Obligated and Eager, Rom 1.14-15

I will be taking a class on Paul’s epistle to the Romans in the Spring and thought that I would go ahead and work my way through his magisterial letter.  Yesterday, I came across Romans 1.14-15, and found myself awakened by what is written there.  It is simple, really, once one looks at the passage as applied not only to Paul and his apostolic office to the Gentiles but to all Christians, having come under the banner of Christ’s commission (cf. Mt 28.16-20).  Christians, if we would imitate Paul who imitated Christ, are obligated to preach the gospel to all people everywhere without distinction.  “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (1.14).  An impartial obligation is the yoke of the Christian who likewise finds themselves in one or the other of the categories of men which Paul describes.  The majority of us are the “foolish” – and we should only be so thankful to God that He has caused us to know as much.  But, I was struck by two things in this verse: the obligation, and the impartiality of the obligation.

Our culture is one that despises obligation, although we have many of them to own up to everyday.  Rarely is obligation equated with a joy that produces eagerness.  This obligation is of that rarer sort.  Upon this obligation Paul writes, “So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (1.15).  Thus, the obligation is defined as preaching the gospel.  And, more than that, it is an obligation that is met with eagerness.  Are you eager to preach the gospel?  If not, perhaps you have failed today to understand the joyful obligation that you are under to do so.  Where the joy and weight of this obligation is not felt, the eagerness with which we ought to be preaching the gospel will seldom be our affection.  When it comes to gospel ministry, obligation, what we are constrained to do, and affection, what we are to feel, go hand in hand.  You will not have one without the other.

Concerning this obligation, we must see with the eyes of our hearts how impartial it must be.  Some of us think ourselves best equipped for one sort of man or another, either the Greek or the barbarian, either the wise man or the foolish, and so we spend our time evangelizing those people.  Good!  Let us not grow weary in evangelizing those that we have an affinity with.  However, Christians must be careful not to become partial in this obligation to preach the gospel.  The obligation, by its very nature, is universal in its practice.  What Jesus accomplished on the cross was a penal substitutionary death, an actual salvation from sin for all the peoples of the world who repent and trust in Him who died and was raised for them.  This was in fulfillment, at least in part, to numerous Old Testament passages that highlight the value of Him who was slain on the cross.  For example, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa 49.6).  The reason that Paul was obligated to preach the gospel to all men without exception was because His Lord and Savior was of such infinite value and worth to God; and insofar as we consider the ten thousand charms of Christ, so we too will feel the obligation to be impartial in our preaching of the gospel.  Rather than thinking, “they aren’t so much like me,” we shall begin to feel, “Jesus is worthy, yes, Jesus is worthy of my eager preaching of the gospel to every tribe, tongue, people and nation!”  Thus, when we observe the impartiality of Paul as he writes of his obligation, we observe Paul’s grasp on the infinite worthiness of Christ to be impartially proclaimed.

Let us then, brothers and sisters, be all the more impressed upon by our obligation to all peoples, that for the sake of Christ they should have Him proclaimed to them; and, as we are impressed by our obligation, let us grow in our affections for the task, for God loves an eager preacher.  We are obligated; let us be eager – for His glory amongst the nations.


2 Responses

  1. good thoughts man… especially during the Christmas season

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