“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” – Romans 1:16-17 ESV
Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 3
Not Ashamed – Romans 1:16-17
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Sept. 10th, 2017
- After Paul introduces himself and gives the reason for writing (“to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations”-Rom. 1:5), he encourages the church in Rome by telling them the scope of their impact and his longing and hope to visit them. He did this so that they would be strengthened and encouraged by the sharing of relationship and spiritual gifts.
- Paul stated that he (and also, we) are obligated to bring the message of the gospel to all people everywhere. In the verses that we are looking at today, he declares that he is not ashamed of the gospel and gives reasons why this is true for him and why it should be true for us.
Rom 1:16-17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel,
The courage of God
- There is a difference between being shamed and ashamed – being shamed is what other people do to you, being ashamed is what you do to yourself. Paul is saying that he is not ashamed of the gospel. He does not hide it or not bring it up, or not stand up for it. He is not embarrassed or timid about the message of Christ and the word of God. He is “not ashamed” even though people “shame” him for it. An often we are “ashamed” of the gospel, because we are afraid of people- how they will respond to us and what they may think about us. We are afraid people think we are foolish, simple, naïve, old-fashioned, archaic, unsophisticated, uneducated, intolerant, backwards, narrow, behind the times, unthinking etc. and that we would be marginalized, avoided, made fun of, excluded, avoided, picked on, talked about, thought less of, abandoned or persecuted. So we don’t want to risk it and we play it safe by keeping things on the “down low.”
- The young pastor Timothy had the same problem. When the Apostle Paul wrote to him he reminded him.
2 Tim 1:7-12 ESV
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Don’t be a coward bro – God gave us a sprit not of fear, timidity, or cowardness, but of power, love and self-control. Don’t be a coward. Being bold is evidence of the work of the Spirit in our lives.
- Jesus puts being a coward on equal footing with other sins as evidence for destruction.
Rev 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” ESV
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
Luke 9:23-26 ESV
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Heb 11:13-16 ESV
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
- Embrace the “shame” of being a Christian, but never be “ashamed.” The truth of the Gospel and this book will be vindicated in the end (1 Peter 1:5 Romans 5:9-10). Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame (Rom 10:11 ESV).
- Have courage, stand up, speak up, look up and have courage the God provides.
Rom 1:16-17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,
The power of God
- The gospel is the “power of God.” God’s power is seen in the one who lived completely without sinning and was raised to life again. The one who became sin for us, will raise us again as well.
- This power is for “salvation.” So, this begs the question: “salvation” from what?
- This is what the apostle John said:
John 3:36 ESV
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
- What do we need to ultimately be saved from? The wrath of God. Romans makes this makes this abundantly clear as well. We need to be saved from the wrath of God. Look at Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” This is the reason why we need saving. God is very angry at our unrighteousness and the way we suppress and distort the truth to justify ourselves.
- Look in the next chapter, Romans 2:8, “but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” This is our problem. God is indignant and wrathful toward us in our unrighteousness and our untruthfulness.
- Back up just three verses to Romans 2:5, “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” God’s wrath is a righteous judgment. When we are unrighteous, God’s righteousness blazes out with wrath and indignation. He is not to be trifled with.
- This is what we need saving from in the end. This is our ultimate problem: God’s final wrath that separates us from himself casts us into hell. If you ask the book of Romans, what do we need to be saved from, the answer comes back — yes, from sin; and yes, from guilt; and yes, from disunity and bad relationships; and yes, from destructive habits and harmful ways — but mainly the answer is: We need to be saved from God’s wrath. Our ultimate problem, though very few today see the problem, is that we are sinners in the hands of an infinite, powerful, righteous, and yes, angry God.
- The gospel is mainly the good news that God himself has rescued us from the wrath of God. Not mainly from ourselves and the mess we make of our lives; but from his own anger and his own righteous judgment. The gospel is the power of God for salvation from the wrath of God — the power that brings us to eternal safety and joy in the presence of God.
- You see it perhaps most clearly of all in Romans 5:9: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” In the end, it’s all about escaping the wrath of God, or, having the wrath of God turned away from us, so that he becomes a friendly King and not an enemy.
- The good news is that the righteousness which God demands from us, he gives to us. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” because in it God offers to us what he demands from us, namely, his own righteousness. He reveals as a gift in Christ Jesus what was once only a demand. This is how he saves: in the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection God gives to us the righteousness that he demands from us. That’s why Jesus had to die – to show that sin was dealt with righteously, to show that God was “both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (3:26). So everyone who believes in Jesus receives the gift of God’s goodness, God’s righteousness. That is called justification by faith. Jesus is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes.
