The Lost Path to the Roman Road
Jesus and the ‘Books of Moses’
Published: 11 June 2013 (GMT+10)
The greatest treasure
Jesus said “ … the Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure … ” (Matthew 13:44) As the free gift of salvation offered by God is the most precious gift any human being could receive, discovering the way to salvation would be like finding the ultimate treasure map.
The Roman road
Christians usually recognize the phrase ‘The Roman road’ as the ‘path of salvation’ outlined in the book of Romans in the Bible (commonly seen in evangelistic tracts). It outlines certain steps a person needs to take on their spiritual journey from an unsaved sinner to born-again believer. This can be seen analogously as a treasure map. The markers on the road are as follows:
“All have sinned … ” (Romans 3:23)
“ … the wages of sin is death … ” (Romans 6:23a)
“ … the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ … ” (Romans 6:23b)
“ … if you confess Jesus as Lord … you shall be saved … ” (Romans 10:9)
The ultimate treasure of our salvation will culminate with our living with God in the restoration, the new heavens and new earth. This restored world will be similar to the way God created it in the beginning; “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain … ” (Revelation 21:4)
Christians have been commissioned to share the good news about this great treasure with non-believers by showing them the right path to take. But why is it that so many in our western culture today seem resistant to even examine this road?
Examining the road signs and the questions that follow
The death and resurrection of Christ stands at the epicenter of the Christian faith. The symbol of the Cross is interwoven into the landscape of western culture in literature, cinema, social holidays, art, etc. although its true meaning (the salvation for sinners because of Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection) is lost on most people. Why is it that most today don’t understand the Roman road? Let’s look at the road signs on our map and see what the natural questions arising from them would be …
1. “All have sinned … ” (Romans 3:23)
Q-But what is sin? Where did it come from?
2. “ … the wages of sin is death … ” (Romans 6:23a)
Q-How can the punishment for sin be death? Isn’t death a natural thing (doesn’t everything live and die?)?
3. “ … the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ … ” (Romans 6:23b)
Q-How did Jesus death pay the penalty for sin?
4. “ … if you confess Jesus as Lord … you shall be saved … ” (Romans 10:9)
Q-Why do I need to be saved? Saved from what?
All of these questions ultimately relate to the events surrounding the resurrection, so how can we best answer them? Interestingly, when Jesus was teaching about a resurrection He said this; “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
Jesus explains why people will have a difficult time believing in His words in John 5:46–47 when He says; “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?" So belief in what Moses wrote ties into a belief in Christ’s teachings, which begs the question; “What did Moses write?”
The first five books of the Bible (called the Torah, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are attributed to Moses and explain the origins and history of mankind. The following markers in the books of Moses highlight major events which enable us to answer the questions people have regarding the Roman road.
The books of Moses start out by explaining in Genesis that God initially created a perfect world with no sin, death, pain etc. God called His creation “very good”. Before sin entered the world, there was no death. Even animals ate plants as there was no carnivorous activity in the world (Genesis 1:29-30).
Death came into the world as a result of the first man’s (Adam) sin which was a rebellion against God’s clear command to ‘not eat of the fruit’ of a certain tree. God had told Adam that if he disobeyed he would “surely die”. This means he would experience a spiritual death (separation from God) and would start to physically die by “returning to the dust”. From that moment onward everything in the universe was now cursed. God punished Adam and Eve, withdrew some of His sustaining power, and things began to die and wear out. Because all of us were ‘in’ Adam, that sin nature was passed on to all his descendants. The New Testament confirms this where we read “By one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
God judged Adam for his sin, and the Bible reveals that God will someday judge the entire world (by fire). It also reveals there was a former judgment (by water) in the form of a global (Noah’s) flood that destroyed all living things that had the breath of life except for those on board a specially prepared ark. (There is ample evidence of this event consisting of billions of rapidly buried fossils encased in water borne sedimentary layers all over the earth).
God gave His chosen people the Law to live by and the Apostle Paul revealed one of its major purposes in Romans 7:7 where he says “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.” Although this law was given specifically to the Israelites, the fact is there are moral absolutes (lying, stealing, murder etc) which are now ‘written in our heart’.
Paul reveals that the knowledge of sin (the breaking of God’s laws) demonstrates you are guilty before God and deserving of punishment, desperately in need of something outside of yourself to save you from His wrath (which is why the message of the Gospel on the Roman Road is such good news).
