How Readest Thou?

W. J. Burrows, New Zealand

Part 1 of 3 of the series The Epistle to theRomans

IT WILL BE READILY RECOGNIZED by every child of God that the imperative necessity of spiritual life is that of spiritual food. Our Lord Jesus said, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God', Matt. 4. 4 ; and He expects to find in every believer a desire for the sincere milk of the Word of God. Spiritual growth, freshness of soul, acceptable activity in service for Christ, and a host of other things requisite to holy living, depend unquestionably upon the place that the Scriptures have in our daily life. If we would enjoy spiritual prosperity - and who does not long for it ? -we must enshrine the Word of God in the place of supreme authority, and seek by prayerful reading to hear its voice every day.
Yet too often we find young believers circling around the Scriptures in much the same manner as a kitten moves around its first saucer of milk! It is one thing to admire the Scriptures and be fully persuaded of their sufficiency to sustain and energize spiritual life; quite another to drink from their refreshing streams. Some may be asking -
'HOW, AND WHERE, SHALL I BEGIN?'
With tins question before us, we put forth in this brief article a few suggestions which may be helpful in the study of Holy Scripture. All will doubtless agree that in study there must be definiteness. In general reading we may flit about, as the butterfly from flower to flower, ever finding something to claim our attention and meet our needs; but in the study of the Scriptures we more resemble the bee who tarries, often long, at every flower. To grasp the outline, structure, and hidden meaning of the Word of God we must search, compare, meditate, and, above all, pray.
THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS
we found to be helpful in early Christian experience, and we invite young believers to trace with us some features which may open up its wonderful teaching and urge to deeper study. The pen of many 'a ready writer' has dealt most helpfully with this portion of God's Word - we venture only suggestions which may yield profit to the industrious student, under God's blessing and the guidance of His Spirit.
We note the mention of power' in the beginning and at the close of the epistle. Chapter i. 16, the gospel is 'the power of God unto salvation '; chapter 16. 25, the power of God to 'stablish' the believer. Man is regarded as being 'without strength', chap 5. 6, so God graciously comes to his aid in the gospel, not only to save but to establish, for He is able to make even the weak brother 'stand', chap. 14. 1-4, and we are elsewhere reminded that we stand in grace, chap 5. 2. Very encouraging to many who are 'faint, yet pursuing'.
THE GREAT SUBJECT OF THE EPISTLE
seems to be that of SIN, and deliverance from its penalty and power which is the birthright of the believer.
Sin on a sinner - Condemnation, chap. 3.
Sin over a believer - Domination, chap. 6.
Sin in a believer - Desperation, chap. 7.
From all these aspects of spiritual degradation and bondage, Christ alone can deliver. In chapter 3, He is the mercy seat, v. 25, His precious blood meets our state of condemnation and for ever erases our guilt. In chapter 6 the domination of sin is broken by the believer being united to Christ, vv. 1-5, and thus delivered from both the doom, vv. 1-7, and dominion of sin. vv. 8-14. Chapter 7 unfolds a prolific source of trouble in all believers, showing the effects of sin in a Christian, and indicating the despair which is the very opposite to what God would have us enjoy. Surely we all have experienced the conditions of chapter 7, but who would say that*God intends us to live there !
HOW MAY A BELIEVER ESCAPE FROM HIMSELF?
The morass of self-occupation has engulfed many a child of God. 'I wish I could jump out of my skin into another', said a believer, when introspection had robbed him of his joy. 'That is just what you can do', said a more mature Christian, 'for God has placed you in Christ', chap. 8. 1. And, moreover, God has placed in us the Spirit of new life in Christ, chap. 8. 2, which should enable us, by occupation with the Lord Himself, to live as new men in a new world, far beyond the blighting influences of self-occupation - the black I of low spiritual experience.
An esteemed servant of Christ, long since departed to be with the Lord, said that he believed the word 'yield', chap. 6. 13, 16, 19, to be 'the greatest word in the Roman epistle'. Be that as it may, it is verily true that we must -
Trust, and obey,
For there is no other way,
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey.