We have a wonderful example in Paul’s attitude toward a people group he had never seen. It was in the Fall of A.D. 57 when he left Ephesus and went to Macedonia that he wrote the second letter to the Corinthians. From Macedonia, Paul was determined to return to Jerusalem one more time in an attempt to persuade them of the gospel of grace. During this time though, he also had Rome on his heart. Some disciples who heard the gospel, migrated to Rome for various reasons.
As Paul thought of these believers, he sat down in the winter of A.D. 57/58 to write them a letter that would further establish those at Rome in the gospel; “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:11, 15). These are the words of a man with a deep, unwavering passion. It was face-to-face discipling that Paul felt was necessary so he could “impart…some spiritual gift to strengthen” them. A letter was good, but not good enough for Paul. He expected that when he arrived in Rome, he would “preach the gospel” to them so they would be firmly established in its pure grace and power in Christ.
Much of what I have written about up to this point is preparation for a moment like this. I have no doubt that God has worked in many hearts who read this blog. Do you have the same eagerness that Paul had? It is not a matter of having a full understanding of all the future holds, but knowing that God has placed a burden on your heart for a specific people group. When a burden like this is from God, we had better not ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The “way” may not be clear at the moment as to how things will work out, as it was unclear for Paul, but if we are submitted to the Holy Spirit, He will work it out.
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