MAN’S SEARCH FOR SOMEONE TO WORSHIP AND SOMEWHERE TO BELONG

 

Scriptures:  Romans 4.1ff; Genesis 22.1ff; Hebrews 11.1ff.  Read the Book of Acts for the general condition of the Church (Jewish and Gentile) especially chapter 15 for the situation which called for both Romans and Galatians

 

Insights and Influences from Romans:

 

                        1.  What the Gospel has to do with Paul – Romans 1.1.

                        2.  What the Gospel has to do with the Old Testament – 1.2.

                        3.  What the Gospel has to do with Jesus – 1.3-7.

                                                The work of God for us – vss. 3,4.

                                                The work of God in us – vss. 5-7.

                        4.  What the Gospel has to do with the Roman Church – 1.8-15.

                        5.  What the Gospel has to do with us – 1.16,17.

 

                        In the summer of A.D. 386, a 33 year old pagan man by the name of Ausclius Augustinis, known to the world as Augustine of Hippo, began a new life in Christ.  The source of conversion was his study of Romans 13.13b-14.  His preaching and teaching from Romans changed the world.

 

                        In 1517, a 27 year old monk with an earned doctorate in theology, examined his spiritual loneliness and found light for his spiritual journey in the study of Augustine and the Roman epistle.  He found the source for overcoming his loneliness and despair.  His name was Martin Luther.

 

                        200 years later in the religious darkness of England, John Wesley’s search for meaning and a place to belong was discovered, along with his brother Charles, in the Gospel according to Romans.  Historians credit him with saving England from a fate worse than the French Revolution.  On the evening of May 24, 1738 he heard Aldersgate read the preface to Luther’s Commentary on Romans.  He launched the Evangelical Revival of the 18th century.

 

                        In 1916, Dunitria Cornilescu was studying at the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Bucharest, Romania.  He, too, found the sense of belonging in Romans.  His new found power was the source of his translation of the New Testament which has become the standard text adopted by the Bible Society, used to this day.

 

                        In his studies in pre-World War I liberalism, Karl Barth’s Romerbrief fell like a bomb shell on the spiritual chaos of the pre-war Germany.  His search for hope was found in the Gospel according to Romans.

 

The Four Pillars of Liberalism:

 

1.  The inevitability of progress.                                                                3.  The complete animality of man.

2.  The perfectibility of man.                                                                          4.  That nature was ultimate reality.

 

                        Barth’s witness was the staple of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died for his faith in the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.  It led Helmut Thielicke to preach to large crowds every Thursday night in the bombed out church of Berlin.  It allowed a German U-boat captain by the name of Martin Niemuller to seek an audience with Hitler and refused any longer to kill for the Third Reich.  Hitler had him arrested and placed in solitary confinement, with the order that no soldier could  guard him more than one time, “because his witness was too powerful” – he was too dangerous a witness. 

 

                        After World War II two Christian scholars wrote commentaries on Romans, F.F. Bruce and John W. Stott.  Each of these works call us once more (for the first time) to find in Jesus a sense of belonging in this lonely world through the book of Romans.

 

1.  The Origin of the Gospel (Good News) is God.

 

2.  The Gospel attested in Scripture (Theology of Hope).

 

3.  The Substance of the Gospel is Jesus (contra marketing Him for the Seeker Friendly).

 

4.  The Scope of the Gospel is the whole world.

 

5.  The Purpose of the Gospel is “obedience of faith.”

 

6.  The Goal of the Gospel is to praise and honor His name, to recover “awe in worship.” (Isa. 6)

 

Conclusion:  Galatians 3.26-29.

 

                                                                                                                                                Dr. James D. Strauss

                                                                                                                                                Professor Emeritus

                                                                                                                                                Lincoln Christian Seminary

                                                                                                                                                Lincoln, IL 62656