After the gospels, 1 John, and Acts, the book of Romans is definitely the next most important book of the Bible. In it, through the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit explains why we need peace with God, how we can have peace with God, and how we are to live at peace with God.
Why We Need Peace with God
After Paul introduces himself to a church as a gospel preacher who is not ashamed of the gospel because it is God’s power for the salvation of all who believe in it, he introduces the reason why the righteous can only spiritually and eternally live by faith: the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. That is why we need peace with God – God is wrathful toward those who are ungodly and unrighteous, meaning that He is fiercely angry with them, and is able to cast them into hell to suffer eternal punishment.
Paul goes on to explain that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, meaning all have demonstrated that they were, at least once, ungodly and unrighteous. Paul proves that all are guilty of sinning against God, and deserve eternal damnation for their evil human nature.
How We Can Have Peace with God
Because all are evil and guilty of sinning against God, and thus, all deserve eternal damnation from God, Paul explains that no one can earn peace with God, nor any type of favor from Him. Rather, the only way to have peace with God is to trust in the good news that God became a man, died to pay God for people’s sins, and came back to life. Paul discusses the fact that, once a person has trusted in that good news as the only grounds for peace with God, God treats them as if they had never sinned, and as if they were godly and perfectly righteous. In other words, He gives them justification because they are trusting only in the good news as the basis for their reconciliation with God.
How We are to Live at Peace with God
Once Paul has explained how we can have peace with God, he applies trust in the gospel, and the gospel itself, to the life of the believer in the gospel. He explains that believers are united with Christ, or in Him, that they have died to sin, that they have been indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and that they have many commands from God to obey. Paul implies, as John claims in 1 John, that the second greatest of these commands is to love others, especially Christians, as one loves himself. In order to do this, one must present one’s body to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him, which is one’s spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).
How the Book of Romans Flows from Acts into the Rest of the New Testament
Once a person has learned that they believe that Jesus is the Christ, understand that He is their Lord, their Teacher, and their Christ, and have read of mature believers living in light of those realities, it is natural to want to learn more about the minute details of salvation and the gospel. Therefore, Romans serves as the best book to read after having read the gospels, 1 John, and Acts. Romans is like the systematic theology textbook of the Bible, elaborating on the truths in the gospels and Acts, explaining how they fit together, and explaining how they can be applied to everyday life.
In addition, Romans serves as the systematically theological bedrock for the rest of the New Testament, as the doctrines that are explained in it are included and built upon in the rest of the New Testament.
If you’ve read Matthew-Acts and 1 John, have you read Romans?