Saturday Sermon: “Eager to Preach the Gospel” — Romans 1:13-15
The Silent Holocron dedicates Monday space to the sermon that will be preached the following Sunday. Since Stephen has been grossly negligent in posting his sermons, the next few will be “catch-up” posts until we get to Romans 1:26-27 or thereabouts, where Stephen is currently located.
Romans 1:13-15: I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
The last time we were together I told you about “Famous Faith.” Remember what that is? Paul was telling the Roman Christians that their faith was so good that it had become well-known throughout the Roman Empire. And because their faith was so famous, Paul wanted to visit them and hang out!
Paul’s Dream Vacation
Paul tells the Romans in verse 13 that he had “often” planned to make a trip to Rome to see them. In fact, in the book of Acts Paul says that he wants to go to Rome, no matter how dangerous the trip would be for him. How dangerous was this journey for him? Before he went, he made a trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. The disciples warned him that if he went to Jerusalem, he would be handed over to the Gentiles (the Romans) and quite possibly even be killed (Acts 21:1-14). But Paul said that he was ready to die for the Gospel, and in fact had been told by the Holy Spirit that the events that would culminate with his imprisonment in Rome were imminent (Acts 20:22-24).
A Working Vacation
The reason Paul wanted to go to Rome was quite simple: to lead people to Jesus. He is saying in verse 13 that he does not want anyone to be left out! Indeed, he has preached all over the Empire, except the western Roman Empire, and does not want those in Rome and beyond to be untouched by what God was doing in his life and ministry. He knew he had been blessed by God, and that his duty was to share those blessings. But unfortunately, he was blocked time and time again. It was not yet God’s timing for him to go to Rome.
This means that Paul believed everyone must be told about Jesus. It was not enough that only those in the Middle East, Asia (Turkey), and Greece hear the Gospel, but those in Gaul (France) and Spain must hear it as well! In fact, in verse 14 Paul says exactly that: I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. It is his God-given duty to preach the Gospel to every person he could possibly encounter, and for Paul this meant every person in the Roman Empire.
The Duty of Evangelism
Paul has an interesting way of saying this, however. He is commanded to preach to Jews and non-Jews, the wise and the foolish. Now just wait a minute. Is he really saying what I think he is saying? The Gospel is not only for wise, intelligent, smart people; it is also for foolish, silly, ignorant people! The death and resurrection of Christ is intended for both those who will believe and those who will die without Him. To refuse to preach the Gospel to all people, then, is the biggest sin and heresy we could ever engage in as Christians!
Now let’s consider that from a Deaf point of view. Many of us are “high-functioning.” We are the wise, intelligent, smart ones. Just as many, if not more, are “low-functioning.” They could be considered the foolish, silly, ignorant ones. Many of us know Deaf individuals who have little or no education, or are mentally retarded, or have the maturity of a child. Or maybe our hearing families and friends have lumped us all into the “low-functioning” group simply because we are Deaf! When that happens, you know what goes on; we get excused from everything simply because: “Oh, he/she is Deaf, it’s all right, they don’t need to know, just let them get by.” But Paul says he’s got news for us: Jesus is for us, too! We cannot just let our “low-functioning” brothers and sisters just get by without Christ, we have got to explain to them about Jesus! Some of these people really make our day better. Think about how much more joyful it would be to spend eternity with them praising the Lord!
What I’m trying to explain to you is that everyone is equal when standing in front of the Gospel. The Gospel does not discriminate! When we stand in front of Jesus — whether it is from someone preaching about Him, or whether we are reading the Bible, or whether we are in front of Him at our Judgment — we stand on our own two feet. It will not matter if we are Deaf, hearing, genius, retarded, rich, poor, UL Cardinal, UK Wildcat, or UT Volunteer. Each of us will be responsible for how we have responded to the Gospel.
Are you making sure everyone you know understands the Gospel and knows God has commanded them to repent and believe in Jesus? Or are you condemning them to an eternity of Hell because you didn’t want to tell them about Jesus?
Eager to Preach the Gospel
Lastly, Paul says that he is eager to preach the Gospel to the Romans.
Paul knows that his duty is to tell everyone about Jesus. He knows that if he goes to Jerusalem, and as result to Rome, he could very well die. He also knows that up until now he has been prevented from going to Rome and preaching there. Yet Paul is frustrated and cannot wait to go!
In that, we receive our strongest lesson of all from Paul about evangelism. We should be just as eager to share Jesus as Paul was. That, sadly, is our greatest failing as Christians. We have not been excited about evangelism. We have been more concerned with looking cool. We have been more concerned with not embarrassing ourselves in front of other Deaf people who do not believe. We have been worried that others will gossip about us simply because we are Christians. Listen — Paul faced something much, much worse than embarrassment and gossip. Paul faced certain death. And he didn’t care at all. Not one single bit! Paul knew that prison and death were being used by Satan to tempt him not to go. But he knew that God rewards us not through sitting in our comfortable chairs watching 24 on Monday nights, nor does he reward us by being cool in front of the community. No, God rewards us when we run the race, keeping the faith (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
We have a very big problem, one that seriously hinders our ability to keep the faith, if not preventing us totally:
Some of us are ashamed of the Gospel!
Join me next time as we examine Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes….”