Thursday, October 1, 2009

Romans 15:4-5 and the centrality of preaching

In studying out Romans 15:1-6 for my weekly 5:30 a.m. Bible study in Chino at Denny's just of the 60 hwy and Central ave (shameless plug for you who are willing and able to make it), I noticed a very interesting comment in John Murray's commentary that is worth sharing with a broader audience. After explaining that the things written in the Old Testament were written to generate perseverance and encouragement in the hearts of believers in order that they may have hope (this verse by itself calls for a whole different article when I have the time), Paul prays in v5 that the Roman believers would be of the same mind toward one another according to Jesus Christ. The key to that prayer request is that Paul prays that "God who gives perseverance and encouragement" would grant those spiritual graces to the Romans in order that they would maintain unity according to Christ's will.

Murray in commenting on verse 5 drew out the following point which is worth reflecting on:

The close relation of God to the Scriptures is clearly indicated. Perseverance and encouragement are derived from the scriptures (v4) and they are also derived from God. There is no disjunction. It is through the means of scripture that God imparts to us the patience and comfort that are his.

What Murray is saying here is that we should not think there are 2 separate and distinct ways of acquiring perseverance and encouragement, as if one option is to seek it through the study of scripture, and the other is to just go directly to God in prayer and ask for it. Paul's point is that God is the source of these spiritual graces because of who he is, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3), however, he grants those crucial spiritual graces through the means of his inspired word. In other words, if you want these graces to intensify within your soul, you must seek them from God through the means of the preaching of the word.

Paul then makes the same very important point here, that he made back in Romans 10:14-15, and makes in other places, e.g., Ephesians 4:20, that God binds us to the preaching of the word in order partake of Christ and his grace. This of course reinforces unto us, from one more angle, why Christian's are to be a people of the book, and why the Protestant church has been radically committed to the supremacy and centrality of the preaching of the word in worship.


CB in Ca said...

Blessed Lord, who has cause all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning; grant that in such wise, we may hear, read, mark, and inwardly digest them; that through patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlating life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen 1662 BCP

John Sawtelle said...

I think I will use that collect as my prayer for illumination Sunday morning before the sermon.