I have forgotten my bible. That was my disappointing thought as soon as I unpacked my bag in my room at home on Thursday afternoon. My Friday class was cancelled for this week, so I was overjoyed to be able to come home for a long three day weekend. The few days prior to leaving I completed my two hours of passion based learning in Romans chapter one. I made some new notes as I revisited the text (color-coding is such a wonderful thing) and some new insights. But, naturally, I procrastinated until the end of the week to actually write my post on what I’ve learned. Now I am in a pickle.
However, I am thankful for being in this situation. It stinks because I might not be able to relay all of my revelations, but through this God has taught me a lesson. Multiple lessons, in fact. The first is procrastination is simply not worth it. I don’t believe this one needs much explanation, because I’m sure we have all (unfortunately) been there. The second is God is in control. With everything, all the time, God is sovereign including forgetting bibles. I messed up but it was for a reason, and that is comforting. The third and final lesson is that God will work every situation out for His good. I may not have my notes, but as long as I am accurately representing the word of God to others then I am glorifying him. That is what matters most. So on that note, I will dive into the text. Soli Deo Gloria!
To start, we must again remember the author, audience, and purpose. The author is Paul. He is writing to the Jews and Gentiles of the Roman church because he wants them to know faith alone in Christ alone is justification (Rom 1:16-17). He begins this letter with a greeting or introduction. In this section not only is the author and audience revealed, but a summary of Paul’s theology. “. . . set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son” (Rom 1:1b-3a). To fully comprehend what these verses are saying, one must look at the phrase “set apart”. This term signifies the process of election, which means that only people chosen by God are truly saved. Today this theology is called “Calvinism” after John Calvin who was a French pastor during the Protestant reformation. At first this might sound scary, but it is anything but. Instead of living in man-centered perspective that we can save ourselves through good works or letting Jesus into our own heart, the process of election is a God-centered perspective that believes he is completely and utterly in control over our salvation and everything else. There is no reason to worry. Reminding myself of God’s sovereignty is always like a breath of fresh air.
His theology continues, “. . . [his Son] who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 1:3a-4) These verses allude to the most crucial aspect of the bible. The Gospel! It is the idea that Jesus descended from heaven, became 100% man while remaining 100% God (called the hypostatic union which is another phrase you can throw out at dinner parties), absorbed the wrath of God against our sin by dying, and then three days later he rose again. Because of this, those who are saved will have eternal life through Jesus. Hallelujah! So what does God want us to do with such an awesome message? Spread it. “. . . through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:5-6). Paul traveled many, many places to spread the word of God. He also was heavily persecuted and spent approximately six years in jail for his evangelizing. Yet, even while he was incarcerated he continued to write letters to churches encouraging them in the gospel. It’s incredible, especially when one considers his past and how God ended up using him (I highly recommend reading through his history in the book of Acts!) We must remember to keep these two verses within their original context, but this can be applied to saved Christians afterwards. It is our duty to spread God’s word, namely the gospel. We don’t know who will be saved and who won’t, but it is important to plant the seeds all the same. By doing so we are fulfilling His commandment to make disciples and bringing glory to His name, which are the ultimate satisfactions! It doesn’t necessarily have to be done through missions trips all over the world, although that is amazing. God’s word can be spread through a simple conversation, or even a blog post.
He concludes this section by addressing his audience directly in blessing, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:7). Now I will conclude this post. I think it is clear that I will not be getting through the entire book of Romans this semester… This was a third of chapter one, and I will be finishing the remaining sections over the next week or two. In light of reading these first verses, I have come to the realization that forgetting my bible once is such a small and insignificant thing. God has used this time with Paul in Romans to press the importance of the Gospel upon my heart. Knowing that I have eternal life in Jesus makes all of my worries and frustrations melt away. What a savior.