Ambition to Preach the Gospel Where Christ Was Not Known—Romans 15:20-22
"It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation. Rather, as it is written: "Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand." This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you" (Romans 15:20-22)
Paul's desire to share the gospel with people who previously had no knowledge of it, fueled three missionary journey's across the known world at that time. Everywhere Paul and his companions went they faced fierce persecution because of the good news message of Christ as well as overwhelming response to it. Paul acted upon the principal of what was written in Isaiah, "For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand" ( Isaiah 52:15 ).
His desire was to share Christ where this message was previously unknown so this foundation would not be built upon anything thing else but grace. Paul's revelation of grace was unmatched by anyone. He received it by direct revelation from Jesus ( Galatians 1:11-12 ). He understood the finer points of the Law because of his background as a Pharisee and Jesus showed him how each one was fulfilled and accomplished by His life, death and resurrection on the cross. Paul understood the complete gospel and the grace of God toward mankind in the person of Jesus Christ, so naturally his desire was to reveal this knowledge to the rest of the world.
It is interesting to think how Paul alone was the apostle to the Gentile nation. The Jews had the twelve's apostles specifically set apart to share the good news of Christ with them and show them how he was their promised Messiah. But Paul was the only one sent for the Gentiles. He not only wrote most of the New Testament, but the details and accounts of his life and missionary journeys where incredible. This is because Paul was able to share the good news of Christ Jesus to those who had no preconceived notions about who the Messiah would be. Most of the time, they didn't even recognize that one had been promised, let alone identify their need for a savior. When he shared the gospel in these areas, Paul didn't have to combat doctrines or fight against the teachings and traditions of men. He didn't have to overcome inflexible ideology and tear down philosophy in order to build on a new foundation of Christ. What is awesome is that he went to areas that had never heard of Jesus and was able to share the good news on his revelation of grace. In this sense, the good news was too good to pass up and multitudes believed in Jesus and learned about this amazing grace under the apostle to the Gentiles.
This is an amazing truth, when we open our hearts to the word without bringing in traditions, doctrines and preconceived ideas of what it means to follow Christ then we will also get such a revelation of grace by the Holy Spirit that our entire lives will be affected. Not only ours, but those around us will be impacted as well. So many times religion gets in the way of relationship. Jesus never spoke well of religion, He told the disciples "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" ( Matthew 16:6 ). He was speaking against the established system that was corrupt and enslaving the people by rules, regulations and traditions that were meaningless. These teachings kept them from God and finding true reconciliation with him by faith. This is why, like Paul, our faith should be built on a revelation of grace through Christ Jesus. Grace is what combats meaningless tradition so that our lives stem out of relationship with Christ instead of obligation to religion. The grace and mercy of Jesus is the cornerstone that holds it all together. It is a firm foundation that cannot be shaken or removed by persecution or opposition to this message.
I am so thankful for Paul's revelation of grace and his desire to share this great news to everyone who had an ear to hear it. I am so thankful that he wrote this amazing book of Romans inspired by the Holy Spirit so that we can understand the grace that we were called into through Christ Jesus. And to operate in and live this grace all the days of our lives.