The cross sets us free. This is what Romans is all about, the plan of salvation and the way we can be restored to God. We think of this as just the beginning, how we start, but the Gospel is much more than just the beginning. It’s about how we continue. We tend to drift away from God. We tend to get caught up in other things and we lose the urgency of the Gospel. We fail to see what it means to have the daily Gospel applied to our lives.
We tend to drift away from the gospel.
You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. 15Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. Romans 15.14-15 (NLT)
The Gospel is familiar to us. Paul knows the church in Rome, the one he is writing to. The book of Romans is the whole of the Gospel. There’s a depth to our relationship with God, what God has done in and through us. We need to understand the fullness of God. We think we start our relationship with God. We cannot save ourselves, so we place our faith in God. At some point in our lives we recognize we need to give our life to God. We do this and we then think it’s up to our willpower to do the rest. We live like the rest of our lives are up to us. Paul talks about what the Gospel can do for us. We cannot live the Christian life alone. Grace sustains us. Paul is reminding them of the centrality of the Gospel, of who we are, of the purpose of the church. It’s easy to get sidetracked about what our purpose is.
For example, what’s the purpose of the company you work for? Or, let’s ask, “What does Krispy Kreme make?” You know the answer. Krispy Kreme also sells t-shirts. How many of you drive by the “Hot ‘n Now” sign and think, “I need to stop and buy a t-shirt?”
We exist for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There’s another implication of this. Yes, there’s the initial sharing of the Gospel but there’s also the continued living of the Gospel. By God’s grace we need to be restored and made new. We need a reminder to return to the cross to live in the grace of God. It is the power of the cross that transforms us. We fall on our knees and face before the King. We need this reminder. In a couple of weeks we will celebrate communion together. It’s a reminder of God’s continued work in our lives. Paul says, I know you don’t know me, but we have the same Savior. We are all here by grace. That is what’s common with us. Focus on this. This is the message the world needs. Be honest. It’s what WE need. Nothing satisfies our deep hunger like seeing God work in our lives.
Nothing satisfies our deep hunger like seeing God work through us. Paul has seen God’s power in his life:
17In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, Romans 15.17-19 (ESV)
This is an appropriate boasting. It’s ok to boast about what God has done in and through us. It’s ok not to minimize the power God has done in his life. There’s many things Paul can talk about. He wants his life to be about one thing: the power of the Gospel.
Paul is aware of his own brokenness. God is still able to use him. God can use us too in our brokenness. God can use us at any point to proclaim the Gospel, to set people free. This church in Rome is small. They can be used by God as well. Many of them will lose their lives for their faith. God has a purpose for each one of us. This is a calling. God is using you. The power of the Gospel is flowing through you. This fuels us.
Mike Weske has recently serving in disaster relief ministry at Ocracoke, NC. He just returned. He shared with me how they had generators set up and fuel delivery drivers were coming in. Not all the people helping recover Ocracoke are volunteers. Some are paid, doing their jobs. Volunteers are spending time with paid workers. Volunteers met two guys, fuel delivery drivers. They invited them to worship with them and they gave their lives to Christ. They weren’t the target people they went to serve, but God can use anyone at any point in time. We can ask God to work through us.
At our annual meeting we feature what God is doing in our church family. Some ministries we used to have don’t exist anymore. There were just for a time, a season. Then God raises up something else. God has need of you in a number of different ways. What is God doing inside of you? We need to realize God wants to do a work on other people. Paul writes and says you don’t understand how broken I am and God uses me. God can use you too. Paul had a specific call on his life.
Pursue God sized goals.
20My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. Romans 15.20 (NLT)
Paul was called to go to the Gentiles, the people outside of the Jewish faith, to tell them Jesus had come for us. Paul went where people had never heard the Gospel. We live in an area that is heavily churched but there are over 100,000 people who aren’t in church. You may be surprised at how many people have never heard the Gospel here. Paul was called to go where there was no church. This is tremendously hard. Paul write to the people in Rome. They are against tremendous odds. God, use me where I am.
There’s a term, “pockets of lostness.” It refers to the segments of our area that are unreached. There’s a mass number of people that don’t have the Gospel. You see this all around you, in your workplace. We are becoming increasingly aware. What is God speaking to you about? What does God want to use me for? Ambition is good. There’s a Godly ambition/drive given to us by the Holy Spirit. The first thing God speaks to us is the call to come to Him by faith, to lay down your life and trust the power of the cross. There’s a continual call back to the Gospel, to live in the grace of the cross. You will always say you’re not good enough, “I can’t do this.” This is not about what we can do but what God can do through us. This is our testimony. God loves us. What ambition has God given you?
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.