Why Isn’t Romans Relevant?

Mark Vance and I are faced with the challenge of teaching through Romans for our next cycle of adult modules. On the surface of it the challenge is to first understand the book ourselves. We tackle questions like to what extent is Paul talking about Jew/Gentile relationships in the first eleven chapters or how does Paul use the term “law” in chapters six, seven, and eight (or the whole book). So it’s clearly important to understand the book before we teach it. But more important in my opinion is how we can help people to care about it. I found myself really riveted by reading through Romans today and reading Mark Dever’s summary of it. But who else is riveted by it? Dever tells a story about a friend of his who had questions about God who read through Romans with him with great interest. But how many of our church people will have great interest? It doesn’t help us with our marriage does it? Can it help me raise my kids or balance my checkbook? Will it get me that perfect sexual relationship I crave? In other words, why isn’t Romans more relevant?

I think the answer is, Romans is relevant to me because I think it answers my problems. It sets to right my relationship with God. Except I fear I don’t worship the same God as the vast majority of America. America worships the gods of sex, money, fame, relationships, etc. We would care more about Romans if we cared more about God. And don’t get me wrong I’m sure I have academic interests in the book which vie for my worship; so I’m not innocent of illicit worship myself. But I do think Romans becomes more interesting only after we all catch a glimpse of the fact that worship of God was what we were designed for and brings ultimate joy to ourselves and glory to God. And when it’s glory and joy we seek, Romans becomes very relevant!

(Romans 11:33-36)
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Bedrock to Rest Our Feet

There is nothing that soothes the soul like the rock solid, absolutely immovable truths concerning who God is and his inclination toward us. I feel battered today by uncertainty and failure but I know this, my redeemer lives and nothing can separate me from his love. Nothing but these bedrock truths can help when all the breaking news is bad news.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be* against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.* Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39 ESV

The King James translates this one best:

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

In other words:

“the leaning (on you) mind you will keep in peace, surely peace, for he trusts in you.”