Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
This new devotional called Comforts from Romans by Elyse Fitzpatrick is a hard-hitting, edifying and challenging book on the first eight chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Many readers will know Elyse’s work from her devotional entitled Comforts from the Cross which were meditation on the good news of Jesus Christ. The book itself is broken up into 32 daily readings starting with Romans 1:1 and ending with Romans 8:38-39. One of the most important insights in the book is that the gospel is not good news temporarily for those who come in contact with it, but it is good news at every stage of faith development in the Christian life. Elyse writes, “Oh, my friends, do you think about this good news every day? Won’t you let it inform, enflame, embolden, and cheer you?” (21). The gospel written about by the apostle Paul is a liberating message which brings about a new relationship in context of a new obedience.
One of my favorite chapters was the one entitled Remember Who You Are. Mrs. Fitzpatrick links the good news of our identity in Christ and death to sin with sacraments. She writes, “The Lord Jesus is well acquainted with our propensity to forget unless we actually have something we can regularly see, taste, feel, smell, and touch” (106). The sensory reminder of the elements of the Supper is a physical reminder of the giving of his life for our sins, of the way of the cross for the redemption of many. Real strength and real grace are communicated through the partaking of the sacraments. Furthermore, the sacraments call us back in reminding us of our true identity, in Christ. Elyse makes it clear that our identity is not found in our past sin and failures but in the one who bore those sins upon his body, Jesus Christ. This assurance of grace gives us motivation that nothing we can do will remove us from God’s love for us in Christ.
This book is different from other devotionals in that it seeks to draw forth many of the doctrinal themes from the book of Romans into a panoply of meaning in order to help us understand the good news. If you desire to soak up the riches of God’s grace through understanding sin, death, sacrifice and redemption this will be a balm to your weary soul. I was certainly encouraged by this book.
I did have a few criticisms of the book. One, there could have been more interaction in the book with the story of Israel as it relates to Paul’s writing. The question of Jew and Gentile and the way Christ fulfills not only the law but the hopes of Israel is an important matter. Secondly, some sections, even the one on reconciliation offered individual comfort for the believer. Yet, there was not a sufficient balance of how these key teachings work themselves out in the culture, world, and the church as a whole, not just on an individual basis.
Overall, I think this book is a good example of discerning the riches of the gospel in the book of Romans. We get a glimpse at the end of the book at Elyse’s own spiritual journey which adds a personal touch to the devotional.
Thanks to Crossway for the review copy in exchange for review.