So, in summary, the answers to the natural questions that arise from the Roman Road are as follows:
Q-What is sin?
A-Sin is disobedience to God’s laws.
Q-Where did sin come from?
A-From Adam’s disobedience.
Q-If the punishment for sin is death, when did death enter into the world?
A-Death entered the world at the time of the Fall (there was no death before sin).
Q-Why do I need to be saved? Saved from what?
A-You need to be saved from the consequences of your sinful actions against God because God is going to judge everyone according to His righteousness. As a simple analogy, you will either represent yourself in God’s ‘courtroom’ when you die and receive your just punishment or you will have a representative in Jesus Christ that stands in your place so that you can be pardoned.
Q-How did Jesus’ death pay for sin?
A-Jesus death on the cross was a substitutionary act. He stood in the place and took the punishment that we deserve.
You can see why Jesus pointed out that the origins of mankind recorded in Genesis are so important, for without it, His message makes little sense. Without this background information found in the books of Moses it is harder for people to connect to the Roman Road. Our origins are critical to our understanding of where we came from and where we are going. Unfortunately today the typical evangelistic presentation does not include this link.
What ‘road’ does the world follow?
Of course the world is teaching a different, completely naturalistic story of origins: evolution. This atheistic story of origins is being taught in public school as fact. In a key 1995 statement, the National Association of Biology Teachers (US) said-
The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.
From that viewpoint the history in the Bible doesn’t make any sense. This is a completely different path that does not connect to the Roman Road in any way at all. If the entire universe has arisen from natural processes then the need for a Creator God is redundant. If death was always around and existed for millions of years prior to Adam even coming onto the scene then death is not an enemy, it is a mechanism for evolving new creatures via survival of the fittest.
A consistent thinker understands that the Genesis account of the Bible and an evolutionary timeline do not comport with one another.
What happened to the Christian worldview in the Western World?
Atheist Daniel Dennett described the theory of evolution as a ‘universal acid’ that affects everything it impinges upon.
“Little did I realize that in a few years I would encounter an idea–Darwin’s idea–bearing an unmistakable likeness to universal acid: it eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most of the old landmarks still recognizable, but transformed in fundamental ways.”1
A belief in an evolutionary history destroys the ability to answer even the simplest and most common objections to faith like; “If you have such a loving God, why is there so much death, pain and suffering in the world?” If millions of years of earth history and evolution is true, and if there is a God, He must be fine with pain, death and suffering! Far from fortifying a Christian’s faith it actually disconnects it from real history and weakens it immeasurably.
Is this about science?
Although the evidence in support of creation can be observed all around us, many have bought into the evolutionary interpretation of the facts and think ‘science’ supports evolution. However, most people do not understand that science dealing with events that occur in the past (interpretation of facts based on a perceived worldview) is not the same as operational science (repeatable/observable in the present).
Creation Ministries International has a website (Creation.com) that has over thirty five years of research in support of a plain reading of the Bible that can show Christians there is no conflict between observable science and scripture. Since people only seem to hear about the evolutionary story of how we got here, if believers get equipped with real answers to the questions everyone has about where we came from, they can help turn people to the right path.
Clearing the path
Jesus reminds us that “ … difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Many Christians seem to want to cling to Christ s teachings in the NT but do not have the same attitude about a plain reading of the OT. But imagine going on a treasure hunt but only having part of a map showing the treasure’s location, but no recognizable starting point. How would you find an end location without a beginning?
Jesus taught from the OT and quoted its final authority saying “Have you not read … ” repeatedly, showing that the historical accounts in scripture were the basis for His teaching. Shouldn’t Christ followers do as He did? By consulting those scriptures while showing people there is no conflict from science we can help connect the messages on the Roman road in the NT to non-believers so they can hopefully get onto the path of salvation.
- Daniel Dennett-Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995) p.63. Return to text.
Truth is the 'Universal acid' that dissolves Evolution.
I am sure others have thought of this before (and this can only be relevant to those countries who were occupied by the Romans centuries ago) but certainly in the UK nearly every town has a Roman Road. (e.g. Roman Road, Winklebury, Basingstoke - and as you might guess it is long, straight and narrow!). What a great eye catcher that would be e.g. "Did you know what's happening on Roman Road?" Another tool for evangelism!
