Several years ago, I was training for my first "third-world" country mission trip. I had done the preliminaries of getting sponsors, vaccination shots, and minimizing the necessities I would have to do without for a few weeks. My training involved me encouraging people to come out and watch a film on the life of Jesus Christ, then share a tract with them that was called the "Roman Road to Salvation."
The Romans Road to salvation is a foundational way of explaining the "good news" of salvation using verses from the Book of Romans. I was so excited to be a part of the mission group with the innocence of thinking I was doing the "Lord's work" that I never stopped to question: Was this the "good news" that Jesus told us to share? I didn't realize that the subtleness of the mission was laced with judgment and condemnation towards a people that I didn't know by quietly convincing them that if they didn't say this "sinner's prayer," they would go to hell.
Forgive me Father, for I had sinned against your WORD!
As I have grown in my relationship with the Lord since that event over 30 years ago, I've asked the Holy Spirit to unveil to me wisdom pertaining to the "Roman Road to Salvation."
The first thing the Holy Spirit showed me was that it was NOT the first letter Paul wrote. When we read the New Testament chronologically we tend to read from the Book of Acts into the Book of Romans thinking that it is the next step for believers in Christ to become disciples of Jesus – sharing the Good News according to the Roman Road to Salvation to "lost souls" headed towards "hell" because they don't know Jesus.
Is this the message Jesus wanted us to share? I found in Matthew chapter ten, that when Jesus sent His disciples out to share the "good news," it wasn't about: sin, hell, or even the cross. Jesus said to tell them the "good news" is that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is Now.
That was not the message I was sharing with the Roman Road Scriptures. It was using Scriptures to justify going to heaven or hell someday when you die. Is this what Paul was saying?
Let's look at the basic Scriptures that are used for the Roman Road message:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The Roman Road begins with telling someone how bad they already are, regardless of whether they know it or not. Is this the way a parent (God) would speak to His children?
"Wherefore, as by one-man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). The second verse used is telling them that not only are they bad and rejected by God, but they came from tarnished roots. They didn't have a chance.
Are you asking yourself and God, "Why were you born to begin with?" No wonder suicide is so strong in our youth. They have been taught by the church that they are bad, their daddy is bad, their mother is bad, their whole family history is bad. Did God screw up?
Now that the innocent one has been hooked by this message – they want to find peace and love in heaven someday – not be in torment when they die, they listen to the next carefully chosen Scriptures.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). The presentation is that one is a "sinner" – separated from God, but if they pray a "sinner's prayer" and accept Jesus, God will give them the gift of living with Him in heaven when they die. They will still die, but at least they will have a peace they prayed the right prayer that opens the pearly gates of heaven for them to live on streets of gold and mansions in the sky in the perfect Hollywood body.
Not much different than other religions that promise virgins or reincarnation in a better form. What happened to Jesus' message that the "good news" was that the Kingdom of God was Now?
"But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Do any flags go up when one comes to this forth verse? Notice that it is out of order from Paul's writing. It belongs after the first Scripture given with Romans 3:23. Do we think that Paul had a thought issue of jumping around with what he was truly writing about?
We begin reading Romans from chapter three, not chapter one. We also skip chapter two. After we establish Romans 3:23 we skip chapter four, and go to Romans 5:12, then Romans 6:23. That's the pivoting mark to see if the person is really hooked, so we entice them with going back to Romans 5:8, and then snatch the fish with Romans 10:13, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Does anyone else question the order that these Scriptures are being presented to humanity as a life and death decision? Was this what Paul was even writing about to the Romans that we as evangelicals have made a foundation of our doctrine?
Was chapters 7, 8, and 9 not important for the lost soul to be aware of? How about when Paul wrote in chapter 8: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
Shouldn't this have been a part of the "good-news" of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul thought so, which is why he included it in his letter.
We as believers in Christ Jesus have done a great injustice in serving our Lord Jesus Christ with this "sin conscious" theology. We have played upon the ego of humanity with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as an after-life proposition, instead of presenting the "good-news" of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the Christ-Life within humanity today because of the cross and resurrection. This is eternal life NOW. To know Jesus Christ personally in a love relationship so that the power of His Spirit can flow through humanity to unveil the Kingdom of God in the earth.
The church has used a message of the "Roman Road to Salvation" as an ego message to look out for "self" to have a ticket to a better place someday when they die. This message removes the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the unity of the body of Christ to be unveiled in the earth. Paul warned to the Ephesians not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
John wrote to this same church in Revelation to return to their first love.
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:1-7).
Paul was not writing a letter of an ABC pathway to get to heaven, but acknowledging to the Romans the amazing gift of God to them. Even though they were not of Jewish descent, they were children of God, heirs as God is their heavenly Father because of Jesus Christ, the cross, and the resurrection that already took place. This was the good news. The Kingdom of God was and is at hand for ALL – Jews and gentiles, believers, and non-believers.
If we believe by faith in this good news, the promise of God is that His Spirit will lead and guide us into ALL truths to establish and unveil His Kingdom of Heaven in the earth while we are in our natural body. We don't have to die or leave this body to go off somewhere to receive the blessings of Heaven today. Do you believe?
This belief comes by faith, not by sight, logic, or reason. It is the quickening of the Holy Spirit that helps our unbelief. Through the trials and the testing of our faith, we develop the attributes of being sons/daughters of the Most High God, so that with every tribulation/travail we birth another WORD in the flesh to rule and reign in LOVE, LIGHT, and LIFE as the Kingdom of God among men (John 1:14).
Do you believe that the power of the resurrection of Christ dwells in you today?
"That I may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead ( while in my natural body)" (Philippians 3:9-11 AMP).