As we complete our brief introduction to Romans and prepare for our ascent up one of the highest peaks in all of Scripture I have some mixed feelings. The truth of the matter is that no intro could do this book justice, just as no teacher can ever teach this book to its full revelation. J. Vernon McGee, one of the great Bible teachers of the 20th century, said that he approaches teaching this epistle “with fear and trembling”. He said this because he understood that apart from the help of the Holy Spirit, he was wholly inadequate to unveil its truths.
That’s exactly how I feel – and yet I have great excitement and expectation. I have great excitement because I know that the Holy Spirit takes great delight in using average people to share his truth. He loves to anoint the words of men so that they shine the light of his Word into the hearts of people. He’s done it throughout time, and will continue to do so until this age is but a memory. It’s the method he chooses, and it is glorious!
Now, by studying history, we know that this book has made an almost incomprehensible impact on western civilization. We understand that this book is also a literary wonder – a masterpiece that the great poet, literary critic, and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge called “The profoundest book in existence.”
But just what makes it so profound? I believe it’s because it is the only document in existence that adequately answers the greatest and deepest question of the human heart.
It may be hard to hear above the din of our fast paced and often hectic culture, but in every person there is one great question. That question is actually a deeply wrenching heart cry. For some this cry has been buried deep within and suppressed, so that they no longer hear its voice. Nevertheless, the cry is there. The question is there. It says,
“How? After all I’ve done, mistakes I’ve made, sins I’ve committed – at the end of my life how will I be able to stand before God?”
It’s a fearful question that elicits different responses in different people.
Some shut the question down entirely and decide there is no God in order to pacify their fear. I did this as a young man. One morning I woke up extremely concerned about my guilt for the things I had been doing. A sudden fear gripped me. Deep inside I knew the way I was living was wrong. In a moment of unprecedented clarity I knew I would someday stand before God and give an account of the things I was doing.
But then a thought hit me. It was a comforting thought. “When we die there is nothing. You go in the ground and then become worm food. That’s it. End of story.” This was comforting because it allowed me to deceive myself into thinking there would be no accountability. I was able to suppress my fear with this thought for a while, but thankfully, certain events in my life caused me to wake from my spiritual slumber.
Now this book is amazing because, unlike any other it answers the question “How can I be in right standing with God?”
It answers this question with the great news that God has made a way. Our sins can be forgiven. We can be given a clean slate. Our past can be wiped away and we can become brand new. The good news is that even though we can’t make ourselves right – God has given us a path, through Jesus Christ, to become right.
The book of Romans, in great detail, breaks this down so that we get to understand the nuts and bolts of it. Profound. Exhilarating. Amazing. Words simply cannot do it justice!
So without further ado, let’s start our great trek up this most holy mountain that we call Romans by taking a look at the outline I’ll be using.
- Introduction (Romans 1:1 – 1:17)
- First, the Bad News – Universal guilt of mankind (Romans 1:18 – 3:20)
- Good News! The Gospel is the remedy (Romans 3:21 – 5:11)
- Living the Good Life – Crucified with Christ, Resurrected with Christ, and walking in the Spirit (Romans 5:12 – 8:13)
- The Mt. Everest of the Bible – (Romans 8:14 – 39)
- Parenthesis – What about the Jewish people? (Romans 9:1 – 11:36)
- Living it out and Serving (Romans 12:1 – 15:33)
- Conclusion – Greetings, Love, Warning, and Promise (Romans 16)
Next time we’ll begin looking at chapter 1. Until then, may God pour out his blessings on you and yours!