Summary: Introduction to Romans
February 28, 2010
Tonight we’re going to start a verse-by-verse study through the book of Romans. There are several reasons I want to do this:
The first is because it levels the spiritual playing field as it covers every major doctrine of the Christian faith:
Together we’ll learn about the depravity of man (1-3) and God’s judgment in response (2). We’ll also see, however, the justification that comes by faith (4) and the peace that comes through reconciliation (5).
After that we’ll look to the new life that comes in Christ as we begin the struggle with sin (6-7).
In chapter eight we’ll discover many truths as we study the meaning of life through the Spirit, the purpose of suffering, God’s foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification.
In chapters nine through eleven we’ll look at God’s sovereignty, His revelation through Scripture, and His plan for Israel in the future.
Finally, in chapters twelve through sixteen we’ll study the spiritual gifts, the Christian’s responsibility to government, the Christian conscience, and Christian unity.
In short, I’m preaching through Romans because of its thoroughness in explaining the state of man and the new life of the believer. I want everyone to have the same basic understanding of the elementary principles of Christianity.
Second, I’m preaching through Romans because it explains man’s relationship with God whether sinner, skeptic, or saint:
Sinners will know how they stand. There’s this trend in contemporary Christianity to be “seeker-sensitive” and to avoid the difficult predicament of indebtedness to God. Romans doesn’t agree with this sensitivity as Paul boldly calls sin by its name and explains the penalty of that sin: judgment and death. No lost person can read this book and not understand how he stands before the Judge of heaven.
Because Romans is basically a systematic outline of theology, it also confronts skeptics with a logical defense. I don’t mean that other books of the Bible aren’t logical, and neither do I mean that everything in Romans automatically makes sense, but here we’ll find a good argument which explains the nature of man, the purpose of suffering, the need for atonement, the basis of salvation, etc. We don’t just believe because of what we’ve been told; there is good reason for belief which is outlined in Romans.
Finally, saints will better understand their relationship with God as a loving Father who has, in grace, provided all they need for victory over sin and for this life and the next.
The third reason I’m preaching this book is because it provides a reality check for everyone who reads it (1-3).
The main point of the first three chapters could be summarized in a single sentence: every single one of us has messed up, and we’re all in big trouble.
There isn’t a lost sinner who’ll plead his case, there isn’t a skeptic who will claim ignorance, and there isn’t a saved saint who pleases God by his own merit.
We’re all in the same boat; without Him we’re all “equally worthless.”
My fourth reason is that Romans explains the basis of our justification and shows how the debt of sin is covered on an individual basis (4-5).
The faith of Abraham was the basis of his justification and not his works. This fact is particularly notable for many churches today due to the fact that so much emphasis is placed on getting someone to agree with 4-5 doctrinal points so that he can be saved.
We get this person to then walk the isle and pray a sinner’s prayer so we can baptize him and find him a Sunday School class.
Then we wonder why so many of our folks have stopped caring about church and why their faith seems so trivial. The answer, I’ll bet (if I was a wagering man), is that many of these folks never had the same faith as Abraham to begin with.
Saving faith doesn’t require simple agreement with fact (Satan does that; Jas. 2:19); saving faith is essentially the entering of a contract with God: He pays your sin debt in exchange for your very life.
Rather than preach to the lost man only the blessings and hope of Christianity, we ought to instead more often preach the condemnation and judgment of God in response to man’s sin.
A man who doesn’t believe he’s sick will reject a cure because he doesn’t need it. If, however, we can help that man see his sickness then he’ll take the cure without coercion because he wants to live.
Saving faith is what causes a man to take the cure.
Abraham was at one time a lost pagan indebted to God, but because he believed God he received a credit of righteousness to his account. Before that time Abraham was a man under judgment, but afterwards he was a man marked by the ownership of God.