Thoughts, by Sarah Phillips
I am sure that you know many people who buy great big “beware of the Dog” signs to put outside their houses, dog or no dog, in order to scare off those shifty eyed characters we all know look every house over at one time or another. It has become a common practice, ever since burglars mastered the art of sneaking past the alarm and stepping over the invisible infrared beams, to claim the possession of a four-footed, sharp toothed pal. It is, for the most part, effective, especially against burglars who have had experience with dogs(and perhaps a scar or two to boot), and it’s effectiveness will never diminish. In fact, years ago I heard a story about a bugler who had been stalking a particular nice looking house for weeks, waiting patiently for the one night that the owners would choose to be away. Finally, his chance came, and he watched as the family loaded their suitcases in their car and drove down the driveway and off into the sunset, giggling and chattering about their exciting destination. When the coast was clear, he walked quietly up to the door and rang the doorbell. There was, of course, no answer, and with a happy snap of his fingers, he neatly picked the lock and let himself in.
“Is there anybody home?” he called into the darkness, chuckling to himself as he searched his pockets for a flashlight. Suddenly, he looked up, stunned, when a voice replied: “I see you, and Jesus sees you, too.” Terrified, he called out: “who is there?” Again, the voice repeated: “I see you, and Jesus sees you too.” Finally finding the strength to switch on his flashlight, the man aimed it’s beam in the direction of the voice. Relief suddenly poured over him when he saw who the speaker was: a colorful, pompous looking parrot perched inside his cage. He laughed out loud, trying to calm his shaking limbs, and switched on the light. Oh, how he wished he hadn’t, for at that moment, he saw it. Underneath the parrots cage was the most enormous Doberman he had ever seen. He didn’t even have a moment to register what was going on before the screeching voice of the parrot filled the room again, this time crying: “Attack, Jesus, attack!”
For Christians, the bible is our Doberman. When the temptations, challenges, and ways of the world try and steel their way into our hearts and minds, we need a dog to warn them off. Owning a sign that says that we have one isn’t enough- we need an actual living, thrashing, drooling animal to protect ourselves.
The apostle Paul’s masterful epistle of Romans is more than simply wonderfully living, thrashing, and drooling. It is Paul’s most important theological legacy, perhaps the best of the gifts that God gave to us through him. To me, the book of romans is more than just 16 chapters of the bible. It is 16 life altering, earth shattering chapters of the bible. For the next few minutes, I have the privilege of telling you why, with a few thoughts and favorite verses.
The first of my favorite verses is one of the most profound verses I have ever read. It lies in the very first chapter of Romans. Romans 1:16-17 says “for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salivation to everyone who believes, to the jew first, and then to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, for faith, as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.” Paul’s inspiring words have given me courage in many a situation. To me, these words celebrate God’s word in a special way, and prepare me to keep reading.
The most striking element of chapter one is Paul’s teaching of God’s wrath upon the unrighteous. He tells us that God has revealed himself to us over and over, ever since the beginning of the world. Those who claim there is no God are without excuse.
God’s judgment is righteous, as we learn in chapter Two. It is indeed a marvelous chapter, which brought great relief to me. I understood, when reading it, that the God’s law is there to help me, guide me, and show me that I am indeed a sinner, in need of a savior. But I don’t necessarily have to earn patron saintige. Indeed, all the way through chapter three, we learn that God’s righteousness in unobtainable by our own efforts. We need God to change us. To make us whole. Chapters 4-5 emphasize to us the importance of faith. Within chapter five dwells another one of my favorite verses: Romans 5:1: Therefor, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the greatest of all strengths. It is indeed the key that unlocks the door to our salvation. Having just looked over Romans chapters 1-5, it has occurred to me that Paul uses these chapters to truly expound the meaning of the gospel. The very last verse of chapter five serves as a wonderful finis to an enchanting symphony: So that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In chapter 6, Paul has turned toe the very important topic of the gospel effecting and changing our lives, especially when it comes to our struggle with sin. We are justified by faith alone. In chapter 7, we learn that we are released from the law by God’s grace, and in chapter 8, we dive headfirst into the deep idea of living life in the spirit. Romans chapter 8 is probably my most favorite chapter of the book. Not only do we in learn that we are heirs with Christ, that we have much future glory to look forward to with him in paradise, but we are given the incredible hope and promise of another of my favorite verse. Romans 8:28-29: “and we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We also learn in chapter 8 that we are predestined, called, justified, and glorified by God, and that nothing in all the world can separate us from his love.
Romans chapter 9, in my opinion is the heaviest chapter of them all. It tackles the Doctrine of election with vigor, and the first time I finished reading it myself, I had bloodshot eyes and sweat pouring from by brow. Needless to say, we learn in this chapter that God has only chosen some for his kingdom, not all. We have been elected by him to be his children, and he has chosen to give us the free gift of grace and salvation. We are chosen by God, and saved through Christ.
While chapter 10-11 speaks upon the topics of spreading the message of salvation to all, chapter twelve dives into the gifts of grace and the marks of a true Christian. “Let love be genuine.” states verse 1. Verse 18 commands: “As much as it depends upon you, live at peace with all.” “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice”, and “Do not be conformed to this world”, are important statements also found in this chapter, and in my opinions, are among the most important teachings of this book. The last verse of chapter 12 would do well to stick in all mankind’s memory: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
In chapter 13-16, Paul continues to instruct us on living a holy lifestyle. Submission to authority, fulfilling the law through love, not passing judgement upon one another or causing the other to stumble, and following the example of Christ are the ornaments that adorn these chapters, as well as Paul’s affectionate and hope-filled last words. “The God of peace will soon crush satan under your feet. The grace of our lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Verse 20 says.
The book of Romans is a declaration of the gospel, a theological guide, and an exclamation of joy, all at once. As Paul concludes his remarkable epistle, his joy and faith in Jesus Christ was incredibly inspiring to me. It makes me long to posses the same strength of faith in all circumstances that Paul often displayed.. God loves us, takes care of us, and provides us with everything that we need. One of his best gifts I think was Romans, our good old Doberman, which helps us, instructs us, protects our hearts, and makes us want to bubble over and drool with joy. Thank you God.