For I Am Not Ashamed (Romans 1:16, 17)
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith
The Apostle Paul continues his opening chapter to the Roman church by boldly declaring that he was ready to preach the gospel, a message of which he was not ashamed. This means he had confidence in the gospel. He didn’t hide it. He didn’t cower around when confronted. He confidently declared his allegiance to the gospel message. If there is anyone who would lose this confidence, it would be Paul.He had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Berea, laughed at in Athens, regarded as a fool in Corinth, and stoned in Galatia. Yet, despite all this, he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ! What a dramatic difference between that kind of Christianity and that of today. None of us have yet to feel the persecution he went through. We cannot relate to the martyrs of yesterday or those suffering persecution today. Yet, when political opposition comes to prayers in school or the Ten Commandments in the courtroom we cry, “persecution!” Here in America, we honestly have no idea what persecution is. And to think that many Christians today are ashamed of the gospel.
Paul Washer tells a story of being in a foreign land and watching a boy no older than 8 years old having a gun pointed at him and saying, “please, I don’t want to die. But I will not renounce my faith in Jesus Christ.” That boy left this earth in a pool of his own blood. Washer, an evangelist, turns around and tells his hearers, “and you think you’re a radical Christian because you have a bumper sticker on your car or wear a T-shirt?” Do we think we’re radical Christians because we go to Prayer Meeting or hand out tracts? Would to God everyone did those things and simply counted them as the mere basics of our Christian faith! We need a return to radical, bold, unashamed Christianity.
In a society growing colder to the Truth, we need all Christians, persecuted and privileged alike, to boldly declare, ‘I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel.”
I. For I am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
a. What the Gospel is
I Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:The Good News of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is the Gospel of Christ: Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.b. What the gospel does”For it is the power of God unto salvation”
The Gospel saved and changes lives. Everyone of us has a story to tell. The Gospel changed Paul’s life, and as a result he is not ashamed of it. Here, the focus is on salvation. What are we saved from?
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins
2. Being lost
Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
3. The wrath of God
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him
II Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
— adapted from The MacArthur Bible Commentary
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith”
The gospel reveals God’s righteousness. From faith to faith seems to parallel “everyone who believeth” and therefore could mean the faith of each individual. It could also mean from the beginning to the end of faith. In either case, it literally means “out of faith” and thus means faith is the source of God’s righteousness. The gospel is what brings men to faith, for they must know why they must be saved – God is righteous, man is a sinner. Gospel preaching always starts with that fact. It is through the gospel that the righteousness of God is learned, and then imputed to an individual when he obeys the gospel by faith.
c. Who the gospel is for
“To everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Jesus commanded us to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature and go to every nation. There is no prejudice when it comes to the gospel. It doesn’t come to the Jew first because they are better. God chose Israel to be His witness nation and gave her distinct privileges. Christ’s ministry was first to Israel, and it was through Israel that salvation was to come to the world. But thank God it didn’t stop there. Here, Greek is synonymous with Gentile, meaning every non-Jew. So the Gospel is for every nationality, every age, everyone!
The Gospel is the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; a message that saved and changes lives, and a message that is for all people. Certainly, I am not ashamed of this message!
II. For I Am Not Ashamed to Speak
Right before these two verses, Paul said he was ready to preach the gospel. So we must remember that this is being said in the context of preaching.
We are in the middle of an intense political season. General election is almost a year from now, but the media constantly is talking about it. It is an election of much talk. Candidates are expected to talk. Between debates, ads, and interviews, a lot of talk is certainly going on and will certainly continue. It’s hard to imagine that a man like Calvin “Cool Cal” Coolidge was ever President. He was literally known for saying nothing from time he was born until the time he died. When he was governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge was known for having no meeting more than ten minutes long, with very little being discussed. He left for dinner, and was never late. When asked why his meetings were so short, he said, “When talking, don’t ask questions, that just encourages them to keep talking.” He became Vice President, and with death of Harding was President of the United States. Someone again asked why his meetings were so short and of few words. He said the same thing, “Let them talk, if you don’t respond, they’ll stop.”
