During the spring, the Romans Story Study class was a huge hit. This is the experience of Laura, one of the students who took the class.
Have you ever longed to be famous? Maybe the Olympics had you momentarily imagining you were the world’s greatest jumper, runner or swimmer. Or perhaps you have dreamt of being on a stage where there are smoke machines, flashing lights and loud music. Maybe your stage is quieter and more thoughtful. Perhaps your chosen fame would come as a writer or academic. Whatever the case might be, at some point many of us have thought it would be cool to have a worldwide reputation for excellence in something.
This past spring I took the Romans Story Study. I learned a lot about grace and who I am in Christ. I learned about how helpless I am to do good without Him. I didn’t actually learn whether the Romans longed to be known all over the world for their excellence; but as I read through the letter, I learned that they were.
The simple statement in the first chapter of the letter continually catches my eye — the church at Rome was known all over the world for its faith. Usually I basically ignore what writers say in the foreword and afterword of their books, but this intrigued me. Many times when I meditated on it, I prayed that some day the same thing would be said about Hoboken Grace.
Later as Paul closes the letter, he rejoices because everyone has heard about their obedience. What were they believing and what were they obeying that it was so noteworthy? It’s not like there was a 24-hour news cycle to fill. I can only imagine that if you were going to be known all over the world back then, you would have had to be doing something really remarkable.
What they believed is tucked between Paul’s salutation and closing remarks. It is an explanation of the gospel message. It is instruction in how to apply this gospel message to our lives. In Paul’s words, it was his good news.
This good news is really, really, really good. Did you know that as a believer in Jesus, you don’t ever have to try to be righteous again? Did you know that you are free from the Law? Did you know that your biggest sin doesn’t make God mad at you? Did you know the Spirit of God lives inside of you breaking you free from the control of your pain, selfishness and habitual sin? Did you know the more a believer sins, the more grace they get!?
I love why Paul says the gospel was preached. He repeats the goal in both his greeting and goodbye. It was so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith. Both of the things for which the Romans were famous.
If I believed what Paul said in Romans, I would obey the good news too. I mean if that is what is true, then God is an incredibly good, good God. If someone so incredibly good was telling me how to live in a wise and loving way, why wouldn’t I listen to them?
Five months after our class ended, I still find the good news incredible. I do continually forget what Paul told me is true about my identity and future. But every time I call myself back to what Paul says is true and then act on this truth, I break loose from the strongholds that sin and satan have held in my life.
I think it would be so cool if the people at Hoboken Grace were known for their faith. Not just what they knew in their head, but what they did with that knowledge. It would be so cool if we really, really, really knew we were sons and daughters of the living God.
During class, I was challenged by the instructor and my fellow students to rethink everything I knew about the Gospel message. After class, I have carried this knowledge with me, and it has significantly impacted the way I live my life — both in the secular world and in “ministry.” It has inspired me to continue studying the letter after the class ended. I have found great value in putting to memory verses I now know in their larger context.
A Bible study transformed my life last spring. Will one transform yours this fall?
To sign up for the Romans class or any of the other Story Studies offered this fall, click here. Please note that they are open to members only. If you are not yet a member, the CORE membership class is offered on the first Sunday of each month. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.