So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. – Romans 1:15

 

If you had to devote all your resources, everything you had, to doing one thing, what would it be? Let me put it another way. Is there one thing for which you would be willing to sacrifice everything? Is there one thing that you would be willing to invest every ounce of every resource in your life to do? Focusing our personal resources is the way mountains thought to be unscalable, can be climbed. Focusing our personal resources is the way distant goals, great goals are able to be reached. Have you ever thought of one thing that could be worth everything to you? That is what I want to discuss with you in this study.

How interested are you in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those around you? Is it a priority? Is it an essential thing to you to share Jesus with others? How high on your list of priorities is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost people of this world? If you were able to ask the Apostle Paul those questions he would say, “As much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you . . ..” Paul sets an example all Christians should follow.

Ready with a Passion to Preach the Gospel

Romans 1:15 – “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” 

Paul’s description of himself as “ready,” is no incidental comment. “Ready” here is translated from the Greek term prothumos and is a very illustrative conveying the image of that Paul was predisposed, passionate, eager, and willing with everything that was in him (i.e., “as much as is in me”) to preach the gospel. Paul is speaking about a passion to do something that is all consuming for him. Paul is willing to be used up to preach the gospel. Paul is willing to focus all that is in him to do this one thing, preach the gospel. How about you, does that describe your feelings about sharing the gospel of Jesus with others?

An Example to Follow

Paul encouraged his recipients to follow his example and therefore, if he described himself as “ready,” he was taking the lead in presenting an example for them and us to follow. That Paul made it somewhat of a habit to call his recipients to follow his lead is found in the following verses:

1 Corinthians 4:14-16 – “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

If Paul said he was passionately and eagerly ready to preach and share the gospel with others, we should seek to be ready in this way too.

Not Ashamed of Christ’s Gospel

Romans 1:16- “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

The purpose for Paul’s inspired letter to the Romans was to proclaim and explain the gospel of God. These verses are the strategic area through which the entire book is to be viewed. The gospel of Christ, the power of God to save to the Jew first, and also the Greek or non-Jew, salvation, and the righteousness of God, by faith in Christ, that is the message.

“Not ashamed”Paul here states that he is “not ashamed.” What is “shame” and what is its cause? Being “ashamed” (Greek epaischynomai) is to feel shame for something: be ashamed.[i]This is a word connected with a number of conditions which we can show from the Bible. Shame is related to the following:

First, shame has to do with not being accepted by peers or because of what they think of you. Today we might call this “peer pressure.” This is found in the Bible as well in the following verses:

2 Thessalonians 3:14 – “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

2 Timothy 1:8 – “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,”

These verses show that shame is directly linked to one’s perception of what another person thinks of them.

Second, shame is the result of being publicly proved wrong. Peter referred to this when he was inspired to write:

1 Peter 3:15-16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

A great deal of shame is rooted in a fear that you will be publicly proved wrong. As we study Romans, that fear will be dispelled, and you will see clearly and confidently what you believe and how the gospel of Christ is indeed the power of God for salvation.

Third, opposition can cause us to be ashamed though it should not if we are being opposed for speaking the truth of God. The Bible says:

1 Peter 4:16 – “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

Fear of being opposed can cause one to react in shame. But when a person is in the right and opposed, they have a holy boldness and courage in the truth.

You won’t always have all the answers. We need to understand that in our evangelistic conversations, we won’t always have all the answers to questions we’re asked. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t an answer, it simply means we don’t have the answer. When I was first saved I wanted to share Jesus and His gospel with everyone. As I sought to share Jesus, there would be times when people responded with questions that I didn’t have the answer to. I prayed about that and didn’t let it discourage me. I purposed in my heart before God to never be stumped by the same question more than once. In other words, what the enemy meant for evil with a tough question to sidetrack the gospel, I purposed to let God turn out for good in that I would study and find the answer so I wouldn’t be stumped by the same question more than once. The only way you can become good at witnessing is by witnessing. The only way you can become skilled at sharing the gospel, is by sharing the gospel. Don’t let the fear of not having all the answers keep you form sharing the gospel. Use the tough questions to graciously and humbly admit your lack and then follow up with diligently prepared answers to the tough questions. This is the spirit of what Peter says in the above quoted verses.

