Summary: Last week I talked about the necessity for us to go and make disciples. But what are we asking them to do once we present the message of salvation? Today, I'll be talking about presenting the right gospel message.
GET THE RIGHT MESSAGE OUT
Last week I talked about the necessity for us to go and make disciples. Jesus told us to go in the great commission. Paul said we have been given the message and the ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ. But what message are we sharing with people? More precisely, what are we asking them to do once we present the message of salvation? We share our faith, we spread the gospel but it's important to understand what the proper method of salvation is. Today, I want to talk about presenting the right gospel message.
1) The "Romans Road".
Have you ever heard people refer to the "The Romans Road" path to salvation. It's a series of verses from Romans that lay out the gospel message. However, I see some problems with it. [show slide] First of all, as author Andrew Perriman stated, "To start with, you can hardly call it a road. Someone has dug up half-a-dozen paving stones from Paul’s argument and laid them in a line. That’s not a road. It’s not even much of a path."
To explain, you don't have Paul laying out the whole gospel formula in one concise passage; you have verses here and there put together to form the 'road'. You do, however have passages where the answer to "what must I do to be saved" is given; one of which is by Paul himself. I'll deal with those later.
For the most part I have no problem with the verses used in the Romans Road because they do illustrate a clear path of understanding. 3:23-all have sinned. That explains our problem and our need. 5:8-God demonstrated his love for us in sending Christ to die for us sinners. Shows us what God and Jesus did to take care of our dilemma. 6:23-the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. This illustrates the consequence for us having sinned and fallen short along with God's remedy.
It's all good but it's when we get to 10:9-10 that I see a problem; not with the verses but the way they are handled. Believe and confess-that's it. There's no mention of repentance or baptism. How can Peter say repent and be baptized in Acts 2:38 and Paul say believe and confess in Romans 10? That sounds like two different paths to salvation.
There is not two different methods of salvation. Jesus said go and make disciples of all nations. He didn't say, 'teach the Jews to repent and be baptized and teach the gentiles to believe and confess'. But that is some people's view of the the differences between what Peter said in Acts 2 and what Paul said here in Rom. 10. But Paul said in Eph. 4:5 that there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism.
In Rom. 10, Paul is making the point about salvation coming by way of faith not by observing the law as the preceding verses of chapter 10 support. Paul wasn't laying out the whole plan of salvation; he was arguing that salvation is by faith not by works. He expressed that sentiment earlier in Rom. 3:28, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." Paul reiterated this principle in Eph. 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."
So does this mean that the repentance and baptism Peter talked about in Acts 2 is contradictory to what Paul mentions? No. Paul wrote in Gal. 3:26-28, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Paul talks about being saved through faith but then connects baptism to being saved as well as the connecting word, for signifies.
In, The Faith Once for All, by Jack Cottrell, he poses the argument that if it is by faith then how can repentance and baptism be listed as conditions for salvation? He answers that by differentiating between the means and the conditions. He states that faith is the means (the instrument, vehicle, channel) by which salvation takes place but it is not the sole condition for receiving it.
He goes on to say that the texts that mention just faith doesn't mean faith is the only condition, any more than the texts that mention repentance means that is the only condition (2nd Pet. 3:9, '[The Lord] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance'.) Since faith is mentioned in some texts and repentance in others, good hermeneutics [interpreting the bible] requires us to put all the texts together to get the total picture. Thus we can assume that where only one condition is mentioned the rest are implied."