by Brock Benson
Happy Halloween and Happy 501st Reformation Day! I’m glad to be back in the swing of things having preached now for the past two weeks and getting back in the flow of thought with the epistle of Romans. On Sunday we concluded the first major section of Romans as we explored chapter 11 and wrestled through the implication of God kicking Israel out and grafting us in and then how he will graft them in again using us! Heavy stuff I know so hopefully you’re not reading this early in the morning or late at night otherwise that might create some headache’s. Nevertheless I trust our time in the word Sunday was profitable for you and you were drawn closer to Jesus.
Romans chapters 1 -11 are some of the heaviest doctrinal chapters in all the bible and since today, after all, is Reformation day I wanted to do a special post kind of summarizing some of the major themes we have touched on up to this point. Before I do just a quick historical blurb for those lost on the reformation day reference. Reformation Day, October 31st, is not primarily owned by culture as Halloween. It’s also the day Martin Luther, because of God’s revelation to him in large part through the book of Romans, decided to nail 95 theses of theology to the chapel door in Wittenburg and with that started the Reformation which would in a sense give birth to a new denomination known as Protestantism. At Revive we are a Southern Baptist church in our specific denomination but protestant in a wider sense also. We started our journey through Romans last November and with almost a year past since we’ve covered certain parts of this gigantic book it’s simply a good idea to take this moment to do some inventory.
Part of my motivation for this post is pragmatic too. I came across a survey this week that really kindled my belief in the need for this post and for why we’ve been walking through the book of Romans for as long as we have. The survey specifically mentions the need for more central Christological teaching within the church. No survey is perfect and it definitely is not infallible as God’s word is but it still points out concerns I think are wise to discuss in a forum like this. Romans has major contribution to Christology too so what better opportunity to give us all some savory Halloween reading.
Starting Sunday we’ll begin looking at what most call the practical part of Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 12. But up to this point he has laid the foundation for what he will say in the final section through the doctrines of chapters 1-11. Specific to the survey mentioned above is Romans 5 which we covered back in May of this year is how Jesus is the second and better Adam. The original Adam in the garden suffered from sin in the fall but Jesus, the eternal second Adam, gives us hope that the fall wouldn’t have the final answer. He did on Calvary and ultimately will when He returns! I don’t need Halloween candy right now my blood sugar is already spiked!
The thesis is found in chapter 1 verse 16 to 17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to all everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written the righteous shall live by faith.
If you stand back now with me 11 chapters into Romans we can more fully see how these verses inform Paul’s train of thought. Both in Paul’s day and in our own. It’s critical we see the importance and priority on not just belief, but right belief. It’s increasingly popular to embrace spiritualism in the current era but it’s less popular to say there is real discernible truth. Romans forces the believer to square up to the idea of not only personal but corporate depravity as itself a discernible truth. Through the first two chapters in Romans Paul especially harks on the idea that sin has distorted us and everything we experience. While it might not be a truth we readily like, it’s still a truth we have to be reminded of. How this pragmatically helps you and I is with interpretive discernment on critical cultural conversations that will inevitably continue to happen. Sin has distorted those with a conservative political persuasion and those with a liberal outlook. Or to put it more crassly since it is Halloween, Republicans and Democrats are both wrong and right some of the time but neither is right or wrong 100% of the time.
God’s judgment, another major part of what we’ve considered this past year, covers all sin not just the sin we want to mention. Let me just pause a moment here and specifically bring to mind our conversations from Romans 2 again. It was here Paul addressed what I believe to be the most dangerous and damning of all sins to our specific area and time which also would be judged by God’s judgment “religiosity”. Let me unpack that further for a moment. In Nolensville specifically it’s become increasingly clear that we are a town full of extremely good people. The mayoral candidates have both mentioned this I believe in their campaigns. That should really cause a pause in our hearts as gospel-centric people who realize from Romans how demining good works are to save our souls from the wrath of God’s perfect righteousness. Now before you write me off please come to hear what God has laid on my heart for this Sunday too because I believe good works are critical in the life of someone who says they are a believer but they also can be traps in a community like ours.
Time is running away from me so I am going to summarize the rest of where we’ve been in three words. Faith, Life, and Access. Faith alone is what Paul compels and argues for especially with his Jewish counterparts trying to Jewishize gentiles at the time he wrote. Life is not simply a torture sentence to be endured until Jesus returns. Rather it is a beautiful journey God compels us on through his very power (Romans 6-8). Finally God is accessible to all Jews and Gentiles. His gospel plan includes both of us. The events in Pittsburg or Washington don’t take God by surprise. He knows believers everywhere are suffering and his plan is still to bring ultimate restoration soon!
There are many, many more doctrines and teachings in Romans we haven’t fully addressed in this post nor in the sermons the past year because truthfully God’s word is in-exhaustible. It’s the gold mine that keeps producing! Or it’s the proverbial candy jar that never runs out! (I really want a Kit-Kat right now) However you want to look at it understand God’s word and the book of Romans is full of treasured truth we do well to study, consider and apply. I wish we could talk more about the doctrines of election, sovereignty, and covenant vs. dispensational theology. But for now we will leave this section of Romans with hopefully a better framework then when we started!
See you Sunday!