Not Ashamed to Preach the Gospel—To Christians!

| Mon, Aug 8, 2011 | Set 1 Week 32

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What would it have been like to be a Christian living in Rome almost two thousand years ago when the book called “Romans” arrived from Paul?

As news spread in the community that a long letter had come from the apostle, think how it might have sent your mind racing.

What amazing teachings will he have for us in this letter?

Maybe he will tell us all about the end times. Or maybe about creation—was it six 24-hour days or something else? Or maybe Paul will talk about the role of men and women. Or modest dress. Or purity.

Maybe he has some new technique for sharing the gospel with unbelieving friends, or how to do small groups, or what things we must teach the children.

I can’t wait to hear what Paul has to say. It must be something very high and advanced. I’m sure it’s something we’ve never heard before.

So the Roman church gathers, with great expectation, and one of the elders stands up to read the letter. Would you be surprised when you heard these words from Paul to your church in chapter 1, verse 15? “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

What? The gospel? Is this the right letter? Don’t you see, Paul, we Christians already know the gospel? We’re “believers,” after all! That’s how we became believers—we believed the gospel. Of course, of course, nonbelievers need the gospel—this letter can be for them—but don’t you have something more advanced for us?

Verse 16 then explains why Paul is not ashamed to preach the gospel to people who are already believers: “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.”

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Paul is not ashamed to preach the gospel to believers because the gospel is God’s power for believers. Let’s take verse 16 a phrase at a time.

The gospel is “the power of God for salvation.” Notice it’s not a power, but the power. If believers are to keep believing, and so get from here to final salvation—from today, to tomorrow, to next week, to next year, to next decade, to eternity—the power for that (God has seen fit) is connected to the gospel.

The gospel is “to everyone who believes.” Paul doesn’t say “to everyone who believed” (past tense) but “to everyone who is believing” (present tense)—to every believer in the gospel who continues to believe and take daily nourishment and spiritual sustenance from the gospel of Jesus crucified for sinners.

The gospel is “to the Jew first and also the Greek.” Somewhat analogous would be say “to the believer first and also the nonbeliever.” The gospel is first for the Jew—it’s first for those who already believe. And yes, it’s also for the Greek—it’s also for the nonbeliever. It’s what the nonbelieving believe to become believers. But once we have initially believed, do we then advance on to new things? Of course, there are many new peripheral things to learn, but there’s no new center. The gospel is the center of Christianity from beginning to end, “from faith for faith” as verse 17 says—just as Habakkuk wrote about, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The Whole House

Surprising as it may seem, the gospel is not only the door to Christianity, but it’s the whole house. As pastor Tim Keller says, it’s not only the ABCs of Christianity, but the A to Z. Day-in, day-out healthy Christianity is at its heart a continual believing of the gospel of Jesus that empowers spiritual life and affects everything.

So as we memorize Romans 1:16, may God be pleased to make us unashamed of the gospel—not only unashamed to speak the gospel to our non-Christian friends and family, but also unashamed to daily remind our fellow Christians of the gospel and its endless applications. And may it all begin with daily reminding ourselves that, even though we are undeserving sinners, God in his amazing grace is one-hundred percent for us in Jesus Christ.


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