Summary: I want to share from this text because we want to move towards becoming an evangelistic church. We want to become a church family that freely witnesses, testifies and spread the gospel message for Christ and his kingdom.
The Power of the Gospel
Our scripture lesson is taken from Romans 1:16-18, “¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone 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. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”
I want to share from this text because we want to move towards becoming an evangelistic church. We want to become a church family that freely witnesses, testifies and spread the gospel message for Christ and his kingdom. Paul writes this young church at Rome to encourage them as they live for God in a hostile environment. In this text, Apostle Paul testifies to his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Disciples of Christ had scattered from Jerusalem because of the severe persecution. Paul never actually walked with the disciples during the earthly ministry of Christ, but since his conversion and subsequent calling, he was very zealous for the cause of Christ. When Paul writes this letter, the Christian church had spread to Rome, the capitol of the civilized world. Paul had heard of the church at Rome, but he had never been there, nor had any of the other apostles. Some believe that the Jews, who had come to faith at Pentecost, subsequently brought that faith back to Rome. Paul writes this letter to introduce himself as a leader in the Church of Christ and to introduce himself to the church at Rome. He wanted to clearly declare an understanding of what faith in Christ really was. The early church was operating under heavy persecution and ridicule. The Greek considered Christianity as foolishness and the Jews sought for a sign. Paul declares that the Gospel is really the power of God to those who believe.
At first glance, it seems like an extraordinary thing that Paul should say that he is not ashamed of the gospel. For when we read that statement you might ask, "Why would the apostle ever think that anybody would be ashamed of something as grand as the gospel of Christ?" Why do you think people are ashamed of the gospel today? Have you ever been ashamed of the gospel? Paul had every reason to say this because he had stood boldly for the cause of Christ in spite of great opposition. He had stood for the Christ Jesus in spite of the suspicion of the other apostles, the ridicule of the Jews and the rejection of his family. The reason many are ashamed of the gospel today is that the world opposes the gospel message and ridicules the messengers. There is a desire in believers to live in harmony with the world culture instead of living in opposition to it. Today's culture seems to simply tolerate Christians, but the world is still the world. The world is always hostile towards God and his church. Regardless of the hostility, Paul was ready to preach the gospel in Rome, in the very pinnacle of heathenistic pride and power. If there was any place where one would be ashamed of a crucified Savior that place was Rome, the center of power. In Rome, the emperor Nero had literally declared war against the Christians, at that very time Nero was feeding Christians to the lions. He ridiculed their faith, belittled them and made sport of the Christians during his reign. Even though in America, Christianity enjoys a measure of liberty, we must not forget that the world is an enemy of Grace. We are living in a hostile environment; surrounded by the devil and all those he has enlisted to assist him in his war against the church. The world will never be a friend of Grace. Every time we take a stand for the word of God or the standard of God we will face opposition. We are in a hostile environment. The people on our jobs tolerate us, they don’t mind us going to church on Sunday, but when we must take a stand, they will quickly be irritated with us. Their irritation is a reminder that we are different, we march to the beat of a different drummer. We follow the orders of a different General, the Lord Jesus Christ!