I have been watching some of the old Twilight Zone episodes on Netflix, so I’m writing this paragraph in my best Rod Serling (the narrator of The Twilight Zone) voice:
“Imagine if you will…” an auditorium, much like the one at Woodlawn. There are two sides and a central aisle to walk down. On one side of the auditorium, sit the Jews of the 1st century, a people who have attempted to abide by every single law that God has ever passed down to them … down to the smallest “jot” or “tittle”. On the other side, the Gentiles of the 1st century, a people who have attempted to find God in every way imaginable, including worshipping creatures and items that God, Himself had made. As you look to the front of the auditorium, you see the apostle Paul. In all his humility and confidence, he begins reciting the words of the first two chapters of the book of Romans. It’s an interesting scene, to see him relating to both groups of people and they are about to receive the Word of God, in … The Gospel Zone.
As you read this first chapter of Romans, it does help to picture in your mind Paul addressing the Gentiles in the first chapter and a half of Romans. He lays out a convincing case as to why the Gentiles need the Gospel and need Jesus in their lives. He discusses how the evil nature of the Gentiles made God reach a point where he gave them over to their fleshly desires (v 24) and they now need God’s plan for salvation. If you are still picturing in your mind the Jews sitting across the aisle from the Gentiles, you can see the pride they would have in listening to Paul reprimand the Gentiles. You can almost see the smiles, or smirks, on their faces as they think, “You tell ‘em Paul. They aren’t as holy as we are.” (More about this in tomorrow’s devo.) He does present it quite clearly to them and even gives them the entire summary of the Roman letter in chapter 1, verse 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” This is exactly the plan that God had. He is now introducing the Gentiles to the plan of salvation. However, he has to make sure that the Gentiles who are assembled are listening to him understand where they are. He spends the rest of chapter one, and some of chapter two, explaining this so they can hear the rest of the letter to understand where they can be … saved.