The Importance of Shame

Whether or not you are ashamed is important because the one who is ashamed of Jesus, Jesus will be ashamed of before the Father.

Mark 8:38 – “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Paul was able to proclaim in the opening words of Romans that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. How can we reach that point?

How can shame be combated? There are four ways to combat shame. They are:

First, the way to combat shame is to know God. Listen to what the apostle Paul said:

2 Timothy 1:12 – “For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

Because Paul had a personal living relationship with Jesus, he was able to face the world unashamed. Knowing Jesus puts everything else in proper perspective. The more you know God and are certain of your relationship with Him, the more confidence you will have in life.

Second, the way to combat shame is to know God’s word. Paul wrote to Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The more you know God’s word, the surer you will be of His will and way in life and that will birth confidence in God in you.

Third, the way to combat shame is to abide in Him and concern yourself more with being ashamed before Him. John wrote:

1 John 2:28 – “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.”

The key to overcoming shame is to fix your eyes on Jesus and be more concerned about what He thinks of you than what your opposition thinks of you. As you consistently abide in Jesus and grow in your relationship with Him, you will be built on the rock of Jesus and live life confidently.

Fourth, know that if Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren, we ought not to be ashamed of Him. The Bible states:

Hebrews 2:11-12 – “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,12 saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

Hebrews 11:13-16 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

If anyone should be ashamed of anyone, Jesus should be ashamed of us. But He is not, and we should not be ashamed of Him either. How could we be ashamed of Jesus, He has done so much for us?

Fifth, Jesus dealt with and deals with shame on the cross. We see this stated in the following verses:

Hebrews 12:1-4 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

Jesus was not hindered or kept from His mission by the threat of shame. Jesus kept the cross in view and what it would win for the lost. Jesus kept the victory over death and the devil in front of Him and so was able to rise above the pressure and shame that His opponents tried to heap on Him. That’s an example we should follow. Because Jesus died and rose again defeating death, the cause of shame (fear of failing) is undercut and eliminated. When we look at what Jesus did for us on the cross, and the victory He won for us, we receive courage and boldness in the Spirit. This happens as the love of Christ compels us on over, through and against any impending threat of shame.

In the book of Romans, Paul attacks the shame that is rooted in ignorance of the gospel and what a believer believes. By sharing the inspired truth of the gospel, the disciple can be freed from the shame that is rooted in uncertainty about what one believes.

There is another reason Paul gives for not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The term “gospel” translates the Greek term euanggelium which means a good message, good news, glad tidings. This good news is particularly attached to Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross and resurrection from the dead. That is what we will see in the letter to the Romans. That Jesus died in our place on the cross paying our debt of sin and redeeming us from the consequences of sin, is good news for us, incredibly good news. As we will see in Romans, on our own we have no defense for our sin and guilt. If it weren’t for Jesus, we would all, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we would all be justly destined for eternity separate from God in a place of torment called the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20). Rescue from that eternal destiny through faith in Jesus is not only “good news,” its STUPENDOUS MAGNIFICENT, WONDERFUL GOD GLORIFYING NEWS.

A summary of the good news of the gospel. The following is a summary of what is so good about the gospel of Jesus Christ:

Our legal war with God is over – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Before we put our faith in Jesus, we are legally guilty of sinning (countless times) against the Lord, His law, His creation, and are justly condemned to eternal damnation. It is as if we were in a legal battle against the Highest Government, Most Holy Law, Most Perfect holy Judge, and we were guilty as sin. But when we put our faith in Jesus, God legally pronounces us justified, or just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. Because Jesus paid our debt, our penalty for sin which is death (i.e., Romans 6:23), we can be set free from condemnation. We therefore experience “peace with God.”

Our old sinful life is exchanged for newness of life – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). When we trust Jesus as our Savior, our old life is replaced with a new life in Christ. We are wonderful transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are given not only newness of life, but “eternal life” through faith in Jesus (Romans 6:23). When we put our faith in Jesus, we are given a fresh start by God. If we sin after trusting Jesus as Savior, because of His atoning work on the cross, God forgives our sins (cf. 1 John 1:9). Jesus shed blood on the cross washes away our sins (1 John 1:7).

