Romans, it makes sense that Romans does what it does because it's so needed. We've seen so much of Jesus and we've begun to hear of the gospel and the early preaching of the disciples. Well, here comes Romans! I love where it's positioned for us in the Bibles that we hold in our hands because I would entitle Romans, “The Explanation.”
Here's where the gospel of Jesus Christ gets unpacked for its meaning, its purpose, its implications. And, I don't know how else to say this but it's so important that you not miss the glorious explanation of the gospel in Romans.
I was a seminary student and I was exegeting Romans in the Greek and I had taken a bound legal notebook, you know, the long ones, and I had cut the corner out of every other page, and I glued a page from Romans in the Greek so I could see it from both sides, and I would write exegetical notes all around, explanatory notes.
I got to Romans, about Romans 7, and I realized it had just been an intellectual exercise for me and I hadn't been touched by the glorious content of Romans. I began to weep. Luella came in; she heard me, and she said, “What's wrong?” And I said, “I'm quitting seminary.” She said, “Your what?” I said, “I have been in this glorious message of the gospel and haven’t been touched by it at all!” Although Romans is full of doctrine, don't let it just be an intellectual exercise for you; be touched by the glory of the gospel of grace in Romans!
Because it is an explanation and unpacking of the person and work of Jesus, you see all the major themes of the gospel in Romans. First is the character of God: His righteousness, His faithfulness, His glory, and His kindness. Listen, if we only had the righteousness of God, we would run from Him! But we have His mercy, His faithfulness, and His kindness.
You see, the nature of sin, how sin is the ultimate rebellion, how sin is idolatrous and enslaving. Paul can't write about sin without writing about idolatry because every sin is idolatrous; every sin replaces God with something else in creation.
We understand the law in Romans; we understand the importance of the law, the importance of its’ demands, the importance of the way that the law exposes sin. But we also see the inability of the law. The law is good! God's law is good, but it cannot rescue you, it cannot reform you, it cannot offer you what you need; only the grace of God can do that.
We see justifying grace, that we are accepted because of a righteousness that's not our own. And in the latter part of Romans, we begin to get a sense of what gospel living looks like. We’re created to live life shaped by devotion for God, love pouring out of our hearts because we have been loved by Him.
I love the doxology that’s at the end of Romans; it should be the doxology of our lives, “To the only one wise God be glory forever and forever more through Jesus Christ. Amen! To the only wise God be glory forever more through Jesus Christ. Amen!”
Spend some time in Romans. Don't just let your mind be engaged; let your heart be changed by the unpacking of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.