The Epistle to the Romans is a letter for the Christian mind. Luther said, “Every Christian should know it by heart.” It is a weighty book. It is the longest epistle and the most systematic. Paul wrote it to churches he wasn’t so sure he would meet. So, he wrote it to make sure their theology was sound – to make sure they understood the gospel. He wrote it for the understanding of our reasonable faith. While we are to have a Christian life, it’s not to the exclusion of the Christian mind; rather knowledge is key to the Christian life; “truth,” Christ said, “sanctifies.” Our life must be controlled by a mind saturated with truth. So God has given us books like Romans, a systematic study of the Christian faith.
We will need to put on our thinking caps as we make our way through this important letter, matter of fact, don’t ever take it off. Christianity is the precondition for the intelligibility of human experience. You need a Christian mind, for ideas have consequences and Christian ideas have the greatest end – “to be loved by God and called saints.” The consequence of the “gospel of God” is belonging. The good news of God is that we belong to God and there is no higher truth to know.
The gospel of God
”Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…” – Romans 1:1
Paul’s entire ministry concerned “the gospel of God.” Romans is a theology of this gospel and its news gives us our purpose in life. By the gospel of God, Paul was not his own. He belonged body and soul, in life and in death to his faithful Savior Christ Jesus. By His faithfulness, we too are set apart for the gospel. Paul calls himself a servant, which in his day was very counter-cultural. Greeks found pride in freedom, that they were their own. Paul, however, affirmed his captivity to Christ. If you want to be counter-cultural, you don’t need tattoos and pink hair. We have something better – complete devotion to Christ. There is nothing more counter-cultural than serving Christ Jesus.
Complete devotion to God is our purpose in life. We are called to forsake the purposes of the world for God’s instead – complete devotion to God because in God we find the source of our salvation. We are righteous before God only by the gospel, that is, by the righteousness of Christ. We are free from the tyranny of the devil, only because Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead. In this gospel, we are free to live for the glory of God. This is the “goodness” of the gospel—that I am not my own but belong body and soul to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. Knowing our deliverance we have become slaves of gratitude to our Deliverer.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank the Lord for bringing us into the new life of grace. Pray that we avoid the temptation to purpose our life according to the world. May we live according to His Word alone.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Jared Beairdis the church planter and pastor of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Missoula, Montana, USA.