Power to live a new life in Christ – “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. . .. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:14 and 22). When we trust Jesus as our Savior the Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us spiritual life (Romans 8:9-11). With the Holy Spirit living in us we have the power to live and overcome sin. The Holy Spirit helps our weakness (Romans 8:26). By the Holy Spirit we become “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). The gospel and indwelling Holy Spirit give us power to evict sin in our lives!

A new awareness and experience of God’s love for us – “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . .. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:8 and 5). The gospel and the atoning death of jesus on the cross is the greatest expression of God’s love. When we trust jesus as Savior and the Holy Spirit indwells us, we understand God’s love and experience that love for ourselves in a new and eternal way. And best of all, nothing can separate us from God’s love, nothing (Romans 8:37-39).

Adoption into God’s family – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs – heirs of God and point heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14-16). When we trust Jesus as Savior we are adopted into God’s family where we find comfort and encouragement, but also the prospect of an inheritance to live out our eternal life with Him.

This is just a summary and taste of what we will be learning in our study of Romans. All of this is provided by God as a gift of His grace received by faith in Jesus. And there is much, much more!

The Most Important Reason We Should Be Unashamed of the Gospel of Christ

Eternal life! In Romans we will learn that God promises and delivers “eternal life” to those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior (cf. Romans 2:7; 5:21; 6:23). Eternal life begins as soon as we put faith in Jesus as our Savior. Eternal life begins now with a wonderfully transformed life, and continues into eternity, forever! That is good news that we should shout to the world. That is good news that everyone should have access to. That is good news for everyone.

Mountain moving Power. We should be unashamed of the gospel of Christ, “for it is the power of God to salvation.” The word “power” is translated from the Greek term dunamis. The English terms, “dynamite” and “dynamic” are derived from this term. Power is the ability to do. Power, like dynamite, is the ability to do what we ourselves could not do alone. Like dynamiting a mountain that needs to be moved, the power of the gospel of Christ provides us power to move mountains of sin out of our lives.

The gospel of Christ is what God uses to blast away at stony and calloused hearts of sin. The word dunamis is translated with synonyms such as, force, miraculous power, ability, might, strength, violence.

Salvation. The word, “salvation” (Greek soteria) means, to rescue, bring to safety, deliver, health, salvation, save, saving. The gospel of Christ is “good news” because it contains the dynamic power to save sinners from sin and really change people. This is what Paul is going to teach us in the book of Romans.

In the world we have little good news:  immorality, abortion, terrorism, false hope in technology, wars, and rumors of wars. The only good news that is substantial and eternal is from God in Christ.

“For the Jew first and also for the Greek” – The gospel was first preached to the Jews and when the Jews rejected the gospel of Christ, it was offered to the Gentiles (see Matthew 21:42-44). But the gospel is for everyone.

The Gospel is the Revelation of God’s Righteousness

Paul now goes into a further though summary explanation of why the gospel is powerful and therefore why we should not be ashamed of it.

Romans 1:17 – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” 

The gospel of Christ reveals the righteous plan of God to save a lost world from their sin. The means by which He works out this plan is through faith. We receive God’s righteousness by faith and then live it out by faith.

Revelation. The word “revealed” here is translated from the Greek term apokalupto which has a beautiful imagery in its meaning of, to take off the cover; to disclose; reveal. .[ii] In other words, the gospel of Christ blows the cover off of the righteousness of God showing us how we can enter into God’s righteousness.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Paul here quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in conveying the theme of Romans, “the just shall live by faith.” We enter into salvation life by faith in Christ and advance in our walk with the Lord by faith in Him.

Righteousness. “Righteousness” (Greek dikaiosune) is also rendered, “equity; justification; and righteousness.” .[iii]  Dikaiosune refers to, “the character or quality of being right or just;” it was formerly spelled “rightwiseness,” which clearly expresses the meaning. “Righteousness” is often used to refer to an attribute of God and is equated with God’s faithfulness or truthfulness (Romans 3:25-26). God is “righteous” in that He is faithful, consistent with His word and to keep His promises. [iv]

In Romans God’s righteousness is revealed. This letter reveals God’s plan to forgive sinners and reconcile them to Himself in a just way. What we see in Romans is that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) but Jesus paid the penalty as our substitute on the cross demonstrating not only God’s righteousness and justice, but also His love (Romans 3:25-26; 5:8; 6:23b).

