That video shows the power of imagination. Being able to make anything be whatever you imagine or want it to be - regardless of its created purpose. (place remote control toy on stage) What do a remote control toy, a vehicle and a sail boat have in common? Two things. They all need something to move and control them. Movement is created by batteries for the toy, fuel for the vehicle - some have batteries and air for the sails (yes - I know there are alternative forms of propulsion for boats). Batteries, fuel or air - for movement. Control is obtained respectively by the remote control, steering wheel and an rudder. These two systems both must be working in order for the toy, vehicle or boat to achieve its full created potential. Too much power and not enough control and you have an out of control situation. Too much control and no power to move and you have an object with a severely degraded value. Likewise, as humans we thrive in environments where we are able to move freely and have the appropriate amount of control. We too can be described as “out of control” or “useless” if the balance of motivation and control is not right. An appropriate balance is what God desires in the life of a believer. God desires for the believer to be both motivated and controlled in order to achieve their full desired potential. Today as we examine Romans 1:14-17 I believe you will be challenged to move and be controlled as God desires. God tells us to Go. But what does Go mean? Go means G.O. where G is an abbreviation for Gospel and O is an abbreviation for Obligated. I want you to think of Go as 2 points: 1 - Gospel, 2 - Obligation. Gospel and Obligation. I’ll explain more as we read in Romans - but that is our key point. Go is Gospel and Obligation. Let’s GO to the Lord in prayer as we prepare to read, listen and obey his word.
Go means G.O. Please open, turn your bibles to Romans 1:1-16.
First, a brief background. This letter is Paul’s only letter to the Christians living in the italian city of Rome. Paul probably wrote this letter in the late 50’s toward the end of his third missionary trip through the region of modern day Greece and Asia minor as Paul is headed back to Jerusalem for passover desiring to finally reach Rome. Referencing an article at Bible.org by Dr. Greg Magee, years before Paul reached Rome, we have evidence of both Jews and Christians in Rome and Paul’s received information about Roman Jews attacking Christians while he is travelling through other cities. He’s been in other cities such as Jerusalem, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Corinth where the Jews were antagonizing Christians, and he himself has been persecuted, chained, beaten and left to die - so he knows the personal conflict, yet his mind races to Rome and he is inspired by God to pen this letter to strengthen and encourage those Roman Christians. Now let’s read together:
1 Paul, a servanta of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from Davidb according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,c that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,d both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
This passage is centered on two aspects. First, the Gospel, and secondarily its proclamation. We see this right from the beginning where Paul says he is “set apart for the Gospel of God” in verse 1 and “So I am eager to preach the Gospel to you” in verse 15. We are going to analyze both of these components, the Gospel and our Obligation.
Go means Gospel Obligated, what is the Gospel? This definition begins in verse 1 - “...set apart for the GOSPEL of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from Davidb according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
From these verses, we see some key things about the Gospel. First, we note that it is of God and not new (v.2). This Gospel was proclaimed by God in the Old Testament by the prophets of God. We don’t have time to study this today, but a few examples for reference are Gen 3 - where we see God’s prophetic condemnation of satan through an offspring from a woman, in Isaiah 40 that Jerusalem is to prepare for the coming of the Lord and we see it in Psalm 19, the proclamation of God from nature and the reminder of the Lord as redeemer. Additionally, there are over 40 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament that are fulfilled through his birth, suffering and resurrection. The Gospel is by god and not new. This is not a component of the gospel but it helps prove God's foreknowledge and plan. So what is the gospel about?
Second, the Gospel is about Jesus, God’s son. Here in this letter we have Jesus proclaimed as the son of God. This is huge. Many other teachings exist concerning who Jesus is. The bible consistently teaches that Jesus is the Son of God. Any other teaching is false and should be aggressively identified as false. Additionally, we note that Jesus is the descendant of David. This is in line with the OT prophecies and is intended to add credibility to the readers of the Old Testament. Consider that Paul is writing to mostly Jewish believers in Rome who did not have the complete New Testament, but they did have access to the OT. Some of them may have a few letters from Paul’s first missionary journey and maybe the record of Matthew but mostly they heard from eyewitnesses of the birth and death of Jesus, but they don’t have the complete Synoptic Gospels (Matthew - John) and the other books in the NT. Their belief was dependent upon the fulfillment of OT prophecies and this mention of descending from David adds credibility to the person of Jesus.
