Summary: As we get started with the Book of Romans, it is helpful if we lay a foundation. Today I will share three facts about this letter and church.
Get Rolling with Romans: An Introduction
1. The Book of Romans is not for the faint hearted, nor for the unmotivated Christian.
By this, I don’t mean Romans is hard to understand. It can be difficult to accept, however.
2. Mrs. Smartt was fumbling in her purse for her offering when a large television remote fell out and clattered into the aisle.
The curious usher bent over to retrieve it for her and whispered, “Do you always carry your TV remote to church?”
“No,” she replied, “but my husband refused to come with me this morning, and I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him legally.”
3. If Mr. Smartt were here, he would not want to delve into the territory into which we are heading. The writer to the Hebrews talks about some believers who were spiritual children, who had to be taught the simple things of the Christian life again and again. He describes them as “dull of hearing.’ And he wanted to go on to deeper things.
4. Romans gives it all to us – the deep things, the basic things, the medium things. It is theological and practical, relevant as today’s newspaper, as classic as a 50’s diner.
Main idea: As we get started with the Book of Romans, it is helpful if we lay a foundation. Today I will share three facts about this letter and church.
I. The Book of Romans is an ELABORATION upon the Gospel.
A. KEY verses: Romans 1:16-17
B. Like much of the New Testament, much of it is MIDRASH upon Old Testament passages.
1. Over 60 citations from the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, Psalms, and Genesis.
2. Evidence suggests many other passages, without citations, are developments of Old Testament texts, more so in Isaiah, but from many OT books.
C. The Old Testament is directly cited about 60 times, with Isaiah, Psalms, and Genesis being the most QUOTED.
D. How important is ROMANS?
1. It is placed FIRST among the epistles perhaps because of its importance or length.
2. Leading Christians have long recognized Romans as central, may would even say the most important book in the Bible.
• Marrtin Luther praised Romans: “It is the chief part of the New Testament and the perfect gospel . . . the absolute epitome of the gospel.”
• John Calvin said of the Book of Romans, “When anyone understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”
• Frederick Godet, 19th Century Swiss theologian called the Book of Romans “The cathedral of the Christian faith.”
• S. Lewis Johnson said, “"It is the only part of Scripture in which there is found a detailed and systematic presentation of the main features of Christian doctrine."
3. Romans has altered the course of history….
• Augustine was converted reading Romans 13:13-14.
• Martin Luther cane to the assurance of salvation from the Book of Romans and unintentionally launched the Reformation because of what he read in Romans.
• Centuries later, Charles Wesley was converted just reading Luther’s introduction to the Book of Romans. Romans is life-changing.
II. The Church Addressed in Romans – the Roman Church – Had a Distinct BACKGROUND.
A. Who started the church at Rome? LAYPERSONS
B. The departure of Jewish believers and their later RETURN was a source of tension.
• Churches change w/ changing people. Now gentile-centered.
• People visit HPC from different eras of her history… expect times to stand still…
• We are always called to deal with what is, not what used to be…
C. Why did Paul write such a TREATISE to this church at that time?
1. Paul hoped to use Rome as a base for missionary work in Spain.
2. Since Paul had never met the Romans, he wanted to teach them via this letter.
3. He wrote this letter from Corinth.
4. Teaching by letter was more a Greek/Roman thing, not a Hebrew method.
5. Paul knew his life was in danger and knew the Romans would copy and disseminate his letter; when his time came to be promoted to glory, he wanted to make sure that churches could have a document to guide them into solid doctrine.
6. Even Paul’s plans could change; God controls the future. If the apostles did not know or control the future, maybe we need to remind ourselves of the same…
D. Rome was the perfect CENTER to disseminate the Gospel throughout the empire.
• It was more of a capitol than Washington D.C. is to us.
• It was the seat, not of a country, but an empire.
• All roads did lead to Rome.
III. The Teaching of Romans Can be Outlined SIMPLY.
• Romans is both a theological and a practical book; much Christian theology derives itself from the Book of Romans.