There is a lot that scholars believe to be true about Paul’s letter to the Romans. All agree that Paul wrote this letter to the house churches in Rome. The Roman church did not know Paul, because he had not yet visited them. Paul eventually goes to Rome as a prisoner, not as he had wished to visit the Roman church.
Many scholars believe that Paul wrote to the Roman church because he wanted to introduce himself before going there and asking for their support for his intended travels to preach the Gospel in Spain. If this is the case, Paul needs to introduce himself and lay out his qualifications for ministry. He also needs to outline his systematic theology to show that the church and Paul share a common faith which he plans to preach in his travels.
In the introduction to his letter, these first 17 verses, Paul says a lot about who he is, what he does, and what he believes and we still read it 2,000 years later because it shares the story of a faith that transcends time. This got me thinking. We have a vision of who we want to become. We have a ministry plan outlining how we are going to get there. Wouldn’t it be cool to write a letter to our future church about what it is that we believe so that the future First Christian Church Bethany can read it 50 years from now. They can look at how much transforming work God has done in that time. They can also remember that we are united across time by a common faith.
So, this morning, we’re going to answer some questions to write a letter. I’ll take our answers and write a letter that I’ll publish in next month’s newsletter. As we go about answering questions, I want us to keep in mind that we all have different language for expressing our faith. If you have other words to use to answer a question than has already been shared, please share your words. I’d like this to be a collaborative work. We may not agree on everything, but we can come up with some common belief statements.
1) What should we call ourselves? Disciples, Apostles, servants, Christians, brothers and sisters, or something else?
2) How do we want to address the future FCC?
3) Do we pray for the future of FCC?
4) How would you summarize our ministries? What gifts do we have as a church that guide our ministries?
5) What do you think people in Bethany say about us?
6) What do you think Bethany would be missing if we weren’t here?
7) Who do we want to share the Gospel with?
8) Who is Jesus? Can we all agree He is the Son of the Living God and the Christ?
9) What did Jesus do?
10) What is sin? How did that create a separation between us and God?
11) How do we know forgiveness?
12) What is salvation?
13) What difference does it make that we are Christians?
14) Where can we find God?
15) What is our favorite Bible verses?
16) What else do we want to say?