Next, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead also shows the power of God and his involvement with the gospel of his son. Power.
and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord
God the creator of all has chosen to exercise his power for us all through the resurrection of his son for us to believe and proclaim to others. This resurrection over sin’s consequence is the foundation of the gospel.
Finally Paul communicates how the Trinity of God is involved in the gospel. Consider v1 it is the gospel of God, v3 concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord and v4 according to the spirit of holiness - aka holy spirit. The gospel of God is so important all of God is involved. I want you to consider the magnitude of God's power involved in providing the gospel to us. The gospel is of extreme importance to God. This gospel is not just a record of Jesus good works, although it evidences that. The gospel is not just the fulfilling of prophecy, although it supports it. The gospel is not just the resurrection of Jesus, although it is a key component. The gospel of God is the fulfillment of God's power by the Trinity through the person of Christ, evidenced namely through his resurrection to prove God's power over sin. The gospel is filled with the power of God. Go means Gospel Obligated.
Yes, the gospel is filled with power, but who is it for? I've spoken to some people who believe the gospel is only for the Jews because it started in Jerusalem, or maybe it is for the white people only because of all the pictures in American Bibles and media or maybe it is only for those of darker skin color that aren't as educated and have less income than some as recorded in popular Christian media. All statements have elements of truth but neither captures the true scope of the gospel as recorded by the Bible. Instead of me giving you another sentence that may be incorrect, let's consider what the Bible says:
Peter said in Acts 10:43: that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Paul at Pisidia in Acts 13:39: and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses
John says it multiple times in a few sentences in John 3:15- 17: 15 that whoever (or everyone) believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world,i that he gave his only Son, that whoever (or everyone) believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Finally, Paul in our passage in Romans states the same concept in multiple ways:
Verse 5: bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations
Verse 14: 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
Verse 16: for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek
So, what do we learn from these passages? Greek and barbarian and new and Greek are terms used to identify a small group and the larger group. Is the Gospel only for poor people? Is it only for those with dirty/tattered clothes? Is it only for the less educated? Is it only for the rich? Is it only for the self-righteous? Is it only for Whites? Is it only for blacks? Is it only for Muslims? Is it only for killers? Is it only for those who talk with a drawl? Is it only for refugees? No - the gospel is for ALL - it is for everyone - it is for all Nations - it is for the World. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the trap of satan of believing that the gospel is only for a certain group of people and we should focus on those groups at the exclusion of others. The Gospel is for ALL! And we must be convinced of this when we look at the word of God. No other interpretation is allowed. We’ll talk more about the implication of this truth - but for now let’s just be sure we understand who the Gospel is for. So Go means Gospel Obligated. In the Gospel we see the fullness of the triune God’s power for all - but why? Why must God reveal himself in such a way for all people?
We read through Rom. 1:1-17, but let’s pick up in verse 18 and read 28-32..
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
The WRATH of God in verse 18 is what is to be avoided. [Illus.: obstacle race ice bucket] the wrath of God is described by Paul in 2:6-11 as being rendered to all based upon their actions, “for good shows no partiality” 2:11. Ungodliness and unrighteousness of men is sin as summarized by paul in Romans 2:12. So, we see here as Paul is building his argument. He first defines the Gospel, gives proof of the Gospel, shows who the gospel is for and states why we need the Gospel. Gospel is for all ungodliness and since all are born ungodly - then the Gospel is for all and the consequences of any one not believing on the Gospel is the wrath of God. There is no other escape!
2 points. Go means Gospel Obligated. We have just examined the key components of the word Gospel and what belief in it avoids. Now let’s examine Obligated.
Obligated. As God has been working with me on this passage for weeks, this word obligated is a new word for me in understanding the Gospel and my prayer is that it has the same effect on you as it did on me.
