The book of Romans is a gold mine of theology, the depths of which no one has yet to plumb to its uttermost. As Keller says on Location 38 (Kindle), “The book of Romans is the most sustained explanation of the heart of the gospel, and the most thrilling exploration of how that gospel goes to work in our hearts.” In Keller’s first book on Romans, he faithfully examined chapters 1-7, and provided his readers with a succinct, yet thought-provoking handling of topics such as justification by faith, union with Christ, the universality of man’s sinfulness, and salvation by Christ alone. In this follow-up commentary, Keller picks up right where he left off, but not without first providing a brief summary of what Paul teaches in Romans 7. Keller then uses this as a springboard into what he discusses in the rest of his book, namely, “How does faith in the gospel of Christ actually lead to change in real life?” (Location 44) “Romans 8-16 For You” is not a commentary, but as Tim Keller says,
“…this resource is not intended to be an exhaustive, or final, word on this letter. It is not a commentary: it does not go into the depth that a commentary would, nor does it interact in detail with historical and recent scholarship. It is an expository guide, opening up the Scriptures and suggesting how they apply to us today.” (Location 72)
The desire I had to read this book by Tim Keller was three-fold: (1) I have read multiple books by Keller and each one has challenged me to draw closer to my God; (2) I had already read his first book on Romans, “Romans 1-7 For You”, and loved how the book flowed from beginning to end, and was curious as to how he would deal with some tough topics found in the middle to late chapters of Romans; and finally, (3) My Community Group, that I teach, was working our way through the topic of election and predestination, and I had a longing to see how Keller would handle chapters 8 and 9 specifically. Needless to say, each of the 3 reasons I had for wanting to read this book were not only met, but were exceeded. For those who have already read a book by Keller before, or if you have heard him preach, you understand what I am talking about when I say that there are very few contemporaries authors who can pack so much thought and clarity into as few sentences as Keller. There were multiple times I found myself pausing in amazement as to how Keller was able to summarize in a few sentences what I will stumble and bumble through over multiple teaching sessions when I try to explain something in Romans to other people. For instance, when Keller explores Romans 8:5, and how we are to live in accordance with the Spirit by setting our minds on the things that honor God which causes our lifestyle to follow suit, he makes the following comments:
“The twentieth-century Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said: ‘Your religion is what you do with your solitude.’ In other words, wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it—that is what you really live for. That is your religion. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind. The overcoming of sin in our lives begins in our minds; and victory over sin is only ever the result of having minds set on the Spirit.” (Locations 174 and 181)
I was immediately challenged to identify areas in my own life, which preoccupy my mind in the quiet hours of the day. I must honestly admit that I am still thinking through, and repenting over, that which has preoccupied my mind over the last several months.
There are many other instances such as, the one I mentioned scattered throughout this book, which is why I give it my highest recommendation. “Romans 8-16 For You” is a succinct, compassionate, stimulating journey through the book of Romans, and one you will be glad you embarked on when you come to the end of the book.
Buy the book at Romans 8-16 For You, WTS Books, or from The Good Book Company.
I received a free copy of this book from The Good Book Company via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.