Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Insights on Romans

I think it demonstrates my deep hunger for unpacking and understanding God's word that, after completing a ten volume series investigating great lives in the Bible, I immediately turned my attention to a series that serves to give verse by verse exegesis of each of the books of the New Testament. I also think that it goes to show my fondness and respect for the author of all of these books, Charles Swindoll. My journey into the New Testament began with a recent work by Swindoll entitled Insights on Romans.

My interest in diving into the book of Romans was borne by an invitation of a friend of mine to study this together. However, he moved away before we could ever get started. Beyond this, my feeling is that the book of Romans contains the who, what, why, where, and how for the Christian faith. It really represents required reading, and more importantly, required understanding. Without understanding what Romans has to say, you can easily misunderstand the critical notions of grace, salvation, justification, and sanctification. Insights on Romans represents a detailed exposition of the epistle to the Romans, a letter written by the apostle Paul around 58 A.D. in the Greek city of Corinth. The letter is called Romans because Paul was writing to the Jews and Christians who lived in Rome, prior to his planned visit to minister to them. The book of Romans is a critical and essential element of the Bible that contains the central doctrines of Christianity. It tells us about God, who He is and what He has done. It tells us of Jesus Christ and what His death accomplished once and for all. It tells us about God's grace and that salvation is given and not earned.

However, despite the importance of this letter to Christians everywhere, many view Romans as unapproachable due to its style and its density. This is no quicky read or "Christianity for Dummies" brochure. This is precisely why Swindoll's Insight text is so very welcome. Swindoll fulfills my role of a scriptural sherpa. Theme by theme, section by section, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse, he slowly, patiently, and methodically walks us through the book of Romans. Along the way he provides relevant background information on society, geography, politics, and government to fill in more of the details to help us develop a clearer interpretation of the words and their context. Then he makes it clear what this 2000 year old work has to do with our lives today. Absolutely wonderful reading.