Book of Romans, Sermon Starters—Week 11
- Paul refers to Moses' writing concerning righteousness and the law.
- Paul explains what "righteousness that comes from faith" means.
- The word of faith, a confession that Christ is Lord, enables personal salvation.
- Distinctions between Jew and Gentile no longer exist; salvation is for all.
- Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
- People need to hear the message of Jesus Christ, thus messengers must be sent to share this message.
- Those who are sent are considered beautiful.
Romans 10 lies in the midst of Paul's rebuttal (chapters 9-11) of the Jewish attitude toward religion and the law. For the Jews, adherence to the law was the way to righteousness. By contrast, Paul introduced faith in Jesus Christ as the way to salvation. In this week's passage, Paul introduces an early Christian confession and borrows from several Old Testament writings to convince his Jewish audience that faith in Christ was open to all of humankind.
The overarching message of the passage is God's restoration and covenant renewal of Jews and Gentiles who believe in and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Midrash Used to Explain Text. In Romans 10, Paul employs the use of Midrash to explain the text from Deuteronomy 30 that he inserted. Midrash is an exposition of Scripture that allows the interjection of the personal struggle to discover the fullness of what was spoken by the Divine Voice.
First-Century Baptismal Formula. For Paul, public confession of Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord was a key faith statement. It identified a person's ultimate allegiance in an environment in which the Roman Empire expected unquestioned loyalty.
Key Preaching/Teaching Points:
Christ the Fulfillment of the Law. Paul expounds upon the notion of faith in Christ by referring to Moses' reflection on the law. (See Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:12-13.) The law was not to be suddenly abandoned; rather, it was to be understood as fulfilled in Christ. Faith in Christ provides access to this fulfillment of the law and its righteousness.
Salvation is Available to All. Later Paul cites Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:32 to underscore the universal nature of salvation for all — Jew and Gentile alike.
Confessing Christ as Lord. This passage reveals an early Christian creed, the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. This confession was a sort of litmus test for authentic belief. For Romans, lord was the title of Roman Emperors. For Greeks, lord was a normal title of a Greek god. For Jews, Lord referred to the divine Yahweh or Jehovah.
The Greek word for Lord is kurios. No Jew would publicly confess Jesus Christ as kurios who had not really trusted Christ. No Gentile would confess Christ as kurios who had not ceased worshiping the emperor as kurios. The word kurios was and is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. To confess Jesus Christ as Lord was acknowledging that Jesus Christ was uniquely superior to anyone else. The confession was a public declaration of belief in the martyred and resurrected Jesus Christ.
"Doing the Law." For the Jews, complying with or "doing the law" was of utmost importance. Paul borrows from Mosaic writings in Deuteronomy 30 to emphasize that doing the law means living by the law. Faith is the key. Deuteronomy 30 refers to a time of restoration for Israel and renewal of covenantal relationship. Paul logically states that belief in Christ is the manner in which restoration and renewal occurs — not just for Israel but also for all of humankind. Paul's argument arrives at one conclusion: Those who share the Christian faith are indeed "doing the law."
The Sent Ones. Again, Paul borrows from the Old Testament, quoting from Isaiah 52:7. The feet of the "sent ones" are beautiful. The apostolic ministry of being sent was for the purpose of enabling people to "call on the name of the Lord." This, according to Joel 3:5, necessitated a four-part process: (1) people must have faith; (2) having faith is impossible without hearing of Messiah; (3) someone must announce Christ to people; (4) the announcers must be sent. Paul adds the Isaiah 52:7 text indicating that the feet of the "sent ones" are beautiful. This addition may have been to evoke jealousy among the Jews, as the message of Christ and the covenant were now available to the Gentiles.
Evangelistic Preaching Tips
This week's reading has wide application to pre-Christian and Christian audiences. Compel Christians to embrace their role as "sent ones" who spread the message of Jesus Christ. Invite pre-Christians to confess Jesus as Lord and participate in God's restoration and renewal of their lives.
