Monday, December 13, 2010

I Am Not Ashamed of The Gospel!

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)

The New Testament speaks of salvation in the past tense (Ephesians 2:8), the present tense (2 Corinthians 2:15), and the future tense (Romans 13:11). In the past, the believer has been saved from the penalty of sin. In the present, the believer is being saved from the power of sin. In the future, the believer will be saved from the very presence of sin (Matthew 5:10–12; 8:17; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:11–13; Revelation 22:12).

Paul was not ashamed because his message was the gospel of Christ, the Good News. It was a message of salvation, it had life-changing power, and it was for everyone. When you are tempted to be ashamed, remember what the Good News is all about. If you focus on God and on what God is doing in the world rather than on our own inadequacy, you won't be ashamed or embarrassed.

Why did the message go to the Jews first? They had been God's special people for more than 2000 years, ever since God chose Abraham and promised great blessings to his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3). God did not choose the Jews because they deserved to be chosen (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8; 9:4-6), but because He wanted to show His love and mercy to them, teach them, and prepare them to welcome His Messiah into the world. God chose them, not to play favorites, but so that they would tell the world about His plan of salvation.

For centuries the Jews had been learning about God by obeying His laws, keeping His feasts, and living according to His moral principles. Often they would forget God's promises and requirements; often they would have to be disciplined; but still they had a precious heritage of belief in the one true God. Of all the people on earth, the Jews should have been the most ready to welcome the Messiah and to understand His mission and message - and some of them were (Luke 2:25, 36-38). Of course, the disciples and the great apostle Paul were faithful Jews who recognized in Jesus God's most precious gift to the human race.

Jews and Christians alike stood against the idolatrous Roman religions, and Roman officials often confused the two groups. This was especially easy to do since the Christian church in Rome could have been originally composed of Jewish converts who had attended the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff). By the time Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, however, many Gentiles had joined the church. The Jews and the Gentiles needed to know the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

Word Study — Salvation: In the letter to the Romans we find the apostle Paul’s clearest and most detailed explanation of the gospel message. After his customary salutation, Paul explains his unabashed passion for taking the Good News of Christ to the ends of the earth: “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The Greek word for salvation used by Paul literally means “deliverance” or “preservation.” In a spiritual context, the idea is rescue from the power and dominion of sin. Paul’s fervor for preaching the gospel was rooted in its power “to free” or “to rescue” people from the tragic consequences of their own sin.

Paul and the other New Testament writers portray Jesus Christ, on the basis of His sacrificial death on the Cross in the place of sinners, as the Author and Provider of salvation (Romans 3:24, 25; 5:21; Acts 4:12; Hebrews 12:2). This spiritual deliverance is graciously and lovingly offered by God to all people, but only those who repent and trust in Jesus will experience its blessings (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Hebrews 2:3).

What exactly are those blessings? Some Bible teachers summarize them as salvation from the penalty of sin, salvation from the power of sin, and salvation from the presence of sin. Theologians use the terms justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is the divine act of declaring sinners to be righteous on account of their faith in Jesus. He paid for their sins completely and finally on the Cross, and through faith in Him their sins can be forgiven (Romans 3:21; 4:5; 5:1). Closely related to justification is regeneration, in which the Spirit of God indwells a repentant sinner and imparts eternal life to his or her spiritually dead soul (Ephesians 2:1–5). Sanctification is the process in which God develops the new life of the believer and gradually brings it to perfection (Romans 6:11; Philippians 1:6). Glorification is the ultimate salvation of the whole person. This occurs when we are face to face with our Savior in His coming kingdom. At that time, God will completely mold us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29, 30; Philippians 3:21). Then we will be able to enjoy complete fellowship with God, singing His praises forever.

Other benefits of salvation include reconciliation and adoption. When our sins are forgiven, we move from a position of being God’s enemies to being His beloved children (John 1:12; Galatians 4:4, 5; Ephesians 1:5).

Is it any wonder that the apostle Paul was so excited about the gospel and its power to save? The more we consider the marvelous truth of salvation, the more enthusiastic we will be, thankful to God and eager to share with others the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).

In Romans 1:17, "from faith to faith;" means faith is at the beginning of the salvation process, and it is the goal as well. When a person first exercises faith in Christ, that person is saved from the penalty of sin and declared righteous. As the believer lives by faith, God continues to save him or her from the power of sin to live righteously.

