The Book of Romans
The book of Romans is said to be one of the most influential piece of literature ever composed. Saint Augustine was a licentious son of a godly mother until he was converted at the age of thirty years of age. It was the book of Romans which made a significant impact in his life. It was also the book of Romans which liberated the soul of Martin Luther and triggered the Reformation.
In his introduction (Rom 1:9-13), Paul shared how he prayed earnestly that God will clear the way for him to go to Rome. He wanted to go to Rome in order that he may strengthen the believers there and be mutually encouraged by their faith. I’m sure we all agreed that his prayer is according to God’s will.
Interestingly he received two answers to his prayer. Initially he was prevented from going to Rome. We tend to think that if it is God’s will, we will receive a green light, the doors will be opened and we’ll have easy access. However this is not always the case. God’s will also include red light, closed doors and road block. God’s will also encompass preventing us from doing what we feel is important for the cause of Christ.
But there was also a second answer which later affirmed his prayer and desire to go to Rome but not in the way must have imagine- he went there in chains! He entered Rome as a prisoner and this too apparently was God’s answer to his prayer. To Paul this is not a tragedy or a sign that he is not in the will of God. Paul’s confidence and faith in the Lord led him to submit willingly to God to allow Him to work out His will in His own way. Such was his faith in God even when imprisoned. Paul was able to make a tremendous impact in the palace of Caesar and in the lives of believers (Phil.1:12-14). In fact instead of wallowing in self pity and depression, it was in the prison that Paul was mightily used by God to write what is known as the prison epistles which has nourished the Church of God for centuries.
The prison became a pulpit and platform to preach the Gospel to the Roman empire and to all empires to follow until Christ returns.
“Relax in the confidence that His ways are always best. Surrender yourselves to Him in the knowledge that He will lead; that He has led; that He is indeed leading right now unless you refused to be led. And whatever happens, receive this as God’s will. Maybe it means prison, chains, confinement, frustrations; but if it is God’s will, it is God’s victor” (Extracted from God’s Way Out of Futility- RC Halverson)
Deacon Wayne Teo