Study of Romans as given by Dr. James Montgomery Boice: Romans 1:16-17
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
It is an odd thing for Paul to say that he is “not ashamed” of the gospel. Who would even consider a thing. Questions like this though are not very deep or honest, since we all have been ashamed of the gospel at one time or another. The reason for this shame is because the world is opposed to the Gospel and we are more attuned to the world then we are to God. Robert Haldane writes:
Is the situation any different today? While there may seem to be a great deal of tolerance for the Christian, we may find that to be a fleeting view, here only for a short time. What is presented below are eight reasons to not be ashamed of the gospel.
The Way of Salvation
- The gospel is about salvation
- Background to the gospel
What does the material in between cover? It covers mans need for the righteousness of God.
- Left to ourselves we are in deep, deep trouble.
- We are in trouble because we are at odds with God, other people, and ourselves.
- We are also in trouble with the future. We are on a path of increasing frustration and despair. In the end we must face God’s just wrath and condemnation.
- The gospel is the good news of how God intervened to provide a way of rescue through Christ.
- First, he has reconciled us to himself.
- Second, he has reconciled us to others. We are now free to love others as Christ loved us
- Third, he has reconciled us to ourselves. We are now able to become what God has always meant for us to be.
- Salvation delivers from guilt, power, and pollution of sin.
- Paul was not ashamed because the gospel was about the real deliverance from sin and its power and about reconciliation to God.
God’s Way of Salvation
- The gospel is about God’s way of salvation and not man’s way.
- Due to the sin of man, no man could devise a plan to bring about salvation or reconciliation before God.
- Christianity is God’s reaching out to save perishing men and women, not sinners reaching out to seize God.
- Paul addresses this in two major ways.
- Paul contrasts God’s way of salvation with our own attempts to keep the law on one hand.
- On the other hand we make attempts to know God by mere human knowledge.
- “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit” Romans 8:3-4.
- This means that although we can not please God keeping the law, God enables us to please him, first by condemning sin in us through the work of Christ and, then, by enabling us to live upright lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- As to wisdom Paul writes, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” I Corinthians 1:21.
The Power of God
- The gospel is powerful enough to accomplish God’s purpose, which is to save us from sin’s pollution.
- Important to understand what Paul is saying here when he says “the gospel….is the power of God for Salvation.
- He is not saying that the gospel is about God’s power, as if it were merely pointing us to a power beyond our own.
- Paul is not saying that the gospel is the source of power we can get and use to save ourselves.
- The gospel itself is power. That is, the gospel is powerful; it is the means by which God accomplishes salvation in those who are being saved.
- In the actual preaching of the gospel the power of God is demonstrated in the saving of men and women.
A Gospel for Everyone
- This is a gospel for everyone who would believe. It is “first for the Jew” and then also “for the Gentile.”
- Paul is not putting anyone above anyone else with this declaration. Paul is not giving one group more importance over another group.
- Paul means exactly the same thing Jesus meant when he told the woman of Samaria that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). Both Paul and Jesus were speaking that the Jews had occupied a first and important place.
- Theirs was the adoption as sons.
- Theirs were the divine glory, the covenants, the receiver of the law, the temple worship and the promises.
- Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Jesus Christ.
- Gentile and Jew are alike, and the gospel is for both.
- Why? Because it is the power of God, and God is no respecter of persons.
- If the gospel had been of men, then it would be open to the whims of man. Man’s gospel would exclude some groups and include only groups with certain interests and abilities. It would be for some and not for others.
- The gospel is for everyone.
Salvation Revealed to Sinners
- God has revealed this way of salvation to us.
- Since the gospel has been revealed to us we are enabled to proclaim God’s revelation.
- When Paul says that the gospel is God “is revealed”, he is saying that it is only by revelation that we can know it.
- The gospel is not something we could have figured out on our own. When man invents religion they either:
- invent something that make them self-righteous, imagining they can save themselves.
- invent something that excuses their behavior so they can commit the evil they desire.
A Righteousness From God
- This is a righteousness from God which is what we need.
- In and of ourselves we are not the least bit righteous. We are corrupted by sin and in rebellion against God.
- To be spared God’s wrath we are in need of God’s righteousness. This is the only righteousness that fully satisfies the penalty of sin.
By Faith from First to Last
- Final reason Paul was not ashamed of the gospel is because this gift becomes ours through faith.
- Salvation is accessible to “everyone who believes.”
- The righteousness that is by faith, is revealed to the receiving faith of the believer.
- This means that the gospel is revealed to you and is for you–if you will have it.
Why would anyone ever be ashamed of the gospel, if it is such good news to the world? I think it comes down to this one premise, we are more concerned about what the world thinks than what God thinks. As adults we make think this has something to do with peer pressure and adolescence, but its not just contained to that age group. Even as adults we become timid around certain people, or group of people. As adults we are still influenced by the world around us and given the right environment we will begin to do things we normally would not do, say things we normally would not say, all in attempt to fit in. Adults who are not secure in their relationship with God and secure in who they are will work just as hard as any adolescent to fit in with the “right” crowd. I don’t speak from a distance, but I speak from someone who struggles with the same problems close up. I often find myself doing and saying things I know are not pleasing to God. I also often find myself living with remorse for words and actions I know I should distance myself from. I know how damaged my testimony to the world is by the very actions I commit in an attempt to be liked and to fit in. Its a struggle and as much as I don’t want to participate in these actions I find myself doing what I should not do. I’m always reminded of this section of text from Paul:
When we bend to our own will and we change our principles to obtain the approval of others we show a shame for the gospel that distances us from God. We cannot and should not expect growth in closeness to God if we continually live our lives this way. Continually looking for that approval from others will be the same as tying a boulder around our necks and sinking to the bottom of the ocean. That search for approval from others, being ashamed of the gospel, will distance us from God and we will suffer the consequences of that distance. We should not be ashamed of the gospel and it should be evident in every moment of our lives.