Sunday, September 12, 2010

Walking Through Romans

Every Adventist knows...probably...that the Book of Romans has been the topic of study this quarter. It's odd that I write about this with just Sabbaths of September 18 and 25 remaining in the month.
I have an explanation...maybe an excuse.
The regular teacher was away yesterday and had asked me to take the class. Naturally, I went to the quarterly and began reading but found myself frustrated as I read from a "teaching" point of view. What to do? I began thinking, "If the lesson is based on chapters 10 and 11 of Romans, why not just put the quarterly aside and study the chapters? What a novel idea!
Over the past 60 years I have poured through Romans more than once, but I do not remember ever receiving such a blessing as I did from this study. One thing I must have seen but did not appreciate is the number of times Paul quotes the Tanakh (we know it as the Old Testament, which is misleading and a misnomer; but that's another discussion).
Twenty-one times, in the two chapters, there are quotes from   Deuteronomy, Psalms, Nahum, Isaiah, Joel, 1st Kings, and Job. What he often does is pose a question and answers with Scripture. 
In 10:18 he asks, "But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: and answers, "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." [Psalm 19:3 and 4].
Probably the verses that touched me most deeply were 10:13-15. Here Paul outlines what I chose to call the links in the chain of evangelism. Listen to Paul: "For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." [Joel 2:32[ and answers with "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent.?" He adds with these words: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of Peace." "Who bring glad tidings of good things." [Isaiah 52:7 and  [Nahum 1:15]
The links [words] in the chain of evangelism are in bold font [above]. But there is one more step; perhaps the most important one; think of it as a circle rather than a chain. Circles are continuous; chains have weak links and can be broken.
So I ask, How shall they be sent unless you and I provision them with our tithes and offerings? (In Sabbath School there is a tiny envelope that is passed hand to hand and labeled, Missions; very often it leaves in the same shape it entered...flat)
Our duty...I see it more clearly as My Duty, is to support the work of the church as never before. How it is used, or, how efficiently it is used, is none of my business. My obligation is to give to the Lord. He will guide. In addition to tithes and offerings to the church per se, we have chosen several ministries (you see them on 3ABN) to support with a modest gift each month. We try to be wise by helping those whom we deem to be reaching the most people the world over. Some are independent, some are official extensions of the world church.
Now is not the time to hoard our means or our money. Time is short and each of us needs to be a faithful steward.
If you are searching for a special blessing this week, I have a suggestion; read Romans prayerfully and carefully. e.c.

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