It would be difficult to overestimate the power of the Book of Romans.
Theologian John Stott described Romans as:
“a timeless manifesto of freedom through Jesus Christ.”
Martin Luther said of this letter, penned by the Apostle Paul:
“Romans is the chief part of the New Testament; and truly the purist gospel.”
While Luther was sometimes prone to hyperbole and overstatement, (no one book is “more important” than the other books of the Bible,) Romans has had quite a unique impact in the history of the Church. For example:
- Aurelius Augustine, one of the most brilliant philosophical and theological minds of the early centuries, came to conviction of sin and salvation after reading some verses from Romans 13.
- Martin Luther rediscovered and recovered the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith from his study of Romans 1.17 – which provided the spark for the Protestant Reformation.
- John Wesley said he felt his heart feel “strangely warmed” while listening to a reading of Luther’s Preface to the Book of Romans. Wesley, who had already been involved in ministry, claimed that this turning point for him, the point of his conversion, which led to Wesley becoming one of the great catalysts of First Great Awakening during the 18th Century in Great Britain and Colonial America.
- It was through his study of the great themes of the book of Romans, while in prison for practicing and proclaiming his faith, that inspired John Bunyan to write Pilgrim’s Progress – widely regarded to be one of the most significant works of literature in the English language.
These are but a few among the countless testimonies of the influence the Book of Romans has had on individuals, on the Church, and in the world.
Beginning September 8 we will begin a study of Romans on Sunday mornings during morning worship services at Grace Covenant. The series is titled Adventure in Romans: Making Sense of What Matters Most. Each week we will explore a part of this powerful book, originally written as a missionary support letter, to consider God’s answers to the questions we all ask about our lives and our world.
Our goal is to help bring understanding of the Faith, with the hope that you will fall in love with this book, as others have throughout history. Our prayer is that God will use our study of this book to root us deeply in the Grace of Jesus Christ; that it will shape our hearts and our souls.
John Wycliffe, the man who translated the Bible into English, said of Romans:
“the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is…”
It may seem a little “meaty” at first, but our hope is that the more you chew on it the more pleasant you will find it.
As we prepare for, and engage in, this series, we wanted to provide some resources we hope will prove beneficial.
1) First is an excellent video from the Bible Project, that introduces the Letter to the Romans, and gives an overview of the first four chapters – the chapters we will explore this Fall.
2) Second, for those who might have interest in reading it, here is a link to a .pdf of Martin Luther Romans Preface. (This would be an excellent resource for small group discussions.)
3) Third, we will be making available to the congregation copies of the Romans ESV Scripture Journal for you to take notes during the messages, or in your study, etc. We will be asking for a voluntary $2 contribution to defray costs. (But this is voluntary. We don’t want anyone who would benefit from the journal to not have one because of the requested contribution.)
4) Finally, we also want to issue a challenge – a challenge we think will prove beneficial for those who will do it. We want to encourage everyone to read through the Book of Romans one-per-month during the months we are studying this book. That would be just four chapters per week. During this Fall it would be September, October, and November. Take a break during the Christmas season. Pick it up again in January through Easter. Let’s call it the Wycliffe Challenge – We’ll discover if Wycliffe was right: “the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is.”