June 14 I Thursday
“So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” —Romans 14:8-9
Paul wrote the book of Romans at the tail end of his third missionary journey. He had spent years preaching the Gospel and establishing churches throughout Greece and Asia Minor but now sensed the Spirit telling him this portion of his ministry was coming to an end. He felt a need to go to Spain where the Gospel had not yet been preached. On his way to Spain, Paul planned to visit the church in Rome where he had not yet been, and he sent his letter on ahead so they would have a clear understanding of the Gospel message he was going to preach.
Paul’s letter to the Romans was unlike any other New Testament letter he wrote. He usually wrote to people he knew or churches he had established to answer questions, give instructions, resolve problems, correct theological errors or reprimand individuals who were causing division. There were uncomplimentary rumours circulating about Paul and his message, but his primary concern in writing to the Romans was to clarify the Gospel message. The result is Scripture’s most comprehensive and systematic explanation of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is.
Given this subject matter, it may surprise some of us to learn that Paul never once mentions heaven in his letter to the Romans except to say, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven…” (Romans 1:18). Many people think the Gospel is basically a rescue mission that gets us out of hell and into heaven, but it is more about getting God out of heaven and into people. Heaven is a wonderful consequence of the Gospel but is not its message.
The Gospel is primarily about human beings being reconciled to God and indwelt by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit works in us to produce the character of Jesus and works through us to do the work of Jesus. The Gospel is about getting God into people so that men and women, boys and girls across the world might know Him experientially. It is about a committed relationship in which Christ lives in us, directs us and empowers our lives.
Just as Paul felt the need to clarify the Gospel for the Romans, it is good to remind ourselves why Christ lived, died and was raised to life again—so that He might be Lord of our lives. The Gospel message is about the here and now, living in a relationship of love and dependence on Christ in every aspect of our lives. May we not sell the Gospel short by treating it as solely a way out, but rather as the way to life for all who hear and believe.
Prayer: Gracious God, so many people still do not know why You sent Your Son to earth. I pray for them and ask Your help in submitting fully to Christ so that He truly becomes Lord of my life. Thank You, God.