I’ve been spending a lot of time reading Romans lately. (side note, is it proper to italicize the names of books of the bible? Or is it more like they’re articles in a collection and they should be in quotations? The things I think about when coffee isn’t working so well.)
Paul’s letter to the Romans (and that’s the official title btw) is probably the most quoted of the epistles in Christendom. It’s a great letter that gives us a general overview of Paul’s theology and how he understands our relationship to Jesus and the Father as well as how we should relate to one another. The real big thing about this letter though is something called theRoman Road. Now I’m sure that most of you having been in church far longer than I are very familiar with this concept, but I only met it recently so indulge me while I walk this particular road for the first time.
For those of you who don’t know, theRoman Roadis a reference to a series of verses from the letter to the Romans that can lead a person to salvation.
- 3:23 “For all have fall short of the glory of God.”
- 6:23 “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
- 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
- 10:13 “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- 10:9,10 “…If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Now I have two perspectives on this as an evangelical tool. Using the bible as a means to spread the gospel if a vital part of the overall process and absolutely necessary in discipleship but two thoughts occur to me.
- Using scripture is particularly excellent because it is powerful. The word of God is truth and as we go to make new disciples, it is more important to build for them a foundation of truth than it is to focus on experience or sensation.
- But it didn’t work for me.
Let me explain. Back in my “Jesus who?” days I heard scripture. Most of it was in the form of great one-liners from movies (another story for another day) but occasionally I heard it as someone tried to evangelize me. It didn’t work. It didn’t work because there was no intersection of that truth they were speaking and the life I was living. I didn’t care if they were telling me the truth, it meant nothing to me because it didn’t impact my life. Maybe they should have chosen different verses or maybe it was God’s plan to have me saved in a certain way at a certain time but this is the problem with using scripture as a way to evangelize to someone who has no interest in Christ: you have to walk the roman road to get anywhere.
Get it? You can lay out the path to righteousness in front of someone but that doesn’t mean he or she will walk it.
My questions about this.
Should we say “our job is to present the path, the Spirit makes them walk it” and just leave it alone?
Have you ever experienced this? What did you do? What would you do in a similar situation?