Book Review: Expository Outlines and Observations on Romans, by Rob Ventura

by | Aug 16, 2023 | Church Ministry

In our latest podcast of Net Talk, RBNet Coordinator Mark Chanski also interviews Rob Ventura about his new commentary Expository Outlines & Observations on Romans: Hints and Helps for Preachers and Teachers. You can watch this interview on our YouTube page.

Rob Ventura. Expository Outlines & Observations on Romans: Hints and Helps for Preachers & Teachers. Christian Focus, 2023.

The most revolutionary invention of my adult years has to be the GPS (“Global Positioning System.”) As one who is “directionally-challenged,” having a voice on my phone (or car) tell me where to go has offered numerous benefits. In addition to saving me time and gas, it has kept me from getting lost, going the wrong direction, and avoiding various kinds of traffic trouble. It has also helped me get where I need to be faster and with less frustration.

As preachers and teachers, we can benefit from similar “GPS-type” guides in our understanding and explanation of the Bible. However, while extensive commentaries on various books of the Bible are readily available (at least in English), along with an increasing variety of Study Bibles, there are relatively few books providing you with helpful tools for navigating such books profitably. Enter Expository Outlines & Observations on Romans. In it, author and pastor Rob Ventura has given as “GPS” of sorts for one of the most important books in the Bible – Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Much like a navigational GPS, this book will save the preacher time, keep you going in the right direction, help you avoid trouble, and get you were you need to be with less frustration.

Saving the Preacher Time

While there is no substitute for diligent study, there are ways to study that are more or less efficient. While it takes discipline and focus to arrive at the main point of the text and craft it into a helpful sermon, there are longer or shorter ways of getting there.  One of the gifts Rob Ventura has given to us in this book is the gift of time. For busy pastors who desire to write quality, Biblically-faithful sermons, but who feel the pressure of various ministry demands, Ventura supplies the reader with a central theme and homiletic outline for each major section of Romans. While only suggestive in nature, it is a gift to setting the preacher on the right track, especially if one’s own “study pump” needs a little priming.

Keeping the Preacher on Track

Time spent preparing to preach needs to be productive. We hardly have time in the study for extensive incursions in the proverbial “wilderness.” One of the potential pitfalls we must all avoid is chasing fruitless rabbit trails. While sometimes useful for our own souls, they rarely serve to keep us on the “melodic line” of the text we are preaching. Therefore, if not ruthlessly excluded, these insights can complicate and clutter the view of the text’s central theme. Ventura’s book, with its concise exegetical and practical insights, keeps us focused on the main point of the text and helps to guard us from such wandering.

Helping to Avoid Trouble

One advantage of the GPS system on a smartphone or in a car is to warn us of potential hazards ahead. Rather than going through those hazards, we can be re-routed to a safer (and often more efficient) route. In a similar way, Expository Outlines & Observations on Romans keeps us out of exegetical ditches by providing help to us in navigating the terrain of the text as conveniently and efficiently as possible.

Getting There with Less Frustration

When our driving is peppered with traffic and U-turns, we rarely get where we want to be with a “happy spirit.” Part of that is the nature of travel, but it doesn’t need to be, especially if you can get on the path that gets you there quickest and with the least interruption. If our study has been punctuated with excessive frustration, we will likely carry some (or all) of that frustration into the pulpit with us. What if we arrived to the pulpit refreshed, feeling like the time we spent on the exegetical “road” that week felt more like a slow stroll in the country than bumper-to-bumper in the city? Ventura’s book can serve to get us from the study to the pulpit with less angst.

 While accidents happen and things break down, doing what we can to keep our study and preaching in “good running condition” will go a long way to getting us where we need to be. Let this book be one of your guides on the journey.

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