I have been a Christ follower now for thirty five years. Strangely, it seems like yesterday that I heard old guys say that and I thought, “Wow! That’s a long time,”…now here I am. There is no way I can describe to you the manifold blessings I now see in retrospect (another old guy would get this) but I can tell you about some of the things that have highlighted my encounter and experience with the Living God. There is one particular highlight I think of when I revisit the book of Romans. The funny thing is my remembrance has little to do with the context and flow of Paul’s magnificent letter to the Roman church; rather I am drawn back to my first encounter with the gospel through the “Romans Road.”
I was 18 years old, attending camp (some people called it college) looking for meaning in life. It had been suggested to me that if you go to college you will get a better job and make more money; sadly this suggestion left me little motivation for life.
Although I didn’t realize it, I was searching for ultimate meaning.
“Getting a better job and making more money” was not cutting it for me. There had to be some ultimate purpose behind all this to make things meaningful; enter Tom Beasley.
Tom was a friend of a friend. We knew each other briefly. He taught me my first guitar chords but more importantly he was the first one to give me the Gospel; that is the Good News of Jesus. He presented it to me in a succinct manor as we walked home to my parents’ house from a party in our neighborhood. Although I did not know it at the time what he presented to me was the “Romans Road”. The following gives a presentation of the simple plan of salvation through Jesus Christ using passages from Romans (The Romans Road):
There are none righteous (Rom.3:10-12)
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23)
We are all dead in our sins (5:12)
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (6:23)
This is the demonstration of God’s love, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (5:8)
Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved (10:9-13)
Therefore, the righteous shall live by faith in the good news of Jesus (1:16-17)
To the best of my recollection this is what Tom presented to me on our way back from the party. He said he could see that I was on a quest for the truth and that he could offer an answer. He pulled out a pocket bible and walked me through the Romans Road. For some reason the message Tom presented to me that night fetched up in my heart and mind. It would be something I would ponder for the next five years. Subsequently the seed that Tom had planted was watered by the testimony of Christ followers who crossed my path. In the finish, there were these two brothers and their wives who talked about Jesus as if they knew him.
There was something they had that I realized I needed and that something was someone, Jesus.
The road to Jesus was built on the bedrock of Tom’s simple presentation of the Gospel encapsulated in a few passages from Romans. Some have criticized “the Romans Road” as a schlocky evangelical tool devised to pressure people into making a decision for Christ. In my experience, the Romans Road gave me something profound to ponder as a person who had never heard the simplicity of the Gospel; simple yet profound. Only God could come up with such a plan. And while I have never had the opportunity to walk someone down the Romans Road the way Tom did for me, the notations I have made in my bible which identify the Romans Road have been a constant reminder of the simple, yet profound, message that has given me access to the God of all creation (praise be his name!). The essentials displayed in the Romans Road have guided my thoughts as I have sought to share the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus to others who desire to know the ultimate meaning of life.
As we read through Romans there will be some deep theological propositions to consider, but let us not get distracted from the simplicity of the Good News of Jesus.