Word Study — Faith: Faith is a word with many meanings. It can mean faithfulness (Matthew 24:45). It can mean absolute trust, as shown by some of the people who came to Jesus for healing (Luke 7:2-10). It can mean confident hope (Hebrews 11:1). Or, as James points out, it can even mean a barren belief that does not result in good deeds (James 2:14-26). What does Paul mean when, in Romans, he speaks of saving faith?

We must be very careful to understand faith as Paul uses the word, because he ties faith so closely to salvation. It is not something we must do in order to earn salvation - if that were true, then faith would be just one more deed, and Paul clearly states that human deeds can never save us (Galatians 2:16). Instead, faith is a gift God gives us because He is saving us (Ephesians 2:8). It is God's grace, not our faith, that saves us. In His mercy, however, when He saves us He gives us faith - a relationship with His Son that helps us become like Him. Through the faith He gives us, He carries us from death into life (John 5:24).

Even in Old Testament times, grace, not deeds, was the basis of salvation. As Hebrews points out, "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). God intended for His people to look beyond the animal sacrifices to Him, but all too often they, instead, put their confidence in fulfilling the requirements of the law - that is, performing the required sacrifices. When Jesus triumphed over death, He cancelled the charges against us, and opened the way to the Father (Colossians 2:12-15). Because He is merciful, He offers us faith. How tragic if we turn faith into a deed and try to develop it on our own! We can never come to God through our own faith, any more than His Old Testament people could come through their own sacrifices. Instead, we must accept His gracious offer with thanksgiving and allow Him to plant the seed of faith within us.

The gospel shows us both how righteous God is in His plan for us to be saved, and also how we may be made fit for eternal life. By trusting Christ, our relationship with God is made right. "From first to last" God declares us to be righteous because of faith and faith alone.

In Romans 1:17, when Paul said "The just shall live by faith." he is quoting Habakkuk 2:4. Habakkuk may have understood "shall live" to mean this present life only, but Paul extends this statement to include eternal life. As we trust God, we are saved; we find life both now and forever. Amen.

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.


dfish said...

Great post Lloyd.

I appreciate the effort to explain so clearly what Paul is saying.

fuzzys dad said...


Gerie said...

I believe that faith is demonstated by obedience. You can know what a person believes, in how he lives his life.
Believing something is not enough, there must be a definite change of heart, demonstrated by a different lifestyle.
Its a narrow way, and we must keep His commandments.

C.J. said...

Awesome post; your discussion of faith gave me lots to think about.


I am impressed by your willingness and obedience to write such a thorough and well done blog on salvation and the truths surrounding it. I know it takes time, thought, and a thankful heart to do such as this. Thank you for your faithfulness in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for visiting Daily Grace and for the encouragement and thoughtful words you leave there. God bless you, Bobbi

One Heart said...

Perfect as usual. Thank you so much for your faithful service to our precious Savior and Lord. Thank you for visiting too. ;) I added a special story that goes with one of the ornaments. I hesitated whether to include it when I posted earlier but thought it would be a blessing. Hope it blesses you. Every second is so crucial as we serve our God. You serve him well with this blog my friend. Thank you again.

'solitudetimes' said...

Wow! Good sharing, Lloyd! We have to understand that we are placed in this plural world not alone or with no power. Bible is the power for our faith.

By the way, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the comment. I've followed yours back.

God bless you too! :)

Revdtabbs said...

Thanks for following my blog and I look forward to reading yours. You have a wonderful grasp of Scripture and I am impressed by your willingness to really dig in and study God's Word.

Bevy Lucy Ruthy said...

Great Blog Lloyd - thanks for stopping by my blog. Hey check out my blog list and Great Gramma Lizzie verse a day - it will start on the 1st of the year. It was verses she marked in the old Bible that I received from my Mom. Stop by for a visit okay. God bless you and thanks for your kind words. Bevy

Ian Curtis said...

I appreciate the post; one can never expound the gospel of salvation too frequently. I do feel inclined to point out that in Ephesians 2:8 the object of the gift Paul refers to is salvation, not faith. "That not of yourselves...the gift of God" is the salvation He offers in Christ, Romans 6:23.
I also wrote to wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas, and that your ministry continues to prosper. God bless, Ian.

A multi-dimensional life said...

Such a beautifully written post. I appreciate your ability to share the truth of the gospel. Thank you!

Yes, we find life both now and eternal!

Abundant blessings to you and Merry Christmas!