One of the most important questions for a Christian to be prepared to answer, both for himself and others, is What is the gospel? You should ask yourself this question often and always be prepared to give an answer to others. The reason many Christians don’t grow in holiness and righteousness is because they ironically don’t have a firm grasp on the gospel. The same is true for Christians who don’t go with the gospel to their neighbors and the nations—they simply don’t think enough about the gospel. Deep meditation on the gospel will increase your joy in God and ignite a passion for others to know God through the gospel.
When Paul writes that he desires to preach the gospel among the Roman Christians, he means that he wants to take part in both discipleship and evangelism. This means he wants to preach the gospel to the Roman Christians for their discipleship. He also wants to preach the gospel with the Roman Christians for the evangelism of the lost in Rome. But what is this gospel Paul wants to proclaim? What is this message he desires the Christians and lost in Rome to know?
The gospel and theme of the entire letter of Romans is stated nicely and clearly for us in Romans 1:16-17. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” The theme of the gospel and the letter of Romans is that the righteousness of God is freely given to sinners.
Paul wants to preach the gospel in Rome because he is not ashamed of the gospel. He is fearless to share the gospel, and he is proud of the universal effects of the gospel. The gospel carries the power of salvation for anyone who believes in Jesus—Jews, Gentiles, and everyone in between. You can be unashamed of the gospel in these same ways. Be fearless to share the gospel and live your life in line with the gospel. And, be proud and glad to share the gospel freely with anyone. There is power in the gospel to save even the worst person you know.
The reason we can be unashamed of the gospel is because it is a message from God and it contains power of God for salvation. God produces salvation, not human effort. You cannot do anything to earn salvation. It is entirely a work of God to save his people from the penalty of death we deserve. God reveals his righteousness in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Jesus, who was perfectly and divinely righteous, dies in the place of those who are unrighteous. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). The gospel is a gift. It is a gift of God’s righteousness given freely to the unrighteous who receive it by faith. Share this gift as freely and generously as you have received it.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.