Summary: A sermon preached at Homecoming, focusing on Martin Luther’s revelation surrounding "the just shall live by faith."
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)
This has been quite a week. While some have seen pagan rituals and practices contrary to the faith, others have seen great hope for the cause of Christ as they view the history of the church.
Today, we are gathered to celebrate Homecoming, 2006. What is the purpose of Homecoming? For some it is the only time of year they will grace the house of the Lord and then it is because of some sense of familial duty and not out of reverence to the Lord.
For others, it is a time of meeting with friends and family. A time when fellowship is had and a wonderful meal enjoyed. However, if this is our sole purpose today then we are in grave error.
Then for others, this is a time of commemoration, to remember those who founded the local body, those who helped to define the faith and those who left us during the year. It is with thankfulness to God that we come and remember.
This morning, I would like for us to think about who we are as Christians. For the faith we practice is very different from what the church of the 1400’s and 1500’s was practicing. Some things have changed based upon the technological advances; however, some changes were needed from a doctrinal stance.
The text we read this morning is instrumental to what is known as the Reformation of the church. Journey with me if you will to the 1500’s. The pope is involved in a massive building program, but monies are running short. In order to fund the building project the pope authorizes the sell of indulgencies.
Now, in our twenty-first century mindset, we cannot understand how it is that someone would buy such a thing. But, times were different, people were far more superstitious than today. Furthermore, the only scripture they had was written in Latin and many of the priests themselves no longer understood the readings.
There is a small man who is searching diligently for God. He finds himself teaching in Wittenberg. In order for him to excise the metaphorical demons that are plaguing him, he has been assigned to teach theology. In preparation to teach class, this professor finds a key text in Romans and the light of the Reformation was birthed.
Of course, you know that the young Reformer was none other than Martin Luther. Martin Luther was the right man, in the right place at the right time. The Reformation had its beginnings far earlier than Luther, but with the invention of the printing press and the fire within Luther, the Reformation process was firmly entrenched. This past Tuesday, we remember October 31, 1517, as the day in which Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church and from there Christendom has never been the same.
With this background, let us look that key text.
I. For I am not ashamed of the gospel.
This portion of Paul’s letter to the Romans in many cases is the rallying cry of many Christians. We openly and firmly declare that we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ – when in church. Together we are unified and together we stand.
However, there comes a time when we must leave the company of fellow believers and venture into the world. It is then and only then that we prove whether we are ashamed of the Gospel or not. For you see, the world has no regards for the message of Jesus. In most aspects they will grant us the historicity of Jesus, but the claim that he is the Son of God seem preposterous.
The teaching and preaching of Jesus and his sacrifice is a stumbling block for some, but for the majority of the world, it is mere foolishness. It is therefore incumbent upon us that we be not ashamed of the Gospel.
However, in many instances we fail. For we are ashamed of the Gospel when we allow course jokes to be told in front of us, we are ashamed of the gospel when we allow tax dollars to fund blasphemous art, we are ashamed of the gospel when we fail to take a stand for the rights and liberties secular texts have given us in regards to our ability to worship privately or publicly. When we fail to take a stand against all sorts of bigotry and prejudices then we are ashamed of the gospel. This morning, as we sit in the facilities that have stood for decades, beneath the banner which reads Free Union Free Will Baptist church, we must ask ourselves, “Are we really not ashamed of the Gospel?”