Romans 1: 16-17- “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” NKJV
Paul wrote the book of Romans as a letter to the church in Rome. It is said that the epistle was written to the believers in Rome before Paul had ever visited with them. He is not associated with the planting of the church in Rome, but sent this letter as an encouragement to those who were already fellowshipping together.
I was reading the book of Romans this weekend, and had the thought that I would like to go through the book with you as a look at the life we are called to live in Christ Jesus!
If you have a hard copy of a good Bible, that has a chapter introduction, it is easy to see the history of the book of Romans and how it fits in the narrative of the gospel message. For example, our text is considered to be the key scripture of the book of Romans. The theme of the book is the righteousness of God; and the presentation of Jesus Christ is as the second Adam. The book of Romans is considered to be the most important, concise, and detailed information in the word about Christian doctrine.
Some of the most well-known theologians of Church history had an encounter with God through the book of Romans. I came across this testimony of St. Augustine’s conversion:
Some time in the year 386, Augustine and his friend Alypius were spending time in Milan. While outdoors, Augustine heard the voice of a child singing a song, the words of which were, “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” He thought at first that the song was related to some kind of children’s game, but could not remember ever having heard such a song before.
Then, realizing that this song might be a command from God to open and read the Scriptures, he located a Bible, picked it up, opened it and read the first passage he saw. It was from the Letter of Paul to the Romans. Augustine read:
Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. –Romans 13: 13-14
Reading this scripture, Augustine felt as if his heart were flooded with light. He turned totally from his life of sin. He was Baptized by Ambrose during the Easter Vigil April 24, 387. His friend Alypius and his son Adeodatus were Baptized at the same time.https://www.midwestaugustinians.org/conversion-of-st-augustine
In the church of today, it is presumed that this generation isn’t interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have heard it said by many church leaders and pastors that we are losing this generation and have to rethink how we share the gospel. There is truth in that statement!
However, what Paul wrote is a greater truth: the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t have power, it is power of God to salvation! And the criteria remains the same: you must believe! The same power that was in the gospel when Jesus saved Augustine is still present in the gospel today! The same gospel that saved me, is available today, to save this generation.
What we may be missing, is that they are not looking for religion any more than we were looking for religion when we came to Jesus! The stale churches, with its lists of dos and don’ts that turned us off, is a turn off to them. The church that finds faults with them and every thing they do is just as unappealing to them, as it was with us. The problem could be that the church we ran from, is the church we have become!
Now! Having said that, I want to also point out, the gospel doesn’t change for any of us! And it won’t change for them. What needs to change is how we view them and how we get the message out to them. As we have experienced this year long, world-wide pandemic, we have had to make some changes in how we deliver the gospel message. In the beginning, things seemed bleak for the church, but after a year, things are actually looking better in many of our churches. Still Jesus’ words remain in affect: “the gates of hell will not prevail against the church”.
When Paul wrote to the church at Rome, he knew some things about the people he was addressing this letter for. He knew that the make up of the congregation consisted of both Jews and Gentiles. With this being the case, he understood that there were things that needed to be addressed in regards to their position in Christ Jesus. He also understood that they came from different backgrounds, with different understandings of the law, and he wanted to address those things to encourage them in their walk as believers. But mostly, he understood that they needed a solid understanding of the righteousness of God.
Paul begins his letter by introducing himself to the Romans. He tells them that he is first and foremost a servant of Jesus Christ. Then he tells them that he is an apostle. Today, we introduce ourselves first with our titles, and then with all that we have accomplished. While this may be church protocol, maybe we can learn from Paul! In both roles, he lets them know that he has been separated to the gospel of God. (God is addressed repeatedly in the book of Romans). Paul explains this gospel message in this manner:
God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about His Son. In His earthly life He was born into King David’s family line, and He was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 1:2-4, NLT
Romans is written in a question and answer format. In order to not to belabor the point, I will seek to point these questions out and discuss the answers. As we move forward in reading and studying this amazing book of Christian theology, I trust that we will grow bolder in our faith, stronger in our convictions, and unashamedly sure of the gospel of Jesus Christ! I’m looking forward to getting into the book of Romans and hope you will join me in my study. Wonderful Jesus!