Scripture: Romans 1:8 – 17
Romans 1:8-17 (NIV)
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 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. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Introduction: From Saul to Paul….
Before Paul was Paul, he was Saul. This man had real passion, a real sense of obligation towards what he believed. He was a man whose action was set by his convictions. This is shown in how he lived out his life before becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, which is shown in Acts 9:
“Acts 9:1-2 (NIV) 1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem”
What does this tell us about Saul’s motivation and purpose before he became Paul?
Such a man would not be easily swayed from the path he had come to believe in. And yet this man would be moved towards another motivation – one of care and concern for those he once hated and persecuted. This man driven by conviction and motivated by principles would become one of the major influences in establishing the church and influencing it for 2,000 years.
Great people are people swayed by their convictions. Take Winston Churchill who became the prime minister of Great Britain, and stood up against Hitler. The horror of what was coming only few understood. The bombings of London by the Nazi military, the possible invasion any moment by Hitler was very real. This statesman was 65 when he took on the role of Prime Minister and he did so with vigour and passion for his nation.
One American journalist said of him in 1941 “The responsibilities which are his now must be greater than those carried by any other human being on earth. One would think such a weight would have a crushing effect upon him. Not at all. The last time I saw him, while the Battle of Britain was still raging, he looked twenty years younger than before the war began ... His uplifted spirit is transmitted to the people”
Just prior to the Battle of Britain Churchill uttered these famous words:
“... we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
Such passion for his country motivated him to be the right man for the times inspiring his countrymen to stand against the horrors of what would reign down on Britain for 8 months from September 1940 to May 1941. 3000 German bombers raided London in what was called the blitz and at one stage London was bombed consecutively for 57 nights.
Lesser men would have crumbled under the responsibility. To oppose one great evil in Hitler would take great motivation in Churchill to turn the tide of evil.
Throughout time Paul has affected many more people than Churchill had his passion that would change from opposing Jesus to passionately supporting and encouraging the church. Here is a man who would passionately oppose evil, sin and the schemes of the Devil because of the Gospel of Jesus.
What motivates you?
What are your passions?
Point 1: Paul expresses his motivations.
Romans 1:8-10 (NIV) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
Here, Paul speaks about their vibrant faith that had spilt out to the street, like Pentecost, and had engaged people talking about the faith they had. Paul desired to see this faith at work, to encounter the work of God in this church besieged by paganism.
His passion is shown in how he prayed for them and how he wanted to find a way to visit them. This is no easy feat given that getting to them might involve walking and boat rides, and the risk of bandits.
His first motivation, then, was the desire to see the work of God in their lives as one who regularly spiritual concern for them.
Romans 1:11-13 (NIV) 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
Paul’s longing was to also bring to them a “spiritual gift to make them strong.” Now this does not mean tongues or a miracle or a healing meeting. The clue to the meaning is found in his next phrase when he said “you and I might be mutually encouraged in each other’s faith.”
Mutual encouragement is a gift. To lift people towards God and all the good things in God is to do something marvellous. To take lives riddled by the influence of sin and evil and to bring hope and truth is to take people from despair to hope, from death to life – this is also for the church today.
It also is the power of the Gospel – the power of the life, ministry, death, resurrection and return of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s second motivation was to encourage, and be encouraged, by the church in Rome.
Romans 1:14-16 (NIV) I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
The gospel of Jesus Christ came with an obligation for Paul. One reality we neglect in modern Christianity is the call to obligation to the message – we fear anything that might look like works or hardship as if it were a cancer of the spirit. Paul did not, he knew what he had been saved from, but he also knew what he was obligated towards.
His obligation was towards people. All types. All classes. All nations. All backgrounds. All religions - and the spreading of the gospel to them.
This word obligation is worth a look at:
Paul knew he was obligated and said so to the Corinth Church:
1 Corinthians 9:16 (NIV) 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
The meaning is that Paul felt the demand and obligation to preach, he did so because it was required of him. It was necessary.
The Greek word used here is said several other times by Paul. (a) when talking about our obligation not to live according to the passions and desires that draw us away from God. (b) The gentiles were obligated to help the Jewish believers struggling for the had benefited from the message that came from the Jews. (c) In Galatians Paul tells the Christians there that if they were to become circumcised they are obligated to follow all the law and lay aside the gospel of grace.
