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!
I have been amazed through the years at how sometimes people leave church after a scathing, excoriating sermon about Hell or sin feeling terrible. The preacher has walked up one side of their back and down the other side with hobnail boots on, and they just feel awful, and some say, “Oh, man, he really preached the gospel today!” because they feel so bad. There is bad news. That’s what makes the good news good. But the gospel doesn’t make you feel bad. It doesn’t make you feel whipped. The gospel is good news that liberates you. Once you understand what the good news is, you won’t walk out of here with your head bent, you’ll say, “Praise God! There is a way to be delivered.” I have been told (although I was not alive at the time) that when Germany surrendered in World War II, the people went out into the streets of their neighborhoods and their towns, and they shouted, “Germany has surrendered!” That was good news. A few months later when the Japanese surrendered, people again took to the streets, and all the headlines said, “Good News, the war is over!” The gospel is the same way. It is good, liberating, life-giving news.
2. The gospel is worth sharing!
That’s why Paul said, “I am not ashamed. I’m going to share the gospel there in Rome.” Now isn’t it a shame we are so prone to share bad news? People like to be the bearer of bad tidings. Have you ever noticed people like to gossip? Not here...no...oh okay. Somebody said the theme song of gossips is the song that says, “I love to tell the story.” It’s sad how people are so quick to share gossip. We shouldn’t be quick to share gossip, but we should be quick to share the good news. The question I have for you this morning is, “Are you excited about the gospel? Are you sharing the good news with everybody around you?” It’s just our nature to share good news.