28 November 2014

We All Need Romans

We all need Romans. —S. Lewis Johnson
It's true, we do all need the book of Romans, for in these 16 chapters, the Apostle Paul presents a systematic theology that reveals and convicts of the true nature of man, of man's need for a Savior, of the God who sent that Savior and of the Savior Himself. Paul goes beyond mere intellectual knowledge of these things and appeals to how the realities of Christ must practically work themselves out in the life of redeemed men.

And so, who better to unearth the treasures of Romans than one of the more gifted preachers of modern times, S. Lewis Johnson? Johnson was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and is well known for his years pastoring Believer's Chapel in Dallas. Johnson passed away in 2004, but his teachings remain available and continue to bless those who have ears to hear.

For some time, it has been rather unfortunate that the teachings of Johnson were not captured in written or commentary form as a means of making them even more accessible to Christians. Until now. The Church can be exceedingly thankful to Dr. Mike Abendroth for his efforts in compiling Johnson's notes and teachings on Romans into an accessible, clear, robust commentary, Discovering Romans.

The subtitle of this work, Spiritual Revival for the Soul, could not be more accurate. As the reader delves into the truths of Romans as explained by S. Lewis Johnson, he cannot help but feel refreshed as he basks in the glories of the truths of Paul's magnum opus. Said Fred Zaspel in his review of this book:
Discovering Romans displays Johnson’s exegetical precision and theological depth as well as his simplicity of style and passion of heart. It’s a commentary you can safely encourage anyone to read, and Christians of all levels of understanding will find its reading time well spent. (Source)
Johnson had a way in his teaching of putting on display the zeal with which Paul proclaimed the gospel and the truths of God. The teaching contained in this book exalts Christ with that same gospel proclamation. It also does not cower in the face of the "hard teachings" that are contained in Romans. Truths such as God's choosing of the elect, and God's command to the Christian to live in obedience and holiness shine forth in a way such that they cannot be denied, but rather must be embraced as the call of God to His own.

It is foolish to spend much time in additional review or praise of this work, for the reader's time would be better spent actually reading Discovering Romans and using it as a study tool to work through Paul's letter. Let me close this post, then, with a few magnificent truths expressed by Johnson as he exegeted this great epistle:

In closing his teaching on chapter 8 of Romans, Johnson says,
The chapter that began with "no condemnation" concludes with "no separation," for eternal life is ours. Like a graft in a strong shoot, we partake of the heredity and inheritance of the divine Son, with whom we are forever united. (146)
Johnson embarks on his exposition of chapter 12 of Romans with words such as the following:
What can be more practical than right thoughts about God? In fact, all life that pleases God can issue only from right theology and right thoughts about our triune God. (193)
The renewing of our minds is the manner of transformation, and since the mind of Christ is found in the Word of God, it seems plain that the renewing of the mind is to be found in the contemplation of the Scriptures. (195)
In compiling these teachings of S. Lewis Johnson, Pastor Abendroth has given a great gift to Christ's Church because, as was stated at the outset, we all need Romans.

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