“BEING CHRISTIAN, BUT NOT RELIGIOUS”
The first Bible study I did as a new Christian was the book of Romans. It was a great place to start! There is perhaps no other book in the Bible which presents the full spectrum of Christian doctrine as this letter penned by the Apostle Paul. Those were formative days for me in my baby steps with God, and getting these fundamentals under my belt gave me a solid foundation for spiritual development.
Our youth pastor met with me and two other young men in a weekly home study. The guide for our Romans study was a little paperback called, “How to Be a Christian, Without Being Religious,” authored by Fritz Ridenhour. That is a concept that jolts us when we hear it, even today, so you can imagine how arresting those words were when written over thirty years ago. Being a young Christian, however, I didn’t have so much baggage, and I just thought, “Right on!” That’s the way, we hippies talked back then—even those that had become “Jesus Freaks” (you had to have been there). I was saved out of the generation that thought anything to do with the establishment needed to be overthrown, anyway. So, when someone was suggesting that the Bible supported such a radical idea—it didn’t take me long to get on board!
Here’s the big idea: religion is trying to reach up to God, find God and please God through our own futile efforts, while Christianity is God reaching down to us, finding us and making us pleasing to Him through faith in Christ. That’s the Gospel and that’s the preeminent message of Romans. Pretty important! Don’t you agree? Grasping that message makes the difference between heaven and hell. There is a real danger that even if we get the message of grace at the outset, and are truly saved, that we may revert back to religion, stunting our spiritual growth.
We are looking forward to our sermon series this year as week by week we travel the Roman Road through this fascinating letter. It all begins this Sunday morning with a message, “Good News for a Change.” In addition, I plan on sending a weekday e-mail to lead you into some deeper dimensions of Sunday’s message. Come, get on the Bible Bus! Romans was a great point for me to board and you will find a great adventure as God transforms your life through His Word.