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Romans Series #8
Title: “I am not ashamed
of the Gospel”
Text: Romans 1:15-20
Subject: The Gospel’s Efficacy
Date: Sunday Morning — March 30, 2014
Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-2:3
Thirty-five years ago today you called me to be your pastor. I did not realize that until late last night. But had I planned it, I could not have chosen a more suitable text and a more suitable subject with which to celebrate that fact than that which, I believe, the Lord has given me. You will find my text in the first chapter of the Book of Romans — Romans 1.
The Gospel I preach to you, the Gospel we preach around the world, the Gospel revealed in this blessed Book is called by many names. There is but one Gospel; but that one Gospel is call by many different names.
· The Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 4:23)
· The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1)
· The Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24)
· The Gospel of God (Romans 1:1)
· The Gospel of His Son (Romans 1:9)
· The Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16)
· The Gospel of Peace (Romans 10:15)
· The Gospel of Your Salvation (Ephesians 1:13)
· The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8)
Have you found Romans 1? My text is Romans 1:15-20.
Romans 1:15-20 (15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
You will find my subject in verse 16. — “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” That is the title of my message — I am not ashamed of the Gospel!
Paul knew from personal experience the opposition and hatred the Gospel of God encounters everywhere. He knew the offense of the Gospel. The Gospel of Christ and him crucified was everywhere spoken against in his day, just as it is in ours. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness!...We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jew a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness!”
Paul knew full well that the message of guilt and grace, the message of the fall in Adam and restoration in Christ, the message of sin and redemption through a crucified Redeemer, not only met with ridicule and persecution but utter, complete, contempt.
In Galatians 5:11, he called it, “the offense of the cross.” He tells us that the cross Christ, the Gospel of Christ is offensive. It is offensive to fallen, depraved humanity, offensive to all who are lost. Over in the 6th chapter of John’s Gospel, our Lord Jesus, after preaching the Gospel, asked, — “Doth this offend you?” — The preaching of the Gospel offends every man, until God saves him. What is the offense of the cross? Why is the cross, the preaching of the cross, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified, offensive to man?
I want to give you four reasons why I believe that the preaching of the Gospel of substitution (the Gospel of Christ crucified) is offensive to the natural man:
First, The Gospel addresses all men as sinners, and this offends man’s dignity, his sense of personal worth and goodness. Man will admit that he is not perfect. He will admit that he is not perfect in the sight of God or in the sight of the law, but men do not like being called sinners. They resent being called sinners.
Yet, the Word of God is plain; “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There’s none that doeth good, no not one. Every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually!”
The Scripture says, “Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief,” that Christ died for the ungodly. But still, the Gospel, which addresses all men as sinners, guilty sinners in the sight of God, offends man’s sense of personal worth, goodness, and dignity.
Secondly, the Gospel of substitution is offensive because it comes as a revelation. The Gospel cannot be known, but by Divine revelation; and that offends man’s wisdom.
Oh, how wise and intelligent we like to think we are; but the Word of God plainly declares that the “natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” They are not understood by fallen man because they are “spiritually discerned.” He cannot understand them. Our Lord said, “No man knoweth the Father except the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” — “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God!”
Our Lord asked the disciples one day, “Whom do ye say that I the Son of man am?” Peter said, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.” Our Master said, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
So, the Gospel comes as a Divine revelation; and that offends the wisdom of natural men. Men think they are smart, that they are intelligent, that they are wise; but, with regard to all things spiritual, fallen men are fools. — “The fool hath said in his heart no God!” You will sooner teach a jackass nuclear physics than you can teach a fallen man the things of God. Yet, our Lord Jesus said; “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent and revealed them to babes.” — “The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not!”
Then the Scripture says, “The carnal mind, (the natural mind of man), is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” So, the Gospel is a Divine revelation and that offends the natural man’s sense of personal wisdom.
Third, the Gospel of substitution, the Gospel of the atonement, the Gospel of a crucified Savior in the place of guilty sinners offends man’s pride! If you will give man something religious to do in order to save himself, if you will give him something religious to perform in order to establish righteousness for himself, he will gladly do it.
Give him a law to keep. Give him a ceremony to observe. Give him a duty to perform and he will put forth every effort; but his pride will not let him come to God as a beggar. His pride will not let him fall in the dust at the feet of Christ and sue for mercy.
Yet, the Scripture plainly says, salvation “is not by works of righteousness which we have done; but according to his mercy he saved us.” The Scripture plainly says no flesh is justified by keeping the law. — “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.”
