Romans – April 2021
In the midst of vaccines, elections and weather changes we remember a carpenter who came to save the lost and destroy the works of the evil one. The problem is, we have lost sight of who the evil one really is, and some have supposed him to be their neighbor, boss, or someone in the opposite party. Discernment is needed in our culture more than ever. Romans answers many cultural questions as it explains God’s heart and wrestles with Gods law.
One of my favorite verses: Romans, Chapter Four – Verse 25. “… who was delivered up for (or because of) our offenses and was raised again for our justification. “I thought I was one of many that put Him there. The whole world sinned and there are some really bad guys, right? Read that slowly … because of our / MY offense Christ was delivered up. My insecurities, pettiness, issues, decisions, laziness, bitterness, comparing, insults, sins – I put Him there. If I was the only one, my conflicts, issues, hatred was all dumped on the innocent One that came to set me free. I not only sin but fall short of the glory of God. That is intense. This verse is not talking about my cousin, friend or enemy. It is talking about ME. Perhaps it is also talking about you.
On the night of the crucifixion God did not stand at the foot of the cross with a clipboard wondering what achievements we would have or what contributions we would make. He did not ask our family or friends for a reference. Before we ever sinned, God set in motion the solution to our greatest problem. Every drop of blood had purpose and each wince of pain was caused by MY debt. Overwhelming and enormous debt. When we realize this, it evokes worship and gratefulness. Those who receive this free gift long to glorify the One who made it possible.
Romans has many theological themes, Justification being central. While my sin was being atoned for, God was declaring me justified. It was there, in that moment, on that spot. Not when I was born, in Bible college or raising a family. It was before I could offer any work/deed. In the midst of blood, tears and darkness, God took on my sin. Justification is positional, meaning we exchange our putrid sins for Christ’s righteousness, and He declares us righteous. It’s the worst deal of the century for Jesus and yet He did it willingly. Romans explains how to walk that out, but this is where it starts. It starts with my offenses being gross, evil, and unforgivable — but then taken up by a holy God. His wrath had to be satisfied and only the cross and the death of His son would accomplish that. One writer said that is how we know Heaven is a safe place – because all wrath has been satisfied for the believer.
Romans can be understood only if we start off needing power for salvation. NONE of us are pretty enough or elect enough to deserve it. Our highest praise comes from realizing our lowest depths.
We have friends who are going through a physical trial at this time, and they determined to give it entirely to God with only one request, that God would use it entirely to glorify Himself. Their testimony has gripped our hearts and spurred us on to know better this incredible Lord they have surrendered to. Their perseverance is producing prayer and dedication not only in their lives but those around them. Ultimately, they have victory but, in each moment, because of the cross they can have peace. Their “visual” example beckons us to believe in a God we cannot see. It demands we acknowledge a God that is fully in control. Those who have been justified are given access and peace. That’s not mere words on a page – its tangible. To know you can have audience with the King of Kings gives hope and strength. We do not have to struggle with “WHY” or what the outcome will be when you have left those decisions up to God. Peace comes when you rest in the promise that in Gods eyes you are accepted, and nothing can separate you from His love. Trauma, pain, cancer, conflicts, death are extremely tough. Access and Peace, assurance of God’s love, knowing we are justified in these times– this is all possible because of the cross.
When I was in grad school, I had a mentor. He was a man who had several degrees and had taught scripture for many years. We became friends and, on many occasions, we would spend time sharing stories and enjoying time together. He was a blessing to our family. Any questions I had, he seemed to know the answer. He valued listening to me. It was life changing. Because of Jesus we can run to our Heavenly Father who is Eternal. He longs and waits to spend time with us. People say that Easter is more than just eggs and bunnies. It is also more than just the cross. What the cross provided is GREAT NEWS and we miss that if we rush to resurrection or rush to evangelism. God made a way to save us but also to befriend us, love us, give us peace. Chocolate and Robin eggs just do not measure up!
When Tertius wrote Romans (secretary to Paul – see Rom.16), he laid out one of the best theological works ever written. The Gospel is power unto salvation. There we get a glimpse into the righteousness of God! Pretty amazing. What other book instructs us on what the God of the Universe requires – what delights His heart? God wants to be known and this is where we learn about Him.
Romans 15, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.” We are a people, a church, a nation that needs hope now more than ever. Hope isn’t something you get in a drive-thru window like a cheeseburger. Hope does not rain down when the weather changes. HOPE is found in a person and God’s word brings us a new perspective and gives us tangible HOPE. Look at Romans 15: 13 “Now may the God of ALL hope, fill you with ALL joy and peace in believing, that you may abound (exceed, overflow) in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to be believers – not behavers.
Faith causes us to overflow with hope. I like solutions, action. I cannot fix the world or even myself– but I can read God’s word. Not reading is like having an antibiotic but then not taking it, hoping it will cure you. If we do not read Gods’ word, we cannot expect God’s solutions.
Another key area in Romans is the subject of ALL or ALSO. Paul is clearly telling the Jews in this book that they need to receive one another, there is a “new kid” in town. Paul compares the Jew and Gentile clearly stating that because of God’s mercy, God loves them both. This ALL concept is throughout this book and could apply to black/white, male/female, the list goes on. The Jews (possibly read 2nd and 3rd generation Christians) were taking God and the things of God for granted. The Gentiles burst on the scene and they were so hungry. There’s friction between the established camp and the “newbies”. When I was a young girl, I used to listen to Gloria Gaithers song, I am a Promise.” The words said, “It does not matter what your name is, where you live, who your dad is or how big you are or what you look like. Are you short, fat, skinny? Got holes in your tennis shoes and freckles on your nose? It doesn’t matter a bit– you can be exactly what God wants you to be, and He has something very special in mind for you!” We grew up listening to songs that included all who were created in God’s image and an understanding that God wanted ALL to be saved. If you go back through this book and highlight the ALL and ALSO words you will be convinced by the time that you are done reading that this Gospel is for EVERYONE ever born. Without going down political rabbit trails, or risking censure –just read Romans and you will have clear answers. God was for anyone, whosoever would call on His name! That is profound and it will impact how we treat others, how we worship and especially how we reach out!
We have been trying to walk in the Newness of the Spirit. It is easy if you ask God to instruct you (i.e., take time to listen/obey), but difficult if you are set on your own agenda. Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God. I asked my youngest son why his behavior had changed so much one day. He said, “I don’t know mom. I guess I was just born and breaded that way.” The older son has teased him since about being a little mozzarella stick. No matter how you were born or reared by your parents, if you are grafted into God’s family you are a child of the King. Adopted and righteous.
I pray you dig into the book of Romans. Look for Gods’ heart not just definitions of the big themes like sanctification or redemption. Discover how to walk out the Easter message – on Mondays, Thursdays, even Saturdays. The story is not over yet. It is only beginning. You are book 67 – and the world is still watching and groaning for you to be revealed. Let me know how the rest of the “Easter story” goes in your life.
Living out the message with you,