Just a quick note to confirm what everyone who was interested has already noticed: the online study of Romans has been delayed a few weeks so that the physical meetings I am setting up might have a better start. Sorry for the delay.
It can be commonly observed that it is quite rare for just one thing to be happening at any given time, or even for a single action to serve no more than a single purpose. Such is certainly the case with the writing of the book of Romans. While Paul is ostensibly writing a letter to the believers in Rome, God Almighty is also writing a letter, and it is to the whole world (and this letter to the Romans is but a small part of that larger composition). Simultaneous to all of this, and not separable in any way, is the fact that God is also speaking to every age to come and to every man that will ever read or hear His words, and this is the greatest part, through all of this, He is speaking with one voice and with one mind.
It is with this mindset that we must consider Romans, but before we do so, it is worthwhile to first consider ourselves. Every culture bears its own unique sins that hinder the acquisition of specific truth, and American culture is no different. Specifically, our society has little respect for those who are deliberate with their words, and this is a shame, because it has been said by wise men that Christianity is, in many ways, a religion of words. And don’t for a minute believe that you are not unaffected by your culture. If while reading some passage of Scripture, such as the salutation at the beginning of Romans or James, you have found yourself skimming or skipping words or saying to yourself something along the lines of “yada, yada, yada”, then you bear witness to this fact
What we must strive to remember each time we pick up the sacred word is that, unlike the works of men, Holy Scripture possesses no “filler material”. There is never a place in any of it where the author has dashed off an extra thought or two because he felt a sentence was too short, or a paragraph too lean. Instead, every word is a deliberate act, right down to the tense of the verbs.
Next week as we begin by considering the first seven verses of Romans, we must be sure to note how careful Paul is with his language, how precisely he defines relationships — he is a “servant of Jesus Christ”, but he is “separated unto the Gospel of God”, he refers to those “called of Christ” and also those “beloved of God”, and how he talks about grace and obedience. There is more than just information in these verses. Paul is teaching the Romans how a Christian out to think about grace, about apostleship, about the Gospel. He is teaching them about the nature of the relationship between God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and about its implications. And because God is the final author of this text, He is teaching us as well.
The assignment for next week is easy. Read Romans 1:1-7. Be prepared to discuss.