Chapter 1: 8-15
The Gospel, The Gospel
“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.”
Thanks for the kind responses to the last article on Romans. The more and more I read and study this book, the more it hits me how important it is. The fall of the Roman Empire was predicated on a lot of the very issues that we are facing in North America today. Things like rampant and illegal immigration, government debt, huge welfare rolls, seemingly never-ending wars and the very breakdown of the morality of society. It is almost as if Paul was writing to believers in Canada or the USA or the UK today.
But while some of these issues are addressed, what is covered in Romans, mainly, is that of declining morality as we get to the end of the first chapter, and the total depravity of man that is covered in the many parts of this book. The remedy that Paul gets to the point of for any and all Christian ministry is the Gospel. The whole point of the Local church; the whole point of the Gideons; the whole point of the Prison Fellowship; the whole point of Rapture Ready; or the Daily Bread; or the Ark Encounter; or Christian summer camps; winter camps; concerts, and on we go, is the Gospel. If the Gospel is not preached, taught, shown, spoken, then your event was in vain.
All too often in Christian ministry there has become this altruistic trend to not be an affront to people, to not offend people, to not put them off with the harsh realities of the Gospel. Or even worse, we water down the Gospel; we speak of God’s love and never mention His wrath. That is like trying to explain water with the H2, but not the O. God’s love and His wrath complement each other, and they show the complete picture of our God. All too often we want to love people and care for them, but not share the Gospel because they might get offended and not return.
What is the point of having them stay and not sharing the Gospel? What is the point of loving them all the way to Hell and never offering the chance to be saved? That is the definition of hatred masking itself as love; you ‘love’ them too much to share Heaven with them. Woe to us unfaithful watchmen.
- Sold out on the Gospel, verse 9
Paul was sold out on the Gospel. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was no other way to be saved. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says this,
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Jesus Christ, that is all there is. No other Gospel. No other way. No options. One Way, The Way! Are you convinced about that? Are we settled in our hearts that Jesus is the Only Way? If we are, then what are you and I doing about it? Are we sold out to the Gospel? Are we constantly looking for ways to share, to tell, to offer, to hint, to get a word in about Jesus? In Acts 4:12, Peter said this,
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Peter had the same conviction, as did John, Mark, Luke and the millions, or rather, billions of Christians that have come before us. How many countless thousands have been martyred for the truth of the Gospel? They died crying ‘Jesus is the Only Way.’ And yet, we, in our modern wisdom, have decided that the Gospel is too offensive, it is too much for people to handle, let us just love them into the Kingdom and serve them without sharing the Gospel. This is the height of selfishness; you get to feel all warm and fuzzy with your serving, and they get the flames of Hell. Wow, what a tradeoff! But God sends us that warning in Ezekiel 33:7-8; it is a stern warning that we should heed:
“As for you, O son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word from My mouth and give them warning from Me. If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ but you do not speak out to dissuade him from his way, then that wicked man will die in his iniquity, yet I will hold you accountable for his blood.”
Too many of us modern Christians are not sold out on the Gospel as the only way. We really think that God is going to overlook the blood of His Son and let everybody in. We really think that God will overlook the beaten, bloodied and bruised body of His Only begotten Son and let people in. We don’t want to think that people actually go to Hell. We don’t want to think that Aunt Mary or loving Grandma went to Hell because they rejected Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. No one wants to believe that Mother Teresa went to Hell if she rejected Jesus. God does not care how nice she was; she was a sinner in need of salvation that was provided by God through Jesus. No one wants to believe that the most philanthropic people on TV will go to Hell because they rejected Jesus.
Far too many in local churches do not get that all of us are evil as the day is long; no matter how good we behave, we are intrinsically evil and in need of complete regeneration that only comes from and in and through Jesus. Paul knew this; he knew that the Law, good deeds, could not save. They never have and they never will.
Like Paul, like Peter, like Jesus and all the ones who have died for the truth and the power of the Gospel, we need to be sold out to the Gospel. Jesus is the ONLY WAY.
- Mutual Faith, verse 12
There has been much talk over the past few years, even from seemingly evangelical sources, that we all serve and love the same God as Muslims and even Catholics. This is simply not true; not even remotely. Now, this may shock and offend some in the Catholic faith, and I make no apology. I do not say this to be abrasive or offensive, but the truth is this: The Pope does not speak for God; the Bible does. God has said all He is going to say to man. One cannot be saved by being sprinkled by a bit of water as a baby and by saying the Catechism at 7 years old. One is not saved by being a faithful Catholic (or a faithful Baptist) and attending church. One is not saved by taking the Eucharist and wine as the body and blood of Jesus.
