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Dec 23, 2018

Originally Presented on July 16, 2006.

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:8-15

            At the outset of the letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul has the delicate task of introducing himself and introducing his theological treatise.  In Romans 1:8-15 the apostle introduces himself to a community he had never seen.  His statements are very instructive as to how we should view our congregation here at Bethel and how we should view our responsibility to the world around us.

             First Paul draws back the curtain of his heart and lets us see what he thought and felt about the Romans.  In Romans 1:8 he is thankful to God that there is a witness for Christ in Rome.  He is not primarily thankful for the jobs or possessions or health of the believers in Rome.  The first thing he mentions is their faith, which was evident to the onlooking world.  Above all else, Paul is concerned that the church in Rome grows in faith (Rom 1:11 - "… that you may be established").

             Paul spends some time here, and again at the end of the book, explaining why he had not come to Rome yet, though he earnestly desired to do so (Rom 1:9,13,15; 15:22-29).  Nevertheless, Paul prays for these Roman Christians he had never met (Rom 1:9,10).

             Concerning Paul's view of himself and his life, he sees himself in debt to the Gentile world (Rom 1:14).  A man usually becomes a debtor to someone in one of two ways: (1) he borrows something or (2) he is given something to give to someone else.   In this second way, Paul (and every Christian) has a debt to discharge.  We have been given the precious truth of the gospel of Christ to give to others.  We are in their debt until we declare to them the reality that Christ is the only path to eternal life.