Thankyou for this article. Very clear information presented.
Here is what you say and believe, but I must protest because this thinking puts my best friend in an unfriendly light:
"Death came into the world as a result of the first man’s (Adam) sin which was a rebellion against God’s clear command to ‘not eat of the fruit’ of a certain tree. God had told Adam that if he disobeyed he would “surely die”. This means he would experience a spiritual death (separation from God) and would start to physically die by “returning to the dust”.
"Death came into the world. . . . . ." Oh, really?
Our Bible says that the reason Adam and Eve died was because they no longer had access to the "Tree of Life" and that they didn't "Confess" there 'chatta' (sin) so our God had to find another way to teach them obedience.
What do parents do to their Children who disobey? Do they throw them out on the street, or do they give them other responsibilities in the hopes that they will learn this lesson?
When the focus is on the 'chatta' it gives the reader the impression that our God is not a "Loving" god, but one who is looking for a reason to punish them, and keep them from Paradise.
If it's our God's primary purpose only to punish, than why did it take so long for sentence to be carried out?
Another point for you readers to think about:
Because of the focus being on 'chatta' , Satan gets a free pass. And because of Satan's 'Free Pass', our God most always gets the blame when things go wrong and people loose their life!
It's time Christians start giving our God some help instead of trying to blame him for the "Bad" that happens in our World that is under Satan's control. Come on Christians! Start giving credit to the one who really deserves it
Hi Thomas, thanks for your comment. "Death came into the world. . . . . ." Oh, really?
Yes, really. Romans 5:12 makes it very clear; Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
To deny that Adam brought sin and death into the world contradicts this verse and others very clearly. Satan and Eve had already sinned before Adam did, but the world was not cursed until the head of the human race (Adam) sinned because he had been given dominion over the world by God.
Calvin, I must confess to not having seen or heard anything previously of "the Roman Road" method of evangelism in my 30+ years as a Christian. Perhaps it is due to my being tucked away in a little corner of the world.
Nevertheless, it is not dissimilar to other evangelism methods I have seen and used.
I apologize for getting a little off track but I feel obliged to get something off my heart. It is the widespread ill that has been termed by some as "easy-believism".
We all know of people who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, seemed to be Christian and went on to occupy positions of responsibility in the church but later left the church and denied Christ (the story of Charles Templeton is one familiar to many Biblical Creationists but we all know other more local stories).
Obviously, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord - as exhorted in Romans 10:9 has a little more to be unpacked than, for want of a better term, "easy-believism" allows. I think the missing thing is to count the cost of believing (or receiving) Jesus Christ as Lord.
When writing to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul was conscious that to confess Jesus Christ as Lord was a recipe for persecution. In such circumstance there was a cost to be counted before making such a confession so the simple statement used by Paul at Romans 10:9 has "more in it than meets the eye".
In Western society today, there is little persecution should a person confess Jesus Christ as Lord but the degree of persecution rises as a person confesses the fullness of Jesus Christ as Scripture reveals Him. One aspect which attracts persecution is to declare His work in Creation as Scripture has revealed it. Another is to desire the holiness of Jesus Christ and to allow Holy Spirit to make us holy. Holiness offends the world.
Hi Wayne, thank you for commenting.
I believe every true Christian has 'walked the Roman Road' whether they have heard it stated that way or not. And I believe it is an effective way to present the Gospel as it covers the essentials of sin, judgement, grace, atonement etc.
You are correct I believe about 'easy believing'. I remember reading 'Tortured for Christ' about a week after I got saved and it was a sobering message regarding the reality of calling oneself a Christian.
I have used the Romans Road for many years, it is easy to follow. God never does anything without explaining and warning. In the Romans Road, you see He states there is none righteous, He tells you why - It is because of Sin Ro 3:23. He then lets us know that there is a payment for sin Ro 6:23. He then tells you why there is sin Ro 5:12 He then lets you know that God offers a free gift and salvation through Christ , all you have to do is believe in the resurrection, that you are a sinner and need for a Savior and this applies to anyone Ro 10:9-10 and Ro 10:13
The easy believeism is covered with the initial call to repentance " but now commandeth all men every where to repent: "acts 17:30 Besides God knows who are truly saved..we cannot force or coerce in to a discison it must come from a true belief in Christ