19 Dec

Romans Overview-Part Deux

I know it’s been a long time in coming… a goal for the new year is more consistency in blogging here. I know it’s my calling and Lord knows I try. Perhaps in my quest to improve Bible literacy, the devil is also in the details?

First a little review…
You can also view the other posts. The first is here and the second is here (Click the links)

If you’ve read this epistle (letter) through a few times I’m sure you’re convinced that this is Paul’s best! A masterpiece which brings together all of theology in brief! For me, it confirms all the basic truths that IS the gospel message! Needless to say, I find myself turning to the Book of Romans over and over. It is also why I am pointing you readers to it as well! I sometimes gobble it up, and other times just nibble and snack. So much to digest and it’s all meat!

Having learned how it is structured and main points is just an introduction-an aperitif if you will. For now, a very general guidance and our direction for future and deeper study in the coming year!

Next: let’s say a little about the church that was in Rome. Paul had not yet visited but wanted to very much (Rom. 1:13, 15:23 ) but was hoping to do so soon. So, how did it happen that there were believers in Rome? We can conclude from the fact that when Paul wrote this letter, the faith of those of the Roman church were already well known (Rom. 1:8). It may be that as there were also many Jews there who came to believe that the gospel came with them. Peter also mentions at Pentecost that there were visitors from Rome. It’s quite possible that having become believers, they shared it with others upon their return. It is also likely that the church at Rome was a mix of Jewish and Gentile believers. Many of the Gentile believers, before coming to Christ, had been Jewish proselytes to Judaism. It is commonly believed that Paul wrote this epistle while he was in Corinth during his time in Achaia and sent it with Phoebe, a sister in the church at Cenchrea who was going to Rome.

Now a little about Paul, though I admit that studying the man is almost as fascinating to me as studying Scripture!
-Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion on the Damascus Road! He knew the Jewish law from top to bottom and everything in between!
-He was brought up in the Greek culture and the Hellenic life. He was familiar with all Greek literature.
-Paul had ROMAN Citizenship which gave him extraordinary privileges in the Roman world.

So, here we have a man knowledgeable in the extreme with Hebrew ways, a cultural Greek and a freeborn Roman citizen. This made him, in my opinion, uniquely qualified for his calling! Exhibiting intellect, strength of will (aka discipline), deep feeling and sympathy for all, his character is a perfect blend of who Jesus was looking for to be a witness to all the world! Most of all, what always continues to draw me to study this man is his conversion directly by Jesus. Beyond all else he was the perfect man to blend how being a believer in Jesus was the legitimate outcome, development and completion of all the truth found in the Old Testament!

A Little More Doctrine (no groaning!)

Browse through the first eight chapters again. It’s all about HOW THE GOSPEL SAVES SINNERS! This can be summed up by the statement “Present righteousness and final salvation through Christ BY FAITH” Sadly, nowadays in our deeply commercial, industrial ,urbanized, mechanized world we live by the clock and have less time to consider and ponder and meditate on the deeper things. Materialism seems to rule the masses. The next great technical gadget and of course the many distractions that encompass the internet. Despite all that there ARE hearts that are uneasy and seek more than what is seen. That desire, that rightness with the Creator. THAT is a major part of Paul’s message in these first words of Romans. Check out Rom. 1:18 , Rom. 1:21-23, Rom. 2 , etc.
Paul is going to tell us where righteousness can be found but first he tells us where it is NOT found! Not in worship of nature or in religion! Ultimately he says, “It is NOT found in me!” He then writes all about where it IS found-the Gospel; which is his message in Romans 1-8. There are two aspects to this righteousness-the legal and the moral, or said another way, the judicial and the dynamic. The Gospel provides both! Righteousness is IMPUTED, that is it is judicially given through the awesome payment Jesus paid on the cross. There is also righteousness IMPARTED – the power given through and by the renewing Holy Spirit of Christ JESUS. This is JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE!

So, by faith ,believing all that Jesus said, who He is and in His resurrection we have:
– Peace with God
– Access to God by faith
– Joy in the hope of glory
– God’s unconditional love in our hearts
– Saved from God’s wrath
– Joy in God
(Romans 5:1-11)
Note also those things we are now “dead” to… that no longer have power over those who believe:
Dead to sin-alive to God
Dead to the Law-married to Christ
Dead to the flesh-led by the Spirit

Pretty awesome ain’t it!! By simply believing Jesus, surrendering our being to Him, we become free of the curse of death and eternal wrath!
I’m going to end this here for now and let you dig in a little bit more to these first eight chapters.
It’s a lot to consider, to ponder, to meditate on.
If you’re not yet a follower of Jesus Christ, today I invite you to join me on this marvelous and adventurous road. It’s not going to make you rich, get the mate you have your eye on or anything like that. What it DOES do is set you free to be YOU. The YOU that God created you to be…and He welcomes you to come NOW-just as you are!

