A Devotional Journey
led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
Romans was written by the apostle Paul probably in AD 57. The clue to dating comes from chapter 15 (verses 25-27) in which an offering from the mission churches for the needy believers in Jerusalem is mentioned. The issue of this collection was not yet resolved when Paul wrote 2 Corinthians (about AD 55) and since that time he had collected funds from all the churches in Macedonia and Achaia (according to Romans 15:26).
The book is a general presentation of God’s plan of salvation and also serves as an introduction to Paul for a congregation that has never met him. In addition, he defines the special place Jews have in God’s heart, perhaps to smooth their acceptance by Gentile believers in Rome who had grown up in an atmosphere of extreme prejudice against this racial group. Paul is eager to visit with the Christians in this city, but is unable to do so at the time of the letter because of his responsibility to take the collection to Jerusalem. None the less, it is clear that he is planning a visit and the letter prepares the way.
After a brief introduction, Paul jumps right into a major discussion of salvation in chapter 1. All mankind faces God’s wrath because as he eloquently summarizes in chapter 3 (verses 11-12), there is none righteous (or deserving of God’s favor), all have sinned.
Chapter 2 begins with a word of warning: “You, therefore, have no excuse!” The preceding verses have emphasized God’s revulsion at the excesses and degradation to which human beings have subjected themselves, and His unwillingness to be associated with it. Yet even in the depths of their depravity, all mankind has been given, in the Creation itself, a natural revelation of God’s existence and power. To turn away from their Creator and worship themselves and other creatures in His place is the ultimate sin and blasphemy! The repeated judgment in 1:24, 26, 28, “God gave them over. . .” is the supreme statement of human hopelessness: if the Creator abandons you, what is left?
God is not depicted as the enemy of mankind, however. It is because of human stubbornness, and the refusal to repent that God’s judgment comes. His promise of eternal life is still clear for those who are faithful. The truth Paul presents is that racial or religious status or heritage is not enough, and because human effort and achievement falls so far short of God’s standards and Law, it is only by accepting salvation through faith in His power to save that anyone can be.
How bad do you think people are? How bad does God say we are? We recoil from such judgments and reject words such as bad. None the less, the God who created us and who alone can offer us a future insists on such a characterization. He also insists we recognize the evil and self-centeredness within ourselves and turn to Him for help. Our faith is in His power to provide salvation both here on earth and eternally in heaven. Our first step is to admit that we can never attain this by ourselves or on our own and that we, in fact, need His forgiveness and grace.
Today, if you are already a Christian, thank God for His grace, and renew your commitment to Him. If you are not a Christian, ask God’s forgiveness and invite Him into your life as Lord and Savior. He will show you the rest.
A. Eugene Pearson 2013