WHY WAS PAUL EAGER TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE CHRISTIANS AT ROME?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Read this most baffling verse—“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Romans 1:15). How could the Apostle Paul be enthusiastic about preaching the Gospel to saints of Almighty God? Why would Christians—God’s children and members of the Church the Body of Christ—need to hear the Gospel? Did not they already know the Gospel? Do we Christians need to hear the Gospel today? We compare Scripture with Scripture.
Verily, verily, the recipients of Paul’s epistle to Rome were Christians. We read in chapter 1, verses 6-7: “ Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:  To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” They were indeed God’s children and servants. So, how could Paul go on to write the following in verse 15? “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”
Christian friend, remember, it is easy to forget where we came from. We have not always been Christians. Perhaps we were church members and churchgoers from childhood, but the fact of the matter is that going to church buildings and joining religious groups did not make us Christians. We were not made members of God’s family when we were water baptized as infants, or when we were “confirmed” in our denomination. No! Rather, there came a day when we understood and believed the Gospel.
We heard, “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The Bible calls this “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Then, we realized that it was not about what we did in religion to please God. It was all about what Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, did for us, that He might please Father God. Grace is what God did for us at Calvary’s cross: He paid for everything that is wrong with us. Finally, we placed our faith (trust) exclusively in that Gospel message. The Holy Spirit immediately baptized us into the Church the Body of Christ: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). It was here that we became Christians. Ephesians 1:12-13 elaborate: “ That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise….”
A BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF ROMANS
Believers in Christ must understand, however, that there is more to Bible Christianity than simply avoiding eternal hellfire. The Gospel is not only meant to impact where we go when we die (Heaven instead of Hell). It is also designed to positively affect our lives before we depart this life and go into eternity. So many believers fail to realize that the Gospel should impact our lives right now on Earth! Since the sinner passes from death to life upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, good works should result from that new life. The Spirit of God should be working in that believer, provided that the believer allows Him to work in him or her. Paul’s epistle to the Romans is laid out as follows:
- Firstly, if we want to learn about the justification involved with the Gospel of Grace, we appeal to Romans chapters 1-5. There, we see man’s sin problem and the provisions at Calvary that Almighty God offers us to remedy it. We read about how to have a right standing before God, forgiveness of sins, and a home reserved for us in Heaven. These chapters go into greater detail than what is covered in a simple Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
- Secondly, if we want to see the sanctification concerning the Gospel of Grace, we read Romans chapters 6-8. There, we see the drastic change in nature when the sinner believes on Christ, passing from the Adamic identity to the Christian identity, death to life, sins to good works. We read about how the Holy Spirit uses the grace of God rather than the Law of Moses to teach us how we are to walk in our new identity. We are dead to sin by the death of Christ (chapter 6). We are dead to the law by the body of Christ (chapter 7). We are alive unto God by the resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit bringing that reality to our life (chapter 8).
- Thirdly, if we want to read about the dispensational issues regarding the Gospel of Grace (that is, that it is an interruption of the nation Israel, her program, and her Gospel message), we go to Romans chapters 9-11. There, we see that the Gospel of Grace forms the Church the Body of Christ rather than Israel. We are to behave like the members of the Body of Christ that we are, and not imitate the nation Israel that we are not.
- Finally, if we want to see application of the Gospel of Grace—how to use grace principles delineated in the Gospel of Grace in specific life situations—we read Romans chapters 12-16. There, we see the life of Christ on display in various circumstances—among Christians, in the midst of enemies, among the world, under human government, considering weaker brethren in Christ, and so on. (The rest of Paul’s epistles build on the basics found in Romans—ultimately bringing us to Philemon, godliness/“God-like-ness” in the life of a mature Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace.)
HOW CHRISTENDOM HAS IGNORED THE BOOK OF ROMANS, AND THUS DETRIMENTALLY AFFECTED ITSELF
Colossians 2:6-7 says the Christian life operates however it began: “ As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” If we can understand the beginning of the Christian life (Romans chapters 1-5), the rest is easy to grasp (the rest of Romans). Since many church members are not taught how the Christian life begins, they struggle senselessly with how it operates on a daily basis. Friend, understanding the Gospel is actually an integral part of enjoying daily Christian living. We understand the Gospel of Grace by going to the most basic Bible Book of this dispensation—the Book of Romans.
