Romans 1:14–17; 9:1–3; 10:1, 14–15; 15:17–20comment (0)
November 25, 2010
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh
Related Scripture: Romans 1:14–17; 9:1–3; 10:1, 14–15; 15:17–20
Bible Studies for Life
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Department or Religion, Samford University
Life Worth Sharing
Romans 1:14–17; 9:1–3; 10:1, 14–15; 15:17–20
The church of Jesus Christ in the Book of Acts was once described as having “turned the world upside down.” Since we live in a contemporary culture with 2.77 billion people who have never heard of Jesus, we need to recapture something of the early enthusiasm and evangelistic endeavor of the early church, which rightly deserves to be called the church that changed the world. Evangelism occurs when ordinary folk begin to simply and sincerely speak to other people about someone called Jesus, whom they know personally as their Lord and Savior. Evangelism only takes place when we want others to hear the good news about God’s love for sinners and are totally convinced that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
The Power of the Gospel to Change Lives (1:14–17)
Paul explained to a church he had never visited why he wanted to visit it and how he would use his visit as the launching pad for a visionary evangelistic enterprise to the Roman Empire’s outer limits. It is all because Paul believed that the gospel was the good news of God’s love for sinful humanity and was not ashamed to speak to others about Jesus. Paul was anticipating arriving at the very center of Roman imperial power and announcing that Jesus is King of kings. He did not shrink from what he regarded as his joyful responsibility. In all his missionary work, he experienced the way in which the lives of men and women could be transformed by the gospel’s message of forgiveness, love and hope. It is a universal message that comes to Jews and Gentiles, reminding us that there is no racial, ethnic or religious barrier to hearing the good news of God’s unconditional love. To all who sense their need of forgiveness, meaning and purpose, the gospel proclaims a way of righteousness, a way in which they can be accepted by God, enter into a covenant relationship with Him and enjoy the assurance of eternal life. If the gospel is such good news, then why do we hesitate in telling other people about it?
The Concern of Christians for the Lost (9:1–3; 10:1)
The way in which Paul expressed himself in these verses is startling. He spoke of his awful grief and the anguish that gripped his heart and drove him to the place of prayer. He was burdened with the spiritual needs of his own people, the Jews, and longed for them to be saved. His concern was so great that he was willing to be “cut off” from Christ if only they might be saved. Considering the fact that Paul had just stated that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus,” this might seem, at first sight, to be merely pretence. Yet such was his selfless concern for others that he expressed his passion for the lost in such a stark and striking manner. William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army who traveled 5 million miles and preached more than 60,000 sermons, once reflected on his ministry by encouraging others to “work as if everything depended upon your work, and pray as if everything depended upon your prayer.” He believed that the gospel was the power of God unto salvation — do we?
The Activity of Christians in Evangelism (10:14–15; 15:17–20)
Paul believed that although salvation was based upon God’s grace, the Church had an enormous responsibility to communicate that message to others. For Paul, this involved telling the story because without hearing the message, nobody would ever be able to believe. In Paul’s context, that literally meant walking throughout the empire. In our context, we need to use creative ways to communicate the message but we must communicate it one way or another. Near the end of his letter, Paul could truthfully declare that he had “fully proclaimed the good news of Christ” from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum (on the Balkan coast opposite Italy). He had a particular burden for the unreached people of his day and longed to go to Spain and tell people there how much God loved them. What about us? What passion for the needs of the lost do we have in our hearts?