By Michael Duduit
Friday, May 28, 2010
Charles Swindoll is a leading Christian evangelist and the Senior Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, and Chancellor of the Dallas Theological Seminary. He has written over 70 books, including a new volume on New Testament texts.
Preaching: You are author of a new series being published by Zondervan called Swindoll's New Testament Insights. I've just had an opportunity to look at the first volume on Romans, and it's a wonderful resource—lots of great material that will be of interest to anyone studying the Book of Romans or preaching or teaching on that book.
Swindoll: We're deliberately not calling it a commentary. There are a whole lot of those out there. This is a little more of a user-friendly, practical type work. It really is for persons who may or may not have had seminary training, and it helps them see the flow in the book, get the stories from the book, plus stories from my own life and illustrations along the way that really makes it reader-friendly. That was a big thing for me.
Preaching: What drew you to Romans?
Swindoll: You know Romans is really the Christians' constitution. There's a foundation laid there—I call it the sine qua non of theology, because it really represents Paul's presentation of the gospel. He portrays the sinful life and lifestyle as vividly and darkly as one can imagine in the section I call "Cinerama and Panorama," and he takes us from there to the matchless grace of God—where the Lord reaches down and finds us where we are and declares us righteous by faith in Christ alone, then puts us on our way as we begin the journey.You and I know it to be sanctification, but what the reader will read about is the horizontal growth chart, if you will, from earth to heaven as we mature in Christ, and then some of the practical guidelines for living in the family of God for the rest of our lives. So it really does cover the waterfront. No other letter or book does it quite like Romans.
Preaching: I know many of your books have come out of your own preaching. Have you preached series in Romans?
Swindoll: Anyone who has preached as long as we have certainly has dealt with Romans. I've preached through Romans a couple or three times—I forget [during] these almost 50 years—but it never had come to my mind to do a book on Romans. First, there are a number of them; and I have most of them in my library, I'm grateful to say. No one is more respected in Romans than one like the multiple volume set of Barnhouse on Romans, and I thought, "Well who needs another book on Romans?"
This last time when I preached Romans, it began to dawn on me: I might want to do something, not just on Romans but on maybe the letters of Paul. Then thinking further on that, it finally came clear: I needed to bite off the whole chunk and do it all. Ultimately it will be 15 volumes through the New Testament, all 27 of the letters and books.
Preaching: As you've said, Romans is such a profound book. There is such a richness to it. What do you find to be some of the unique challenges of preaching in the Book of Romans?
Swindoll: Some challenges would be true of any book that highlights doctrine. Certainly Hebrews would be one of those. Another would be the Gospel of John, which requires a good deal of theological knowledge, and Romans.I think you can get bogged down. I think there are some subjects in Romans that frighten a young pastor. The subject of predestination in
I hope it's interesting. I hope it isn't boring. I don't skip the hard sections; I go into them, but I do them in a way that I think is believable, sensible and balanced. That's what I've tried to do in this book on Romans.