Peter writes in 1 Peter 1…
(18) Yeknow that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, (21) Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
The Gospel of substitution is offensive. The Babylonian gospel of works is not offensive. The Babylonian gospel of human merit is not offensive. The Babylonian gospel of self-righteousness is not offensive. The Babylonian gospel of fee will is not offensive; but the Gospel of substitution, the Gospel of Divine mercy, the Gospel of the free grace God flowing to sinners through the merits of a crucified Substitute offends man’s pride.
Fourth, the Gospel of sovereign mercy offends man’s sense of moral, spiritual, and intellectual freedom. It offends man’s proud, idolatrous notion of free will.
What do I mean when I speak of sovereign mercy? Turn to Romans 9 for just a minute, and I will show you. What do we mean when we talk about sovereign grace, sovereign mercy, and the sovereignty of God in salvation? Romans 9:13-16 will tell you exactly what we mean by those terms.
Romans 9:13-16 (13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Man just has to obligate God. It is in the nature of the sinner, in some way, to try to obligate a sovereign God. But, when we preach the Gospel of sovereign mercy it offends man’s concept of the freedom of his own will.
God is sovereign. That is what the Scriptures universally declare. Listen to the Word of God. — “It is not of him that willeth; it is not of him that runneth; it is of God that showeth mercy.” — Listen to John 1:12-13. — “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
The Gospel of Christ, the sovereign mercy of God in Christ Jesus, grace given to whom he will, offends man’s concept of the freedom of his own will. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Can I not do with my own what I will?” The sinner wants to reverse that and say to God, “Cannot I do with myself what I will?”
God our Savior, the Lord Jesus, has sovereign power over all creatures. When our Lord prayed in John 17, He said, “Father; thou hast given me power over all flesh that I should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given me.”
When our Lord was down in Nazareth (You will find the record of this event in the 4th chapter of Luke.), He was preaching to a host of religious people, people who thought they were God’s people, people who thought they had a corner on God.
This was Israel and they thought God was obligated to them. Our Lord Jesus stood before that congregation of Israelites and said; (listen to me; I am going to tell you the truth), “there were many widows in the land of Israel in the days of the prophet but God fed none of them.” He chose to feed a Gentile, a widow of Sarepta. Then he said as he continued, “there were many lepers in the land of Israel, in the days of the prophet; God healed none of them, but he chose to heal a man who was a Gentile by the name of Naaman of Syria.”
That crowd grew so angry that “they rose up and thrust him out of the building and led him out to the brow of a cliff, a hill in which their city was built and would have cast him off head long.” What offended them?
Our Lord said; “I will be merciful to whom I will be merciful. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” God is not obligated to us in any way except to show justice. God is only obligated to be just. He will be just; and he can be merciful. He will be righteous; and he can be gracious.
One day our Lord came down from the mountain and a leper ran to meet him. The Scripture tells us that the leper, fell down and worshipped the Master and looked up and said, “Lord; if you will, you can make me clean.” And the Master said, “I will, be thou clean!”
My friend; that is true, if he will, he can make you clean. If he will, he can save your soul. If he will, he can put away your guilt; but it is all determined entirely by his will, not yours! — “It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth but of God that showeth mercy.”
In our text (Romans 1:15-20) the Apostle Paul declared that he was ready to preach the Gospel of Christ, because (he tells us) “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ!” So, Paul says, “I am not ashamed.” I take Paul’s words as my very own. I am here to declare to you that “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” More than that. I am here to tell you that…
Proposition: No man called, gifted, and sent of God is ashamed of the Gospel. — Many are, but God’s servants are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel” which addresses all men as sinners, though it offends their dignity. — “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” which comes by Divine revelation, though it offends men’s wisdom. — “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ crucified,” (a definite atonement, a definite sin-offering and sacrifice, though it offends man’s pride). — “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” I am not ashamed of free and sovereign grace, though it offends man’s concept of the freedom of his will. Your will is free to do what it will. Your will is free to act according to its nature; but our nature is evil and sin. The Son of God said, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.”
An Evident Warning
Paul is stating this; “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” to enforce upon us a needful warning. Evidently, there is a danger, evidently there is a danger to those who have heard the Gospel and who have believed the Gospel and who have received the Gospel themselves to yield to the pressures of this world.
Evidently, there is a temptation, there is a danger, even among those who believe the Gospel, to yield to the pressures of the world and be ashamed of the Gospel. That is the reason he says, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel! I am not ashamed of the Gospel!”
That is why he said to the Corinthians, — “I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified. — I am determined.”
In 2nd Timothy 1:8 he warns Timothy, “be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t you be ashamed of the Gospel.”