By faith. The question then follows, “How can a sinner appropriate Christ’s work in his or her life?” The answer to that is, “The just shall live by faith.”

“Faith,” (Greek pistis) means, “firm persuasion; conviction; reliance upon; assurance; belief; believe; faith; fidelity.” .[v] Pistis is used in the New Testament always of “faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual.”  We see this word used in the following ways: “trust” (Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 3:23; Philippians 1:25; 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 3:2); “trust-worthiness; faithfulness; fidelity” (Matthew 23:23; Romans 3:3; Galatians 5:22; Titus 2:10); the contents of one’s belief, i.e. ‘the faith” (Acts 6:7; 14:22; Gal. 1:23; 3:25; 6:10; Phil. 1:27; 1 Thess. 3:10; Jude 3, 20); an assurance (Acts 17:31); and a pledge of fidelity (1 Tim. 5:12).

“Faith in God”The differences between “faith in God” and “faith in man” are seen in the use of this word as a verb. When “faith” is used in regard to God it carries the meaning of a firm conviction, a confidence in God’s revealed truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12); a personal surrender to God (John 1:12); and a conduct inspired by such surrender, (2 Corinthians 5:7). If we look at Abraham’s exemplary faith, we see a man whose faith in God rested in God, not his circumstances (Romans 4:17,20-21).[vi] We discuss faith in greater detail as we continue in our study.

Faith is not a work. While the Bible says, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20 and 26), it is also true that faith is not a work. We see this in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus where he actually contrasts faith to works:

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV) – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Here we see Paul speak of God’s grace in His gift of salvation. That the word “gift” refers to “salvation” and not “faith,” is attested to by the grammar of these verses. [1]

Faith or the ability to decide and trust in something is a product of the image of God we were created with (Genesis 1:26a). Because human beings were created in the image of God, they have the capacity to make decisions “have dominion over” things (Genesis 1:26b). Because faith is part of God’s created image in us, we can take no credit for exerting it. God created us by His grace. We live by His grace. We are who we are by the grace of God (cf. 1 Corinthian 15:10).

Paul contrasts faith with works when he says our salvation is “through faith” and then says it is “not of yourselves; . . . not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Faith adds nothing to our salvation other than receiving it. Jesus has done on the cross all the work of salvation. The Father has given His Son Jesus for our salvation. The Holy Spirit convicts’ people of their sin and need for salvation. All we do is admit and turn from our sins, believe, and receive what God has freely offered us in His redemptive gospel plan. We just receive through faith and that is nothing to boast about, except to boast in the Lord and what He has done for us.

“From faith to faith.” We receive God’s righteousness by faith in Jesus. We live out that righteousness by faith in Jesus. When we put our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit indwells us and brings power to live out a Christlike holy life. This is what is depicted in Romans 8, one of the greatest if not the greatest portions of the Bible. The KJV Bible Commentary states:

How is righteousness obtained? From faith to faith. Righteousness is received by faith in Christ Jesus and is in turn revealed in faithful living. Thus, in answer to the question, “How are the righteous to live?” Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by faith.” This faith implies more than mere acceptance of Christ’s righteousness for salvation. It implies a life style that is characterized by faith and righteous living. It was this truth that excited Martin Luther and initiated the Protestant Reformation (1:18).[vii]

We ACCEPT the gospel of Christ by faith and ADVANCE in life by faith.

Sharing the gospel is the one thing that is worth everything else in this life. That is because the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to experience eternal life. Saving a soul and setting it on the course to eternal life is the most important thing in this life. Jesus said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Our salvation and the salvation of others is the most important thing in this life. This life is short. Eternal life is forever. So I ask you again, what is the one thing worth everything in your life? I hope and pray you are now able to say, “Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Amen! Now let’s do it!

 

 

[1] This is supported by such notables as A.T. Robertson. See my book on Ephesians Our Wealthy Worthy Walk in Christ for a detailed exposition of Ephesians 2:8-9.

[i]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[ii]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[iii]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[iv]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[v]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[vi]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[vii]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

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