Even in books familiar to me like Romans I come across verses or phrases that stand out and seem new to me. I found this line from Romans 6:17 particularly beautiful, “obedient from the heart.” Paul gives great thanks to God that we, who were once slaves to sin are now obedient from the heart to the teachings of God. To be brought from bondage to sin, which brings death, to an obedience rooted in our hearts, in our love for God, is surely something for which to give thanks.
After reading a paragraph, a chapter, or a whole book, are you able to turn around and summarize what you’ve just read? It’s a great practice to jot down notes in the margins as you read, just as a simple exercise to make sure you’re actually processing the words that pass before your eyes. Then on the larger scale, we should ask ourselves the obvious questions after the completion of a book, “What did I just read?” Here is a short attempt at answering the question in a more roundabout way from the site Near Emmaus. He is attempting in just a couple paragraphs to describe the reason that Paul wrote Romans, and in so doing gives broad strokes of description about the whole book.
Here is just one line, but go to the site for more:
This epistle addresses the Adamic problem including Jews and Gentiles. Paul uses this problem to show the glory of the salvation found in those who have followed Abraham’s model of faith which is now encapsulated in those who call Christ “Lord”.
Give it a shot yourself after a chapter or section. See if you can very briefly boil down some of Paul’s arguments as you read. It’ll help you to better understand and retain these words of Scripture.
I’m back from vacation now and here we are in week six of Year in the Bible. We’ll play a little bit of catch up in covering the two weeks of reading on the site, so now is the time to share any questions you may have.
We’re continuing in both 1 Samuel and Romans, with the latter especially packed full of information. This is all the more reason to try coming out to one of the two reading groups to share insights and try to get the most out of these books.
I’ve been hearing some good stories from people who are keeping up with all the readings and even heard today of someone who was able to catch up on three weeks of backlog. What was great is that this catching up wasn’t rushed through just to get it done. We don’t want to read to have just read the Bible. We don’t want to check it off like some chore. We read to learn more of God and to hear his voice speak to us.
So if you are catching up, take your time. You don’t want to rush through and miss what God would have you see.
Looking at these two passages from 1 Samuel 8 and Romans 1 you see a common thread:
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
1 Samuel 8
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
We lack wisdom and continue to choose things of this world rather than cling to our God. Israel is not content with God as king, instead wanting to be just like everybody else. The people of Romans chose to worship created things, not the creator. How often do we continue to think we know better than God? Why can’t we trust that God will satisfy us perfectly in the way he provides, instead of blazing our own trail? It doesn’t work well in 1 Samuel nor in Romans. Let us gain a bit of wisdom and learn from the mistakes of others.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Just a quick thought on this verse. Who can read it without being challenged? Haven’t there been times when we have either lacked boldness in sharing the gospel or have doubted its great power? But if the latter is true, if the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles, then what responses are available to us? Is there any course of action but an unashamed proclamation of what is the only hope for the world?
Shame is a wholly inappropriate response to the gospel. It is nothing we should feel guilty about nor have to apologize for. That God loved us so much that he sent Christ here for for us should be something we openly rejoice in.
I hope Paul’s writings will not only challenge us, but encourage us to share in such boldness.