Reading Romans these days. (I generally bounce between the Old and New Testament in my Bible reading. Just finished 1 & 2 Kings.) In Romans 1:15 Paul says, "I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome." What a funny little statement Paul makes.
Paul is writing this massive letter "to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints..." His audience for the letter are people who's "faith is proclaimed in all the world." In other words, he's writing to a church full of Jesus followers not pagans.
So what does Paul want to do when he gets to Rome? Preach the Gospel to the church in Rome. In other words,
- Paul thought the church needed to hear the Gospel again and again--it could never be spoken too much.
- Paul's understanding of the Gospel was way bigger than "something that'll get you saved".
- For Paul, the Gospel was the new gravitational center of life and had to be talked about constantly. I guess you'd say Paul was Gospel-centered.
- Paul saw ongoing value in preaching--bring good news, evaggelizo (grk)--to the saints of God who had already been converted/born again.
Gospel-centered preaching in the church is not an invention of Constantine's church--its a practice of the Apostle Paul. It can and should be done when the church gathers as one tool that bring Gospel-shaping to the hearts of the people of God.
What is the Gospel Paul wanted to preach to the Roman church? The rest of letter to the Romans. And I'm glad Paul was so verklempt at not being able to preach it that he was compelled to write his message down.