For those who may be new to our group, we are reading through the New Testament. Today is day 41, and today we begin the book of Romans.
In concluding Acts yesterday, two main ideas have stuck with me. First, the idea that Acts describes for us the development of the Early Church and in that description we find a model of what the Church should be. Keep in mind, we who are born again believers are the Church. So, consider what elements of the Early Church are essential to a healthy and thriving Church in today’s society. How are we measuring up?
In answering this question, I looked back at Acts 2:42-47. Take a moment to look that up and re-read it....
This passage tells us the Church devotes herself to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, attending “temple” together, breaking bread, praying, selling their possessions and belongings and giving the proceeds “to all, as any had need.” Also, having “glad and generous hearts,” “favor with all the people” and praising God. The result? “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Conclusion? When the Church functions in a healthy way, the lost are drawn to the Savior.
Are we striving to function within the Church body in a healthy way?
The second idea that struck me while reading through Acts is this: following Jesus in no way implies or guarantees we will be physically or emotionally comfortable in this world. Many of the disciples were martyred. The last several chapters of the book focus on Paul, and look at what he went through! Could we honestly say these things happened to him because he was not walking in God’s will? No, we could not!
As we leave Acts, and begin to focus on Romans (and the other Epistles), it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
❑ Martin Luther describes Romans as “truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. ”
❑ Romans is the first of the Epistles, which are letters written to churches or individuals. (Incidentally, Jude is the last of the Epistles.)
❑ Chronologically, Romans is the sixth of Paul’s Epistles.
❑ Romans is the longest of Paul’s Epistles.
❑ Paul wrote to the Romans while he was on his third visit to Corinth. Paul had not yet gone to Rome, so he was writing to people he had not yet met.
❑ Theologians generally agree that Paul wrote to the Romans so that they would understand how a sinner is received as righteous by a righteous God, and how, then, one redeemed should live daily to the glory of God.
According to the ESV Introductions to the Books of the Bible:
Romans is the longest and most systematically reasoned of Paul's letters. Paul announces its theme in 1:16-17: the gospel is God's power for salvation, because it shows us that the righteousness of God is through faith for all who believe. Paul explains the need for justification through faith because of sin (1:16–4:25). He then spells out the results of justification by faith in terms of both present experience and future hope (5:1–8:39). In the next three chapters, he expresses his sorrow that many of his fellow Israelites have not embraced the gospel, and he wrestles with the theological implications of this (chs. 9–11). He concludes by describing how the gospel should affect one's everyday life (chs. 12–16). Paul wrote his letter to Rome in about a.d. 57.
As we read through Romans, I pray God would draw us closer to Himself, and make us more like Him!
English Standard Version. Introductions to the Books of the Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 5 Feb 2006. 29 Sep 2010.
Vorrede auff die Epistel S. Paul: an die Romer" in D. Martin Luther: Die gantze Heilige Schrifft Deudsch 1545 aufs new zurericht, ed. Hans Volz and Heinz Blanke. Munich: Roger & Bernhard. 1972, vol. 2, pp. 2254-2268.