Summary: This week in our What We Believe series we are taking a look at the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how we, like Paul, are not to be ashamed of it, because it is the power and righteousness of God.
What We Believe
In our series on what we believe, last week we looked at the Bible and how it is God’s word to us providing answers and directions for life that are practical, beneficial, and relevant. It teaches us what is true and reproves what isn’t, and it instructs us on how to get and stay right with God.
Therefore it is only natural that this week we look the gospel of Jesus Christ in our series.
I’d like to begin with a story about Fritz Kreisler, a world-famous violinist. On one of his trips he discovered an exquisite violin, but didn’t have the money to buy it. Later, having raised enough money he returned to the seller only to find that he had already sold it to a collector.
Kreisler then made his way to the collector’s home and offered to buy the violin, but the collector was unwilling to part with what he called his most prized possession. Disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he asked if he could play the instrument one more time before it was consigned to silence.
The collector agreed, and it is said that Kreisler played such heart moving music that the emotions of the collector were so moved that he said, “I have no right to keep this to myself. It’s yours, take it into the world and let the people hear it.”
This story is at the heart of our text this morning. It is Paul’s declaration that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, and was ready to preach it to whomever, even the Gentiles, because the gospel is the power of God to salvation to all who will believe it.
“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:14-17)
Paul begins by saying that he owed a debt to the Gentiles, but it wasn’t so much a debt he owed to the Gentiles, as it was a debt he owed to God, with payments being made to the Gentiles.
Paul sees himself as a man who cannot rest until every gospel cent was paid back. But what we must understand is that while his debt is to God, his payment is to humanity.
This should bring a breath of fresh air to revive our tired spirits in the same endeavor as God has called all of us to this same mission. If we see ourselves as such debtors to God made payable to our neighbors, community, and the world, then nothing would stop us from opening our mouths and letting others know.
This very thing is what drove Hudson Taylor to the mission field and to China where there was no witness for Jesus Christ and the gospel message. When it was said of Hudson Taylor that he had given his life to the Orient because he loved the Chinese he said, “No, not because I love the Chinese, but because I love God.”
Getting back to our story about Paul, why take it to the Gentiles and not the Jews? Actually it was both, as we see in our text as Paul said, “to the Jew first and also for the Greek,” but God called Paul to specifically pay His debt forward to the Gentiles.
This was actually part of Paul’s job description, if I could say it like that. The Lord described Paul’s mission to Ananias, a disciple of Christ who lived in Damascus. Ananias was told by the Lord to go and heal Paul of his blindness, which Ananias was hesitant to do. To say that he wasn’t too thrilled about it is an understatement, because Paul was an enemy to those of the Christian faith putting them in jail and even to death.
But the Lord told Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15)
Therefore, in every city he visited, Paul always began his missionary work and the preaching of the gospel in the local synagogue, but then took it out to the Gentiles to fulfill the Lord’s command. Paul explained this in the city of Antioch Pisidia, because of the Jewish hostility against his message, he said to them, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46)