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
the believer? Is it Paul himself because of the first person
singular—I, me and my—all the way through that chapter? That would be a
tough one. Then you get into
got the issue of government, citizenship and the role of the believer
in a government that’s lost its way. In Paul’s day, the Roman Empire
surrounded him, yet Christianity operates his life. Then you’ve got the
issue of doubtful things in
So there are a number of snags along the way if you preach like I do,
which is taking people through the books of the Bible and often through
subjects within the Bible; I do it in a verse-by-verse manner of
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.