Summary: Incentives to share the gospel with others.
I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL
It seems possible that the church in Rome began as a spontaneous house church movement as pilgrims returned from Jerusalem after Pentecost. There is no Biblical account of an apostolic foundation.
In Romans 16, Paul greets twenty-six people by name, along with the “church” that is in the house of Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:5), the “household” of Aristobulus (Romans 16:10), the “household” of Narcissus (Romans 16:11), the “brethren” who are with the people listed in Romans 16:14, and the “saints” who are with those named in Romans 16:15.
Wherever the gospel was being preached, reports Paul (Romans 1:8), the faith of the Roman churches was being reported. The Apostle prayed constantly for them, just as we must pray consistently for those whom the Lord lays upon our hearts. Paul also prayed that he might see the Roman believers. He longed to share with them a spiritual gift - or rather (as he corrects himself in Romans 1:12) to share in the blessings of Christ in mutual fellowship together. Although Paul had not planted the church in Rome, yet he longed to “have fruit” there: to reap a harvest amongst them.
Incentives to share the gospel with others:
1. It is a debt (Romans 1:14)
As the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul pronounced his indebtedness to people from all walks of life, and every level of education. We have been entrusted with the gospel not to keep it to ourselves, but to share it with others. Paul was so eager to discharge this debt that he felt ready to preach also at Rome.
2. It is something of which we need not be ashamed (Romans 1:16)
The fact is that the gospel raises the contempt and scorn of all sorts of people. Paul speaks of the preaching of the cross as “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and the preaching of Christ crucified as a “stumbling block” to some, and “foolishness” to others (1 Corinthians 1:23). Yet despite the adverse reactions which we may receive, we are not to be ashamed of the gospel, nor of sharing our faith with others.
3. It is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16)
This is part of the reason why we need not be ashamed. When we share our testimony of God’s goodness in our lives, we are not proclaiming ourselves, but what the Lord has done. When we preach the results do not lie in our own hands, so we need not worry: one may plant, another water, “but it is God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
And what an increase! The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes!”
The word “salvation” presupposes the need for deliverance. Everyone has the need to be delivered from sin and its consequences, as emphasised throughout Romans 1:18-3:20. The gospel is the message of the power of God to accomplish salvation in those who will believe.
First, John 1:12 tells us that as many as received Jesus, to them gave He power (the Greek word is dunamos, from which we have the English words dynamite and dynamic) to become sons of God, “even to them that believe on His name.”
Secondly, John 3:16 is also offered to “whosoever believes.” So whilst the power is transmitted through preaching, the instrument for tapping into that power is faith.
Paul emphasises the historical priority of the Jews in the preaching of the gospel. Theirs was the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; theirs were the fathers, and of them came Christ in the flesh (Romans 9:4-5).
To the Jew was the gospel first preached, but then also to the Gentile, because all alike stand in need of the Saviour.
4. It reveals God’s righteousness (Romans 1:17)
Paul further refuses to be bullied into not preaching the gospel, because it reveals “the righteousness of God.”
It reveals God as the righteous judge who will do right. The rhetorical question posed by Abraham was, “Shall not the judge of the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
It also reveals God as the one who is both just (righteous), and the justifier of all who come to Him through Christ (Romans 3:26). The gospel clothes us in Christ’s righteousness, the altogether righteous one who died for the unrighteous.
Our faith arises from an act of God in history, in which He sent forth His only begotten Son to die for the sins of His people. Our faith grows “from faith to faith” as we live out our renewed lives by the principle of faith. Faith grows extensively through the collective work of evangelism. And it is by faith, from first to last, that God’s righteousness is revealed: “He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).