Kahului Baptist Church

Introduction to Romans [Manuscript]

Introduction to Romans preached on Sunday morning, September 30, 2012 by Nick Tanaka.  This is a manuscript of the sermon that was preached.

 

[Please excuse the numbers in the outline as the manuscript did not translate well into the site.]

 

Introduction to Romans

 

Intro

“This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”

That was the first lines of Martin Luther’s introduction to his commentary on the letter of Paul to the Romans. Romans has been called the jewel of the New Testament; the most excellent part of the New Testament. History shows that God has used the faithful preaching of Romans to begin revivals, to reignite churches for a zeal for God and the gospel, to save souls, even the most guilt-carrying, works-trusting, sin-loving, God-hating souls.

It is with this hope, that God would be glorified and that he would bless the faithful preaching of his Word, we will begin preaching from Romans.

Because this is such an important book, worthy of all our attention, as we preach through and sit under the preaching of Romans, I encourage you to be reading through Romans on your own. We will let you know ahead of time what the text will be for the following Sunday and you will do well to study through those verses throughout the week so that when you come on Sunday morning you are ready and prepared to hear the word of God and talk about the text with one another.

I truly believe that you cannot study Romans too much, nor hear the verses within it too often. Because I believe you will be blessed if you do this and because I love you, I want to spend this time I have with you to help you listen to, read and apply the book of Romans.

If you remember from our series on 9 Marks of a healthy church, the first mark is expositional preaching. Expositional preaching makes the point of the passage the point of the sermon. It follows then that expositional reading is reading that looks for the point of the passage, finds it and applies it to our daily lives.

Simple right? Not really. In fact, that’s one of the most difficult things to do. So, again, I want to spend this time to help you listen to, read, and apply the book of Romans.

When you listen to the sermons on Romans, Read Romans during the week, and apply Romans daily remember these 4 things:

 I. Remember the wRiter

II. Remember the Recipients

III. Remember the Reason

IV. Remember the Response

 

I. Remember the Writer

 

  1. The author of the letter to the Romans is the apostle Paul.Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, – Rom 1:1
    1. When you come to the end of Romans 16:22 “I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.” This is Paul’s scribe. He is writing everything Paul is saying, word for word.

 

  1. Paul was making his way back to Jerusalem to bring the Macedonian offering to help the saints in Jerusalem as we read in 15:25. Scholars deduced that Paul is most likely writing therefore during his 3rd missionary trip and writing from Corinth after being in Galatia. This is significant later as we find out the reason Paul is writing.
  2. We also find out what Paul’s plans are. His final destination is not Rome. He plans on going where Christ has not been named so as to not build on someone else’s foundation. Because there is already a church in Rome he is reminding them of the Gospel in Romans. Paul plans on going to Spain to preach the Gospel there having Rome be the headquarters of the missionary efforts in Western Europe. We find that in Romans 15:14-29.
  3. At this point you might be asking yourself “Why is all of this information so important?” Many times we read the Bible as simply “this is God speaking to me.” While it is gloriously that, we forget that there was an actual writer writing to actual people. For example, if you were to get a text message right now and it read, “I love you” the author of that text and the context in which that text came would matter a whole lot. Maybe it was your husband or wife and you just had an argument before you came to church. Or maybe it was a friend that wanted to comfort you in a stressful morning. Or maybe it was the creepy neighbor from down the street and you’re wondering how in the world he got your number. Remembering the writer of Romans and the climate he was writing in will help you listen to, read, and apply God’s Word as he speaks to you from Romans.

 

II. Remember the Recipients

 

  1. If you’re like me, when you think of Rome you think of Italy. When you think of Italy you think pasta! When you think pasta you think I want some pasta for lunch! Well when Rome is thought of we might automatically think that the church in Rome was full of Gentiles. This isn’t true.
    1. In fact, the church in Rome most likely began with Jewish-Christian converts that heard the gospel at Pentecost and brought the Gospel message back to Rome in the synagogues. Therefore, many gentiles converted to judaism would have heard the Gospel first. So much of the first church in Rome was comprised of Jewish Christians. You can imagine the Jewish community didn’t take this very well and would cause massive disturbances in everyday life. Because of this, during the reign of Emperor Claudius, both Jews and Jewish Christians were exiled from Rome for about 7 years.
    2. During this time, Gentile Christians were still growing in the Gospel, fellowshiping from house to house, without cultural influences of Judaism. So by the time Claudius died and Nero came into power and the Jews were allowed back in to Rome, the Gentile Christians no longer had the struggles that jewish Christians would struggle with i.e. festival days, holy days, and food regulation.

 

  1. So the church in Rome was comprised of both Jews and Gentiles but the majority being Gentile.
    1. Why is this so important? This is important because it makes sense of the tension that we find throughout Romans between Jews and Gentiles and Paul showing the glorious differences of both and the union that God has acted through Jesus Christ. This tension is also the focus of the application portion of Romans from chapters 12-16.
    2. Remembering the recipients of Romans will help you to listen to, read, and apply Romans.

