Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "The Clearest Gospel of All"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Paul's book of Romans, for many years of my life, was as unintelligible as Albert Einstein's nuclear mathematics. I respected it highly; Romans was simply way over my head. I knew it was part of the Bible and therefore it must be part of the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. But Romans was for scholars, and I belonged in the kindergarten. Couldn't I get to heaven by staying in the gospel of Mark? For example, my pastor had clearly told me not to try to read the book of Revelation--"It's sealed," he said, "read Mark!" For me, Revelation and Romans shared a common unintelligible status.

Then I learned that Martin Luther had declared Romans "the clearest gospel of all." I respected him, too; so think again.

Then Romans 5 began to take a little shape for me in the mist, as a bit of sunlight pierces a foggy morning. Paul was getting one of his points across to me at last, at least beginning to: All the evil that Adam, our first father, had brought upon the human race was undone, reversed, corrected, by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Man the Bible says is the "last" or second Adam. All that the human race had lost in Adam was now restored "in Christ."

Could that soul-shaking idea really be true? Or was I being naïve in my reading Romans?

What Paul said is clear: "The gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin [Adam's]; for the judicial action, following on the one offence [of Adam], resulted in a verdict of condemnation [on all men], but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a verdict of acquittal. ... As the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (vss. 16, 18, The Revised English Bible).

I read it and re-read it; the "all" meant "all people," not just the ones that Calvin said God had predestined to be saved (and others lost)--no, as surely as "all people" had sinned so surely had Christ the second Adam given to the same "all people" a verdict of acquittal by virtue of His death for the world. He had died the death of the world!

Now therefore the life the world enjoys is the gift of His sacrifice. If that's true, then it's time we start saying "Thank You" and that implies a lot. Fear is gone; now we have a wholly new motivation.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 11, 2007.
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