One cannot be saved by any other route other than Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection. By the way, the Pope or the local Priest cannot forgive your sins; only Jesus can. We are to confess our sins to God, 1 John 1:8-9 and He will forgive us.
Not once anywhere are we instructed to pray to Mary; the model prayer directs our prayers to God our Heavenly Father. Jesus made it very clear at the wedding in Cana of Galilee that He does not follow the direction of His earthly mother. She, like all other women, had to be saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of her Son.
We do not worship the same God as Islam, or the Mormons, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or you can name all the other religions and the cults out there. Our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the only God. The Creator, the Three in One, the All Powerful, All Knowing, Ever Present, the Great I AM! He is our God, the God of Christianity and the God of the true local churches. He has an Only Begotten Son, Yeshua, and in He and He alone there is life eternal. If anyone denies that Jesus is God, denies that Jesus is the Christ and offers salvation in any other name, in any other way or through any other means, they DO NOT worship the same God we do and they do not belong to the God of Heaven.
Paul writes to us in Galatians 1: 6-9, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Let me put this in as simple words as I can: stop watering down the Gospel and stop sending people to Hell with your kindness and inclusivity. Stop. If people do not have Jesus as Savior, then we do not share a mutual faith. If people think they can go to Heaven by keeping the Law or worshiping on Saturdays, we do not have a mutual faith. If people think they can be saved by any other means other than being washed in the shed blood of Jesus, the blood that was offered once and for all on Calvary about 2,000 years ago, then we do not have a mutual faith.
- The Burn to preach the Gospel, verses 14-15
Because Paul was sold out on the Gospel and because he knew that there was no other way, he burned to share the Gospel. It was like a fountain contained in him; and once the door opened, that flowed out.
How many of us are like this?
Last week I laid out my case for Romans as a spiritual vaccination against deception. There is no greater deception than the lies we tell ourselves. Sadly, many modern Christians do not have the time to read and study the Bible; they simply do not think it important; they have a pastor for that.
Right now, I am with a group of young pastors. I am not young, and we are endeavoring to read the entire New Testament in 40 days. I am in Acts right now, so I have to go and begin again and catch up, so to speak. Each day, one of us is responsible for a devotional, and it is viewed by our peers. Over the past few years, I have encouraged our church folks to read the Bible cover to cover as often as they can. Read, read, study, read and study. Make the time, turn off the TV, tune out others, wake up earlier, go to sleep later, do whatever it takes. Paul was an avid student of the scriptures. We need to be as well. We need to have it in us.
Paul was driven to prayer. In verse 11, Paul mentions that he prayed often for them. You will not witness to people if you are not in an intimate relationship with God. Prayer and Bible study are the intimacy of the life we have in Jesus, with Jesus. Ask God to send you people to share the Gospel with. He will, and you’d better be prepared.
Paul’s entire life, once he was saved, was focused on sharing the Gospel; it drove him. Does it drive you? Do you and I understand the power and uniqueness of the Gospel? Do you and I understand that we carry in us, in our minds and hearts, the keys to Heaven and Hell? We should be diligent to know the Gospel, to know how to present it, and to know how to help someone trust Jesus as Savior; it is our responsibility as servants in the Kingdom. Speak the truth of the Gospel; speak it in love. That means not watering it down or changing it, and not leaving out Hell.
Jesus died. Jesus was beaten beyond recognition. Jesus bled out. Jesus was nailed to a cross, stabbed by a spear and killed because of God’s wrath on sin. Do not diminish that. People need to know that the alternative to Heaven is Hell. And yes, a loving God did make Hell. Stop making excuses for Him. He does not need us to defend Him, just obey Him.
I leave you with Peter’s words, 1 Peter 3:14-16:
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be shaken.’ But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope you possess. But respond with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you may be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ.”
Notice verse 15 above: sanctify (set apart) Christ as Lord. Once you have submitted to the absolute Lordship of Jesus, then the purity and sanctity of the Gospel will be second-nature. Sharing the Gospel can be uncomfortable even in the most comfortable situations; we understand the gravity of it, and that it is just not a cute story. But we need to be serious about this responsibility. The Gospel is Good News, but good news is only good news if people actually hear it. Tell somebody the truth about Jesus.
God bless you,
Pastor Sean Gooding
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church