Pastors Ponderings

The main theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans has been described as ‘the gospel’:- chapters 1-4 are the gospel and the righteousness of God; chapters 5-8 are the gospel and the power of salvation; chapters 9-11 are the gospel and Israel; and finally chapters 12-16 are the gospel and the transformation of life.  

The trouble is when we think of the word ‘gospel’ (or ‘good news’ which is what the word gospel means) we tend to put out it outside of ourselves and outside of the church and onto people who don’t know that Jesus has forgiven every sin, and has been raised from the dead.  I think this quote from Michael Bird (he’s an Aussie New Testament scholar), explains what I mean really well…

The common view in evangelical circles is that Romans is about the road to salvation, sinners discovering the love and mercy of God, so much so that you can sweep up several verses from the letter to create a charming little evangelical tract about how to get saved. The Roman road to salvation usually goes something like this:

  1. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23)
  2. The punishment for sin is eternal death (6:23)
  3. The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus (6:23 again)
  4. People are saved by confessing with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord (10:9)
  5. Those who are justified through faith have peace with God (5:1)

Of course, Romans does tell us a great deal about salvation, sinners, and the love and mercy of God. But Paul wrote to the Romans with the hope that, because of his letter, the church and the people in the church would change their behaviour.  This is what we are aiming for too; that as we study Romans together this letter will change us—change our behaviour, our thinking and our attitudes.  And that is the good news you bring to the world.  People will see you are different and will think ‘God what happened to you?’ And the answer will be ‘God happened to me because I read Romans!’