Friday, 8 July 2011

The Bible: Reading The Book of Romans

The book of Romans provides an interesting and fairly simple overview of what Christianity is. The writer Paul originally wrote it for the church in Rome to help them understand the gospel message they had received. Authorship is interesting to consider as it’s Gods word giving to Paul, who was once a persecutor of Christian but is now a follower of Christ. This gives a great authority combined with a human example to the writing.
This book shows the situation of the early church and it is interesting to see the similar challenges faced today. Paul also informs the reader on how to live Christ like lives and how to treat each other. This is challenging to the reader and has certainly helped me explore my faith and the struggles I can face.
As it takes place after the gospels it refers to Jesus Christ and his teachings. Paul also makes frequent references to the Old Testament and how that shows the history of God at work and what it prophesied as the coming of Jesus. Paul also makes references to passages which would be familiar to the readership, to show how Christ’s death and resurrection is the next step of Gods plan.
I find Paul’s writing to be wonderfully honest and frank. Paul states what he knows is right, yet not in a condemning way. It may challenge the reader, but it also shows them hope and brings them a good message, which I certainly find very positive. Paul starts by introducing himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ and says how his proclaiming the good news is fulfilling the promise God made long ago. He then goes into Gods anger and judgement of sin which is consistent with the Old Testament showing it to be the same God.  However as is also consistent with the Old Testament he shows Gods faithfulness and grace which is now available to all Gentiles as well. Romans explains God’s relationship to his people as well as showing his hatred of sin. It explains how people don’t have to be slaves to sin and are free to have a relationship with him, if they choose to.
Through Christ there is no condemnation for any sins, as repentance shows a true turning away from them. I found this encouraging but also recognised my personal difficulties, as I can often condemn myself for doing wrong instead of dealing with it and moving on. It also reminds readers that they aren’t perfect and will do wrong, but that it doesn’t mean we should give up to sinful desires. As God knows us we can still be made clean again, so those sins no longer matter. Paul relates personally and freely talks about his own relation to sin, showing that he doesn’t elevate himself because he’s an apostle. He relies on God rather than his own weak self to continue doing right. This makes it clear to the reader that it’s possible to overcome sin through faith in Jesus. Paul also talks about God’s love and how those who believe in him can’t be separated from it. That’s why it’s good to regularly read the Bible to encourage and remind ourselves so that we can continually live in this.
Romans is also encouraging in  that God made all things to work together for good, for those who love him. It shows to the readers of the time and those today that the importance is of relationship with God who wants relationship with us rather than have us be bound by laws, rituals or religiousness. Paul refers to dying to the laws power as it only binds the living. By rising again in Christ’s forgiveness we are no longer bound by the law which we can not help breaking. This is relevant to me as it shows faith relies on knowing and receiving the goodness of God. This is instead of fearing laws which can make me resent them and tempt me to sin by breaking them, as it’s a hopeless task on my own.

Paul also writes about how salvation is for everyone who believes in God and the one he sent. This is important as many at the time thought it was solely for the Jews, causing many problems and is part of the reason why Jesus wasn’t accepted by all. He uses an example of God speaking to Moses, showing that it was always God’s plan to bring nations back to him. This also is an example of the relationship between the Old and New Testament and why Jesus was the important hinge point. It also makes sense to me how God who created us would want a relationship with us , rather than letting man made ritual, or fear of our sins get in the way.
The biggest challenge of this book for me and I imagine many readers is near the end about how to live. It starts by talking about being a living sacrifice, living holy lives for God. It shows how important God sees us and Paul says it’s the least we can do after what God has done for us. We are part of the body of the church which has Christ as the head. This makes me think about how I relate to others and the book also talks about loving others including our enemies. Paul quotes Proverbs about feeding our enemy which isn't an easy thing to do. It also places importance on the relationship between Christians and not to worry over small things which can cause arguments, Paul’s example is about eating habits. This consideration of others doesn’t mean compromising what God wants but by loving each other and God it will increase people’s faith and be an example to non believers.
The book shows Paul’s love of others as an example of how Christians should treat each other. But most importantly it shows Gods loves for us, from creation to now. Romans shows this and how we can draw close to him. This is important for all readers to remember through the ages to remember.

Copyright © Nathan Groves
This Work Is Not To Be Reproduced With Out Permission.

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