The famous nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon was once asked how he would defend the Bible against its critics. He responded, “Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself.”
As we begin the work of evangelism, we often find ourselves already discouraged. We recognize our own shortcomings, and we worry that we are poor examples of the life of faith. We fear that we will have no answers to the objections of unbelievers. We doubt that our feeble words will have any effect on their hearts. Today’s passage is just the encouragement we need! We have the words of life (John 6:68).
First, Paul sets an example for us by his commitment to telling people about Christ. Three times in this passage (vv. 9, 13, 15), Paul expresses how eager he is to come to Rome and preach the gospel. Paul’s confidence that this is exactly what the Romans need can encourage us in our own evangelistic work. What the people in our communities need most is to hear from us about Jesus.
Paul also tells us why he was so determined to preach the gospel and continue preaching it: because he knew it was the power of salvation (vv. 16–17). Every one of us who has been saved from sin knows this to be true. The message of Christ crucified for sinners reveals God’s righteousness to those who receive it by faith (see Rom. 3:21–26). And we cannot be ashamed of the precious truth that has brought us from death to life.
Our words to our unbelieving neighbors may sound inadequate to our ears, but God assures us that the message of the gospel comes from our lips with power—His power!—for the salvation of everyone who believes.
At times, the work of evangelism seems fruitless and hopeless. God encourages us to this difficult task by reminding us that the gospel is powerful, and we do not need to be either discouraged or ashamed. If you have not already done so, memorize Romans 1:16. Be encouraged by its promise. Then, open the door and let the lion out!