New Sermon series on Romans: Views from the Romans tower of truth
In July 2015, Adrian Smith stood on the observation deck of world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Smith, a softly spoken American architect with soft mid western accent, smiled for the camera; a look of humble satisfaction on his face. Smith had accomplished what very few others have managed to do, that is to design a gravity defying building that stands 830 meters tall. What inspired this man to design such iconic structures? "It all began when I was 13 years old," he said. "While other children were drawing houses, I began sketching 40 story towers". Today, Smith was back in the building he'd designed, five years after it opened in 2010. Structures like this don’t come cheap and they don’t come easy, from conception to design until final completion, smith and his team faced many challenges. The greatest challenge for any designer of super tall structures is the wind, which tends to push into the building and accelerate upwards. Engineers call this the Stack Effect or Wind load. To counter this challenge, the tower will change shape regularly. Because it changes shape every few floors, the wind loads go round the building and won't be as extreme as on a really solid block.
Adrian Smith, not a man to rest on his laurels has designed an even taller building, and soon Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive will have a challenge to its title from neighboring Saudi Arabia, as work begins on the ‘Kingdom Tower’ in Jeddah which will stand 1 Kilometer tall with an estimated cost of $1.23 billion, and will overlook the Red sea.
2,000 years ago the apostle Paul wrote, what others have called ‘The greatest letter ever written’. Romans, a 22 page 7,100 word letter that is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. This gigantic tower of truth has stood strong against the winds of change and the erosion of error and since it’s construction, countless numbers of sinners and saints have stood on its lofty observation platform gazing into the panorama of Gods great salvation and had their lives transformed by the grace that Paul writes about. This is the letter that started the fire in Martin Luther's heart and brought about the Protestant Reformation. John Wesley’s heart was ‘strangely warmed’ as he heard the truth of Romans, his life was set ablaze with passion for the gospel and there followed, through him, the great evangelical awakening that saved this nation from becoming a republic like France, and arrested the moral decay endemic within the nation.
During our study, we will find out what motivated a former Jewish Pharisee who hated Christians and aided in the killing of it’s first martyr, to write the most important theological letter in the bible. God chose Paul for this task. We are given insight in the first verse of the first chapter: “Paul a bond servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle set apart for the gospel of God."
Paul's tells us that he had been bought, owned and governed by Christ Jesus - a man who was killed as a criminal perhaps 25 years before this letter was written. Paul claims that this Jesus didn’t stay dead, that he was resurrected three days after his execution. He also claims to have met with the resurrected Jesus and that this encounter changed the course of his life. It was on the road to Damascus that Jesus commissioned him as his messenger; to witness to the things that he had seen and the things that Jesus was going to show him in the future.
Set aside time.
As we look into this letter we must realize that this is not just the writings of an educated, articulate man, but also the words of God for Christians in every age, including our own. I would encourage you to read a chapter every day.
Make an appointment with the Holy Spirit, find a time that works best for you. Pray and read through the chapter, engaging with the Holy Spirit over each verse.
Write down some questions you have about the passage, or unfamiliar words or terms that you come across. Ask the question, how does this apply to my life?
A Bible dictionary or online commentaries can also be helpful.