Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Advent Archive: Romans 1:1-17

These first few verses of the letter to the Roman believers display for us the passion Paul had in wanting to preach in Rome. He loved the believers in Rome even though he had never met them! All he wanted was to meet them and to teach them the depths and the riches of Christ.
But stop and think with me. Paul had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Berea, laughed at in Athens, regarded as a fool in Corinth, and stoned in Galatia, and yet somehow he remained eager to preach in Rome?! Ok, before we go any further, what was Rome? Rome was the headquarters of both contemporary political power and pagan religion. With the reception that Paul had in the previous cities, why would Paul want to go to Rome and go through all of this and how did he remain so bold even during all of this ridicule, criticism, and physical persecution? The Answer: the Gospel! Though Satan was trying to shut the mouth of Paul in every place he went, nothing was holding this man back from living the Gospel-centered life! But how did he do it?
We have to ask the question: “What’s so unique about the Gospel?” The thesis or the blueprints for this whole letter of Romans is found in verses 16 and 17. When we think of all that Paul went through for the sake of the Gospel, Paul said he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” That word, power, is the word we use in English today for dynamite! If you know anything about dynamite, you know we’re not talking about a tiny spark of static electricity when you put on a sweater. No, we’re talking about a huge, explosive power! As Paul learned the Gospel and saw the power that it had in his own life, he knew that this Gospel had power to change the lives of others also. The Gospel carries with it the omnipotence of God because it’s God’s message and God’s work! That’s what makes it effective. Only God’s power is able to overcome man’s sinful nature and give him new life. Paul witnessed first-hand what happened as the Gospel had transformed his own life. He knew the wicked, religious, hateful murderer that he was and watched as the gospel transformed him into the loving, self-sacrificing man into which God changed him.
My prayer as I write this is that you and I both would agree with Paul in verse 15 that we are eager to present the Gospel to those around us. Don’t let basketball or volleyball or iPads or iPhones get in the way. Yes, you may have talent, and yes, Siri may have all the right answers… but no sport and no device can release lives from the power of sin unto salvation. No, only the Gospel does that! So let’s base our lives on the Gospel!

Food for Thought: What was the thrust of Paul’s life? Where does the gospel get its power from that makes it so powerful?

 Alan Obrien
Assistant Pastor |
Alan and his wife, Amy, have been serving the church family of Landmark Baptist Church since 2008. They have a daughter, Allison.