If ever our Christian life is in ruins (think of the Corinthians and the Galatians), it is because we need to go back to Romans and re-learn what we have forgotten (or failed to learn in the first place). If we are struggling with sin (as the Corinthians), we have failed to learn that the Christian life began with a new nature, not the Adamic nature. We must rely on the new nature in Christ if we are to have victory over sin. If we are struggling with law-keeping (as the Galatians), we have failed to learn that the Christian life began by grace, not works. We must remember that our life in Christ will continue to function by grace, not works.
Christian friend, remember, it is easy to forget about the provisions that Father God has given us in Christ Jesus. Religion, part of Satan’s evil world system, is constantly pulling us back into human wisdom, church tradition, human efforts, and so on. Hindering, confusing, and destroying Christians’ lives is how the Devil has overcome so many precious believers around the world for all these centuries. They are too busy focusing on what they are doing than on what God is doing with them and has done for them! They are too preoccupied with “what the church/denomination says” than what God has said in His Holy Word rightly divided!
Many genuine Christians simply do not know how their Christian life began. They heard a pure Gospel message—about Christ dying for their sins, being buried, and being raised again the third day. They heard how simple faith in Him was enough to justify them before God. They trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, passed from death to life, moved from Satan’s kingdom to God’s kingdom. Then, unfortunately, a denomination forced them back under the law (performance-based acceptance system). “Now, get water baptized so your Christian life will please God! Give a tithe so God can bless you! Keep His commandments so you can have victory over sin! Confess your sins every day so you can keep fellowship with God!” Oh, how sad! This is self-defeating!
For many years, I was saved, and I heard those very things in my own denominational churches. I knew and had believed the Gospel of Grace, but then people started telling me to follow the Law in my daily Christian living! Millions upon millions upon millions are in the same awful predicament today. Their Christian lives are so frustrating, miserable, and futile. They always wonder if they have confessed enough, gave enough, prayed enough, held out enough, quit enough, and so on. Saddest of all, their Christian life never ever began with confessing, giving, praying, holding out, and quitting! No wonder their Christian life is not working for them! They should be living by faith, for they are saved by faith; alas, they are living by law, by which they were never saved! Yes, these Christians need the Gospel of Grace preached to them! There is no law in the Gospel of Grace!
Exactly how the church at Rome started is unknown: the Book of Acts does not say in any certain terms. Paul wrote to them in Acts chapter 20 (cf. Romans 15:25-28 and Acts 20:1-3), although he did not actually visit Rome until Acts 28:16. After passing through Macedonia and Achaia (Northern and Southern Greece, respectively), he went to Jerusalem, before being escorted by ship to Rome. At the time of writing to the Romans, chapter 1 of the Book indicates they had already been saved. Sometime prior to Acts chapter 20, someone from Paul’s ministry brought the Gospel of Grace to Rome. It was here that a local assembly of Christians was started in Rome. That congregation was already present in Rome when Paul wrote the Epistle to Rome.
The Roman believers had to be reminded of the grace doctrine Paul had taught the people who had led them to Christ Jesus. He wrote to them because he was hindered by Satan from visiting them in person (Romans 1:11-13). Those grace principles would provide them with a solid spiritual foundation. It would cause them to be “established” (fixed and settled). Furthermore, Romans 16:25-26 says God wanted to “stablish” (stabilize) them internally using a three-fold process: “ Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,  But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith….” The first and foremost element necessary for spiritual growth is Paul’s Gospel. If we do not understand it, constantly being reminded of its truths, then we will not grow as Father God intended for us to grow. Satan’s world system will constantly deceive and defeat us. Paul knew this; hence, he was zealous about preaching the Gospel even to the saints at Rome. In lieu of his personal visit to Rome, he wrote to them.
Let me share one final bit of significant information before we wrap this study up. A written record not only ensured that they would not forget how their Christian lives began and operated. It was written down that it be preserved through the 20 centuries since, that we could have it today, that we not forget how the Gospel of Grace started (and maintains) our Christian lives. Brethren, while we often talk about preaching the Gospel to lost people (those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour), Paul also thought it necessary to preach the Gospel to us Christians. Let us therefore be faithful in preaching the Gospel to lost people… and also to Christians… and yes, to ourselves!