 

III. Remember the Reason

 

Just like any letter there is always a reason for which it is written whether the reason is singular or multiple.

  1. Some say that Romans is just Paul’s theology put down on paper. Or that Paul wanted to communicate his theology to a church that wasn’t founded by an apostle. It is no doubt that Romans is a grand overview of the gospel, but what we want to know is WHY is Paul writing and we want to follow his reasoning to find out and not just read into the text what we want to see.
  2. Because we know a little bit about the writer and the recipients we can deduce as we read Romans what the reason or reasons are for writing the letter. (See, I told you those were important.) Let me just offer a few reasons to help you begin to listen to, read, and apply Romans.

 

  1. Because Paul is planning on making his way to Spain to preach the Gospel he wants to gain support from the church in Rome.
    1. In gaining support from the church in Rome, making it the hub of missionary efforts in Spain, he wants to make sure a couple things are in order.
      1. First of all he wants the Roman church to know that his Gospel is sound. No doubt, coming from Galatia where the Judaisers accuse Paul of being anti-law and grace that allows for sin and lawlessness, Paul knows that there are Jewish believers in Rome that, upon hearing the Gospel of free grace through faith, might oppose his Gospel. Paul, through reasoning in his letter is combating wrong thoughts about the gospel that he preaches. For example, Romans 7 Paul is speaking about how the law aroused their sinful passions leading to death but Christ freed us from our captivity to the law. Paul then asks critically of his own statement by saying “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7

 

  1. Because Paul knows that there is some conflict between the Jewish and Gentile Christians he wants to give them encouragement to love one another.
    1. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”… May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” – Romans 15:1-3, 5-7
    2. Paul can’t be having his headquarters split and quarreling.

 

  1. But I would say the ultimate reason Paul wrote to the Romans, and really is the reason we have the Bible, is for the Glory of God!
    1. As we have been learning in Sunday school about God’s Word, it’s not a book about us, it’s about God!  God is jealous for his glory! Rightfully so! The Bible is a grand story of the redemption of sinners through Jesus Christ for the glory of God! It would miss the mark to say that Romans is not about God!
    2. Paul’s desire to go to Spain and Rome to preach to the gentiles there, in 1:5, to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations for THE SAKE OF HIS NAME! God has planned history with this same goal in mind as we find in 9-11.
    3. Paul’s desire to unite the church under his gospel and commanding them in Romans 15:7 to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you is FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.
    4. As Paul sums up his theology section about how GOD works in salvation for his purposes Paul doxologically proclaims “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36.

 

Leon Morris in his introduction to Romans says this:

 

“Thus throughout the Epistle there is a tremendous concentration on God. Sometimes Paul gives information about the kind of God God is, but mostly he is concerned with what God does…The whole Bible is a book about God. We tend to think that Romans in this respect is just like any book in scripture. God comes more prominently before us in Romans than in any other part of the New Testament. Elsewhere Paul dwells on Christ and what Christ has done for men. This theme is not absent from Romans; but as long as we concentrate on it to the overlooking of the stress on God, we do not get quite what Paul is saying to us. Romans is a book about God and we must bear the fact in mind in all our interpretation of what it says. Otherwise we shall miss some of the wonderful things it says.”

 

Remembering the reason will help you listen to, read, and apply Romans.

 

IV. Remember the Response

 

  1. In conclusion, Romans is the most beautiful work of theology, communicating the glorious gospel of God through Jesus Christ our Savior! Nothing stirs the heart like hearing the gospel! Nothing expands the affections of the heart as theology of God redeeming sinners! However, we must remember that theology is not just for intellectuals. Theology is for lovers! Theology is practical and must evoke a response of obedience and worship!

 

  1. If you are here and you are not a believer, know that the message of Romans is for you too! Romans shows us the gospel that says that there are none righteous. Sin is not just missing the mark but we are born in sin. When we sin, we aren’t just doing bad things, it is taking the truth and beauty of God and saying “NO! You are not beautiful, glorious and worthy”………How can God consider sinners right before him? There is a massive problem! But God put forward his son Jesus to bear the sin that you deserved and died and was resurrected to give you new life! All you do to receive this is repent and believe! Repent now! You’re alive now and God has been good to you! This should lead you to repentance! Believe! Believing is not a work it’s just an empty hand that receives a gift! You can’t work to earn a gift, you just receive it! And this gift is one that you are infinitely unworthy of!
  2. Believer, respond to Romans as you read with awe! Theology and the gospel are meant to put you on your face. As you listen, read and see what God has done in his righteousness for undeserving sinners!
  3. Listen to the sermon well and take notes! Ask questions!
  4. Think hard! If Romans is about God ask, “What about God is being seen here?” not “How can I become a better person?”
  5. Respond with love for one another! Romans hold beautiful encouragement and reasons to love each other and prefer one another over ourselves.
  6. As I close let me close with this quote… (D.A. Carson last paragraph in Romans Intro)
  7. I pray that remembering to respond would help you to listen to, read, and apply the jewel, the purest Gospel, The Most Important Letter Ever Written: Romans.