Becoming a 1:8 Christian: Romans 1:8
“8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” Romans 1:8
Paul makes mention that the Christians in Rome were very zealous to to share their faith. They were a mission minded church. They began to emulate the dynamics of the those who brought the gospel to them. I personally believe they may have been evangelized by Christians from the church in Thessalonica. Paul hints of this in 1 Thessalonians 1:8; “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.”
This mission mindset may have had roots in Acts 1:8. It was there just before His ascension that Jesus said to His disciples; “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus wanted every Christin to be a personal evangelist. In fact, it would not be stretching the teaching of Jesus to conclude that one sign of being Spirit Filled is a zeal and fruitfulness in sharing the gospel.
When taken together, these three verses paint the heart of the early church. Every Christian was active and not passive in sharing their faith. Jesus gave birth to a World Changing Movement.
Are these three 1:8 references coincidental? I sincerely doubt it. I believe they are providential. Ask God to transform you into 1:8 fruitfulness. Join the ranks of being a 1:8 World Changer!
Glimpse into a World Changer: Romans 1:9-10
“9) For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10) always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.” Romans 1:9-10
Paul loved preaching the gospel, ministering to people and being on the front lines of where God was working. He was committed to building new believers and watching them grow into mature and fruitful followers of Christ.
God literally used Him to raise up the first and second wave or gospel workers who carried the Christian faith across Asia Minor, Macedonia and into Rome itself. This guy was a living, breathing, walking and talking catalyst for Jesus Christ.
These two verses illustrate that point. They give us a glimpse into Paul’s prayer life and and his life ambitions. He literally ate, drank and breathed missions. In Philippians 1:21 he said; “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That was indeed the mantra of Pauls life.
Not everyone can have the focus and intensity of Paul for missions, but certainly God wants His people to move in that direction. Jesus made it clear in John 15:8 that God wants every believer to be fruitful for His glory.
The modern church is like a service station to patch people up so they can go their merry way through life with as few bumps, bruises and hurts as possible. The early church was a radical transformation center that changed people from the bottom up and give them a new focus, purpose and calling in life. The modern church turns out people with a religious bent. The early church turned out World Changers.
Paul didn’t care how he got to Rome, he just wanted a slice of the action for the glory of God. When he finally arrived, he didn’t get there sailing buisness class. He arrived in chains as a prisoner of Rome. But he became a spark that changed course of human history.
These two verses give us a glimpse into the heart of the Apostle Paul. His passion, love for Jesus and fire for the gospel were contagious. Ask God to infect you with this same passion for missions. Step into the sandals of Paul for just a few weeks. Sign up for a short term missions trip with GoServ Global or your church. Make this your transition year into becoming a World Changer for the glory of God.
Keeping the Old Sword Sharp: Romans 1:11-12
“11) For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12) that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12
In these two verses Paul reveals his heart toward others. He longed for the believers who lived in Rome. He wanted to meet them and build them up. The idea of “imparting some spiritual gift to them” had in it the root idea of “enhancing their grace walk with Jesus.” He wanted to impart value to their spiritual lives and service.
I do not believe the Roman believers were deficient in any of the manifestations of the Spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Rather, I believe Paul was talking about mentoring them in daily Christian living, fruitful ministry and godly wisdom.
Let’s face it, the Christian life is very opposite of secular values. In fact, it is a radical culture shock for a worldly non-Christian to enter into the “ways of God” that accompanies salvation. When someone is born-again a change takes place on the inside that is hard to comprehend or understand. Inner values begin to change. Paul longed to be present and guide the new Roman believers through this transformation process.
Verse 12 reveals the underlining mystery of true ministry. You cannot pour into others without being blessed yourself. When you encourage others, they encourage you. This is part of the bond of genuine Agape love.
This mystery has shaped my view of discipleship. It is never a one way street. Paul understood that even the newest believer could speak into his life as well. When you pour into others it becomes reciprocal. Iron sharpens iron! You stay sharp by helping others become sharp. Paul knew he could learn from the Romans as well. He was forever a student. He longed to keep his old sword sharp.
Very Different People But The Same Message: Romans 1:13-15
“13) And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even 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) Thus, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Romans 1:13-15
In these three verses, Paul is acknowledging the radical difference between people and cultures, but that the gospel is the same for all people. We can adjust our methods, but the message remains the same.
Keep in mind, he was writing from Corinth which was part of the Greek empire. It was very intellectual, educated, sophisticated and refined. It featured the fine arts and philosophical debate. It could be defined as “high culture.”
By contrast, the Romans were forceful, fierce and demanding, and they were proud of it. They were by no means as educated as their Greek counterparts. Paul described them as “barbarian”, and so they were compared to the Greeks. Rome could be defined as “low culture.”
The contrast between the two was very drastic. The Greeks featured the original Olympic Games, whereas the Romans built the Colosseums which featured the gladiators with blood and violence for sport. Everything about Greek and Roman culture was different right down to food and entertainment choices.
That’s what makes these three verses so profound. Paul acknowledged that he was equipped by the Holy Spirit to reach both groups and that the message was the same. The Gospel is as much needed by the rich and famous as it is by the common and ordinary.
Did you get that? The message does not change. Why? Because Paul latter argues that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Everyone is sinful, lost and separated from God and in need of the good news of the Gospel. He concludes that people can be smart and lost or foolish and lost.
There are all kinds of sinners. Some may be educated and sophisticated and know the finer arguments of philosophy and psychology, but like the Greeks, they are still sinful and lost. Others may be forceful and brutish and driven by all kinds of base passions, but like the Romans, they are still sinful and lost.
The profound take away from these verses it that the Gospel message is the same for all people and needed by all people. Because of that, Paul recognized that he was qualified and equipped to reach all people. His message of Jesus Christ was the same for Jews, Greeks and Romans. He was confident sharing the gospel equally with everyone.
The same is true today! Modern people are as sinful and lost as ancient people were. The Holy Spirit still uses the same simple gospel message to reach and transform people today. It is the same message for all people, in all places, and at all times.
If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit wants to use you to point others to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. We as Christians are merely the mouth piece of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who does the work of drawing and saving people. We merely love people and share the story.
Daily Bible Commentary Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
Becoming a 1:8 Christian: Romans 1:8