In Fall 2019 we began a new sermon series, Adventures in Romans: Making Sense of What Matters Most. This series in designed to be an exploration of the Christian Faith, as outlined and expressed in the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans. From September into December of 2019 we studied Romans 1-4 together. After taking a break from Romans for our Advent series in December, we resumed our study of Romans in January, beginning in Romans 5. We had just begun with Romans 8 when we had to shut down due to COVID-19.
On Sunday September 13, we will resume our study of Romans, beginning with Romans 8. We will be working our way through this book each Sunday, until we again break for the Season of Advent, in December. We will plan to pick up the study of Romans again in January, working through it each week throughout most of the the Winter and Spring.
As previously stated when we began this series a year ago, it would be difficult to overestimate the power of the Book of Romans throughout history.
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.
Our goal is to help bring understanding of the Faith, with the hope that we 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…”
In other words, the Book of Romans 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.
To better help you engage in this series, we want 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. This is the second of two videos, covering Romans 5 through Romans 16 (the end of the letter), and gives an overview of the chapters we will explore this Fall, and beyond. (For those who want to review the first part of Romans, click: Romans 1-4 Introduction.)
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 continue to make available to the congregation copies of the Romans ESV Scripture Journal for note-taking 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 renew a challenge we issued when we began this series last Fall – a challenge we think will prove beneficial for those who will take it up. We want to encourage everyone to read through the Book of Romans one-per-month during the months we are studying this book (i.e. September, October, November). That’s just four chapters per week. We challenge you to discover if Wycliffe was right, if it is true of the Book of Romans “the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is.”