As we embark upon what I hope will be a year-long devotional journey through the book of Romans, we should begin by noticing what may be the three most crucial English words in the entire book. Perhaps they are not the three most memorable words, though some of the most memorable words in the Bible are found here in Paul’s letter to Rome. They may not be the three words that we would pull out first when sharing the good news with a friend either … although Romans is the most directly evangelistic book in the Bible. Nor are they likely to be the first three words we’d turn to when giving a eulogy, or comforting someone at a hospital bedside … though Romans is filled with comfort for the suffering. And yet I say they may be the three most important words in the book – because they summarize everything that Paul was trying to say … indeed everything that he lived for. These three words summarize the book of Romans. That is to say that every last one of the thousands of memorable, evangelistic, comforting words that Paul wedged into this, his magnum opus, may be categorized under the enormous umbrella of these three simple words.
What are these three profound words? Glad you asked! You will find them in chapter 1, and verse 3: “concerning His Son”. If we didn’t already have a name for Paul’s ancient letter to the Christians at Rome, this might be a fitting title: Concerning His Son! For these three straightforward English words describe the entirety of this (at times) complex, sixteen chapter long treatise. Paul set out to write an entire book about: “The gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son.”
That is the topic sentence for the book of Romans. And, as you read it, do you see my point? There is a great deal to say about “the gospel of God”. It was “promised beforehand”. It came to us, first, “through the prophets”. It is revealed “in the Holy Scriptures”. And there are dozens of other descriptions of the gospel that we will give as we work our way through Paul’s pages. And every word that was “promised beforehand … through His prophets … in the Holy Scriptures” is “concerning His Son”!
So many of the doctrines we love – and which are indispensable to our faith – are found in this grand book of Romans: the depravity of man; the sovereignty of God; salvation by grace alone, through faith alone; and so on. And, in many senses, we can say that Romans is a textbook on those various doctrines. But at its most basic level, this is a book “concerning His Son”! For the only reason that human depravity is actually a part of God’s good news is because “His Son” came to redeem us out of it! And God’s sovereignty in saving us was only worked out as He sent “His Son.” Indeed, we saved by grace alone, through faith alone only when that faith is placed in “His Son”.
Now be careful! Don’t anyone confuse this article for a plea against the importance of right doctrine! My intent is exactly the opposite! There are those who minimize doctrine … to their own peril. But I do not wish minimize doctrine for one instant. I love every jot and tittle of God’s word – and want to contend to make sure that all scriptural doctrine is kept pure. And I trust you do as well. And Romans 1.3 explains the reason why we value correct doctrine so much: because all doctrine is “concerning His Son”!
That is what the book of Romans is all about – rich, profound, finely contoured, carefully explained, infallibly true, wonderful, soul-nourishing, life-saving, absolutely indispensable doctrine … “concerning His Son.” So join with me in the months ahead as we try to scoop up every loose piece of theological grain from the harvest that God has planted for us in Paul’s epistle. And do it all so that you might better know and love and trust “His Son.”