You can tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

So, if I’ve helped you in any way this year to draw nearer to God, I’d love to hear from you! You can comment below. All comments are moderated so if you don’t want it published, just say so, OK. I know this is a deeply personal decision. I also want to invite you to my church-ONLINE! Check out my church LifeChurch @ Church Online to meet others who are following Christ or seeking to know more. There are over 80 opportunities to watch the message, worship in song, and even seek personal prayer. All of the live chats (yes we talk in church!) are moderated by trained hosts from all over the world. I host on Tuesday mornings 8:30 AM Central Time-USA and if you are there… say HEY DONNA!

One of my personal goals for the coming year is to post more consistently (at least once a week) despite anything life may send my way. I covet prayers for the coming year as we dig deeper into Romans. My “plan” is one or two chapters a week so we finish up before Easter Sunday April 1. After that we’ll go into full “excavation mode”. You can download a tentative outline by clicking –Romans Excavation Plan!  We may delve more into the culture and history surrounding the book as well as sneaking in a little Greek here and there! And of course a bit more about Paul-the man!

For the rest of this year may your days be merry and bright. For the coming year… I pray you may draw nearer to God and Jesus Christ our Lord. I’m considering a make-over of the blog and trying to put together a few other features and classes … pray with me and for me, ok? I’m always open to suggestion also.

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02 Nov

Romans – A Brief Overview of the Big Picture

First, I am again sorry for the huge delay in posting. However, that also means you had an entire month (and more) to read through the entire epistle! Right?

While not yet at 100%, my desktop is once again working and yes, better than ever. I guess my Zok (this computer has a first name…) needed a laxative. On a technical note-everyone should do a complete re-install at least once a year… but remember back-up Back-up BACK UP!

OK so let’s get into the “book” of Romans…

As I said last time, more than any other book of the Bible it has determined the course of Christian thought. Consider how it changed Luther and as a result of his “95 Theses” changed the Church and brought about the Reformation. It is one of those sections of scripture that each and every believer should really dig into, feed on, and digest thoroughly! Mastering the teachings found within it is to be truly grounded and settled in the faith. A lifelong pursuit if there ever was one!

As the time of its writing, the Gospel had been preached all over the Roman world for about 25 years (written around 56 A.D.) and there were now many communities of believers. As Christianity grew, so too did some pretty deep questions. Things like God’s righteousness if sinners were also pardoned by His grace? The relationship between the Law of Moses and the Gospel. And how about those Gentiles having the same privilege as those of Jews? And accountability? And Israel? Many Jewish believers may have felt their very heritage as God’s chosen people was being blown away…. and the controversial questions go on and on!

On these points and many others, Paul was uniquely qualified to tell what he had himself learned. As a Pharisee he had been trained in all things Jewish…and as an apostle, called by Jesus Himself, equipped in all Jesus had preached! To say that it cost him is putting it lightly.

-Structure & Message-
I am trusting that you have read Romans in its entirety a few times by now. So after you’ve read Paul’s mail… let’s break it down just a little by a  more familiar notation-chapters.
Chapters 1-8: This might be considered “Doctrinal”and tells how the Gospel saves the sinner and expands on the basics of Jesus teachings.
Chapters 9-11: Paul gets down to some specifics points; “National”; and how the Gospel relates to Israel and the Jews
Chapters 12-16: Last but not least is Pauls “Practical” section. This tells of how the Gospel relates to the character and conduct of all who believe. One might say this is the “to do” list for believers and how to apply the teachings to living the Christian life.

You might also break these sections into exposition, explanation and application.

-Some interesting points-
Each of the three parts end with a prayer of praise to God! (Romans 8:38-39 , Romans 11:33-36, Romans 16:25-27 )
The “theme verse” of the entire letter is Paul first talking about himself! (Romans 1:16-17) and touches on all the ideas he plans to write about: The Gospel-power of God-Salvation-everyone-believes-righteousness

I’ve prepared a more detailed description of these three sections available in .pdf format. You can view it here: Romans Overview-Section Analysis

Now, how about a brief quiz?

1. What are the three primary parts of Romans and what are the three sub-divisions?

2. What is the key verse? What are the leading doctrines and the developing truth in Romans 1-8 ?

3. Where is the Israel section in Romans? Why is this subject included in the letter?

I’d love to hear about something new you discovered in reading Romans! Please share in the comments!!

