1. Can the Gospel change someone who hates Christianity?

Sermon Notes

Introduction Video

Key Thought: Paul arrives onto the scene of history with a head full of Bible knowledge and a heart full of disdain for Christianity. But God has a way of calling people that we would overlook. Today we will see how God’s love can break into a person’s world, and thus reorient their priorities toward God’s righteous rule. Paul’s conversion story reminds us that God loves us even when we hate him.

Background Information

  • The Roman Church was highly fractured due to the rising tensions between the Jewish population (who were primarily transplanted to this city) and the long-time citizens of Rome. 
  • Paul’s aim to bring unity in the church is to bring unity around the Gospel. He mentions the word Gospel 12 time in this one letter. More than any other letter.
  • Not only can the Gospel change the life of someone who previously hated Christianity, but it’s power can unite a fractured church. And the fractured church of our day must be reunited around the Gospel of our Risen Savior


On purely a historical basis, the conversion of Paul (Acts 8:3, Acts 9:1-7) is one of the least contested events in the New Testament. Before his conversion Paul had power, wealth, and respect. After his conversion he had hardship, persecution and martyrdom. Paul’s resolve in his faith is strong evidence that he had in fact seen the risen Savior.

Paul’s conversion and passion are difficult to explain apart from the resurrection.

Romans 1:1-7

What happens when someone moves from sabotaging the church to serving the church? 

  1. Paul saw his purpose (calling) as now under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1 vs. Acts 8:3).
  2. As a result, Paul saw the Jesus not as the competition of the Old Testament, but rather the completion of the Old Testament (Rom. 1:2, Isa. 53:2-7).  Jesus completes the entire picture of the Bible
  3. Paul viewed himself as a servant (Rom 1:1).

The Conversion of Rosaria Butterfield

Listen closely to a modern-day conversion that is similar to Paul the Apostle.

  • Hospitality is often the front door of the Gospel
  • God can save you, yes, even you.

Have you had a conversion experience?

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Discussion Questions


  1. Pastor Rusty introduces us to Paul, the writer of Romans with this statement, “Paul arrives onto the scene of history with a head full of Bible knowledge and a heart full of distain for Christianity.” Has there ever been a time in your own life when what you thought you knew about the Bible got in the way of your relationship with God? If so, how did that happen?
  2. Paul’s story reminds us that even when we are alienated from God, he loves us. If you’re a believer, reflect on your own conversion story. If you aren’t yet a believer, can you see ways God may be trying to connect with you?
  3. Pastor Rusty makes the point that Paul mentions the word “Gospel” 12 times in the book of Romans. How can the gospel change our heart?
  4. How can a proper focus on the Gospel of our risen Savior bring unity to the fractured church of our day?
  5. Pastor Rusty observes that before his conversion Paul had power, wealth, and respect. Following his conversion he endured hardship, persecution and eventually martyrdom. How is Paul’s resolve in his faith evidence that he had in fact seen the risen Savior?
  6. In Romans 1:2, we see how Paul moved from seeing Jesus as being in competition with the Old Testament, to being the completion of the Old Testament. Take a moment to read Isaiah 53:2-7 and reflect upon how this passage helped change Paul’s perception of Jesus.
  7. Paul came to view himself as a servant of the Gospel. How can you too be a servant of the Gospel?


  • Have you had a conversion experience?
    • If you are a believer take a few moments to thank God for the Gospel and how Jesus’ sacrifice for you has changed your life.
    • If you are not yet a believer, consider the stories of the Apostle Paul and Rosaria Butterfield. If God could save them, couldn’t He also save you?
    • Either ask Jesus to forgive you and become the Master of your life or reach out to a pastor at Concord or a committed Christian friend to answer your spiritual questions and help you commit your life to Christ.
  • Pastor Rusty observes that “hospitality is often the front door of the Gospel.” Who needs you to show them hospitality?
  • Reflect on how God might use your hospitality to open the door of your friend or family member’s heart to hearing the Gospel?