Summary: An expository message from the book of Romans.
“God’s Good News”
September 7, 2008
The year was 1974, and as a 13-year old dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan, I was anticipating the breaking of the most revered record in all of baseball, Babe Ruth’s seemingly-untouchable 714 home runs. Only two other men in history had hit as many as 600 homers, Hank Aaron and the great Willie Mays, and Willie’s career had petered out more than 50 homers shy of the record. But Aaron, the model of consistency, had soldiered on and now, on a mid-April Monday evening, Aaron faced Al Downing of the Dodgers needing one home run to do it. And as this 13-year-old watched along with a nation of baseball fans—some of whom were bigots who hated Aaron for challenging a white man’s record—Hammerin’ Hank launched a fastball into the left-field bullpen to set the record. Sports Illustrated recorded the event on the cover of its next issue, of course, without words, but only with a number: 715. In a year filled with bad news—an American president would, only a few months later, resign in disgrace—Hank Aaron provided some great news for us. And by the way, as far as I’m concerned, he’s still the home run king.
In looking for this magazine among my collection, I found another—the cover of John Elway after he and the Broncos had beaten the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Sometimes, what’s good news for one person isn’t good news for the next! But today, we begin a study of the best news ever delivered to men and women, the news that despite the fact that we are natural-born sinners, through and through, who by nature rebel against a holy God, that God has made a way for us to be reconciled with him and with each other as well. As we begin a series I’ve entitled “Living Free”, finding the key to real freedom in life, we look today at God’s Good News. Let’s read together today’s text: Romans 1:1-7.
The older I get—I turn another page this week—the more help I need with some of the basic functions of life, such as eyesight. Though I didn’t go for it, the eye doc recently recommended bifocal contact lenses. Bifocals? Those are for old people, right? Or is that the point? Regardless, it’s no fun to not be able to see clearly. A few weeks ago I went swimming in a pool that was apparently heavily-chlorinated. I like to open my eyes underwater when I swim, and I did that day, but all that chlorine messed up my sight, and for several hours afterward, I felt like I was looking at the world through a cloud. Clear view is important! If we have the wrong viewpoint on life, the wrong worldview, then everything comes out wrong. The Bible is a viewpoint book; it answers the “Big Three” questions about life: who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Identity, purpose, and destiny are all key issues for human beings.
What you need to know about
I. The Value of Romans
Romans is a viewpoint book; as we study Romans we answer some of the biggest questions we face in life:
• What’s wrong with the world?
• What’s wrong with me?
• How can it be fixed?
• How can I be reconciled to God?
The book of Romans holds the potential to shape much of what we believe about life, the universe, and everything.
I’m standing here today in significant part, humanly-speaking, because of a man named Martin Luther. Here’s what Luther said about Romans:
“Romans is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”
Augustine was converted through reading Romans; Luther read Romans and rediscovered the doctrine of justification by faith and led the Protestant Reformation. John Wesley found his heart “strangely warmed” as he read this book, and came to faith. John Bunyan read romans and wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. In fact, the book of Romans has figured prominently in every significant evangelical resurgence in history. I am convinced that studying this book together will make an impact in your life, not only deepening your understanding of God’s Word, but because right doctrine is essential for right living—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—Romans will make a difference in the way you live as well. With those things in mind, let’s dig in!
II. The Writer of Romans - :1
That the apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans is not argued. But note what he says of himself: