Get ready for Romans

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On January 17th 2016, Andy will be starting a new Sunday morning sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Romans. I don’t know about you, but I am very excited to be going through Romans because it’s arguably the most theologically profound book in the New Testament and definitely one of my favourites. How can we as a congregation prepare for this new sermon series?

 

What do we need to know about Romans?

Have you ever read through Romans from start to finish? If you have, you may have reached the end and found it extremely difficult to remember much of what you read, or perhaps you didn’t understand much of it at all. For me, the experience of reading Romans for the first time was a little bit like watching The Matrix for the first time. It left me thinking, “What on earth just happened?” – but the more times I watched The Matrix, the more sense it made. Reading Romans is like that. The more times I read it, the more sense it makes and my understanding of various doctrines deepens. Hopefully, we won’t get discouraged if the going gets tough, but will investigate further and battle on to grasp the difficult bits.

I have a certain friend who, when watching a film together keeps interrupting by asking me things like, “So what’s going on now?”, “Who is he again?”, or “If that happened, why did he do that and where did she come from?” Very annoying! However, reading Romans may force you to be just like my friend because you might need to pause and investigate a particular section of the book further before moving on.

Having said all that, here is a little head-start:

The Book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul around A.D 57 and was intended for all the believers in Rome (1:7). The book has 16 chapters and 433 verses, so it’s not a lengthy book to read – it is estimated that the average person will take around 47 minutes to read the whole book through. Romans is widely regarded as the most complete summary of the gospel message and Christian doctrine found in any single biblical book and has been regarded as one of the most important books in the New Testament by the likes of St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin and William Tyndale, to name just a few.¹

The whole point of Romans is to demonstrate in an immense way the meaning of the gospel of Christ. So, the next time you read through Romans, notice the amount of times it mentions the nouns ‘God’, ‘Law’ and ‘Christ’. Once you’ve done that, pay particular attention to how those three nouns relate to one another. I have found that Romans really opens up the Old Testament and shows how Christ fulfils the Law of God – something no-one else has ever been able to do. Much of Romans is dedicated to showing how Old Testament themes relate to Christ and the gospel.

Please don’t get overwhelmed by the big words or any of the theology that at first seem complex because it’s not a text book for university professors, rather it’s a letter written by a great pastor to a church. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who preached 366 sermons on Romans reassured his congregation by saying, “I do not propose to consider this great Epistle in a merely intellectual or academic manner. It was written as a letter by a great pastor. It is not a theological treatise, written to experts and to professors. It is a letter written to a church, and like all other New Testament literature it had a very practical aim and end in view.”² Romans is a book that can be understood by everyone.

 

How can we prepare for the Romans sermon series?

My first suggestion is that we read through the whole book. Not just once, but a few times so that we begin to get a feel for the the book as a whole.

Secondly, we need to pray. Pray for Andy – that God would be with him, help him and would speak to us through him by the power of the Holy Spirit; and for ourselves – that God would help us to understand the book and to be transformed by what is written in it.

Thirdly, depending on how eager you are, you could read a commentary or a book on Romans that explains it to you so that as you hear Andy’s sermons, they will encourage you and bless you all the more by the great truths that Romans contains. Here’s a short list of some books you could buy:

  • Timothy Keller, Romans 1-7 For You and Romans 8-16 For You
  • Jarred C. Wilson, Romans: a 12 week study
  • F. F. Bruce, Romans (TNTC)
  • John Stott, The Message of Romans (BST)
  • R. C. Sproul, Romans (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary)
  • Richard Longenecker, The Epistle to the Romans (NIGTC)
  • Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT)
  • Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans (PNTC)

 

My Interview with Andy

I had a few questions on my mind and wanted to ask Andy some of them. Below are the questions I asked and the answers he gave, so I thought I’d share them with you.

 

Me: Have you ever preached through Romans before?

Andy: No. I’ve been quite daunted in the past! It is such a wonderful display of the gospel message.

 

Me: Why have you decided to preach through Romans now?

Andy: I want to preach through it before I retire – and as it took 7 years to go through John’s gospel, I thought I’d better start. I also believe it will be a helpful and appropriate Sunday morning series for believers and those not yet converted.

 

Me: Elaborating on what you just said, how are you hoping the church will benefit from Romans?

Andy: The letter has a simple message on the surface – “How can a person get to heaven and be right with God?” – and yet it is also so very profound and sounds the depths of the mercy, grace and love of God towards us! My prayer in going through Romans is that as a church we would clearly understand what God has done, is doing and will do for His people to bring glory to His Name!

 

Me: Could you summarise the book of Romans in just a few words for us?

Andy: The gospel, pure and simple!

 

Me: How can we as the church serve you as you preach through Romans?

Andy: Pray! For the preparation, preaching, reception and fruit.

 

Bibliography

¹ John Stott, The Message of Romans, BST (Nottingham, England: IVP, 1994),19-20.

² D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: Exposition of Chapter 1 (Murrayfield Road, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985), 1.

 

Written by: Gwydion Emlyn, Assistant to the Pastor and member of St. Mellons Baptist Church

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