You can answer in the comments section.. or … ?

Assignment for next time…
Read Romans 5-7 and Romans 9-11
Having discovered the main structure and important points we’ll take a walk through some of the reliable general direction and guidance found within. We’ll take a deeper look at some of the brilliant highlights of these readings as well as a little history about Rome, the Church and Paul himself!

If you’re just joining in, the first post in this series can be found here.

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28 Sep

Studying Paul’s Letter to the Romans…

Long before I started my study and research, I was fascinated by Paul, the man. Here’s this guy who had actively persecuted Jesus’ followers ( Acts 8:1-3) then in Acts 9:1-17 he is enlisted by Jesus Himself-his mission:share the Gospel and minister to the Gentiles. I think that with the exception of the teachings of Christ Himself, Paul’s conversion was instrumental in my own salvation and the beginning of really STUDYING my Bible.

Over the many years since I first said “Yes” to Jesus I’ve been an avid explorer of Scripture. Yes, the teachings and stories are a great beginning. I used to carry a pocket NIV Bible (still have it too!) in my purse to read on breaks. I confess, in those early days, I barely truly understood all of it— and continued to read and listen to preachers and teachers. And then I heard about Paul’s encounter with the Bereans (Acts 17:11-12)

Nowadays my personal study has expanded to many areas including history, archeology, cultures and customs then and now, as well as Church history. In fact, right now I’m delving a bit into the Reformation. One of my favorite “side studies” is the languages our Bible was originally written in as well as how we got here from there! Truly, studying the Bible is a multi-faceted endeavor for anyone-and I LOVE IT! It’s keeps this senior brain from shriveling for sure!

There are many books written about how to study the Bible. One of the things I’ve learned is the importance of CONTEXT and I think this is especially true of the Epistle to the Romans. I’m not going to go into too much of the background this week. Obviously its a letter from Paul to all the believers in Rome (duh)! It is considered by many scholars and theologians to be his magnum opus and and goes pretty in depth on many doctrinal teachings and incidentally a huge influence on later Church fathers! Of all the highlighting done in my younger days, Romans has the most. It is simply chock full of teaching and more! For me, I like the practicality and ability to apply it to living today. ROMANS IS TIMELESS!

I use a number of digital tools in studying and many are downloadable for free!
1. Logos is my primary and stays open pretty much all the time. I started using it in the early 80s and over the years my library has grown immensely! While most added resources have a cost, Faithlife offers LOGOS BASIC . Each month they also offer a free resource to add to your library. Needless to say, if you really get into study like I do, it can get costly. What I love most is the ability to keep notes… and additionally I personally have my devotions journal. I hope you’ll check it out. It also has an app for your phone/device for “on the go” reading.

2. Another freebie is e-Sword  and has a multitude of resources and also allows the purchase of many others. I don’t use it as much but the free resources are great!

3. Last but not least is YouVersion. This is always free all the time and has a huge selection of daily Bible reading plans. I don’t use it much for heavy duty study. It IS really good for reading and re-reading whatever I am studying. I keep it on my device because our message each week at Life.Church/Church Online generally has a reading plan associated with it and really is beneficial in keeping the teaching front and center for application! Note that this is my church where I serve Tuesday mornings at 9:30 AM USA EST.

Now that I’ve shared all that I do and the tools I use, I’m so hopeful and excited that some may come on the journey with me! I hope you’ll invite others as well!

Read the entire book! That’s it! Well, sorta. First-read it like its written-a LETTER to real people! Just think, God is letting us freely read other peoples’ mail!!!

I suggest you read it through quite a few times (at least three). Also, use a few different translations/versions of the Bible. I confess, the first time I tried this, I was using the NASB translation and got lost because it is so deep. DO use your favorite for sure, but also consider a paraphrase or two and maybe consider using a commentary for the more difficult passages. e-Sword has quite a few in their “for free” collection. Keep in mind that most are public domain and written likely before you were born. I know there are also quite a few available online. Just search ( I use Google)on “Bible commentary” and I’m sure you’ll end up bookmarking many! I hope you’ll also explore some of the areas I have found so exciting! Culture and history especially as it helps to envision the recipients.

If you have any comments or questions about tools or other areas of study, or even my methods… comment below and I’ll get back to you soon as I can.

OK then… hope you’ll return next week as we take our first steps on this journey! I plan to post every Thursday by 5PM USA EST. Eventually, I’ll be moving everything over to the learning area of Abiding Ways and providing handouts but I’m also in the process of putting a new face on the main site. For the month of October tho… we’ll stay right here on the blog. And yes, we will take a break for the holidays. I know how busy it gets!

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