Why Preach Romans?
- Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Book of Romans has always been one of my favorites for two reasons. First, the doctrinal truths helped me understand justification, redemption and propitiation when I was a brand new Christian. I have never doubted my salvation in large part because I was encouraged to read this book as a new believer. I like this book for a second reason because I met my wife Beth in a Romans class at Moody Bible Institute. Reading this book always makes me think of her.
As much as I love the Book of Romans I have always been intimidated to preach through it. Part of that has to do with its length, but mostly it has to do with its depth. I frankly didn't think I was worthy to preach through this great book. After all, what can I add to what has already been done by contemporary preachers like Ray Pritchard, John Piper, John MacArthur, and John Stott? Just knowing that Luther and Calvin have pored over these pages always made me feel inadaquate to the task of preaching Romans.
While I enjoy tackling topical preaching, I always strive to do so expositionally (by camping in one key passage). My preferred method of preaching however, is to take an entire book like Colossians, or Nehemiah, or 1 and 2 Thessalonians, or Malachi, or Philippians, or Titus.
Luther said that Romans is "The chief part of the New Testament, and the very purest gospel, which, indeed, deserves that a Christian not only know it word for word by heart but deal with it daily as with daily bread of the soul. For it can never be read or considered too much or too well, and the more it is handled, the more delightful it becomes, and the better it tastes."
John Calvin wrote: "When anyone gains a knowledge of this epistle he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture." The English poet, Samuel Coleridge, referred to Romans as, "The profoundest piece of writing in existence." The noted scholar F.F. Bruce once said: "There is no telling what may happen when people begin to study the Epistle to the Romans." William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English, believed that every Christian should memorize Romans. John Chrysostom used to have someone read Romans out loud to him twice each week. After hearing it read so many times, he said this: "Romans is unquestionably the fullest, deepest compendium of all sacred foundation truths."
Frederic Godet, a Swiss theologian, said: "Every movement of revival in the history of the Christian church has been connected to the teachings set forth in Romans... and it is probably that every great spiritual renovation in the church will always be linked, both in cause and effect, to a deeper knowledge of this book."
Lest we think that these stories just happened long ago and far away, I heard of one man who visited a church service recently where the pastor was preaching through Romans. At the end of the service, the person sitting next to him asked him how long he had been a Christian. To which the young man responded, "About ten minutes." One of our newest church members attributes a verse in Romans to his conversion, and two weeks ago, when Eric Elder spoke to the students, he told them that God used Romans 1 to free him from the bondage of homosexuality.
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