As I was reaching for the remote to turn off the TV, a commercial from a famed chef caught my eye. He was holding up a cooking utensil and began telling how it changed his life. A cooking utensil changed his life? I chuckled as I turned the TV off. I wondered how many sales that would generate.
As I walked upstairs, I thought about something that changed my life. The gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came into my life in August of 1994 and I have never been the same. Our lesson comes from Romans 1:1-17, and the apostle Paul is introducing himself to the church at Rome. What immediately stands out is that Paul had a great desire to share the gospel with those in Rome.
Before Paul was saved on the Road to Damascus, he was a violent man who beat, imprisoned, and even killed those who followed Christ. Yet when Jesus came into his life, he was never the same again. His life was so radically transformed by the gospel that he declared that, “what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7). After his conversion, Paul was driven by an intense desire to make Christ known.
Our lesson challenges us to share Paul’s desire to make Christ known. In the opening verses Paul reveals his self-understanding. He writes that he is, “A bondservant of Jesus, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (v. 1). It is easy to read these verses and think they apply only to Paul. We think, he was called, his life was separated to the gospel. However, when we study those verses that we commonly call the Great Commission, we discover that all believers are to see themselves as being set apart for the gospel of God (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8).
Unlike the chef, Paul, and all who have been saved, can talk about something that has truly changed their life. Sharing the gospel can be a challenge. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to sharing Christ is fear. We don’t know if Paul had to overcome fear, but we know he began his ministry to Rome with prayer (v.9). He prayed for the church before coming to them. Seeking God in prayer is the best place to begin our evangelism efforts. In the book of Acts Peter prayed, “Now Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that will all boldness they may speak your word” (4:29).
In addition to prayer, Paul felt indebted to the lost. He writes, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and barbarians … I am ready to preach the gospel to you….” (vs. 14-15). When we understand what it means to be lost, and then realize what we have been given through the gospel, we know we have an obligation to preach Christ to those who do not know him. If a doctor discovered the cure for cancer, but never shared that with the world, what kind of doctor would he be? Christ has given every believer the cure for sin and death.
There are many who have yet to hear and respond. May Paul’s words stir our hearts to action, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (v. 16). There is nothing more powerful in the world to transform a life than the gospel of Jesus Christ.