Refusing to be ashamed of the Gospel: Learning from Paul
Text: Romans 1:14-17
Memory Verse: Romans 1:16
In last week lesson, we attempted to explain what the Gospel mean. It was pointed out that in simple terms, Gospel means the Good News. It is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and now is able to save all who trust Him (1 Cor.15;1-4). It is the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1) because it originates with God and humans did not invent it. This lesson seeks to explain why Paul says he is not ashamed of the Gospel.
Why was Paul tempted to be ashamed of the Gospel as he desired to visit Rome?
In the letter to the Romans, Paul could be understood to be writing a letter to a church he did not plant or has not visited before. Yet Paul writes that he is not ashamed of the gospel. In any way, why was Paul tempted at all to be ashamed of the Gospel?
First, the Gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter who was crucified. The Romans had no special appreciation for the Jews, and the crucifixion was the lowest form of execution given a criminal. Why put your faith in a Jew who was crucified?
Second, Rome was a proud city, and the Gospel came from Jerusalem, the capital city of one of the little nations that Rome had conquered. The Christians in that day were not among the elite of society; they were common people and even slaves. Rome had known many great philosophers and philosophies; why pay any attention to a story about a Jew who arose from the dead? (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
Thus, to think of a little Jewish tentmaker, going to Rome to preach such a message, is almost humorous.
Reasons why Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel
Paul was not ashamed in that he was confident in his message, and he gives us several reasons that explain why he was not ashamed. Four reasons are:
- Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because of its origin. It is the Gospel of Christ (v. 16a and 1.1). The message of the Gospel is from and about the very Son of God! In his opening sentence, Paul called this message the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1). How could Paul be ashamed of such a message, when it came from God and centred in His Son, Jesus Christ? I have ever lived in a village where although the gong-gong beater (that is the public announcer of the message from the Chief) is not well of, yet he or she is never afraid and all take him serious because everyone knows he carries messages from the king. He is never afraid or ashamed, because he knows where his messages comes from.
- Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because of its operation. It is the power of God (v. 16b). Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because he knew it was the one message that had the power to change people’s lives! He had seen the Gospel work in cities such as Corinth and Ephesus; and he was confident that it would work in Rome. It had transformed his own life, and he knew it could transform the lives of others. In Africa where some people are so much deeply rooted in Traditional religion, some who are even fetish priests, upon hearing the Good News about Jesus, are able to give up their fetishism.
- Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because of its outcome: It is the power of God unto salvation (v. 16c). The word salvation carried tremendous meaning in Paul’s day. Its basic meaning is deliverance, and it was applied to personal and national deliverances. The Gospel delivers people from the penalty and power of sin. Salvation is a major theme in the letter to Romans. It is also seen as the great need of the human race (see Rom. 10:1, 9-10). If men and women are to be saved, it must be through faith in Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Gospel.
- Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because of its outreach. It is for everyone who believes (vv. 15-17). This was not an exclusive message for either the Jew or the Gentile; it was for all people because all need to be saved (Mark 16:15). To the Jew, first does not suggest that the Jew is better than the Gentile; for there is no difference in condemnation or in salvation (Rom. 2;6-11; 10:9-13). The Gospel to the Jew first was seen in the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:5-7) and the Apostles (Acts 3:26). How marvelous it is to have a message of power that can be taken to all people!
Conclusion and Application
Perhaps the conversion experience of Paul motivated him not to be ashamed of the gospel. It is worthy of note that, the Gospel, and for that matter, the Good News about Jesus has not lose its transforming power. For it is this same Gospel that transformed Luther’s life. We are therefore called upon to trust in this Gospel and in simple terms tell it to others. Like Paul did, we are not to be ashamed of the Gospel.
- What does the Gospel mean?
- Why was Paul tempted at all to be ashamed of the Gospel?
- In contemporary times, what are some circumstances that make us become ashamed to tell others about the Gospel?
- Explain four major qualities about the Gospel that should make us confident to tell the others
Give certain instances in your life that the