When I was a boy, I tried to earn extra money selling newspapers door to door. I was not a success. My sales pitch went something like this: “You wouldn’t want to buy this paper, would you?” Some of us share the gospel the same way.
Today we begin a study of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Martin Luther called this book “the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest gospel.” Paul had two primary goals in writing. One was to introduce Phoebe and urge the church to aid her in her service to Christ (Rom. 16:1–2). The apostle’s larger purpose was to clarify his gospel in light of recent criticism from some who opposed him. He begins with greetings, a summary of his credentials, and a declaration of his confidence in the gospel. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because it reveals a righteousness “that is by faith from first to last” (v. 17).
Paul will have much more to say both about the nature of the gospel and its implications for us. But here at the very beginning, we learn its fundamental truth. Righteousness comes from God as a gift to everyone who believes that Jesus Christ died and rose for them (v. 4). It is an unearned gift. We did nothing to receive it. This gift is offered to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Those who embrace the gospel message begin a new life that is lived by faith “from first to last.” Just as we never outlive our need for faith, we will never grow out of our need for the gospel.
>> We may be nervous about sharing the gospel because we underestimate it. As we begin this study, ask God to grant you an understanding of the full message and power of the gospel. This study will help you understand its implications for your life!
Dear God, some of us have heard the gospel so often that we have lost our wonder at your grace. Renew our perspective so we may find joy and confidence in the power of the gospel.