An Obedient Universal Faith
The book of Romans is a letter sent from the apostle Paul to the Christians of Rome. It opens up declaring the Gospel had been long promised. The Gospel by definition means “good tidings” or “good news”. The prophets which had promised the good news tied it to universal blessing (Genesis 22:18), to a future prophet king (Deuteronomy 18:15, Jeremiah 23:5-6), a new covenant identified by forgiveness (Jeremiah 31:31-34), and a pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). Paul declared the good news to be about Jesus, the Son of God, who fulfilled all the expectation and prophecy which had been foretold. It was by the authority of Jesus that all of the apostles including Paul received the charge of their apostleship.
What was that charge of the apostles? Matthew 28:18-20 as well as Mark 16:15 are the common passages utilized to explain the charge of the apostles. Authority is there bestowed by Christ to baptize and preach the Gospel to all creation. Recall of Christ’s teachings would be essential so that there would be unity of teaching. This is why Jesus sent the promised Spirit (John 16:13, 2 Peter 1:21). Paul declares to the Romans: “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Romans 1:11-12). The gifts of the Holy Spirit are what enabled the first century to provide the unadulterated truth to mankind and establish the Church throughout the world. Once the Gospel was written down, man could properly refer to God’s Word with knowledge and confidence and the gifts would no longer be needed. However, during the era of Paul’s writing, God’s written Word was not in the hands of men.
Paul mentions the charge of apostleship in Romans 1:5. What was the purpose of the charge? “for obedience to the faith among all nations”. If the Holy Spirit through the hands of the apostles enabled the one faith (Ephesians 4:5) to be taught, then the apostles and the Church would indeed have a mutual faith. They would be able to go beyond being “children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness…” (Ephesians 4:14). This one faith would enable mankind to be obedient to the direction of God. If you know what the faith is, you can follow it. If you have a roadmap, you can get to your destination.
It can be understood that charge of sharing the Gospel did not end at simply providing the one truth. When Christ established the Gospel charge, He said in regard to the teaching of the world, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”. Hearing and not obeying is a deception of self and not what God desires (James 1:22, James 2:17-26). It is the equivalent to proclaiming you are going on a journey, but never taking a step. Paul establishes in Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith”. I suggest “to live” is not merely an ending point, but also a journey. I John 1:7 declares: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” The charge of the apostles was to baptize which forgave sins (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-7) and then to instruct a walk of faith which results in the continual cleansing from sin. The good news of Paul was the power of salvation to all mankind. It meant man no longer had to walk with the weight of sin upon his shoulders. Christians have been freed from sin! It was the Gospel that truly provided eternal life (John 3:16, James 1:21). Boldly embrace the Gospel and freely walk in it to the journey’s end.