Romans 5 has to be one of the best chapters in the Bible. Can the message of God’s love for us be conveyed in a better way than verses 6-8? To me this chapter has a central theme. Hope. And of course, hope does not disappoint us!

Of all the amazing verses in this chapter, I must draw your attention to the verse that jumped out at me this morning. In verse three a phrase appears, two words sit side-by-side bringing hope. It is simply this: SUFFERING PRODUCES…

This weekend, the student ministry will be on a ski trip to beautiful White Mountains of Arizona. Our theme for the weekend is: Erosion. Erosion is the process of decay caused by natural agents. As we sit up in the mountains we are reminded that in nature, erosion creates. Often, erosion creates something beautiful. It may look like the ground is wasting away, but in fact God is creating a magnificent Grand Canyon. EROSION CREATES…. SUFFERING PRODUCES…

Maybe today is going to be a difficult day for you. Maybe things are breaking down in your life, or maybe you feel like you are wasting away. It could be finances, relationships, or your job. It could be things outside of your control. And maybe God is creating something beautiful in your soul that you cannot understand this moment.

The NT authors understood this well. Check out James 1:2, II Cor. 4:8-12, 16-18, I Peter 4:12-13, Phil. 3:7-11. Peter, James, Paul all agree. Outwardly we might be wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed. And we may be dying, but resurrection awaits us on the other side.

May you have hope today and know that God is not far from your suffering…


Romans 3

I told Matt I was not excited to commentate and write a devotional on the first few chapters of Romans. It is a powerful passage but difficult to plow through. As we enter into this first century argument, there are certain things we must understand and important lessons to be learned. So Hagah (chew on this)….

Paul’s opposition, a certain group of first century Jews, believed that they were in a special position in regard to God because of their heritage. Paul agrees that they are (vs. 2 “Much in every way!) The difference was Paul believed their special position was one of special RESPONSIBILITY, these Jews believed it was one of special PRIVILEGE. Paul states they are special because God has entrusted them with His commandments. God said to them, “You are a special people, therefore you must live a special life.” He did not say, “You are a special people, therefore you can do whatever you want.”

The Jews and Gentiles are all under sin (vs. 9). We are not declared righteous by observing the law (v.20). A new righteousness has been made known, and it comes from God through Jesus (22). Imagine these words coming from Paul, a Pharisee. In what ways has Paul’s mind and heart been transformed? Why would these statements be revolutionary coming from a former Pharisee?

As God’s people, how do you live? Do you see grace and salvation as your privilege or your responsibility?

So much to discuss…


Orienting Data

Jared- Great picture to get us started. When I'm reading, I love having a sense of what could have been going on.
To tack onto what Jared wrote, I want to add a few orienting pieces.
1) From a broad sense, it seems as though Paul had two primary reasons to write the Romans. One was to introduce himself to them. The other was to give a foundation for the Christian faith.
2) There are a number of 'famous' verses from this book. What are some that you know? I think the central verse, the verse that could be lifted out as the big picture is found in this first chapter. Anyone want to guess which verse?
3) A quick word study will show the following statistics:
"Righteousness" is used 34 times in the book of Romans and is key to understanding this book. It is only used 92 times in the entire New Testament.
"God" is used 153 times.
"Law" is used 72 times.
"Christ" is used 65 times.
"Sin" is used 48 times.
"Faith" is used 40 times.

I'm excited to read this book with you. John Calvin said this about Romans:
"If a man understands Romans he has a sure road open to help him understand the entire Bible."

When in Romans...

In the late 50’s AD, close to 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, a missionary/church planter named Paul sits in a home in the Greek city of Corinth. Maybe he is having dinner with his friends Aquila and Priscilla, fellow tent makers and followers of Jesus.
Breaking bread they discuss the many stories they have heard. Lives are being transformed by the message of Jesus, a new humanity has started, and a new kingdom is being formed right under the nose of the oppressive Roman Empire.
Speaking of the Romans, Aquila tells Paul a story of a church community he was a part of in the Empire’s capital city, Rome. This is a very dangerous place to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is... well… a salad.
Aquila and Priscilla break the news to Paul that they are moving to rejoin this community in Rome. Paul is excited but also sad, the kind of feeling you get when you find out your close friends are moving to San Diego to take a great job.
Paul has a desire to go, he even feels called to go further west into Spain. Yet he is not sure if he will ever make it, he already has so much on his plate (figuratively speaking of course, any abundance of food was usually shared with the hungry by the early Christians :)).
A few days later (maybe years) Paul decides to write a letter to this church in Rome. He knows his pen has great influence, almost like there is Someone helping him write. He wonders what he should put in this letter. He knows many of the people in this church, but he is not familiar with specific situations. He decides to write what he believes is essential for the church in Rome to hear, his foundational theology. Just in case he never makes it, he wants the church in Rome to be clear on where he stands.
Let’s see what Paul decided to write…

PS- I am not sure this is what happened, just trying to paint a picture ☺