The Power of the Gospel, Part 10

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

In the text of Romans 1:16 there is another issue that we need to be very aware of. It is the issue of shame. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because it was (and is) the power of God for salvation. Today, however, there is evidently a lot of shame because people have watered down the Gospel to a gospel that is nothing more than the power of man. It is when men are ashamed before others to tell the truth of the depravity of man and therefore of the power of the Gospel that what we preach and teach becomes less than the Gospel in our mouths. It is embarrassing to stand and tell people that they are dead in sin and trespasses when that is viewed as archaic and foolish. It is embarrassing to tell people that they are in bondage to sin and that they love themselves so much they will not love God. It is embarrassing to tell people that they are their own idols and are in slavery to their own love for themselves. It is embarrassing to tell people that they cannot save themselves at all but are utterly dependant upon the power of God.

It is easier just to tell people to admit to a little sin here and then that all they need to do is to pray a prayer to be saved. It is easy to tell people that God loves them and wants them to come to heaven with Him. But it is hard to tell nice and even religious people that the wrath of God abides upon them and that they are headed to an eternal hell where His wrath will be poured out on them in perfect justice and holiness. Why is it hard? It is because we love ourselves and don’t want other people to get mad at us. It is because we love the applause of others and desire others to think highly of us. It is because we don’t want to get yelled at and we don’t want others to think lowly of us. However, what we must realize is that we live and speak in the presence of God and it is the living God that we are to please rather than other people. If we live to please people in and of themselves, we will not live to please the living God and we end up doing nothing positive for the souls of other people either.

Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel and was eager to preach it because it was the power of God for salvation. Perhaps we are not eager to preach it and ashamed of it because we have too low a view of God and of the Gospel. Maybe it is that we think too much power is in the hands of human beings and so we approach human beings as if the power is in them. Perhaps we think that if we offend them that they will not make a choice we are trying to get them to make. But the Gospel is offensive to unconverted people. It is offensive to those who openly hate God and it is offensive to those who try to hide their own hateful heart behind their religion. But all that we do is to be done for God. The Gospel is all about who God is. After all, the Gospel is the shining forth of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor 4:6). When we try to preach a gospel that is built on our shamed of the truth of who God is, we are preaching something other than the true Gospel. The Gospel requires that we declare the truth of who God is and how He shines forth in Jesus Christ. When we are ashamed of the Gospel we are ashamed of God Himself because it is the Gospel of God.

Let us review for a moment the words of Paul: “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:15-16). Paul was eager to preach the Gospel. Why was he eager to preach the Gospel? He gives us the answer. It was because he was not ashamed of the gospel. If we are not eager to preach the true Gospel, perhaps it is because we are ashamed of it. We can be eager to preach something like the Gospel for religious benefits, but we will only be eager to preach the true Gospel if we are not ashamed of it. Why was Paul not ashamed of the Gospel and so was eager to preach it? It was because the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

We have watered down the message of sin in our day because we are ashamed to tell people about sin. We are not eager to preach the Gospel because we are ashamed of it. Perhaps we are ashamed of it because it is foolish to us as well. Perhaps, then, the Gospel itself is almost lost in our day because we don’t see it as the very power of God for salvation. Maybe we are preaching a weak and effeminate form that we call a gospel and are ashamed of that. What we must know is that there is only one Gospel and it is a Gospel of power. People may see it as foolish and weak, but we must preach the Gospel of God’s power in His power. Even if they ridicule and mock, the Gospel of God’s power can still change their hearts. If we water it down, it is then and only then truly foolish and weak.

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