ISSUE: 2017, Volume 14, Issue 3
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Every day we hear statements that sum up what people are saying, doing or even feeling. A quick look at Facebook reveals so much information about other people, and, if we’re honest, most of it is of little value.
But when we listen to some individuals, they can offer information that is of great importance. In the New Testament, Paul provides many of these statements; they are not trivial but vital, not temporary but lasting, not light hearted, but very serious. They are statements of faith.
This is the start of a series of stand-alone articles looking at some of Paul’s statements of faith. They all begin with the words ‘I am…’ They are based on his deep conviction. They provide us with a great example of faith and Christian experience.
A search on your Bible App will help you find over sixty times that Paul uses the words ‘I am…’ but we are going to consider the more familiar references, and where better to start than ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ', Rom. 1. 16? Let’s look at this important statement along with other times that Paul uses the word 'ashamed'. We will narrow it down to the times Paul uses the same original Greek word in Romans chapter 1 verse 16.
How to look up similar words in the original language:
Step 1 – take a look at your Bible App and search for the English word ‘ashamed’
Step 2 – identify the different Greek words using ‘Strong’s numbers’
Step 3 – Search for the same original word ‘ashamed’ from Rom. 1. 16, using the reference G1870
Step 4 – List out the 5 times that Paul uses G1870 (2 in Romans and 3 times in 2 Timothy 1)
We will focus on Romans chapter 1 verse 16 in this article and 2 Timothy chapter 1 in the next article.
The first eight chapters of Romans teach about justification by faith and its consequences; these chapters explain the gospel. As Paul introduces the epistle, he makes three statements about his personal desire to preach the gospel:
There are several Greek words that translate into the English word ‘ashamed’. This is one of the stronger ones; it includes the idea of feeling shame from something that is done. In this setting, it is a feeling of shame as a result of the preaching of the gospel. But here Paul uses one of his definite statements of faith and declares with certainty that he is ‘not ashamed of the gospel’. The 'gospel' is the message of good news of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a message that the world around us treats as foolish, but we don’t, 1 Cor. 1. 18.
He states first that it is ‘the power of God’. In verse 15, Paul had already stated his readiness to preach at Rome. At the time of writing, Rome represented the power of the world, through its empire, luxury, wealth and strength. Paul states that the gospel is God’s power. This should really encourage us; even though the world belittles what we stand for as Christians, the greatest force in the world is nothing in comparison to God’s powerful gospel. Before leaving this word ‘power’, it is interesting to note that it is like our modern word ‘dynamite’, but different! Whilst this ‘power’ carries the idea of great force, it isn’t explosive; rather, it is a loving message of mercy and grace, which the Holy Spirit makes work in the heart of a sinner.
Secondly, Paul says that the gospel results in salvation. It enables individuals to be delivered from sin’s penalty and the awfulness of hell. It also delivers from sin’s power here and now. What a great thing, that saved sinners can live a life that pleases God whom they have offended. They can be saved for eternity through all that the Lord Jesus has done.
Paul’s third reason for not being ashamed of the gospel is because it is ‘to everyone that believeth’. There is no limit to its power. We should be encouraged that the gospel is able to meet the need of everyone who believes. There is no-one that it cannot save.
Before leaving this verse, consider what makes the gospel the 'power of God'. Verse 17 states that in the gospel ‘the righteousness of God is revealed’. This is an amazing truth, that the salvation of individuals reveals God’s righteousness. How encouraging to think that people yet to get saved will add to that revelation of God’s righteousness. What a great stimulus to spread the gospel!