Summary: What do people actually know about God? What do they actually know about His power? And, what do people really know about the gospel?
Series Title: The Line in the Sand
Scripture: Romans 1:16
16 I am 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.
What do people actually know about God? What do they actually know about His power? And, what do people really know about the gospel?
Right in line with that, what do people actually know about many of the ongoing movements that are seemingly Christian yet they are subtly teaching a social or ‘feel-good’ gospel that has nothing to do with the gospel of Christ?
Appearing in an article in Christianity Today, February 10, 1992, was this information on the New Age movement:
About half of the Americans who are familiar with the New Age movement don’t take its teachings seriously, and a third of them say New Age thought runs counter to Judeo-Christian teaching, says a new poll by the Princeton Religious Research Center.
The poll also shows that the general population’s awareness of the New Age is low, but the number of Americans who adhere to New Age practices is alarmingly high, even among professing Christians. "Many who consider themselves good Christians nonetheless have engaged in practices that seemingly are counter to the teaching of their church," the pollsters said.
Roughly half of all Americans say they believe in extrasensory perception. Thirty percent of Roman Catholics and 22 percent of Protestants say they believe in clairvoyance, while 48 percent of Roman Catholics and 44 percent of Protestants say they believe in psychic healing, the poll shows. The poll indicates that 25 percent of both groups believe the movement of the stars may help govern the affairs of men and women.
With all of that said, what is your personal take on Romans 1:16 where Paul says “…the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:”? I must admit, for the longest time when I was a neophyte in Christ, I would read the beginning of that verse, “I am not ashamed of the gospel…” and continue reading the rest of the verse with those words echoing through my mind and not paying attention to what I had read. Yet, they are just as important, if not more so, than the beginning, because the beginning speaks of Paul’s relationship to the gospel and the rest of it tells us why he’s not ashamed, and what the gospel is and what it is capable of doing for our Christian lives.
In a previous message concerning Romans 1:16, we dealt specifically with the first part of that first verse where Paul proclaimed that he is not ashamed of the gospel. In the first part of this message I want to spend a little time concerning, “What is the power of God for the salvation of everyone. “ Then later we’ll look at the universal availability of the gospel in the statement, Everyone who believes.
I. The Gospel: The Power of God for the Salvation of Everyone
In any encounter such as competitions, business dealings, even wars, when the lines become blurred it’s difficult to know when to stop. If the lines are obscured, it may even get to the point of not knowing which side you are on.
When you watch baseball, if you watch some of the seasoned pro players, you’ll notice that many of them stand as far back in the batter’s box as they can, which gives them a few added inches with which to watch the ball on its way to the plate. Prior to settling down in the batter’s box and waiting for the ball, you’ll notice that they will do a lot of scraping and digging around with their baseball shoes. Sure, they are trying to move the loose dirt away and get down to the firmly packed soil so they won’t slip, but there is an ulterior motive. As they dig and scrape, they obscure the lines that forms the box. By obscuring or blurring the lines, they can then set up a little further back in the box and not have to worry about the umpire calling an automatic out, for them being out of the batter’s box during a pitch.
The gospel, the word, has had its lines blurred to the point that many don’t even know exactly what the word means. And, this isn’t the only word from the Word that has become blurry and faint in its meaning. There are many words, words that have been used so often and sometimes so random, that people take them for granted and their definitions have become fuzzy, no longer sharp and definitive at the edges. You can’t tell where it ends and something else begins. Take for instance the word freedom. If you were to ask someone in North Korea what that word means, I’m sure you’ll get an entirely different meaning from someone somewhere else.