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Jun
02

How to Introduce Yourself (part 2)

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When we moved to Waukee five years ago, I introduced myself to one of my son’s football coaches. Realizing we were new to the community, the coach asked what I did for a living. I told him that I was Pastor of Ashworth Road Baptist Church. His next question started me. He asked, “So what kind of Baptist are you? Are you a ‘better than me’ Baptist, a chicken swingin’ Baptist, or a regular guy Baptist?” I had a pretty good handle on two of those, but my curiosity bested me and I replied, “What’s a chicken swingin’ Baptist?” He laughed and said, “Those are the kind that dance around waving their hand in circles over their head like they’re swingin’ a chicken by the head!” True story!

In the first century, the landscape was littered with itinerant preachers and teachers who were promoting “the gospel.” Audiences who were unsuspecting failed to ask the question, “What kind of gospel are you teaching?” The savvy, on the other hand, wanted to know up front the brand of gospel being delivered to them. Paul is no dummy. Having dispensed with the credentials in short order, he gets to the main concern, his brand of the gospel.

In Romans 1:1-5, Paul provides six characteristics of the gospel he has been sent to proclaim.

1. The origin of the gospel is God. Romans 1:1 reads, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news…” (HCSB). The good news is God’s good news. The apostles didn’t invent it. Much of liberal theology today is consumed with distancing Jesus from the development of the gospel and the church. They hypothesize that Jesus was a good, moral teacher who never intended to develop his words and works into a movement that would span two millennia. They suggest that Paul and other apostles got together after the death of Jesus and developed the ground work for what we know as the church today. Paul would have no tolerance for that kind of opinion. He is crystal clear from the beginning that the gospel was revealed and entrusted to the apostles by God. It is God’s good news for a lost and broken world.

2. The gospel is rooted in Scripture. Romans 1:2 continues, “which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his son…” (HCSB). Although God revealed the gospel to the apostles, it was not new. In fact, Paul would declare that the gospel was rooted deep in the story of the Old Testament. There is a continuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament that Jesus affirmed. The prophets of the Old and the apostles of the New spoke of the same person and the same thing, one in future tense and the other in past tense.

3. The substance of the gospel is Jesus. Moving forward, Romans 1:2 states, “Concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh and was established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness” (HCSB). God’s gospel is good news about Jesus Christ. In this portion, Paul clarifies four significant elements of Jesus’ life: his incarnation, his death (as supposed by the resurrection), the resurrection, and his reign as Lord.

Tomorrow I’ll finish this post by sharing the final three characteristics of the gospel in Paul’s introduction to the Book of Romans.

Categories : Gospel, Paul, Romans

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