I had the honor of teaching our Journey Kids during AWANA last night at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. These are all high school students who are trying to figure out what life is all about. They have millions of voices via the internet and mass media pulling them in all different directions. Praise the Lord that they are involved in a weekly Bible study that helps ground them in reality. Last night, we began a study on the book of Romans. What an amazing book of the Bible!!! I would like to share some of the insights that we learned last night during our study time.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,
10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. (Romans 1)
The Apostle Paul has a great relationship with the church in Rome. This church is led by two of Paul’s disciples, Priscilla and Aquila. They met Paul in Corinth and he led them to faith in Jesus Christ. Priscilla and Aquila were Jews living in Rome. The Emperor kicked all of the Jews out of Rome. It seems that Priscilla and Aquila were heading back to Israel. They happened to meet Paul in Corinth because they were of the same trade as Paul, tent makers. Paul led them to faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They are gifted teachers of the Word of God. They helped set Apollos on the right track in his understanding of the Word of God. The Lord called Priscilla and Aquila back to Rome to preach the Gospel. They obeyed and formed a church in their home in Rome. The Apostle desperately wants to go to Rome and visit this church so that he can help the church preach the Gospel in the capital of the known world.
I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far ) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. (Romans 1:13)
Paul has wanted to visit Rome for a while but he has been hindered. The reason that he has been hindered is because he keeps getting put in jail for preaching the Gospel. So, from the time that he writes this letter until the time that he actually makes it to Rome, Paul wants to encourage the Roman believers to preach the Gospel in this metropolitan city.
I. The Gospel in the Old Testament Scriptures
The more familiar that you are with a certain subject, the more likely you are to talk about that subject with confidence. The Apostle Paul wants the Roman believers to be very familiar with the message of the Gospel. He turns their attention to the Word of God so that they can equip themselves with the information that they need to live the Gospel and preach the Gospel.
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, (Romans 1)
The Gospel (good news) of the Messiah (Promised Savior) is found in the Word of God. The Bible teaches us the message of the Gospel so that we can believe it, apply it, and share it with those around us. This message is very specific. This message is about the Promised Savior of the world. This is the message of Jesus. The name Jesus literally means, “God’s salvation” or “God the Savior“. From the very beginning, the Apostle Paul establishes the fact that mankind needs a Savior and that Jesus is that Savior. Paul gives the title “Christ” to Jesus. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for “Messiah“. The word “Messiah” literally means, “the anointed One” or “the Promised One“. The Gospel, as found in the Old Testament, is all about God the Promised Savior.
3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, (Romans 1)
There is more about this Savior presented in verses three and four. The Apostle presents the humanity of Jesus as well as the divinity of Jesus. The Apostle presents Jesus as the “God-man“. The message of the Gospel is that God takes on human flesh and becomes 100% man while also being 100% God. This God-man goes to the cross and is put to death to pay the penalty for mankind’s sins. Then, the God-man raises from the dead never to die again. He conquers mankind’s greatest enemy, sin.
II. The Gospel leads to faith and obedience
What are we to do with this information about Jesus Christ found in the Word of God?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
We are to trust it or, in other words, we are to believe it. When we believe it, God rescues us from our sin.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:17)
When we are rescued from our sin, that means that God takes us from being crooked (bent in the wrong direction) and straightens us out. That is what it means to be righteous. Jesus takes our sin to the cross and He gives us His righteousness. How does this manifest itself in our lives?
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, (Romans 1:5)
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are made right with God. Being right with God is manifested in our obedience to the Lord. Does the Apostle Paul give any tangible evidence in this passage to what he means by “obedience“? Yes, he most certainly does!
III. Obedience manifested
Obedience is manifested very specifically and it is tied back to the entire reason why Paul wrote his letter and why he wants to visit Rome.
9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, . . .
14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (Romans 1)
Faith that leads to obedience is faith that drives us to preach the message of the Gospel to others. We wake up each day feeling obligated to share this glorious message with all the people around us. The Apostle Paul wants to go to Rome in order to preach the Gospel. But, until he arrives, he encourages the Roman Christians to be intentional about preaching the Gospel to the people around them. He equips them with the information that they need and he challenges them to search the Scriptures so that they will have confidence to proclaim the message of the Gospel to others. Is your faith in Christ being manifested in your obedience to the call to preach the message of the Gospel to the people around you? Genuine faith in Christ produces obedience and that obedience is manifested in your preaching of the Gospel. Are you afraid to preach the Gospel? The way to overcome that fear is to dig down deep into the Word of God. That is the source and motivation of our message. The more time that you spend in the Word, the more you will want to preach the message of the Gospel. There is a direct connection between the two.
May the Lord help us dig down deep in His Word so that we will be motivated to live and preach the Gospel on a daily basis during our short time on this earth!