Evidently, the pressures of the world and the pressures religious groups, all sorts of pressure are put upon us (people and preachers), by which some are made ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
· Ashamed to be Identified with the Gospel!
· Ashamed to Confess the Gospel — Baptism!
· Ashamed to be Identified with a Gospel Church!
· Ashamed to Openly Preach the Gospel!
· Ashamed to be Identified with Those who Preach the Gospel!
In 2nd Timothy 1:12 Paul restates his position. He says to Timothy; “Now, don’t you be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” He says, “I suffer persecution; nevertheless, I am not ashamed.” Here he is saying it again; “I am not ashamed.” He just kept on repeating this as a matter of urgency. — “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” He does so to say to Timothy, to me, and to you, — Don’t you be ashamed! I am not ashamed. — “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.” And then on down 2 Timothy 1:16 he compliments a man named Onesiphorus and he says this about him — “He was not ashamed.”
Sit up, now, and pay attention. Hear this word for our Lord Jesus Christ…
Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words (My Gospel) in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
If you will go back to Romans 1:15-20, I will show you four reasons why Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.
Power of God
1. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:15-16).
Romans 1:15-16 (15) So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Paul was never ashamed to preach the Gospel of Christ because he knew that “it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” Let other men speculate, theorize, and argue their points of theology as they will. We recognize that God has only one means by which he is pleased to save his elect — the preaching of the Gospel. Therefore we will, as God enables us, preach it to all men everywhere.
The issue is not whether God can save his people without the use of means. We know that God can do anything he is pleased to do. The issue is what God has told us he will do. And he has told us that he will save sinners only by the preaching of the Gospel.
· “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
· “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
· “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:18).
You who believe are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever...And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23, 25).
The preaching of the Gospel of Christ is the means by which God the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to chosen, redeemed sinners, quickens the dead, unstops deaf ears, opens blind eyes, and reconciles rebel sinners to God.
“It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” — If you now believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, your faith is the result of God working in you by his almighty power through the preaching of the Gospel.
What a privilege we have! God allows us, who have been saved by the Gospel to proclaim the Gospel for the salvation of others. He could save them without us. But he is pleased to use us. Just as our Lord, when he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, commanded those who stood by, saying, “Take ye away the stone,” so he now commands us to “preach the Gospel to every creature.” Attached to the command is this promise: — “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” — “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Our labor is not in vain in the Lord. God will use us, as we faithfully preach the Gospel of his grace, for the salvation of his elect, and the glory of his dear Son, our Savior.
2. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because the Gospel is the revelation of the righteousness of God (Romans 1:17).
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
If we would be saved, if we would have life with God we must have his righteousness, righteousness that he alone could accomplish and he alone can give, the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness performed and obtained for sinners by Christ the sinner’s Substitute (Romans 3:24-26; Matthew 5:20; Romans 9:31-10:4).
Romans 3:24-26 (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Romans 9:31-10:4 (31) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (1) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
This righteousness is not known and cannot be known by nature. Rather, it is revealed in the Gospel “from faith to faith.”
· From Christ’s faith to Our Faith
· From One Man’s Faith to Another Man’s Faith
· From Young Faith to Mature Faith
“The just shall live by faith.” — Four times in the Word of God (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) we are told that all who are justified by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus live by faith.
· Faith does not justify us. Christ did that. Faith receives the justification Christ accomplished.
· Faith does not bring us life. God the Holy Ghost does that. Faith in Christ is the fruit and result of life.
· But this God-given faith lives upon Christ, who is our Bread, our Water, and our Life!
3. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18).
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven.
· By the Judgments of God in the Past
· By the Judgments of Providence
· By the Gospel — Oh, how God showed his wrath against sin in the sacrifice of his darling Son!
No Other Way
4. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and I am not ashamed to preach it, because there is no other way for poor, lost, ruined, doomed, damned sinners to be saved (Romans 1:19-20).
Romans 1:19-20 (19) Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because…
· It is the power of God unto salvation.
· It is the revelation of the righteousness of God.
· The wrath of God is revealed from heaven.
· There is no other way sinners can be saved.
· The light of nature is sufficient to damn; but not to save. — That takes the light of the Gospel.
And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is the Gospel of Christ! Christ is the Gospel! To be ashamed of the Gospel is to be ashamed of Christ!
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Colossians 2:9-10 (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
If God has given you life and faith in Christ, it is time for you to confess the Gospel publicly before men in believer’s baptism. Don’t be ashamed of Christ. Confess him openly!
Be not ashamed of the Gospel, children of God. — Publish it everywhere!