8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Who needs to hear the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross? Most of us would rightly say those who are not yet believers, those who are lost, or those who are sinners in need of a savior. If that’s what you said, then you would be right the unbeliever needs to hear the gospel more than any other message we could proclaim. But if we stop there and somehow believe that the gospel is only for unbelievers and not for believers then we miss so much of what the Bible has to say to us.
Paul here says that he is eager to preach the gospel to you…in Rome. To whom does he want to preach? He wants to preach the gospel to the believers. Why?
Jonathan Dodson writes in his book Gospel-Centered Discipleship:
Jesus is not merely the start and standard for salvation, but that he is the beginning, middle, and end of my salvation. He is my salvation, not just when I was six, but every second of every day. In the gospel, Jesus gives me himself, his redemptive benefits, and the church to share those benefits with. As it turns out, the gospel is for disciples, not just for “sinners;” it saves and transforms people in relationship, not merely individuals who go it alone.
Milton Vincent adds from his book A Gospel Primer for Christians:
The gospel also reminds me that my righteous standing with God always holds firm regardless of my performance, because my standing is based solely on the work of Jesus and not mine. On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God’s unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness and not mine.
Jerry Bridges, in his book The Gospel for Real Life: Return to the Liverating Power of the Cross, echoes these thoughts on why Christians need the gospel when he says:
We can begin each day with the deeply encouraging realization that I am accepted by God, not on the basis of my personal performance, but on the basis of the infinitely perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Why do believers need the gospel? Because the gospel reminds us daily not only how we got saved, but how God continues to keep saving us every day and how God will complete our salvation on the day we come to be in his presence.