- Salvation is for everyone who believes (and keeps believing – this is the verb tense). It signifies ongoing action, not just the first act of faith when you were converted: “The gospel . . . is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who is believing” – who goes on believing. It’s the same as 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 where Paul says, “I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are being saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” Faith that does not persevere is a vain and empty faith – what James calls “dead faith” (James 2:17, 26).
- Salvation is fulfilled in the future. Conversion is the starting line, salvation is the finish line. Sanctification is the race we are running. Justification, sanctification, glorification this is the process “from faith to faith” to “everyone who believes.”
- The next thing we must ask is this: if it is for “everyone who believes” why does he say “to the Jew first and also to the Greek?”
Rom 1:16-17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The priority of God
- Here are the reasons why Jews are first over all other people.
- They are the historic chosen people of God.
- In Genesis 12, God chooses Abraham and his descendants freely from all the peoples of the world to bless with his covenant and promise. Nehemiah 9:7 says, “God . . . chose Abram, and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees.” Then Deuteronomy 14:2 says about the whole Jewish people, “The LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
- They are the guardians of God’s special revelation, the Old Testament Scriptures.
- In Romans 3:1, Paul asks our question: “What advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?” And he answers in verse 2, “Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.”
- The Messiah and Savior, Jesus, comes to the world as a Jew to Jews.
- In Romans 9:5, Paul wrote “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
- The Messiah, Jesus, was a Jew, a Son of David (Romans 1:3). And he focused his earthly ministry on the Jews. In Matthew 10:5-6, Jesus said to the twelve apostles as he sent them out, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
- Salvation is from the Jews, since everyone who is saved is saved by being connected to the covenant with Abraham by faith.
- Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well, “You worship what you do not know; we [Jews] worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4:22)
- Another way to see that salvation is from the Jews is found in Romans 11:17-24 where Paul compares the Jewish nation to an olive tree. He says that natural branches are broken off and unnatural branches were grafted in, meaning that Jews by birth were unbelieving and so cut off from the covenant of promise; and Gentiles who were believing were grafted in and saved by the covenant of promise.
- The Jews are to be evangelized first when the gospel penetrates a new region.
- For example, in Acts 13:46 Paul and Barnabas are preaching in Antioch, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
- The Jews will enter first into final judgment and final blessing.
- In Romans 2:9-10, Paul says, amazingly, “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
- In What Ways Do the Jews Not Have Priority?
- The Jews do not have priority in righteousness or merit
- Nor do Gentiles. We are on the same footing. That is one of the main points of the first two chapters of Romans. Paul concludes in Romans 3:9-10, “What then? Are we [Jews] better than they [Gentiles]? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE.'” He makes the same point in Romans 3:22-23, “There is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
- The Jews do not have priority in how they are saved
- Romans 10:12, “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; (13) for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'” Neither Jews nor Gentiles have priority in how they are saved: both are saved by faith in Christ, not in any ethnic or religious distinctives.
- The Jews do not have priority in participation in God’s covenant blessings
- Ephesians 3:4-6, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, . . . that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
- Jews do not have priority in participation in God’s covenant blessings. Gentiles are full fellow heirs of all the promises of God.
- Paul wants to humble both Jew and Greek and make them deeply aware that they depend entirely on mercy, not on themselves or their tradition or ethnic connections. To the Gentiles he says, in essence, salvation is of the Jews. You are not being saved by your Greek culture – or any other culture. You are being saved by a salvation that comes through the despised Semitic people called the Jews.
- Similarly, Paul says to the Jews, your salvation is not your own. It is God’s and he gives it to whom he pleases. He can raise up from stones – even Gentile stones! – children to Abraham (Matthew 3:9).
- Both Jew and Gentile are being humbled. We Gentiles must humble ourselves to be saved through a Jewish Messiah and a Jewish covenant. Jews must humble themselves to receive unclean Gentiles into full covenant membership and share all the blessings of the promise of Abraham. http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/to-the-jew-first-and-also-to-the-greek
Rom 1:16-17 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The righteousness of God
- Jesus is the righteousness of God – it is not the love of God that is revealed in the gospel, but the RIGHTEOUSNESS. God’s righteousness for our unrighteousness saves us from the wrath of God and will be poured out on the world.
- There is no one like Jesus –Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV)
- Our new lives start by faith and are lived through faith.
- In the verses, we looked at today – we see the courage of God in being “unashamed” of the gospel. We see the power of God –that is able to save us from the wrath of God. We see the priority of God for the Jews based upon his sovereign choice and promise to them and we see the righteous of God imputed to us in Jesus Christ.
Questions for the week ahead:
- What did you learn today that has impacted your thinking?
- How will what you have learned today impact your living?
- Where in your life do you need to have the “courage of God” to live “unashamed?”