Romans – Keep it simple

ROMANS – THE SIMPLICITY OF GOOD NEWS – PART 1

I have a simple question for you: What do you know about Jesus? Who is He for you?

We just celebrated Easter or Resurrection Sunday as I like to call it. You may have heard the story of Jesus dying on a cross (on a Friday) and coming back to live (Sunday).

I was raised in a formerly Christian nation called Holland. Although I was not raised in a Christian home – in fact it was rather atheist or agnostic – I did go to a Christian primary and secondary school. It was through the testimony of a Christian friend (after some years) and a major existential crisis that I started looking for answers. Answers that I couldn’t find anywhere for a long time. Until…

I saw something real, authentic and powerful in the lives of a small group of young people that came together on Friday evenings to pray and have fellowship together, studying the Bible and hanging out. A Christian friend found the courage to invite me over. It was on a Friday evening gathering that I saw for the first time that Jesus was much more than just a good person, which He was. He was more than a teacher or inspiring leader. He was who He said He was; the Messiah. The Saviour. I saw Him in the lives of these young folks. They had something I did not have.  I received Him the next day and led a very different life since then. His love and grace transformed me radically and looking back now – it’s been almost 25 years – I don’t recognize much of who I used to be. Why do I share this here?

Coming back to our journey through Romans. I’d like to make a point here.

THE GOOD NEWS MESSAGE YOU RECEIVE IS WHAT YOU BELIEVE AND WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS WHAT YOU MANIFEST

If I told you that the good news of Jesus Christ was about the fact that if you accept Him into your heart and believe in Him, He’d take care of your needs. In Him there is happiness and because Jesus brought His Kingdom to earth, there is no more room for poverty, struggle or pain. If you believe that, you expect that the good news is about something like ‘God’s wonderful plan for your life’.

To many people the message of good news has been communicated that way and what you receive is what you believe. Or what you know about the good news is what you embrace and live out. You manifest what you believe. What is on the inside is revealed on the outside as well.

Scenario 2: What if I told you that the good news of Jesus Christ is all about the wonderful freedom and security that He wants to give to you. Just accept His grace. You were a sinner and Jesus came to rescue you because…well you were a sinner. Now you are forgiven and one day you’ll be with Him forever, in Heaven. If this is the good news you embraced, then you will manifest this as well. Makes sense what I am saying here? Jesus wants you saved! Can’t we all say AMEN to that?

Scenario 3: What if I told you that the good news of Jesus Christ is that you are a forgiven sinner. What an incredible freedom! Forgiven! Yet, of course we don’t get it right. We are forgiven sinners and there are still a lot of issues to deal with and most of these issues will only find a solution in eternity. But don’t beat yourself up. We’re forgiven.

Scenario 4: What if I told you that the good news of Jesus Christ is to accept and…you’re in! Now, come to church, serve somewhere in a ministry, contribute financially and with your time where and when you can. You are part of a family and family look after one another, right? But do come! Don’t become one of those Do IT Yourself Christians that accepted Jesus, but don’t come to church.

Scenario 5: What if I told you that the good news of Jesus is that God loves all people. God is love, right? So, why on earth would He send people to hell? Hell is what you choose yourself now and here on earth. You make poor decisions. That’s your hell. You make good decisions. That’s your heaven. God is love and people are about love. Isn’t that cool?

I could probably go on here for a while. What you receive is what you believe. And what you really believe to be true about the good news is what you manifest.

The gospel is not a multiple-choice ‘good news message’. If it were a multiple-choice message ‘just pick your version’ of the good news, then why did the apostle Paul write Romans in the first place? Why is Paul defending the gospel the way He received it? Isn’t that intolerant or bigoted?  If the Gospel was something so incredibly important to Him, it meant that there were also ‘so called good news messages out there’ that in reality were not good news at all.

You see, the Good News transforms us. Yet, often people received, believed and manifested the gospel in terms of need. The gospel will make me happy, prosperous, healthy, wealthy. It will take care of my problems etc. etc. Now it is true that there is so much joy in God and there is a health and wealth in Him, but it is so different from the needs-driven or perhaps I bargain with God, I give now I get, I do this, God you do that gospel that is out there.

What you receive is what you believe. And what you believe (about the gospel) is what you manifest.

Now let’s move on to the next point I’d like to make. What’s in the Gospel? What is it about?

Let’s read Romans 1:16-17

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The Just shall live by faith’.”

Now let me first present you the building blocks of the gospel. The foundational stones on which the good news stands and I packed it in the WHO, WHAT, WHY, HOW of the Gospel

  1. WE NEED TO ALWAYS START WITH THE WHY. Why the Gospel? Paul is clear here. For it is God’s power to salvation. Simple as that. People need salvation. And the good news is the answer to that lost situation that all people face.
  2. Next is WHO. For whom is the Gospel? Paul answers that one as well. Simply put…For everyone who believes, both Jew and non-Jew.
  3. We know the why and who. Now what? What is in the gospel? Again, Paul explains this in the phrase “God’s righteousness is revealed in Christ”
  4. And finally. Let’s get practical here. How do people receive the gospel? BY GRACE and from faith to faith.

So that was the WHY, WHO, WHAT and HOW. In my next blog I will unpack some of the important building blocks that Paul uses here in these two verses; grace, mercy and faith.