In this week's RML Romans study we looked at Paul's introduction to his letter in Romans 1:1-17 and already the book was challenging us on our attitude to the gospel.
Firstly Paul's headline for the gospel might sound unusual. He doesn't say it's a message about a God who sorts out all our problems, or the way to an enriched life, or even simply the message of God's love. Paul's repeated emphasis when introducing himself is that he is the messenger of the gospel of God's king, King Jesus. In the gospel the spotlight isn't on us but on Jesus who is God's promised king (Romans 1:1-4).
The second surprise is that Paul is writing this long letter, setting out what the gospel is in such great detail, to a bunch of people who already believe it. He is writing to people whose faith was already world famous at the time—and telling them the gospel (Romans 1:8). It's easy to think that the gospel is really just the doorway to the Christian life, but Paul clearly doesn't limit it to that. Instead he says he is longing for the chance to strengthen and encourage these Christians in their faith (Romans 1:11-12), and he's going to do so by telling them the gospel. According to Paul we need the gospel not only at the start but throughout our Christian lives, because it will strengthen our faith.
What does it look like to know the gospel so well and be strengthened in your faith in the gospel? Well for Paul it means boasting in the gospel, he says he is "not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16-17).
Why not spend the weekend thinking and praying through the implications of what we learnt on Tuesday? Here are some questions to get you started:
- How would you answer a Christian who said that they already know the gospel so would rather study something that was a bit more useful for their day-to-day life?
- What are your aims in studying the gospel this year?
- When faced with the choice of coming to study Romans or watching the Apprentice on a wet Tuesday evening in February, what will be at stake for you and your group?