Summary: I want you to adopt 3 attitudes to make you a difference-maker and a life-changer. I want you to see three “I am” statements right here: I am under obligation," “I am eager," and I am not ashamed.”
What you have just seen is incredible. This is a public baptism in a nation in SE Asia where other believers have been run out of their village and their homes burned to the ground. This husband and father have recently come to know the Lord after someone personally shared the gospel with him many times. This man came to know Christ after our teams shared the gospel with his wife in combination with local believers. He came to know the Lord after one family from our church spent nearly 15 years sharing the gospel in the area. This past month, he has taken down his Buddhist idols to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ! Our friend has asked us to pray for a church to be planted and by the grace of God, I now have the privilege of telling you the church has been planted!
Today, I want to speak to you about the importance of developing the regular habit of personal evangelism. My question for each one of you is this: Who’s Your One? Please find the book of Romans with me, will you? All this year, we are focusing on this question: Who’s Your One? Mr. Believer and Mrs. Believer, who is the one person the Lord is putting in your life to share the message of the gospel? Who’s Your One? Again, this is our focus for 2020 and you are going to want to be a part of this because some lives are going to be changed! For 2020, I want to challenge you and to empower you to be a life-changer and difference-maker. All this year, we are challenging you to have a conversation focused on the gospel – a gospel conversation.
Romans 1 is our focus today. Paul writes the introduction to one of the greatest letters you’ll find anywhere. He follows the conventional format of how you would open up a letter of his day. Except he makes one important change – where most people would have said something to the effect, “I hope this letter finds you healthy…” …or, “I hope your business is doing extremely well…” When Paul tell you, “Hello, how are you doing?,” but he doesn’t take about wealth or your health; instead, he wants to know about faith.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now, at last, succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, 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. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:8-17).
Let me point out three items as a way of background before we move on.
Paul thanks God for their faith in verse 8. A smile comes to his face when he thinks about their face. He was thrilled to hear about their faith from such a long distance and continually thanks God for their faith. If you are a believer give thanks to the Lord today! Take special note that God is thanked “through Jesus Christ” in verse 8. If you want to get to God, you need to go through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the mediator of God the Father; Jesus is the only open highway to obtain access to God the Father. I encourage you to get to know Jesus Christ today.
He then takes an oath in verse 9 that he is continually in prayer for the Christians in Rome. “God is my witness” is how we know he prays continually, unceasing. So if you’re with Paul on Monday, you overhear him in the morning praying for the believers in the capital city. And if you’re with Paul on Wednesday at dinner time, he mentions the believers in Rome right before you break bread. And when the two of you are sleeping just feet away from one another on cots on Friday night, you can hear even a ‘mumbling prayer’ coming from Paul’s direction concerning the Roman believers. He doesn’t cease to give thanks or to pray for the believers. Pause: a believer in Christ, what group of Christians are you praying for around the globe today? If you take the time to trace it out, you’ll discover Paul isn’t just praying for the Christians in Rome but for believers spread out all over the known world of his day: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…” (Ephesians 1:16).