All roads, it was once said, lead to Rome. In the providence of God, Rome has played a more central role in our history than its size suggests it would. First, of course, there was the Roman Empire, which supplanted Greece as the colossus that stood astride the earth. That empire, again in the providence of God, was central in the explosion of the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ. It was the Romans who ruled over Israel, ripening the political climate just so, with the crowds wanting a Messiah and the religious elite fearing one. From Rome came the persecution that scattered the nascent new covenant church.
It was the empire of Rome that, through Constantine, embraced the Christian faith. Centuries later, Rome became the seat of the church. And as corruption spread, it was toward Rome that one quixotic monk aimed his lance.
God has used every city and hamlet to bring His purposes to pass. To affirm that He used Rome in a mighty way does not deny this. In like manner, while we affirm that all of His Word is true, trustworthy, powerful, life-changing, and necessary, can we not also say that some parts of His Word, at least as far as the eye can see, have had a more profound impact on the kingdom than others? And if we were to step forward with trembling to consider which portions have had the widest impact, would not the book of Romans be high on the list?
Paul, in writing to the church at Rome, laid out the Roman road. He tells us that we are by nature sinners under the wrath of God. He tells us what Christ has accomplished at Calvary. He tells us how the Spirit applies that work to the lives of the elect. And from there he calls us to grateful obedience. He answers the three great questions: Who is God, who is man, and how do they relate?
We turn our attention to this great book not only this month, but this year, as our daily studies work through Paul’s epistle. Helping us in that task each day will be the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice, as we mine his great commentary. Also walking this road with us will be Dr. Edmund P. Clowney, considering issues in the church, and Dr. Douglas J. Moo, considering theological themes. As we walk this road together this year, let us remember that we walk it coram Deo, before the face of God.