Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord…
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile
ROMANS 1:1–4, 16
In the past, I’ve known what it feels like to be ‘ashamed’ of my faith. But studying Romans has lifted off some fear and increased my confidence. Here’s why.
First, the gospel is a rooted story: ‘promised beforehand… in the Holy Scriptures.’
Throughout Romans, Paul frequently references the Old Testament. I find this deeply reassuring. The gospel is not a new philosophy that a brilliant mind made up. Its plot line traces all the way back to Abraham. God called him into a covenant relationship that might restore blessing to all creation. Where Israel failed, the Messiah succeeded and now calls his people to fulfil this global mandate. The gospel story unlocks the larger story.
This increases my confidence for the same reason being roped to a big boulder reassures me when climbing. It means I’m connected to something much bigger than myself. In Christ, we’re joined to a great story that stretches back to creation and forward into eternity. Our fragile lives are anchored to a faithful God who won’t break his promises. Can you feel the tug of the rope?
Second, the gospel is a relevant story: ‘salvation for everyone who believes.’
The gospel is relevant to every inch of life here and now. Jesus was crucified to end the curses of this old creation, and raised to life to inaugurate a new creation. His decisive victory is good news at every level.
The gospel confronts those who claim to rule the world and fix our problems. In Paul’s day, this meant Caesar and the Empire. Today it includes expansionist states, Big Tech, and political ideologies. The gospel announces that Jesus is Lord, not Caesar or Google. That’s why Romans relates the gospel to every sphere of life, including sexuality (Romans 1), the environment (Romans 8), revenge culture (Romans 12), state authority (Romans 13), church relations (Romans 14), and global mission (Romans 15). Nothing sits outside the remit of the gospel.
We may imagine the gospel to be a small, isolated truth. But when we really understand it, we encounter the ‘power of God’ that brings transformation to every sphere of life. No amount of technology, science, education, or activism can fix what’s broken with our world, and you and me therein. Only Jesus Christ can do that.
The gospel is more rooted and relevant than we’ve dared to imagine. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. In our interactions with friends, families, neighbours, and colleagues this week, let’s live it out and share it on.
Dr Andrew Ollerton
Author of Romans: A letter that makes sense of life
What’s one way you’ve seen the gospel make a difference in your context? Who will you prayerfully share this with this week?