ROMANS 1:8-17 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 15 MAY 2022
One of the world’s most brilliant personalities writes to the Christians in Rome. Rome – was the center of the affairs of the world at that time. And, this is his statement to them: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” Is this an indication that some of them in Rome may have been ashamed of the Gospel? It is likely. In fact, it was true that some had become ashamed of the Gospel for various reasons
But Paul says boldly – “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”
What he was saying is that he is not ashamed that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Many people would reject Jesus as the Messiah simply because of His humble beginnings. Born in a stable. His mother was a single young girl before she became pregnant. In the minds of many, the Messiah should at least have some high standing in the community.
We are told in Isaiah 53:3 that this Messiah was despised and rejected by man. Celsus, a 2nd-century Greek philosopher, was an opponent of Christianity. He complained that Christianity was a phenomenon limited primarily to the lower class. He claimed that Christians actively sought out and converted the ignorant, uneducated, and lower class of people because they were the only ones who would believe in such a ridiculous theology and blindly follow its teachings.
And there have been many others down through the ages of time who believed the same, or even more untrue teachings. Hear what the Apostle John says concerning those ashamed of the Gospel – John 12:42-43: “Nevertheless, many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.” Peer pressure was a real thing even way back then. And, today, it is often peer pressure that prevents some from openly declaring Jesus as Lord.
And there are still circles of people who believe that anyone who accepts the Lordship of Jesus Christ is one who is less informed (not very smart) and even bordering on stupidity.
And then Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Jesus Christ died to save sinners.
In 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 Paul says it like this: “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Greeks foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
So, people make choices: Is Christ a stumbling block? Is His message of foolishness fit only for ignorant people? Or is the message of Christ the Power which God has provided us to overcome the world?
The Jews were ashamed at even the thought that the Promised Messiah would come in the humble manner Jesus came, and that He would die such a cruel death as He did.
Gentiles simply thought the life of this so-called Messiah was meaningless. He was nothing.
Look at Jesus’ conversation with Peter at the Last Supper (Mark 14:27). Jesus said that they all would fall away, “because it is written, ‘I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’” Peter’s answer to that, was “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.”
There is even now in our modern age the trend of shying away from unpleasant subjects such as sin and death.
As followers of Christ, we must not be ashamed of the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day. We must not be ashamed to believe it and proclaim it even in the face of unbelievers and mockers.
People in the first century, following the resurrection, were mocked. Acts 17:32 says: “Now when they (the men of Athens) heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer…” Intellectuals will try to find a way around the truth; some way to refute the truth. They are those who follow the ways of the pagans.
Elmer Kile preached in 1945 from a trailer on a street corner in New York City. And when he preached concerning the resurrection, many who listened yelled to him: “Don’t give us that stuff; when you are dead, you are dead.”
But we know better. We know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the Power of God. It is not the power of man.
It is strange that men would insist on God using their brand of dynamite. Paul doesn’t say that this is the way he would have chosen to preach. But we are reminded in Isaiah 55:8 that “My ways are not your ways, nor my thoughts your thoughts.
Here is the difference: A man blasts a rock with explosives and destroys whatever matter is in its path. God plants a seed in a crevice of a rock and drops water into the earth and freezes it. He preserves with Power.
And the Gospel is the Power of God. The Gospel has changed headhunters into missionaries in the Pacific Islands. The Gospel changes nothing into something. Something more than any humanly devised force could ever do.
That reminds me of a song titled Something Beautiful. It goes like this: “
Something beautiful, something good; all my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him as brokenness and strife. But He made something beautiful of my life.”
We ought not be ashamed of the Gospel because it is for our salvation. The Romans Paul writes to are reminded of the results of their civilization. It had produced all manner of unspeakable sin.
A civilization without God is more destructive than no civilization at all. We are reminded of the refinements of destruction in the German prison camps of WWII; mass-production methods; the use of human ashes for fertilizer. This is the natural result of man’s worship of himself and his own power. But the Gospel – is God’s power for salvation from world suicide.
The salvation provided to us because of the resurrection of Christ is individual salvation and it is eternal salvation. There has never been a plan of salvation that offers any life in eternity. It is in the salvation plan through Jesus Christ that provides a promise – “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Someone once wrote these words: “There are many beautiful things about the Christian religion, but when any system attempts to tell a man where he came from and where he is going, that is attempting too much.” That person was studying at a college based on the hope of eternity with Christ, who gave him the freedom to speak that freely. Obviously, that person did not know the Christ of the Gospels.
Jesus says to us, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Are you hesitant to believe that? That place He prepares for us invites all. All may come, but some will not believe and be condemned. We know from the Hebrews letter (11:6) that “without faith it is impossible to please God”.
There is no teaching of faith alone in the Word of God. Paul assumes that those who believe will live as though they believe. And, as Paul reminds us through Romans 6:3 – “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.”
To bring this to a close, 2 Timothy 4: 9-10, written by Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy, encourages us with these words: “Make every effort to come to me soon. For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Demas, loved the world; ashamed of the Gospel even after having worked in the ministry of the Word with Paul.