Summary: I'm glad I don't have to choose, but if I were shipwrecked on an island and had to pick one book of the Bible, I believe I'd take Romans. Link inc. to formatted text audio/video, PowerPoint.
The Greatest Book in the Bible
It's all great...but if I had to choose the greatest, well...we'll get to that.
If in your life the bottom is falling out, you'd better examine the foundation. You need a foundation. We need a sure word, a solid word for unsure times. And today we're going to begin to talk about a foundational book that changed the world. I've got many books in my library, I love books. Books are important, and books have great influence.
Adolf Hitler, with his twisted and warped brain wrote a book, Mein Kampf, and in that book he espoused his Nazi philosophies. The results of the thoughts in that book was a horrendous world war, the gas ovens, the Holocaust, six million Jews exterminated. A book, Mein Kampf.
Hitler got his ideas from reading another book by Nietzsche, a perverted atheist--he hated God, he declared blatantly, God is dead! Hitler drank from that book, and his mind was warped. By the way, Nietzsche is dead, and God is alive!
Another man wrote a book, Karl Marx, and Karl Marx wrote a book on communism, dialectical materialism, Das Capitale. People read that book, the Russian Revolution was born, the Communist Revolution. Millions of people paid with their life's blood, others were enslaved, the world rocked and ruined by communism. A book, a powerful book.
Charles Darwin wrote a book, The Origin of the Species, and there he talked about blind evolutionary force and that man is not made, created in the image of God, but rather he is an accident of nature, he has descended from the apes. People read that book and made a monkey of themselves, believing that they are an orphan of the apes.
Books have power, but no book has the power that the book that you have open in your hand right now has, the power for good, for God, and power that has changed the world radically, dramatically, and eternally, and the book that will go on through the ages and it is the book of Romans. It has been called the constitution of Christianity.
Let me tell you the power of this book. There was a Roman Catholic monk, his name was Martin Luther. Martin Luther had tried to get right with God by ritual, by penance, by good deeds, by all of the accouterments of the church, but his heart was empty. He took a pilgrimage to Rome. In Rome there were some stairs, purported to have been the stairs that Jesus ascended in Pilate's judgment hall. They felt that the blood of Jesus had surely dropped on those stairs. Martin Luther went to Rome, got on his knees on the holy stairs, and on his knees he began to pray on every step, kissing each step as he went up, asking God to bless him, trying to get closer to God. But he himself said, I was no closer to God when I got to the top than I was at the bottom. His heart was hungry, but Martin Luther had been studying the book of Romans. And Romans 1:17 burst alive in his heart and his mind--"the just shall live by faith." And he saw justification by faith, which is the theme of the book of Romans, and he was saved, converted, born again. The Protestant Reformation began, there was a Great Awakening, it swept Europe, it swept the world.
We've entered into it today, the power of the book of Romans.
St. Augustine, FL gets its name from a man, Augustine. Augustine was a young college professor who lived a wicked, wild, lascivious life, consorted with prostitutes, but he had a burden of sin and he tried to alleviate himself of that burden of sin. And one time he was out in the garden seeking God and he heard a little girl singing a song over a garden wall, a little song, "Take up the Book and Read, take up and read." He thought, What is this about? He opened the Bible right to the book of Romans and began to read and there he found a verse that stabbed him in his heart and he found the Lord Jesus Christ and became the man the people today call St. Augustine, one of the great theologians of the early church.
There was a man named John Wesley. He was very religious, very well motivated, so motivated that he left England and went to America to be a missionary, to convert the American Indians. He went to the state that we call Georgia. He stayed there, he had a fruitless ministry there. He got on a ship to come back home, discouraged, dispirited, feeling a failure, and he met some Moravian missionaries and these Moravian missionaries had the life, the beauty, the joy of Jesus! He knew they had something he didn't have. He went back to London. There he was at a place called Alders gate. He went to a little meeting, and there they were studying the book that you have open in your lap, the book of Romans. This man said, I went to America to convert the Indians, but who will convert me? He said, I felt my heart strangely warmed and I had the assurance of my salvation. Out of that experience the great Wesleyan Revival began that swept across England.