The definition of the word simply means that because we have benefited from someone we are obliged to them, and as such must fulfil our responsibility to that person.
Paul was obligated to other people by the gospel. When was the last time you were told you have an obligation to the Lord, and the gospel?
This word is avoided in society, let alone the church. All of us are obligated – and this ought to make us feel uncomfortable because we live in an age where it is all about “me”, and what I want. Obligation – the realisation we owe someone for what they have done for us – certainly was felt by Paul.
His was the obligation of the vertical and the horizontal – one of thanks for all God had done that spilled towards others in ministry, and in care and concern for humanity.
Paul's third motivation was the obligation to the fellowship of humanity he belonged too – to all who have not heard the gospel and who are destined to judgement unless the message about Jesus was heard and accepted by people everywhere.
Romans 10:13-15 (NIV) “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Paul’s final motivation is found in this next well known section:
Romans 1:16-17 (NIV) 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. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Paul's final motivation was the Gospel itself. The Gospel of Jesus – the life, teaching, example, death, resurrection, his going to heaven and his final return – is the way the creator of the universe has made it possible for all who would believe to come back to Him and not end up eternal separated and tortured by evil and passions that would torment humanity for eternity.
People need to come to Jesus or they will be eternally separated from God – and there are many obstacles out there to interfere in that process of sharing our faith. A major hindrance in our country is the new sense of privatised Christianity.
People think God made it all about them individually – He did not. God remains focused upon the world, upon the whosoever. The “me-ism” of our day is nothing more than the evidence that most people are selfish and small thinking. A person truly gripped by the gospel, the person radically effected by Jesus Christ, understands that their faith is public not private. It is not about Bible bashing, but it is about living in a way that shows gratitude to God, and care and concern to others – willingness in word, deed and desire to live a life of love, as we reflect Christ to our society.
Have we forgotten Johns words when he talked about the final judgement of those outside of Jesus?
“They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever…” (Rev 20:10)
Paul's final motivation is simple, to proclaim the life and message of Jesus Christ as God’s sole means of Salvation that will save people for eternal, day after day, torment after torment perpetual separation from God.
Paul also used another word in this section to describe his sense of obligation towards his faith in verse 15. The word “eager” – he felt eager to preach the gospel. This word means to be passionate and has the idea of “to breath hard”.
The concept is to fiercely desire something, a desire that flows from idea to action.
Have we lost our “obligation” and “eagerness” – have we lost our motivation to make a difference in the society we are involved in?
Are we more interested in the tower of Babel, where we build our own temple for self-glorification and selfish intentions. Or are we ‘Pentecost’ where God pours grace upon us and we pour out to the street affecting those we encounter.
Motivation is so important to have right – motivation will take what comes my way and either turn it for good or evil, towards others or from them. Towards greatness or the smallness of what is do-able.
Paul’s motivation was for others, towards good and desiring people to know God and enjoy Him forever.
Recently I discovered that due to what had happened a year ago part of my soul had taken on anger and I had a motivation to defend myself and this expressed itself in anger. Such motivation to protect and defend goes against the life, teaching, example, death, resurrection, his going to heaven and his final return. Such motivation is not about the good of others, but about the self-protection of my own self.
Such self-protection is a Babel and not a Pentecost for it places myself building a temple of self-protection instead of a life poured out on the street towards others.
I am in a process of repentance over this.
What motivates you?
Are you a person building a Babel tower for self, or a part of the church who is spilled out on the street for the sake of others?
Is self-importance your drive, or is it the importance of the Lord?
Are you self-protecting, or are you concerned about the wellbeing of others?
What motivates you, what drives you, what are you obligated towards?
Are we aware that the gospel has a call and cost on our lives for the sake of the whosoever?
These are all the questions Paul leaves us with as we look at what motivated him.
One final question we must address:
What will happen to your family member, your friend, your work college, your neighbour and your children if you do not let them know about the gospel of Jesus Christ?
For whatever reason God has decided to place the message of Salvation in the hands of you and me – what do we do about this?