The Theology Of Romans In Future Tense -- By: Robert W. Yarbrough
SBJT 11:3 (Fall 2007) p. 46
The Theology Of Romans In Future Tense
Robert W. Yarbrough is Chair of the New Testament Department and Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He also serves as the Editor of Trinity Journal and as Chair of the theological and exegetical department at the Institutul Biblic Emanuel in Oradea, Romania. Dr. Yarbrough has written numerous scholarly articles and is the author of The Salvation-Historical Fallacy? Reassessing the History of New Testament Theology (Deo, 2004)and (with Walter A. Elwell) Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey (Baker, 2005).
Over the past decade a former student of mine has successfully planted a church in The Woodlands near Houston. I admire his success in this huge undertaking. But how could anyone possibly plant more than 140 churches? That was the achievement of O. R. “Benny” Delmar, who died on January 25, 2007, at age 88. From Arizona to Wyoming and Montana and even Canada, Delmar left a rarely equaled church planting legacy.1
This required great sacrifice on his part. The SBC Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) hired him in the early 1950s for $200 a month—and a set expense stipend. His wife Jo’s salary paid for much of the phone call and gasoline expense as Benny drove upward of 70, 000 miles some years, traversing especially the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana.
What moved this man to such dedication? Carl Rice, an old friend of Delmar’s, gives a clue. He tells of driving across Wyoming with Delmar, who at one point told Rice to stop the car. They got out and surveyed a town in the valley below. Rice still recalls the incident:
“Look down on all those houses,” Benny said, and I can still hear the pathos in his voice and see the tears in his eyes, “All those people are going to spend eternity someplace,” he said. Just the thought of any person going to hell without even the chance to hear the Gospel—that would always move Benny to tears.
Eschatology—what is going to happen in the end, with its present gripping implications—moved Benny Delmar to an exemplary life in service of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This essay will argue that eschatology pervades Romans and goes far toward explaining key elements of what this great book contains. It also helps account for Paul’s tireless missionary drive. It is hard not to see a tie between Delmar’s intensity (above) and Paul’s confession of “great sorrow and unceasing anguish,” even willingness to be “accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, m...
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