What do you think of the gospel? – Romans 1:1-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 27, 2012 AM
Dan was the kind of man who always looked more for an argument than for an answer. He met every attempt I made to explain the gospel to him with a skeptical look and a question or two. Though Dan was willing to walk up to the line of faith, he was not willing to take that last step of trust. He focused on his doubts. Dan was unsure of the gospel and showed it by not trusting Christ, but he’s not by himself. Even Christians sometimes lack confidence in the gospel. Disappointments with prayer, a church, or life in general create a crisis of confidence. These believers may not realize it, but they have become the focus of their lives instead of Christ. The key to the Christian life is confidence in the gospel of Christ.
Paul was someone who had complete confidence in the gospel. On the road to Damascus Paul met Jesus and discovered salvation by faith. The gospel through which he was saved had never let him down. In fact, he would later write, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV) Let me ask you, “What do you think of the gospel?” Let’s discover how we as believers in Jesus Christ can have confidence in the gospel as Paul did…
The other day my wife and daughter attended a mutual friend’s baby shower. All through the party the expectant had a huge smile on her face. She is one of those people you love to be around, very sweet, and always has good things to say about others. Her pregnancy has made her even happier. Good news has a tendency to do that. The gospel message is like that as well. Paul was always excited about the message of Jesus Christ and because of it he displayed self-assurance. We can have the confidence of Paul…
I. Because of the gospel of Jesus in our lives! (Romans 1:1-5)
1. Believers are set apart because of the gospel!
1) Paul immediately refers to himself as “a servant of Christ Jesus”, a slave who is owned body and soul by another, and in this case he was “called to be an apostle.” That is, one sent out for a specific purpose because he knew he was “set apart for the gospel of God.” This was no little thing for Paul since he knew that this gospel, this “good news”, was “promised beforehand through [God’s] prophets in the Holy Scriptures!” This good news is about God’s “Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David.” Jesus was an inheritor of the royal line of Israel, but more than that, Jesus “through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul’s confidence came from the fact that he fully understood what this meant for his own life personally. He established this fact right away because there were those who wanted to tear down what Paul was trying to do with the good news. Paul writes that it was “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” This is the good news, to “call” folks to obedient faith in Jesus! This was Paul’s life this is what he was called to do! We can have the confidence of Paul because of the gospel of Jesus in our lives!
EXAMPLE: Dennis Fisher writes about Hal Needham: “In his book Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life, Hal Needham reflects on taking risks. Needham has slugged it out in fist fights, raced cars at high speed, walked on wings of airborne planes, fallen off horses, and has even been set on fire! He risked his life to entertain film audiences and to distinguish himself as a top Hollywood stuntman.” Paul was willing to risk his life for the gospel. His goal was to exalt Christ through the preaching of the gospel. We know that as a missionary in the Roman Empire, Paul faced hazards that resulted in shipwrecks, beatings, persecution, and imprisonment—just to name a few (2 Corinthians 11:22-30). But Paul was more than willing to take these risks to make Christ known. We can have the same confidence as Paul because of the gospel of Jesus in our lives!
Sharing good news, as I mentioned earlier, is one thing we all like to do. Good news that affects the lives of others for eternity carries even greater significance. Paul shared the gospel of Jesus because he knew that anyone who placed their faith and trust in Jesus, would be saved for eternity. It was the duty God had called him to and it is the command Jesus left for all of his followers. What better news could there be to share than that? We can have the confidence of Paul…
II. Because of our witness of the gospel through our lives! (Romans 1:8-15)
1. What has affected us most in life we are willing to share with others!
1) Paul had never been to Rome and he did not start the Roman church, but nevertheless he thanked “God through Jesus Christ” because their faith in Christ was “being reported all over the [known] world!” Paul was glad it was true! And now he wanted them to know that his witness came from “God” who he served with his “whole heart in preaching the gospel of [God’s] Son!” Paul had wanted to go the Rome and preach. In fact he wrote that it had been his “witness” how constantly he remembered them in his “prayers at all times!” He did not want them to be “unaware” that he had “planned many times to come” to them. He related, “I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you!” Why was this so important to Paul? He writes that he longed to see them face-to-face, so-to-speak, “so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong!” Paul’s confidence came from his willingness to witness to others about Jesus! It was his longing, his heart’s desire to do so, so much so that he wanted to “be mutually encouraged” by one another’s faith! Can you imagine? As now a slave to God Paul understood that he was “obligated” that is indebted “both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish” to the entire human race to tell them about the gospel of Jesus! He writes, “That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome!” We can have the confidence of Paul because of our witness of the gospel through our lives!
EXAMPLE: The other night as I watched the sports coverage on the news, I wondered about all the folks who go to cheer their favorite team. Many folks wear t-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, costumes and makeup to display their teams’ colors and logos. But what if everyone decided to show up wearing their favorite team’s colors and logo under nondescript clothing? And what if they decided not to cheer for their favorite team? Would it have an impact? I believe it might. We gladly cheer or openly support a favorite sports team but why don’t we show the same enthusiasm when it comes to our support of the gospel? Now I am not saying we need to do a special cheer for Jesus, but we can have the confidence of Paul because of our witness of the gospel!
Faith in Christ changes people from the inside out through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was never reluctant to share the gospel because he knew it was the truth and he never doubted its sufficiency to save. The gospel had never let Paul down, neither in its intellectual elegance nor in its practical application. The gospel had changed Paul’s life and the lives of people with whom he shared it. He justifiably had full confidence in the gospel. This lesson is one we need to hear. We can have the confidence of Paul…
III. Because we are not ashamed of the gospel! (Romans 1:16-17)
1. It is shameful to claim we are saved when in fact we are not!
1) Paul was “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!” Paul’s eagerness to evangelize sprang from the value he placed on his message, the gospel. Many believe that in fact this is the theme of Paul’s entire letter to the Roman church, the gospel, which he uses five times within the first 17 verses. Paul knew that this was the answer for all mankind’s ills. Anyone who believes is made new through the message of Jesus, the gospel of God! Paul could never be ashamed of the message that had so changed his life and the lives of so many others he had witnessed. He dedicated his entire existence to preaching this good news and he could not shrink back from doing so. We look in awe in our day and age and wonder at the tenacity of Paul and his willingness to devote his life for such a cause. We may say we believe, we may attend church regularly, and we may read the Scriptures and pray, but our confidence must come from the gospel. This is why Paul proudly proclaimed, “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.’” Through our faith in Jesus comes our righteousness before God. How could Paul ever be ashamed of that? He could not! It is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes!” We can have the confidence of Paul because we are not ashamed of the gospel!
EXAMPLE: While imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Philippi about his purpose in life. He wrote, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20 NIV) According to a long-held Christian tradition, the apostle Paul was beheaded and buried in Rome around 67 AD. In 2009, scientists conducted carbon dating tests on what many believe to be his remains. While these tests on the bone fragments confirmed that they date from the first or second century, positive identification remains in question. But I honestly believe Paul would not care if his bones were ever identified. I think he would relate that no matter where his bones rest, his heart lives on through his letters in the New Testament. It is a testimony that shows the confidence Paul had in the gospel. We can have the confidence of Paul because we are not ashamed of the gospel!
We can have the confidence of Paul because of the gospel of Jesus, because of our witness of the gospel, and because we not ashamed of the gospel!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.