Romans: Another Sidebar

February 13, 2007

As I dig into Romans I am constantly running across things I will not have time to pursue on this time through the book. I am convinced that a month of sermons could be preached from each verse in chapters 2-3. Do not think that this series even begins to plumb the depths of this book!

I’ve been using a variety of study helps to dig deeper into Romans. That includes multiple Bible versions, Strongs and Thayer’s Greek concordances, and several commentaries coming from different perspectives. Albert Barnes and John Gill give a Calvinist perspective. Adam Clarke, John Wesley, and J. W. McGarvey give a Free Will perspective. I think it is important to get both sides, and to realize that there is some truth to both. But I don’t want to get bogged down in choosing sides on that controversy. I want to get beneath those things, to understand what God was trying to say through Paul.

I hope this series will inspire others to dig deeper into this book, to look at alternate perspectives, and to come away with a deeper appreciation for what we have in Christ. Paul often spoke of his prayers and efforts to that end (Eph 1:17-19, Eph 3:18-19, Col 1:10, Col 2:2, Titus 1:1…) God intends for us to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what we have received. The more we understand, the more joy we will experience because of it, and the more benefit we will derive from it. We can get a glimpse of that joy and awe from Paul (note that he is the one expaining these deep truths to us!) in Rom 11:33-36:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Think back to the last time you felt what Paul expressed in that passage. I know I could not have written that. Seeing Paul’s passion, awe, joy, and amazement at the glory of God, makes me want to know God like Paul knew Him, and to understand the gift we have been given as Paul understood it. I have a long way to go.

What inspired Paul to write such exalted praise of God? He had just spent eleven chapters explaining the unrighteousness of all mankind, and the gift of righteousness God has prepared for those who have faith in Jesus. What Paul understood about that gift affected him deeply. It moved him. I want to get closer to that kind of appreciation for what God has given us. So it is time to move forward. In my next post I will pick up on the end of chapter 3 and begin the discussion of the righteousness that comes through faith.

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