I am still going on 'The Greatest letter ever written'.......
"In this epistle we . . . find most abundantly the things that a Christian ought to know, namely, what is law, gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, righteousness, Christ, God, good works, love, hope, and the cross; and also how we are to conduct ourselves toward everyone, be he righteous or sinner, strong or weak, friend or foe-and even toward our own selves. Moreover, this all ably supported with Scripture and proved by St. Paul's own example and that of the prophets, so that one could not wish for anything more. Therefore it appears that he wanted in this one epistle to sum up briefly the whole Christian and evangelical doctrine, and to prepare an introduction to the entire Old Testament. For, without doubt whoever has this epistle well in his heart, has with him the light an power of the Old Testament. Therefore let every Christian be familiar with it and exercise himself in it continually. To this end may God give his grace. Amen. (Luther's Works, Vol. 35, 1960, p. 380)"
"The epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. (Luther's Works, Vol. 35, 1960, p. 365)"
I gave the thirteen in my adult baptism and confirmation class some homework to do. I asked them to read some scripture and to think and pray through the gospel. I noticed once I had written this out for them on the back of a piece of paper that unsurprisingly all but one of the texts was from Romans. This is what I have asked them to do this week and you might like to do the same.
Find and hour
Be alone and silent
Pray before your time begins and commit it to the Lord
Ask Jesus that you might know the gospel and its power and to fill you anew with the Holy Spirit.
Go on going on being filled with the Spirit.
If you don't know how read this.
I then asked the class to write down and look up the following verses and after they had written them down I gave them one word that summed up each one. Not a complete summary, as napkin exercises rarely are, but its enough to be going on with.
Genesis 15 and 17: Covenant
We then talked about justification (Romans 1) and the need for a new heart.
Romans 2: 28-29: New Heart
Romans 3: 21-16: Righteousness
Romans 5:1-2: Peace
Romans 8: 1-4: No condemnation
Romans 10: 13 Saved by Jesus
Roman 12: 1-2 Sacrifice and Cost
Then I asked them what they think might stop them following Jesus and how many of them they think will still be following him with passion in 20 years time. I suggested they should ask Jesus to help them run the race and finish strong and to commit now to being someone who will not give up. I said they should write next to Romans 12 the following words.
"I will not give up- whatever the cost"
I then told them a few stories of people who are no longer running the race and who have given up. People I used to be in awe of and intimidated by as I ambled along in my early very difficult years of Jesus-following. Like the people who ran my friends Alpha group, people who once worked on my old churches staff, people who used to preach, people who have led others to Jesus, people who did 'prayer-minstry', people who fell over and shook with the 'Toronto blessing', people who were once aflame for the Lord, people who led worship and people who led home groups. All of them are now no longer in community, no longer meeting with the body of Christ, no longer submitted to a pastor, no longer reading scripture and no longer on a mission pursuing his glory. Many of them are disappointed, angry, doubting, in pain, sad, beset by pride and far off and, if I spoke to them, would tell me they have good reason for this. The truth is they are as much loved, called and pursued by Jesus as the first day they believed. I also told my class that it is not inconceivable that in twenty years time I may be one of these people too. I told them if they were to find me sitting on the street having given up I gave them permission to say this to me. You dear readers have permission too.
"What are you doing sitting there? Have you forgotten what Jesus has done for you. You told me the gospel. You got me started. Now get yourself up this minute, dust yourself down and come follow Jesus. There is no time to waste. He didn't die on the cross to leave you defeated, depressed and in the gutter. There is still a call to answer and work to be done. The first thing you must do is read Romans to remind yourself of his grace. Then you must repent and believe and come follow Jesus. "
Reading this book helped me get this far and it might help you too.
I am now 142 sermons in and if you listen to or read one of these then Has God rejected his people Part 1 might be it.
It's all about Israel.