We must emphasize the importance of introducing people to Jesus Christ, by telling of his life and work. In order to have faith in Christ, people need to know something of him. The commitment to follow Christ is a turn down the path of getting to know him better (through the Scriptures) and of obeying him personally.
There is a difference between the gospel (primarily presented in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the explanation of how faith in Christ saves (presented in Romans).
The Roman believers already knew the gospel before Paul wrote to them. So Paul did not need to repeat the gospel. He did need to add his unique contribution, however, which was clear answers to many of the questions raised, but not answered, in the gospels. The Pharisee Paul, legally trained, was equipped by God to answer these questions, plus others raised by the Old Testament. Here are some examples of those questions.
A. Examples of Questions the Gospel Raises
- God can turn rocks into sons of Abraham. Are Israelites special?
- Some Pharisees are called children of the devil. How can someone so devoted to the law be a devil?
- Jesus freely forgave sins. Is a changed life not required for forgiveness?
- John the Baptist and Jesus had drastically different lifestyles. Was one right? Is one better than the other?
- Jesus was a friend of sinners. Are associations not important?
- Jesus suggested that he and Peter were above the authority of the Law (Matthew 17:24-27). Is the Law not applicable to some people?
- Jesus did not emphasize obeying the law when speaking to his followers. Why not?
- Israel rejected her Messiah. How could those who had the law and the temple not accept their Messiah?
- Many who believed in Jesus turned away from following him. What causes some to keep following and some to reject Jesus?
- Jesus said he lost none of his own. Are some chosen and others not?
- Faith is emphasized in narration of people’s reaction to Jesus. Why is faith important?
C. Some Questions the Old Testament Raises
- David was forgiven murder and adultery. How can God forgive?
- The new covenant will supersede the Mosaic Covenant. What happens to the law when the new covenant is instituted?