Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Two great "big ideas" permeate Paul's Letter to the Romans. It's a New Testament "epistle" that most of us shy away from. Deep, confusing, boring. Yet Luther hailed it as "the clearest gospel of all." There is something in Romans that explodes like dynamite in human hearts when those two ideas are grasped, and great movements result like the Protestant Reformation.
The Number One "big idea" hits us like Bad News. It dominates most of chapters 1, 2, and half of 3. Depressing reading. Paul details the horrible sins that are the nature of humanity, whether of pagan nations, or of God's chosen people, the Jews. "All alike have sinned," says 3:23 (New English Bible; it's correct here).
The "big idea" is inescapable: every human being by nature took part in the crucifixion of the Son of God. There's no way that we can honestly "confess our sins" unless we confess that terrible sin of sins as being ours by right. And that upsets the "Laodicean" lukewarm churchgoers! Paul walks all over their toes with this "big idea." Why? This humbles the pride of man and woman in the dust! We are no better than anyone else! The sin of someone else would be our sin but for the grace of Christ. If God lets go of us, there is no telling where we would end up. Say "goodbye" to self-importance, and "pour contempt" on all our pride. "We" crucified the Prince of glory!
The Number Two "big idea" in Romans also upsets the saints. As the new Head of our human race, the Son of God asked His Father to forgive that unspeakably terrible sin--and He did. The same "all" who sinned have been forgiven, "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (3:24). He died the second death of those same "all" men. "Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace ... hath abounded" unto the same "all" men (5:15).
Paul's "big idea" explains the mystery why the Father treats those "all" men as though they had never sinned--His sunshine and rain come on "all" alike! That's what "justified by His grace" means! To despise that grace is the fatal age-old sin of unbelief.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 18, 2002.
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