Any mountain climber will tell you that before approaching the first leg of a climb, time must be taken to study the terrain and be familiar with where you are headed. As we move forward in the “mountain range” of Romans beyond chapter 3, we would benefit from making sure we have a good understanding of the book’s overall structure. What does Paul expect the reader to “get” from this major document? What are the steps he takes as he works toward that goal? Right from where we are in the book, how do these first three chapters move us in that direction?
Recall comments from the last study on chapter three: “And yet Paul closes this segment of Romans emphasizing that it is impossible for any person to accomplish that righteous condition. All he can do is be miserably aware of just how sinful he is, and stare in fear because of his condemned status before the Judge.” All mankind stands condemned. Every man, woman and child who has existed on earth throughout all of history – we are all hopelessly lost in sin.
In sharing the Gospel with an unbeliever, there is a key fact that always needs be kept in mind: before a person will desire to receive God’s gift of salvation in Christ, he must first be completely convinced of his sinful condition and need of salvation! Paul has developed this key line of thinking for us in Romans 1:18-3:31.
As men and women of God adequately prepared for ministering to a needy world, we must know and understand the truths of this passage – please be careful to think them through carefully! As we proceed on through the heights of Romans, here are the major plateaus you can expect:
Romans 1-3: The seriousness of sin and the desperately lost condition of every living soul. Check the previous study and recall the main points as you proceed in our study.
Romans 4-5: The amazing grace of God is demonstrated by His providing Redemption based on faith alone. God declared Abraham righteousness unilaterally, justified by faith alone. Just as sin came into the world by one man, justification also came through one man – Jesus Christ. Note the eternal faithfulness of God to keep His promises, and the testimony of faith which Abraham has given us. Note too the results of Justification by Faith.
Romans 6-8: If Romans is the highest mountain range of the New Testament, then chapters 6-8 is the Peak. Throughout the Bible, God has shown us that we need to worship and glorify Him, be godly, Christlike, do His will. In these chapters, Paul guides us through the truths that enable us to do those things. These chapters are the essential benchmark which we must make a reality.
Baptized into Christ, we are new creatures, intent on being instruments of righteousness. Free from the law of sin, we are empowered for holiness by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 9-11: In chapter 2, Paul reminded the Jews that they were as guilty of sin as the Gentile. In chapters 9-11, Paul returns to the subject of the Jews’ relationship to God and His program. God is still sovereign, His promises to Israel will be fulfilled, a remnant will be eternally redeemed.
Romans 12-16: In each of Paul’s New Testament letters, he concludes with thoughts regarding Christian living – how to apply to real life the doctrinal truths already discussed. In these chapters, Paul develops how to “prove” the will of God, living sacrificially to glorify and serve Him.
Now would be a very good time for your to take a few extra minutes and read through the entire book of Romans. While the NASB translation is always good to use, It might be good to use the NIV for this read-through. Look for the main sections and highlights as outlined above and make some notes!
Put it in your Life!
Are you a born again child of God? Do you wish to live in a way that demonstrates your new life in Christ and offers a testimony of God’s grace to those around you? In other words, do you wish to live the Christian life the way God intends you to? If yes, you need to know the book of Romans deeply, well enough to teach it. Study it well and often!
So get out your Bible Study journal and write some thoughts down about this study. Perhaps look at each of the sections of Romans and work on being familiar with how Paul progresses through his letter.