Three Reasons for Romans
Updated: Apr 21
“When anyone gains a knowledge of this Epistle, he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture.” – John Calvin
The epistle to the Romans is known for its intricate dive into the theology behind the gospel. Romans teaches us about humanity, how we are saved, who Christ is, and how Christians should live because of the gospel. We might be hard pressed to find a theological topic Romans does not address (save eschatology). The Holy Spirit inspired these words for the church’s benefit—that they would know the gospel and how it should affect their lives. Romans describes the gospel as “the mercies of God” (Romans 12:1).
The question I hope to address in this article is, “Why know and study Romans?” As Calvin says in the quote above, when we understand this epistle a little more than we did yesterday, we have delved deeper into all the treasures of Scripture because all Scripture points to the gospel of Christ.
Romans presents us with the biblical gospel.
Paul opens this book with a statement about the gospel’s power, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Romans continues to expound on this gospel that is the power of God both in simple and perhaps more complicated terms.
There is much beauty in Roman’s presentation of the gospel. Other than Ephesians, Romans is the only book in the New Testament that gives us such a clear picture of the Gospel. As simple as the gospel message is, there are many details and idiosyncrasies we must get right if we are to have a biblical understanding of the gospel message.
For example, Romans chapters 1-2 are clear that men are under the wrath of God for their sin and, without faith in Christ, lie open to his judgment. This is not a popular message in progressive Christianity. Romans reaches into the heart of a believer, grips him with his need for salvation by faith alone, and presents him with a solution – the only solution - to his depravity. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).
As you read Romans, seek to understand the gospel message as it is presented – the power of God unto salvation – nothing less than the true biblical gospel message will do (Galatians 1:6-8).
Romans teaches us the importance of salvation by faith alone.
Again, quoting John Calvin, he believed that salvation by faith alone is another major theme throughout Romans. This concept could be considered a sub-point to point number one.
“Man’s only righteousness is through the mercy of God in Christ, which being offered by the Gospel is apprehended by faith.” – John Calvin
Romans chapters 4-8 paint a powerful picture of Abraham as being justified by faith alone – not through his works. Abraham was counted as righteous before he was circumcised – his faith justified him before God. For believers to seek justification based on their morality or works of any sort is to deny the gospel of Christ as it is presented in Romans. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Pride and sin tempt us to seek salvation on our own merit and not on the merit of Christ. This is the very heart of the gospel message.
Romans shows us how to live because of the mercies of God
Chapter 12:1-2 are probably one of the most famous passages in the New Testament – you could probably quote it without much of an issue.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul alludes to the “mercies of God.” These mercies are the entire previous eleven chapters of this book – the gospel and total justification by faith in Christ alone. Paul makes a clear but necessary transition into “how then shall we live?” How does the gospel impact a believer’s daily life?
The gospel must have an impact. If there is no change, there is reason to believe that individual has not been transformed by the love of Christ. The goal is never mere outward conformity to the commands of Christ. The goal is inward change of the heart that yields evident fruit in how that person lives his or her life. The goal is not perfection, but a pursuit of the perfect person and work of Christ. This is the fruit of the gospel – a transformation in how a believer thinks, talks, and acts. This is sanctification at work.
Read Romans. Know Romans. Seek to understand its more complicated aspects. Like any book in Scripture, it will take work and mental effort. I know it on a very surface level and have not even begun to descend into its depths. What I do know has encouraged me in dark times, humbled me in the face of pride, and encouraged me to continue to run the race well. It will do the same for you.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.