“Wrestling With Romans”
Going Deeper with God (Chapter 1 Verses 8-17)
The desire Paul has in visiting these people is that he should be of some spiritual benefit to them (v11). To communicate a spiritual gift to them which will make them strong, and establish them in their spiritual walk. He wants to take them deeper (Ephesians 3.17.21). Whatever stage they are at they will surely want this for themselves. Should not we all? You perhaps think to yourself, Romans, O that’s heavy going! Well, it might surprise you to know that a good number of people have been converted through reading and studying the book of Romans, Augustine, Luther, Bunyan, John Wesley, the Haldane brothers and Merle D’Aubigne the Reformation historian, and no doubt countless others whose names are known only in Heaven. So you see, do not be fooled into thinking that this is very heavy theology and only for a theological class of Christians. This is basic first-century Christian teaching, which was meant for all Christians, it is simply and purely gospel beloved, from start to finish. The spiritual teaching administered to the Church through the medium of spiritual gifts (v11; Ephesians 4.8; Ephesians 4.11), is given to build us up (1Corinthians 4.12), to cause us to be fruitful (v13; John 15.1-17; Galatians 5.22-26). It is through the ministry of God’s word, empowered by the Holy Spirit that we grow up in the faith (1Peter 1.22-2.2; 2Peter 3.18). So this letter of Paul’s is given to us today, in the same way, to take us further on, and deeper into God, to a richer, fuller life with him.
The fact that Paul has not been to Rome to minister to them personally is not for want of trying (v13), but he has been divinely restrained. Now though, he strains at the bit (v15), with this awesome, immense commitment (v14), to preach the gospel, and plant it in as many places, nations, and hearts as he possibly can, and that without any distinction of class. He was no intellectual snob. I wonder, is that a commitment we share with Paul? Do you have this eagerness, this constraint to declare the good news about the Lord to your community where God has placed you (1Corinthians 9.16)? There are all kinds of people around us, with varied backgrounds, gifts, abilities, some with better opportunities than others, some with awful problems, deep needs, worries and anxieties, but all with one thing in common, they need to hear our good news, our gospel of God’s righteousness. Let us get excited again about Jesus, let us get really enthusiastic and eager to tell them about the God we have found to be love beyond degree (1John 3.1). How can you encourage this in your own Church?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)