Summary: A 3-part introduction to the Book of Romans
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ROMANS
An independent woman started her own business. She was shrewd and diligent, so business kept coming in. Pretty soon she realized she needed an in-house counsel, and so she began interviewing young lawyers.
"As I’m sure you can understand," she started off with one of the first applicants, "in a business like this, our personal integrity must be beyond question." She leaned forward. "Mr. Peterson, are you an ’honest’ lawyer?"
"Honest?" replied the job prospect. "Let me tell you something about honest. Why, I’m so honest that my dad lent me $15,000 for my education and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my very first case."
"Impressive. And what sort of case was that?"
He squirmed in his seat and admitted, "The case where my father sued me for the money."
You may be asking yourself, why am I starting off the series on the book of Romans with a joke about lawyers? Because the book of Romans is written by a former religious lawyer. He is writing as if he were presenting his case before a grand jury. The comic story is to get your attention.
I want your attention this morning because the letter or epistle to the Romans, as it written like a legal document, compels us to make a verdict. What you and I decide will determine a person’s eternal destiny. And the person you are trying is YOU! That’s right! You are in the court and your eternal destiny lies in the balance.
The modern world’s greatest lawyer says: "For the past 18 years I have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as:
- The Worlds Most Successful Advocate,
- The Winningest Lawyer In The World, with 245 successive murder acquittals and no convictions for murder. Yet, this case, which the Apostle Paul is pleading in the book of Romans, is your case, and it is the most important, vital case anyone has ever argued.."
(The Testimony of SIR LIONEL LUCKHOO, a lawyer named by the Guinness Book of World Records).
As a skilled legal counselor, Paul makes his case by setting the very foundation of the Christian faith.
Point #1: Romans is written in the form of a legal argument. You cannot understand Romans unless you understand this fact.
In the trial not of the century, not of the millennium, but the trial of all human history, Paul sets out to prove one single important point – “that the righteous will inherit eternal life by faith, not by works.”
And so you sit in the defendant’s chair. Your Heavenly Father has a suit against you. You know and agree with chapter 3, verse 23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The prosecuting attorney is arguing that you can pay off your debt by doing good works. He represents and advocates the law of Moses. The defendant’s attorney, the Apostle Paul, is arguing that only Christ can pay the debt you owe, and only by faith in his death and resurrection alone will make you declared not guilty.
What is your verdict? Do you work off your debt by works of the law, or do you trust in Christ’s Word that “the righteous man shall live by faith?”
There have been other important cases throughout history, Roe v. Wade, Brown v. the Board of Education, Manson v. Los Angeles County. This one is far more important than all of these.
On a lighter note, two lawyers were walking along negotiating a case. “Look,” said one to the other,
“let’s be honest with each other.”
“Okay, you first,” replied the other lawyer.
That was the end of the discussion.
I shouldn’t be hard on lawyers. Not all lawyers are dishonest ambulance chasers any more than all preachers just work on Sunday.
I was going to become a lawyer at one time. I received a degree in political science, took the Law School Entrance Examination and was accepted into law school. I appreciate a skilled and respectable attorney.
The apostle Paul was such a man. He was a highly educated man, both a man highly educated in matters of the Jewish law and a Pharisee trained from the feet of Gamaliel the most prestigious of the Pharisees. As Paul described himself:
"If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." Philippians 3:4-6