“For 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.”
This has always been one of those verses that calls for a particular pause in my life. I know the God I believe in, and I am overwhelmingly thankful for my new life in Christ. And yet there is often a conviction in not responding to others in a way that truly reflects the joy that has welled up in my heart. I mean, the power of God saved me! Spending a bit of time in this text, however, has been most encouraging.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel”. What a peculiar statement to start with. After Paul's lengthy introduction in Romans 1, that is what he says: I am not ashamed. Why would Paul say he is not ashamed? We generally don’t defend a position this way unless there are accusations from those who may not like what we have to say. If we take a look at Romans 1:14, we see that the gospel is for the Greeks, the Barbarians, the Jews, the Gentiles. These are the philosophical and learned, the social outcasts, the religious elite, and the worldly. Sound familiar with our culture today? Paul may have been addressing the Romans, but God is surely addressing us. In verse 16, the God of grace reminds us that the gospel is not one to be ashamed of regardless of how others respond!
Some mocked... some believed.
In Acts 17:32, we are given an account of Paul’s message with two completely different responses: “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed…” Some mocked, some joined Paul and believed. Same message, two completely difference responses. Paul was faithful to the gospel message. He wasn’t ashamed. Why was Paul not ashamed? Because he just didn’t care what others would think of him? No. Was it because he felt obligated to preach the gospel? That’s not what the text says. Paul wasn’t ashamed of the gospel because “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”! It is a regenerating power, a transformational power, a resurrecting power. It is the power that changed Paul and every other believer. God's power is the means of salvation.
It's not about you or me
Proclaiming the gospel boldly has nothing to do with our personality nor is it related to how fascinating our particular life story is. The story of the 6-year-old child conversion is just as amazing as the 40-year-old man that was saved after a life of drug abuse. Why? Because the gospel is about the power of God. It is about the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and what He has accomplished. It is not about our message. It’s about God’s message—the message of his sovereign grace and power to save sinners. And that is a message to never be ashamed of. The implications of this perspective are far reaching as our message will never change, regardless of the responses we receive. Some of us will want to to change the message in order to reap a certain response. Don't. Let us remain faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some will mock. Let them. Others, however, will receive the words of eternal life. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.