Paul’s Manifesto” – his greatest work. Paul pulls no punches in explaining exactly what’s wrong with all of us, exactly what God’s done to fix it and exactly how we should respond. It spans almost every topic in the Bible and covers the biggest ones in great depth.
Paul was writing to the church in Rome, probably made up of both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles). The Jews, God's people from long ago in the Old Testament, had thought that, to get saved, you had to do lots of stuff. The Gentiles, new to this whole 'God' thing, probably didn't know what to think at first. Even though Paul had never met the Romans, he had heard about their trust in God, and was writing this letter to teach and encourage them in their faith, setting out in detail the fundamentals of salvation.
The essence of Romans is that it's not about what you do, but who you trust. Paul begins by telling us that, because we're all so corrupt (Romans 1:21ff), no-one will be saved by what we do (3:20), but all of us should be condemned (3:10-12).
But - and that's a big 'but' - God has given us a way to be saved that isn't about what we do (3:21). If we trust in Jesus, then his death pays for our corruption (our sin) and turns God's anger away from us (3:25). Because of this, we can be reconciled with God (5:6-11) and set free from our slavery to sin (6:1-11). We also have the great and certain hope of salvation (5:10) and sharing in Christ's glory (8:17).
Therefore, everything changes. We are to live for God (8:1ff), using everything we have in his service (12:1-2) (rather than serving sin) (6:12-23). We can enjoy God's love (8:31-39) and rejoice in our sufferings (5:3-5), knowing that 'for those who love God all things work together for good' (8:28).
Does this whet your appetite? Next week, we'll be getting stuck right in with the entrée: Romans 1:1-17. If you're hungry now, though, why not have a read of it yourself?