Summary: Some people think they are going to go to heaven by doing good deeds or acting righteously. The very best thing I have ever done in my flesh compared to God’s holiness and purity, looks like dirty, filthy, stinking rags before God.
Open your Bibles to Romans 1:16-17. Rome was the greatest city of the world in Biblical times. Now you really can’t say that now, because there are many great cities in the world today. New York, Tokyo, London, all are great. You really can’t say there is one city that stands out in all the world today. Well, back then you could. Without a doubt it was the great city of Rome. Some people said Paul would be embarrassed to go to Rome and preach, because there he would be a laughing stock. During his time, the Roman Empire was putting Christians to death. Christians were being executed. They were accused of being cannibals. Cannibals? Well, yes, they were the group of people who talked about eating the body and drinking the blood of their founder and to those unspiritual minds in Rome that sounded like cannibalism. Some were being executed for being cannibals.
Many were being executed because they were called atheists. You say, “How could Christians be atheists?” Simple. If you could go to Rome you would have found the beautiful temple, the Pantheon, where all the different Roman gods had a little niche or a little alcove. In this building there were little shelves with alcoves and on each shelf there was an icon or a statue representing all the polytheism of the Romans. There was a god for every day of the week, there was a god for every month of the year, there was a god for every holiday, there was a god for every vocation. In addition, they had plenty of empty alcoves and when the Christians came along, the Romans said, “Hey, come on. We have room for another god. You just bring your Jesus and put him up here on the shelf with these other gods and we will accept Christianity with open arms.” But true Christians could not do that. They said, “No, Jesus is not one of many gods, Jesus is the only God. So, they refused to believe in these gods and they were killed for being atheists, and it is in this context in which Paul said, “Listen, I’m not ashamed. I’m not ashamed to come and preach the gospel.
Today we are going to talk about the gospel. You’ve heard about the gospel, haven’t you? People say, “I like gospel music, gospel preaching, gospel press. Well, what is the gospel? Let’s learn three things about the gospel from these two verses.
I. EXCITEMENT ABOUT THE GOSPEL
1. The gospel is good news!
Notice excitement about the gospel. Paul was so excited about it, he said, “I am not ashamed of it.” Let me just tell you what the word gospel means. The gospel is first of all “good news.” That’s what it literally means. The word gospel literally means “good news.” Of course, our word gospel is an Anglo-Saxon word from godspell, but the Greek word that is here in the Bible that is used for the word gospel is the word euaggelion–we get our word evangelism from it–but it means a good message. Have you ever heard a eulogy at a funeral? The word eulogy means “good word,” eu for good; logos for word. It’s the same idea here. Euaggelion, good message. So, the gospel is not bad news. It’s good news!