Spiritual markers. We all have them. Some come in a moment, bringing rapid spiritual change. Some come over a season. My parents came to visit us this week, a remarkable feat in itself given that we did not think my dad would be with us by now, let alone be able to travel. They brought an old, beat up poster from 1981, advertising a revival meeting I preached at the Cubahatchee Baptist Church in Alabama. That summer was a spiritual marker for me, showing me how much I loved itinerant ministry and encouraging the saints to follow Christ. I will be putting it up in my office to remind me of the days when I wondered if anyone would ever care to have me preach at their church. Sometimes I forget those times, and I need a reminder.
Our family had a major spiritual marker this week in the news of our son Josh’s engagement to our future daughter-in-law, Jacqueline. I cannot imagine a great blessing in this life than to see one’s children grow in the fear and admonition of the Lord and meet another who also loves Jesus, brought together by a gracious God for a life of service to Him. Michelle and I also thank God for the great relationship Hannah has with her fellow, Corey.
For some of the giants of the faith in history, the book of Romans has provided significant spiritual markers in their lives and in the advancement of the gospel.
John Chrysostom, greatest preacher of the fifth century, had the book of Romans read to him weekly.
Romans was instrumental in the conversion of Augustine. He read Romans 13:11-14 and was changed eternally.
An Augustinian monk named Martin Luther read Romans 3 at a time of extreme spiritual hunger and grasped the truth that the just shall live by faith, and he ultimately led a Reformation.
Two centuries later, John Wesley sat in a society meeting on May 24, 1738, where he heard the prologue to Luther’s commentary on Romans read, and had his heart “strangely warmed.” He was used by God as a leader of a great awakening.
If you want to grow spiritually, be challenged, be changed, be awakened, read Romans.
If you want to learn about who God is, who you are, how much you need Him and how near He is, read Romans.
In Romans Paul describes the gospel in the most beautiful and comprehensive way, and shows us how the gospel that saves us is also the gospel that grows us.
In Romans 1:1-12 Paul introduces himself, not by establishing his authority as he did to the Galatians, but in humility, as a slave of God, as he had not yet been to Rome to be with these believers. In verses 2-4 he reminds us of the message of God, the singular message of Scripture—the redeeming work of Christ. In verses 5-6 he summarizes the mission of God for His people. Before he gets past the introduction Paul already notes the importance of the message of God and the mission of God!
Then, Paul shares his gratitude for the work of God in the church at Rome (verses 8-12). In almost all of Paul’s epistles he notes his thanksgiving for all God has done or was doing. Just glance over these verses to see the consistent theme of thanksgiving, and note also the different reasons for Paul to be thankful:
I Cor 1:4-7
II Cor 1:8-11
I Thess 1:2
II Thess 1:3
I tim 1:12-15
II Tim 1:3
Paul had to be one of the most grateful people on earth. Or perhaps he simply reminds us that all who follow Christ should be the most grateful people on earth, not only on a holiday called Thanksgiving.
I hope to mention weekly something from our weekly study of Romans at my home church, Richland Creek Community Church. I have never taught through the entire book, and although our study will not be as intense as I would like (I do not have years to give the book justice), I am personally excited about the mark this book will have on my life and of those who join us in the study. We have nothing greater to feed our souls with than the Scriptures, and they are more than enough.