On May 24, 1738, a discouraged missionary went “very unwillingly” to a religious meeting in London. There a miracle took place. “About a quarter before nine,” he wrote in his journal, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” That missionary was John Wesley.
The message he heard that evening was the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans. Just a few months before, John Wesley had written in his journal: “I went to America to convert the Indians; but Oh! who shall convert me?” That evening in Aldersgate Street, his question was answered. And the result was the great Wesleyan Revival that swept England and transformed the nation.
Paul’s epistle to the Romans is still transforming people’s lives, just the way it transformed Martin Luther and John Wesley. The one Scripture above all others that brought Luther out of mere religion into the joy of salvation by grace, through faith, was Romans 1:17: “The just shall live by faith.”
The Protestant Reformation and the Wesleyan Revival were both the fruit of this wonderful letter written by Paul from Corinth about the year AD 56. The letter was carried to the Christians at Rome by one of the women in leadership of the church at Cenchrea, Phebe (Rom. 16:1).
Imagine! You and I can read and study the same inspired letter that brought life and power to Luther and Wesley! And the same Holy Spirit who taught them can teach us! You and I can experience revival in our hearts, homes, and churches if the message of this letter grips us as it has gripped men and women of faith in centuries past
ROMANS—OUR CARE AND CALLING
Romans 1:16-32, The Message
16-17 It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”
Ignoring God Leads to a Downward Spiral
18-23 But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
24-25 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!
26-27 Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.
28-32 Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!
REAL LIFE CHARACTERISTICS
- Trust. Put absolute, real trust in God in all of life, not just the parts, but the whole of life. “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”
- See and accept the mystery of God’s divine being with our hearts, minds and souls! God is God—and we are not. There is no one like God! To Him be all glory and praise!
- Worship God and no one else or nothing else. We create a lot of distractions from our self-made “idols” of busyness, acquisitions of stuff, wanting the next new tech, with not only keeping up with the Joneses but seeking to be on top in all ways of life…even at church. Yikes. Worship God. Give thanks for all He has done. Real life is simply putting God first in all of life.
- Real or fake? Don’t trade God in for a fake, shiny hand-held god that does nothing in our lives but cause us to “make payments”; taking us away from the most important, intimate, authentic relationship with God, Himself, through Jesus Christ, His Son. Fake life or real life? God is a gentleman who gives us the choice to make. We live with our choice.
- Know God. Know His Word. Know His Son, Jesus. Know salvation. Know real life. Refusing to know God empties our souls of all that is God. And God is love.
You are God and God alone and I am not, I don’t even come close. I worship you alone this day that you have made and every day you give me to live on this earth. I thank you for all the troubles of this world, self and imposed upon, that you brought me through, teaching me in the process of real life living. Thank you for saving my soul, make me whole again. So, I give all I have, all that is in me, all that you have taught me, along with all my mistakes and failures; all that I am is yours. You are real life. I want nothing less.
In Jesus Name, for Your Glory and Praise, Amen.