8 Months of Romans
8 months. That is how long my church had been going through the book of Romans. I know that 8 months is not that long compared to some other church’s Romans studies. Stories are told of years and years spent within that great book of the bible. But for a church that is not as experienced in preaching book-by-book through the bible 8 months is a long time. Three quarters of the year has been spent within one book of the bible. And through this time I have seen my church grow. We have grown in our knowledge of the gospel and we have grown closer to Jesus through the good news declared within the pages of Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Here’s what my church wrestled with through 8 months in Romans.
What is the gospel? Paul summarizes the extent of the gospel, going all the way back to creation itself and playing out Adam’s rebellion and its consequences. He addresses that because of sin we all stand under the Lord’s wrath and are in desperate need of a Savior. He lays out in detail just who our Savior is and how He saves. Every church needs to know the extent and depth of the gospel. The gospel is what we proclaim to this dark world and so we need to be intimately familiar and knowledgeable of what we are called to proclaim. Even churches who are well versed in the gospel need to hear it repeatedly, know it, and be able to articulate it. This is the bedrock of our faith and it should be the bedrock of our church. So preach Romans to give your church a foundation of the gospel.
We can’t get past the gospel. Through preaching Romans, I found that we can’t get away from the gospel. So much so that some could feel that the repetition of the message. Paul presents the gospel, again and again, chapter after chapter. This further illustrates the fact that we need the gospel preached to us again and again. Churches who believe that we come to know Christ and then move beyond the gospel have missed the point. Take a page out of Paul’s book and preach the gospel again...and again.
And at the core of the gospel is the love of God expressed through the sending of His Son Jesus. John Piper says that God is the gospel and that is true. And so we can say that Jesus is the gospel since Jesus is God. And through Romans, we see that Jesus is that great mystery that was proclaimed and disclosed through the prophets. We see God’s plan in salvation finding its fulfillment in Christ. We get a picture of the various strains of history finding their coalescence in God’s redemptive plan coming together at last in Christ. As Paul says, “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen (16.27).” Preaching through Romans centered my church’s eyes and hearts on Christ and put the gospel in front of them repeatedly.
This whole endeavor led the church to new heights of praise. I heard it in how the congregation talked about Christ. I saw it in how they responded in song. I felt it as they were moved to action in changed lives. Romans teaches praise in how it points the spotlight on the fact that God has saved us. Paul somewhat corners and makes face the truth that God, while we were still sinners, is the One who brings salvation. And the only response we have is praise. Praise for our loving merciful God. Praise that we are saved in spite of ourselves.
May you be encouraged that the Word preached in our churches changes lives as it points to our marvelous Savior and mighty God.
Adam is the lead pastor at River Valley Community Church in Fort Smith, AR. He graduated from Denver Seminar in 2009 with his M.Div. Adam is married to Kacee, and they have two kids, Titus and Jillian.