reflections from a year-long study of ROMANS…
He had never even met them, but his heart beat fast for them. He longed to reach their hearts and tune them to the Savior. He had heard of their great faith and rejoiced in it… but ached for that faith to be grounded, unshakable in God’s eternally unchanging character and truth. He communicated CHRIST to them – a true and immovable standard of holiness, an eternally secure rescue from the bondage and destruction of sin, a deep and sincere love and embrace, a tender word of encouragement and care, and an assignment to stay focused on Christ but never lose sight of one another.
In this year’s study of Romans, we have gotten to know the heart of Paul. An apostle and passionate ambassador for the gospel of JESUS CHRIST.
Last year, we were touched by the message of extravagant love expressed by the beloved disciple John. We were drawn into the narrative, the poignant moments when the Lord Jesus stepped into individual people’s lives and displayed love for them that is otherworldly!
We started this year commenting that we wouldn’t have the same narrative in Romans, but we would learn deep truth to back up that narrative. As we wrestled that truth and applied it to our lives, Jesus still met us there and each of our own stories became the narrative we encountered. We still paused …and wondered …and rejoiced as we saw the Lord Jesus impact our lives with personal touch and words of truth.
But sometimes it was hard work! Sometimes, that personal touch was difficult to receive, reaching deep into hold-out places of our hearts, replacing what we “thought” was best and right with what GOD says is truly holy and righteous. Removing any last bit of self-reliance so we could stand on the solid rock of Christ alone! Leading us through hard questions and tense discussions as we stretched our minds and hearts to understand. Wrestling with God until we cried out: “Lord, save me! Make this clear to me! Reveal Yourself and Your truth to me!”
And He did. His Spirit opened our understanding to what He longs for us to see and know.
Almighty God longs for us to know Him. And He wants us to understand that we are accepted in the Beloved, clothed in righteousness of Christ, at peace with God, stretched and grown – roots reaching deep into truth, branches grafted in and reaching up and out to bear fruit of His character and works prepared for each of us to do.
He wants us to stand firm despite the storms of differences, challenging circumstances, and a battle with our sin nature. He shows us the harsh reality and deep offense of sin, so we will grow a distaste for it, a desperate plea from within to reach for our only rescue – CHRIST! – no matter how many times or in how many ways we need Him.
Jesus is our Savior, who delights to step in again and again to do for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. He is wooing our hearts to deepen in appreciation for all He has given, all He has provided and the ways He is continuing to grow us – to place in us the hunger to recognize and desire what He says is best.
Through Romans, the Lord makes Himself more real than ever before. He gives us language to speak with boldness a new confidence in eternal, holy God, who is intimately interested and invested in us! He instills an unwavering trust in His eternally unchanging and always trustworthy Person and Truth… and plan for all people.
The one true God is our Creator, our Authority, the only rightful Judge… but also the One who loves us and gave His Son to rescue us, to pay the penalty of our sin to make us right with God. He is the all merciful and gracious Father who gives us His peace and transforms and unifies our hearts to pulse with sincere LOVE for Him and for others.
A love that is like His.
A love (and a HOPE!) that is otherworldly.
A love that is anchored in the truth of the gospel of JESUS CHRIST!
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great LOVE wherewith He has loved us,
made us alive with Christ, even though we were dead in trespasses.
You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him
in the heaven with Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display
the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Since we have been declared righteous by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and we rejoice in the HOPE of the glory of God….
This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s LOVE has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.