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Reboot: Good News in Romans 1-2

Guest post by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Thanks for joining us for Reboot! This week we’ll start with Romans 1-2. Because Romans is an epistle, I encourage you to read it pretty straightforwardly, like any other letter you might receive. I’ll blog about our reading every Monday, not to exegete the passages for you, but rather to share some thoughts and encouragements.

Let’s begin with prayer. A simple, “Holy Spirit please grant me grace to understand what I read and satisfy my heart with good news” will suffice. If you read something you don’t understand—pray for wisdom again, dig a little deeper, or just set that portion aside for the time being. The ESV Study Bible notes may prove helpful, too.

Need Some Good News?

We all have an insatiable appetite for good news. In years past I’d wait for the mail to come, feeling hope bubble up when the postal truck finally went by. Maybe there will be good news today. So I’d run to the mailbox only to find it crammed full of advertisements, or worse yet, bills.

Nowadays we constantly check our inbox, Facebook, Twitter, texts, and news sites to see if there’s any good news—or at least something to break the monotony. Generally speaking, there isn’t much more than an occasional giggle, a Hmm, that’s interesting, or more commonly, And I care that you tried a new shampoo today why? Seems like I check these sites to find something to cheer my heart or satisfy me. Yet I always come away empty. And I don’t think I’m alone.

The Lord understands our longing for good news. Proverbs 15:30 says, “good news refreshes the bones.” Likewise 25:25 reads, “Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” I do need refreshment. My soul is thirsty for that cold water.

So here’s some good news for you: You don’t have to wait for the mailman. There is a fountain of refreshment available to you right now.

The Bad News and Good News You Weren’t Expecting

Paul saw himself as that proverbial voice of “good news from a far country” to the church at Rome, and by extension, to all of us. The headlines of the good news are writ large in 1:16-17:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “the righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul’s primary point in Romans is to help us understand and believe the gospel, the good news that all God’s demands have already been satisfied by Jesus Christ, his Son. He wants us to know that the gospel is more than lifeless word. When believed, it carries with it the power to transform the heart by assuring us that all our sins are forgiven and that Jesus Christ lived perfectly in our place.

But in order to prepare us to receive and appreciate the good news, Paul began his letter with some pretty bad news: Neither the irreligious Gentile (chapter 1) nor the religious Jew (chapter 2) have obeyed God’s rules for righteousness. None of us measure up. It will be good to remember this when you’re reading about the disobedience of both Gentile and Jew, so you don’t think Paul is trying to get you to try harder to be good in order to earn God’s favor. No, he’s telling you that all your efforts won’t be good enough. Once you understand this, you’ll begin to thirst for the good news to come, and you’ll really rejoice when he brings it to you.

Let me leave you with these thoughts: There is good news, but it’s not the news you were expecting. The good news is that you’re more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe. Chapters 1 and 2 will teach you that. The rest of the good news is that you’re more loved and welcomed than you ever dared hope[1], as chapters 3-8 will demonstrate.

So let’s get reading. Let me know what you’re learning through Crossway’s blog and I look forward to connecting with you there.


[1] I originally learned this phrasing of the gospel message from Pastor Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

If you’re just jumping in to this series, be sure to read the introductory post. Download a reading plan to help guide your time in Romans.

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored over 15 books, including Because He Loves MeGive Them Grace, and Comforts from Romans.

March 4, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:38 am | (9) Comments »

9 Comments »

  1. As I read through chapters 1-2 I was again struck by the levels of self-deception I have in my heart about the depths of my sinfulness.

    As a teacher of God’s Word I find myself greatly convicted this morning.

    May I never, ever look at myself as anything more than a desperate sinner in need of the rich and abundant grace of God!

    Comment by Julie — March 4, 2013 @ 11:31 am

  2. Love Keller’s quote. Reading Romans with new eyes this month and praying God will continue to imprint the truths of the Gospel in my heart. Today I’m dwelling on the fact that I belong to Him, I am loved, and I am called to be a saint. Love, love, love this, Elyse. Thank you for this Romans Reboot!

    Comment by Kara — March 4, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  3. I too, find myself checking my email often for some good news and then I am convicted by the Holy Spirit that there is nothing to compare with the good news that I find in the Bible. My sinful heart want the good news from the world because it is something that will gratify my sinful desires. Reading Romans brings me back to repentance knowing that it is only God who can satisfy my desires. God’s grace to me never ends and I am so humbled by it.

    Elyse, thanks so much for the encouragement and teaching us as we study God’s word.

    Comment by Ambica Converse — March 4, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  4. I too love the Keller quote…”The good news is that you’re more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe…The rest of the good news is that you’re more loved and welcomed than you ever dared hope.”

    My prayer on day one of this journey was this:
    “Set me apart Lord for the gospel in all I do as a wife, mother, friend, neighbor, family member, church member…in every place You plant my feet.”

    I am also being blessed by your devotional thoughts in “Comforts from Romans”.

    Comment by Jennifer — March 5, 2013 @ 11:24 am

  5. I was curious about on page 15. Your wrote God loved Paul in spite of his religious goodness, which was the very thing that made “Paul repulsive in God’s eyes.” Which I see the sin part, and understand God hates sin. But does he see sinners and believers who sometimes sin as repulsive. Or does God love us the way we are. Do we tell people you are loved by good or that their repulsive in God’s yes.

    Comment by Suzanne — March 5, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  6. The Lord loved Paul in spite of his sinful self-righteousness. If God didn’t love both the irreligious and religious, he couldn’t love any of us at all. So thankful for God’s grace to all of us, whether we fall into Rom 1 or 2!

    Comment by Elyse — March 5, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

  7. Thanking God for you, Elyse, and the way God has gifted you as an “explainer” of His Word! :D. I am one of God’s girls who slip under the law like a needle slips into the groove of an LP record! I then see myself only as a Pharisee and the Enemy’s got me in a foothold again. I recall your words when you spoke @ our church that “God doesn’t just see me as justified (just as if I’d never sinned), but “just as if I’d done everything right! ” I have reminded my heart of that truth/reality more times than not since God spoke to me through you, and I praise God for this new study in Romans. I am taking a “bubble bath” in God’s Word thru this study… thanks for being a doer of His Word, and for answering His calling on your life ;D! xo’s

    Comment by Shelley Siragusa from Grace Bible Church, Redwood City, Ca. — March 6, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

  8. P.S. “Again! Again!”

    Comment by Shelley Siragusa from Grace Bible Church, Redwood City, Ca. — March 6, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

  9. Love the thought of taking a “bubble bath” in God’s word! Yes, just that comforting!

    Comment by Elyse — March 7, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

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