The apostle Paul was always ready to give the gospel to anyone who would listen to him. As we see him in today’s passage, Paul has been very eager to visit the church in Rome for quite some time but not yet been able to do so. He has heard of their great faith; their good reputation has spread throughout the entire empire. He hopes to come to them and preach and teach the Word among them that they might grow even stronger still in their walks with Christ. And he hopes to increase the number of believers in their church by winning more converts to the Lord from the giant city of Rome. Paul is confident that the gospel of Jesus has the power to save people to the uttermost. He has experienced God’s great salvation for himself, and now Paul embraces his mission from God to carry that power to others. The apostle knows that he has been called to serve Christ wherever He sends him. Paul’s job is to be always ready to preach the glorious gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ whenever he gets the opportunity. He is not ashamed of the gospel because he knows what God can do through that gospel for anyone and everyone who receives it.
How about you? Do you have that same kind of passion for sharing the gospel with others? Is the gospel beautiful and amazing to you? Have you experienced the “power of God to salvation” since believing in the gospel message? Do you know the gospel well enough to share it with someone who does not know Christ? The gospel can actually be summarized with 5 key verses from the book of Romans: 1) Romans 3:23 – Everyone is a sinner, 2) Romans 6:23 – Because of our sin, we all deserve death and hell but God offers eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, 3) Romans 5:8 – Because He loves us, God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins, 4) Romans 10:9-10 – If we are willing to turn from our sins and believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, then God will save us from the penalty and power of our sins, and 5) Romans 8:1 – For everyone who puts their trust in Jesus Christ, there is no longer judgment awaiting them – they have been forgiven and rescued by Jesus forever. If you’ve never before memorized these verses from the “Romans Road” to salvation, it would be great to do so and begin sharing your faith! You could also highlight them in a small New Testament or witnessing Bible to have them ready to show nonChristian friends.
By way of warning, if you never share or even want to share your faith with anyone else, I have to ask the question: Is the gospel really glorious to you? Is Jesus really first in your life? When you love someone or something, you think about them or it a lot. You talk about them or it a lot. When a person or thing is beautiful and incredible and cool to you, you cannot help just telling everyone about that person or thing. The love just pours out of you. If you don’t feel that way about Jesus and the hope He offers to a lost and dying world, you should ask yourself why. It could be that, like the soil filled with weeds in the Parable of the Sower, the cares and worries of this world are choking out your love for God. My prayer for all of us is that we would be like the fourth soil, the good soil that joyfully receives the Word of God and bears much fruit for Christ and His kingdom. May the gospel be glorious to all of us today. May we be always ready to share it and not ashamed of the power of salvation it can bring.
The Text (Romans 1:8-17)
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
16 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Questions to Think About
- Are you known for having a strong and growing faith in Christ? Explain.
- Are you eager to share the gospel with other people? Why or why not?
- Do you enjoy listening to the preaching and teaching of the Bible? Why or why not?
- What other things are competing with Jesus for control of your heart right now?
- When Paul speaks of being a “debtor both to Greeks and barbarians” in verse 14, he is referring to his mission from God to be the apostle to the Gentiles, both those who were cultured and those who were not, both the educated and the ignorant. For the rest of his life after his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), Paul never forgot his divine calling to carry the gospel to as many of the nations as he could. He was the world’s first and probably it’s greatest missionary.
- The exact meaning of the “righteousness of God” in verse 17 has been debated by a lot of Bible scholars. The term is discussed in other places in Romans and Paul’s others letters, so it is important to try to understand it. If we read the phrase as meaning, “God’s just plan to save us from our sins through the work of Jesus Christ for us,” then we get very close to the heart of the gospel message and the most likely intent of the verse. That meaning not only fits in the other places where we find the term, but it also captures the whole theme of Romans and serves well as an introduction to the rest of the letter. In fact, the revelation of this verse that people are counted as “just” or right with God by faith in Christ and not by works was the key to helping Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, discover his own salvation after much soul searching and anguish and then preach and teach the gospel to all who would listen. May this amazing truth of justification by faith similarly bless us, too!