In verse 14 Paul says - 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
What does Obligation mean? There are at least two ways we can examine this word. First, whenever studying scripture and you don’t know what a word means you should examine the C (wait for response)…….Context. Yes. So, let’s examine the verse immediately preceding the word in question. I believe the context for this word Obligation begins in v11. Here in v11 Paul says “I want to see you to encourage you” and he describes that. Then he says in v13 “that he has often intended to come” but he’s been unable. Here we see Paul wants to Go to Rome, but he’s unable. Why is he unable? Verse 13b gives us the answer - “in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles”. Let’s unpack that just a little. Paul wants to go to Rome to share the Gospel to see lives changed, but he realizes the Gospel is for all and there are lives being changed where he is and he is needed; he needs to stay longer. Paul’s plans changed. Let me say it another way - the Gospel changed Paul’s plans. Ok, so that is the context for verse 14 where he is continuing to explain the changing of his plans and he uses the word “obligation”.
Okay, first was context, second is meaning, so let’s examine the word from a lexicon point of view. Using a quick internet research of translations I see this word is translated also “debtor”. So now we know a little more. Obligated or debtor. The Dictionary says :”an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment”. This greek word is “opheiletes” and is the same word Jesus uses in Mat. 18:24 to describe a man who had owed a debt to another man - consequently that he could not pay. Also, Jesus uses this word in Luke 13:1-4 to describe some “offenders” that had a tower fall on them. So, we learn a few things from this greek word, it can refer to debt, someone who has wronged another or obligation. In either case I see some parallels - one person owes something to another. Obligation.
So, in summary, let’s review Obligation. We’ve learned that Paul uses it to refer to something that has the power to change his plans and the word is also used to refer to someone who owes something to another. Together we get a more complete picture of the phrase “under obligation” and we see why some bibles translate it as “debtor”. This phrase is one that Paul uses to describe his Gospel responsibility of commitment to All - Greeks, barbarians, wise, foolish. Paul is obligated TO them to preach the Gospel. Go means Gospel Obligated.
Are you Obligated to the Gospel for All? Has the power of God’s Gospel so fully taken control of your life that your plans change? Notice Paul’s response to the Gospel imposing its will upon his life in verse 15. He says “I am eager” and in v16 he says “I am not ashamed”. Are you eager and unashamed about the Gospel? or do we cower to share the gospel at family reunions, on Facebook or at football games? Are we Ready to preach regardless of what others think? Go means Gospel Obligated. You can’t Go and preach the Gospel until you have fully acknowledged that you are obligated to the Gospel to preach it to others to save them from God’s coming wrath. They have no solution without the Gospel. I’ve heard the solution to sin, without God, described this way. The sinner is NOT on a boat and sinking without lifeboats hoping for the chance of swimming away, the sinner is NOT almost under water waving their hand hoping anybody coming by can help them or maybe they’ll catch some debris. No, the bible describes us AS DEAD. At the bottom of the ocean, submerged, ugly, rotten and lifeless - then the Gospel of God reaches down pulls us up, resuscitates us and gives us a new life. This is the power of the Gospel. This is why we are obligated - your life was changed to change others who are dead, just like you were. This is what should motivate every follower of Christ!
On the stage here I have a remote control toy and at the beginning I asked you what powers a remote control toy and we said batteries. I also asked you what controls it and we said the remote control. Apart from these items I can play with this toy, I can imitate the sounds of the toy, I can even make this toy move and bring joy to others, but it will never operate as its designer intended. (place batteries). Now with the proper power source and proper controls this toy can fulfill all that it’s creator desired. Are you motivated or powered and controlled by the gospel? Go means Gospel Obligated, this is how we should operate every single day of our lives obligated to the Gospel.
Closing: We have reviewed the importance of the Gospel and we have seen the controlling elements of the Gospel. Is the proclamation of the Gospel what consumes your thoughts when you arise, when you eat, when you play? The power of the Gospel doesn’t stop at salvation, instead it begins at salvation and should compel you to proclaim it for the rest of your life. Salvation is simply accepting the fact that you have no energy source and need batteries. Proclaiming the Gospel is actually using the batteries of the gospel as the creator intended. To live a life not motivated by the batteries or Gospel inside is an imitated life worth half of its value. Achieve your intended purpose by allowing the batteries of the gospel to both move and control you. GO - for you are obligated to the Gospel.