The letter to the Romans contains such a complete and comprehensive look at the plan of salvation that it has been called the Roman Road (to salvation) and used as a guide to witness to lost individuals. It is only fitting that the first lesson in our study of Romans focuses on evangelism.
The church (as a whole) has become lukewarm in many areas, including witnessing. Many Christians have become too busy to share the gospel. Others are not confident in themselves and their understanding of the Bible. Still others are embarrassed or afraid of becoming an outcast or losing a friend. But whatever the reason (or excuse), there should be nothing that stops us from sharing the good news to those around us.
Paul opens his letter to the Romans with a command to call all gentiles to Christ (v5). This command is the same as the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) and Jesus’ command before he ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:8). Paul explains the importance of the gospel message in the opening verses of Romans. Christ was human, but also divine (v3-4). He fulfilled Old Testament prophesy (v2) by crushing Satan’s head (Gen 3:15) and giving us power over sin (Satan). Since Jesus’ death and resurrection (v4), we have power over Hell and can spend eternity with God if we only believe.
Jesus commanded us to go and tell (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Jesus also told us to love God with all our heart and other people like we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). If we love God, we would follow his command. If we love others, we would share the good news so they can avoid Hell, which is a really horrible place.
Paul writes that he is obligated to all people to share the gospel (v14). He cannot make a distinction who he tells because all people need to know the good news. We must be careful and make sure we don’t exclude someone from hearing about the saving power of Jesus Christ. We need to tell all people, even those who persecute us.
We need to get past whatever excuses that hold us back from sharing the gospel with the lost. Paul acknowledged that the world would try to make us feel ashamed of the gospel. But Paul writes that he will become a victim of that lie because of the power of the gospel to save lives (v16).
Jonah, like us, was called to spread God’s word as well (Jonah 1:2, 3:3). Like many Christians today, Jonah refused to follow God’s instructions (Jonah 1:3). Jonah refused to share God’s message in Nineveh (the capital city of Assyria) because who knew God was kind and would forgive them if they repented (Jonah 4:1-3). Jonah did not like the Assyrians and wanted to see them destroyed. Although our excuses for not sharing are probably not because of hatred toward mankind, our reasons are excuses none the less. If Jonah had not finally gone to Nineveh, the Assyrians would have been overthrown by God. If no one goes to those around us, they will spend eternity in Hell. If we (who believe in Christ and have been commanded to go) refuse to go, then who do we expect will go?
Spreading the gospel can be an intimidating idea. It is easier to develop excuses than to do what we’re called to do. It’s extremely difficult to step out in faith and risk our comfortable and lukewarm lifestyle. But Jesus told the church of Laodicea that He spits the lukewarm church out of his mouth (Rev 3:16). Imagine taking a big gulp of milk and realizing that it was sour. Yeah, that’s what Christ is doing to the lukewarm church. This doesn’t mean that he takes away our salvation, but it means that Christ is thoroughly disgusted by our lack of passion and zeal for the Lord. Let’s start heating up our passion for Jesus Christ by telling others around us about the saving power of Jesus Christ.