Romans Preaching Sermon Series Notes
Reading: Romans 10:5-15 [An Evangelistic Approach — To lead people to Christ]
Everybody Means Everybody. How many people say, "I'll come to church after I clean up my life?" Often people struggle with such guilt and shame that they believe they are unworthy of salvation. In contrast, some believe that they have the capacity to monitor their moral condition without God's help. Salvation is available to both. Everybody, regardless of personal condition, can confess Jesus Christ as Lord and receive salvation. Everybody means Everybody.
Aim: Invite pre-Christians to declare Jesus Christ as personal Lord.
Reading: Romans 10:5-15 [A Renewal Approach — To strengthen the faith of Christians]
The Diary of a Pair of Shoes. In 1968, The Otis Redding recording of "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay" was released. One of the catch phrases of the song says, "I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time." This phrase could well be the theme song of the church today. Heavy emphasis on imploring people to "come to church" has replaced the Great Commission's command to "go into all the world." Paul stresses the importance of the apostolic ministry of being "sent" to share the message of Jesus Christ. Why? So that people can hear and respond in faith. Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:7, stressing that the feet of "sent ones" are beautiful. Are we willing to be sent? Have we taken time to share our faith with others? What would a quick peak into a diary kept by our shoes reveal about our spiritual journey?
Aim: Motivate Christians to move from passive pew sitting to active faith sharing.
Reading: Romans 10:5-15 [A Reclamation Approach — To restore "de-churched" individuals to vital faith in Jesus Christ]
Whatcha' Been Doing Lately? Our faith is best evidenced by the spiritual fruit we bear. Who knows who is a Christian these days? What is the telltale sign? Paul indicates that Christianity involves "doing." The doing is active belief in Jesus Christ. It is being "sent" and sharing the message of Christ with others. The Wesleyan Revival, which spawned the Methodist Church, depended heavily upon lay itinerate preachers and active laity. They were "doing" their faith. If we have become idle "pew potatoes" or "occasional Christians," we're probably falling far short of Christ's expectation of us as hearers and doers of God's word.
Aim: Inspire de-churched people to reclaim an active faith in Christ.
Provide Opportunities for a Faith Response
Everybody Means Everybody. Demonstrate a spirit of acceptance of people from all walks of life in your local church. Consider offering space for recovery groups in your local church, an ESL (English as a Second Language) program, an adult literacy program, and so on.
The Diary of a Pair of Shoes. Encourage Christians to get involved in one of the programs mentioned above. Offer a short-term class on faith sharing in everyday life.
Whatcha' Been Doing Lately? Encourage Christians to get involved in one of the programs mentioned above. Offer a short-term class on faith sharing in everyday life.
Provide Opportunities for Follow Up
Develop relationships with participants in any new outreach ministries that you develop. Adopt a "ministry with" and "ministry together" approach versus "ministry to." Offer regular invitations to attendees of the various programs to participate in some aspect of the life of the church.
Encourage church volunteers and those actively sharing their faith to talk about their experiences with others in the church, family, and friends.
Resources for Romans
- The New Interpreter's Bible A Commentary in Twelve Volumes: Volume X — Acts, Introduction to Epistolary Literature, Romans, 1 Corinthians. Abingdon Press.
- The Message of Romans: God's Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today) by John R. W. Stott
- Romans: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries by F. F. Bruce
- Romans: A Shorter Commentary [ABRIDGED] by C. E. B. Cranfield
Follow Up Resource Available in pdf
Small Groups & Accountability: The Wesleyan Way of Christian Formation, by Steven W. Manskar, Director of Accountable Discipleship, Discipleship Ministries
General Evangelism Resources
- Ancient Future Evangelism by Robert Webber
Webber explains Pentecost as the traditional time to declare one's Christian vocation.
- The Faith-Sharing Congregation by Roger Swanson and Shirley Clement
- Faith-Sharing: Dynamic Christian Witnessing by Invitation by H. Eddie Fox and George Morris
- The Faith-Sharing initiative Participants' Manual (Spanish Version) — El compromiso de compartir nuestra fe: Manual del Participante (pdf)
- The Faith Sharing New Testament
- That the World May Know Jesus Christ! by Brazilian Methodist Bishop Paulo Lockmann
- Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith by Henry H. Knight III and Douglas Powe Jr.
- Witness: Learning to Share Your Christian Faith