Paul knew the Roman Church by their faith. He is thankful for their faithfulness (Romans 1:8-17) The church was not hidden, secret, or underground. Some members of the church were there on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered the Church.
Once the Holy Spirit came into their life, they’re changed. The culture remained the same, but they did not. The gods they once worshiped were now foreign to them. Now they’re children of the Most High God.
Prayer of Thankfulness
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may not at last succeed incoming to you.Romans 1:9-10
Paul was thankful for the Roman Church, prayed for their continual Christian growth, and longed to fellowship with them. Their faith inspired and strengthened him.
Paul knew something that they did not – the Lord had already promised He would come to Rome.
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”Acts 23:11
I suggest you pick up your Bible, turn to the book of Romans and thank God.
In your hand is the fulfillment of that promise. He wrote, for the Romans the testimony to the facts about Christ, but in the long run we are blessed with his testimony too. The beauty of God’s plan is that today we have that testimony in our hand. Sacred Scripture is inspired, written, bound, preserved, and translated so we read it as if the ink is still wet.
Praise the Lord, we are not ignorant of the truth.
The Spiritual Gift
Paul’s desire was to give the Romans a spiritual gift to strengthen them. He would not gain mutual encouragement from them until he arrived in Rome as a criminal. A criminal in the eyes of the Roman culture, but a prisoner of Christ.
Paul was murdered in Rome. The official term is martyred, but the cold hard fact is they murdered him for his (our) faith. He would breathe his last breath on earth seeing the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel.
Today, our pluralistic society is hard pressed to tolerate our faith. Sadly, there are Christians set on “reconstructing” their faith until they walk away from the gospel. They built their foundation on truth of their own making – shallow or full of false teaching.
Do not be discouraged. Stand firm. You’re building your foundation on the pure unadulterated Word of God. The strength we desire as true followers of Christ comes not from large numbers but in the “Number One.”
We can trust in the gospel for it is the righteousness of God (Romans 1:16-17)
The gospel touches the hearts of people one-by-one and is effective to save faith-by-faith. The gospel is not silent, chained, nor held hostage. Those of you who are in right standing with God are few in numbers, but mighty in faith.
The righteous live by faith and by faith they finish well.
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 it is the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:16-17
It is the “power” of the gospel and the Holy Spirit that makes this true unto salvation.
The Power of the Gospel
People are saved by faith, but faith is not the cause of salvation – salvation is God’s grace – His will – and the Spirit’s power working in the message.
The Greek word for power is “dynamis”– the same word we get for dynamite. It means might, power, strength, and ability. Power of the Holy Spirit is “infused” power from God in the finished work of salvation. Interestingly enough, dynamis (power) is also used as one word for miraculous signs and wonders.
The gospel is the miracle of salvation!
We do not need to be ashamed of the gospel although to the world thinks it foolish. We know, from firsthand experience, the power of the gospel brings salvation to everyone who believes.
The miracle? A sinner in the presence of a Holy God!
God is both righteous and just. His justice means we are worthy of His wrath as hell bound sinners. However, His great mercy and perfect righteousness set in place redemption and reconciliation – the beautiful story of salvation. Redemption by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and reconciliation because we are no longer enemies.
The miracle? We are no longer marked for destruction but because of the power of the Holy Spirit we’re sealed unto salvation. God’s lovingkindness makes the impossible possible.
This is the heart of the gospel.
Life of Faith
The life of faith is all-encompassing. We receive the gift of salvation by faith; we live out our faith day-to-day, and the faithful will see Him face-to-face soon.
For “Yet a little while, and the Coming One will come and will not delay; but My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and preserve their souls.Hebrews 10:37-39
I hesitate here to remind you the same people reading this epistle (book) for the first time were faithful – unto death. They lived in an age when faith and commitment were not measured in works but in action. They accepted the gospel complete with blood, suffering, sorrow, humiliation, and pain. Had they not paid this price the name “Christian” might have been left in the annals of history, but the gospel did not die with them.
Today, scholars and professors of Roman political, social, and cultural lives are still in awe of how an unknown, almost insignificant, religion could make such a powerful influence on the world. Rome fell but Christianity did not.
The secret is the power of the gospel.
Faithfulness unto Death
Lest you think I exaggerate, I assure you the cost paid by the first Christians was high. They were faithful unto death.
Emperor Nero was no fictional character. He seized upon the public aversion toward Christians and blamed them for the Great Fire that stormed through Rome in AD 64. He accused the Christians for the fire he set himself so he could clear the land for his grandiose building projects. Nero ordered painful punishments for Christians: crucifixions; dressing them in animal skins and having the torn to pieces by dogs; and setting them afire as human torches.
Listen to the words of Ignatius – an influential Christian leader of the first Christians (AD 108-140):
“The prince of this world is eager to tear me to pieces, to weaken my will that is fixed on God. Let none of you who are watching the battle abet him. Do not let your lips be for Jesus Christ and your hearts for the world.”Ignatius
By AD 150, the number of Christians in the Roman Empire had quintupled, more that thirty-thousand. By the middle of the third century, Christians numbered nearly 1.2 million. This is astounding when you consider that Christianity begun with a few frightened people huddled in an upper room in Jerusalem. Faith and steadfastness come hand-in-hand.
“Christianity is not the work of persuasion, but, whenever it is hated by the world, it is a work of power.”Ignatius
Enduring devotion and loyalty are the marks of an authentic Christian.
Take a few minutes today, go behind closed doors and seriously examine yourself. Better yet, we should yield to God’s examination. Trust me, His search light misses nothing. Faith does not walk by sight, but by total assurance.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.Psalm 139:23-24, The Living Bible
We absolutely trust Christ Jesus absolutely.
- Faith is receptive to God’s word and listens carefully to believe.
- Faith takes God at His word and adjusts your life to it.
- Faith is total surrender – true submission.
There is no such thing as a little faith or a lot of faith – faith is the substance of our love relationship with Father God in Christ Jesus. By faith, we enter and remain in an intimate relationship with God. It is an unending love, true confidence, and unhindered companionship – without enmity, fear or death.
Right standing with God is for the faithful.
The gospel truth: The whole work of Christ is He saves and seeks the lost so that we may live freely, saved, redeemed, and reconciled. Through the power of the gospel in the Holy Spirit we may live in the shadow of His presence not because of anything we’ve done, but everything done in Christ Jesus.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not His benefits.Psalm 103:1-2
Heavenly Father, Thank You, Lord, Your righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Thank You for the power of the gospel. The yielded and redeemed souls rejoice in Your presence. You are oh so faithful. My heart burns with gratefulness. Thank You that by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we may live by faith every day until we see You face-to-face. We can freely approach Your throne of grace because of Your atoning work in Christ Jesus. Thank You for gently touching my soul and teaching me the truth in Your Word. You’ve calmed my mind from worry and anxiety. You are like the hand of the Potter shaping, forming, molding and firing me up as a vessel of honor. Thank You, Lord, for You. Amen!