The last word that describes those who are gripped by the Gospel is confident. Those who are gripped by the Gospel are confident in the power of the Gospel to change lives.
“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 1:16-17 (NKJV)
When Paul believed the Gospel about Jesus Christ the Jews wrote him off as an apostate. His faith in the Gospel had caused the wise among the Gentiles to consider him to be a fool. Pretty much the only thing the Jews and Gentiles agreed on was that they didn’t like Paul. Paul’s faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ had cost him dearly. He had been persecuted, beaten, despised and driven from place to place. In one place he says he was regarded as the filth of the world, all because of his faith in and service to the Gospel of Christ. Despite all of these things Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is an amazing statement considering that in a way Paul had every reason to be ashamed of the Gospel. Let me show you some reasons Paul could have been ashamed of the Gospel and see if any of them sound familiar.
Paul lived in a sinfully depraved world. One of my commentaries described Rome as a “moral sewer, a cesspool of detestable and inconceivable wickedness.” But it wasn’t just Rome. Much of the world of Paul’s day could be described in this way. In fact many of the cities he had gone to were just about this bad. The sinful depravity of Paul’s world made the moral righteousness of the Gospel seem freakishly out of touch with the modern world. The sinful depravity of Paul’s world made the moral righteousness that the Gospel calls people to seem ridiculous in light of modern morality.
The Gospel was unbelievably foolish and offensive. The message of the Gospel is that God left the glories of heaven, took on human flesh, despised Jewish flesh no less, was born a baby, lived a sinless life and yet was executed in a most humiliating way and then rose from the dead. Not only that but this man’s death was to pay the penalty for the sins of others, so that through faith in Him they could be made righteous because apart from Him they were condemned and unrighteous. This message was unbelievably foolish and offensive to the people of Paul’s day.
Paul was often rejected because of the Gospel. Not by one or two people mind you. Very often he was rejected by entire communities. At times his life was threatened. At other times he was rejected as a fool. At times his life was nearly taken. This all happened to him because of the Gospel
Can you see where it would have been easy for Paul to become ashamed of the Gospel and not share it with others? Now don’t get me wrong. Paul would probably never say he was ashamed of the Gospel and neither would we. But he might have demonstrated shame by not sharing the Gospel when opportunities arose because he feared how others may respond. What if they made fun of him for believing in such outdated ideas like sin and righteousness? What if they called him a fool for believing and sharing such a ridiculous message? What if it offended them and made them angry? Wouldn’t these questions and fears make it tempting to hide the Gospel and not share it with other?
Paul wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel because he knew it was the power of God. Paul knew that in the Gospel message there was divine authoritative power that could do what no other power on the earth could do. It could change lives by bringing them to the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. All they had to do was believe.
Paul could not be made ashamed of the Gospel because he was confident it is the power of God that leads to salvation for all who believe. One of the great things about Paul is that he wasn’t confident in himself. Paul made it clear that his success in ministry was not due to his outstanding skills as a speaker. There were two things that made Paul successful, the power of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the reasons we are hesitant to share the Gospel is our fear that we aren’t good enough speakers to say what needs to be said. When we say this what we are saying is that all the power is in us when it’s not. The power is in the Gospel and from the Holy Spirit and not in us at all. Our job isn’t to save souls and change lives. Our job is to share the Gospel and then trust in the power of the Gospel to lead them to salvation and change their lives.
All throughout Scripture we are reminded that the power is in the Word and not the person doing the speaking.
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV)
Where is the power? In God’s Word. Who makes it effective? God does. There is something particularly freeing about knowing that the power and authority comes from God’s Word and not our eloquence and skill.
“And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 NKJV)
In Jesus’ parable the seed is sown and the farmer goes on. As the farmer goes on and just basically does life God makes the seed grow and the fruit eventually comes.
As a preacher I use these passages often to remind myself of two things. The first is that I can’t possible know what God will do through the seeds that were planted through my preaching. My job isn’t to save souls. My job is to preach the Gospel and to plant the seeds. If I’ve been faithful to do that, then what happens to the seed that was planted is up to God. The second thing is that the Gospel is powerful and will bring people to salvation. So I demonstrate my confidence in God and in His Gospel by continuing to preach the Gospel even when there are no outward signs of fruit.
It’s one thing to say that I’m confident in the power of the Gospel to change lives. It’s something entirely different to demonstrate this by sharing the Gospel with someone. But as we know, faith is ultimately shown in our actions and not by our words. We demonstrate our confidence in the Gospel when we boldly and unashamedly share it with others.
God has promised that His word will always bear fruit when it goes out.
God has promised that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to salvation.
God has promised that He will save all who repent and believe.
Are we truly confident of these things? This world is dying for Christians who are not ashamed of the Gospel and are confident that it has the power to bring salvation to anyone who will believe. We sometimes sing a song called I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary the second verse says, “I believe that the Christ who was slain on that cross, Has the power to change lives today.” Do we believe that today? When we are gripped by the Gospel we will be confident in the power of the Gospel and so we will share the Gospel.