One morning, the First Lady was ill. He went to church without her. When he came home, she asked about church. “How was it?”
“How was the sermon?”
“What was it about?”
“Calvin, what did he say?”
“He was against it.”
And so it was with Calvin Coolidge. He had very little to say and was proud of saying very little. When he died, writer Dorothy Parker was in having lunch with her peers and a messenger boy came to her with a telegram. She was told about the death of Calvin Coolidge. She looked at the message, then looked at the messenger and said, “How can they tell?”
— adapted from Dr. Albert Mohler, Jr., Opening Address to GodblogCon 2007
As Christians, we ought to be people who have something so say! Wouldn’t it be terrible if your friends found our you were a Christian after you died? We all have a message to share. And it is not up to the full time ministers to get it done.
Acts 8:1-8 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
This great revival in Samaria didn’t start with Philip the evangelist. It began as the entire church went out everywhere preaching the word. And they did it in the face of persecution
We must also not be afraid to defend the faith in the midst of opposition.
I Peter 3:15-16 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
Many Christians are afraid to defend the faith because they are not confident in the message. We constantly hear, “there are contradictions in the Bible” or “Christianity has done more harm than good.” And we don’t want to study and do the research because we given in to the lies of the other side. Well, if you study and do the research you will find that the Bible is true from beginning to end, Jesus Christ is still alive, and the Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes!I was watching a debate between a woman defending intelligent design in the schools and a man advocating a nothing-but-evolution stance. The man said something I heard from his side constantly, “by saying only evolution, we are not advocating atheism. Many Christians believe in God and evolution.”
He’s right. Many Christians say they believe in God and yet embrace this unbiblical, ungodly, anti-Christian philosophy of evolution. Why have philosophies like evolution been so popular in Christianity? The atheists? The scientists? PBS? NO! Christians who choose not to defend their faith! This tells me they are ashamed!
We must return to a confidence in the message. An honest study will only reveal that what we teach and preach is indeed true, and we must stand up for that Truth.
III. For I Am Not Ashamed to Live
Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Here is the first mention of the word “ashamed” in all the Bible. In hermeneutics, the Law of First Mention is very significant. It says that oftentimes, when a word or concept is first introduced in the Bible, that first mention provides the basis of that word or concept throughout the rest of the Bible. It is an interesting topic to study and wonderfully testifies to the unity of a Book that only God can inspire!Following this logic, the word ashamed here should provide a basis of the word as it is used the majority of times in scripture. Here, Adam and Eve were living in perfect harmony with the Lord. They were created in His image and living a world of no sin. In God’s eyes, they were righteous. As a result, although they were physically naked, they were not ashamed. According to the Law of First Mention, the concept of being not ashamed is a result of a right standing before God.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith
Although this is primarily about not being ashamed in this world, the heart of the matter is how we stand before God. Are we ashamed or not? If we are not ashamed before God, then we have nothing in this world to be ashamed about! If we are ashamed before God, then we have no reason to live confidently in this world! Here we see Paul repeating a verse from Habbakkuk which says, the just shall live by faith. The word just refers to someone who has been declared righteous by God through salvation, as a result of believing the Gospel. When we were saved, God justified us in His sight! He now sees us as righteous, just like it was in the days of Adam and Eve before the Fall! Therefore, to truly not be ashamed, we must be just in the sight of God. That happens, the Bible says, by faith.We must therefore live lives that reflect the righteousness that God has imputed unto us.
I John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming
I Peter4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
II Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner
Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
II Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
IV. Our only shame is in disobedience to Him
II Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed
Embracing the Gospel, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Failing to proclaim it, defend it, or live up to it, however, is a shame. And that’s a shame that Christianity cannot afford to put up with.