How do I share the gospel without shame?
Let’s study the Book of Romans, beginning from Chapter 1 and verses 1 through to 17.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,
I, Paul, who’s writing this letter? Paul Simon? Saul that became Paul. The twelfth apostle. The guy who was born out of time, out of season, who God brought in to complete the disciples. Why was Paul qualified to be an apostle? Had seen Christ? No! So since he didn’t see Christ physically, he had a PowerPoint Presentation.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle.
There are two words used here, which are far different from each other. The word servant is Doulos or slave. The correct translation would be slave from the Greek word Doulos, the looser English translation is ‘servant’ but he uses the word ‘slave’ and he says ‘called to be an apostle’. Two very powerful but different words, and he is describing himself as that. A servant of Christ Jesus but called to be an apostle. In the word servant or slave or doulos, you have an erasing of personal significance. There is nothing in me, I am a slave, I do as I’m told, I’m a servant of Christ Jesus. At the same time, he says “I am called to be an apostle.” In the capacity, in the position of a slave, my calling is an apostle. The position is a slave but the calling is an apostle. the calling is very powerful because of the use of the word ‘apostle’ which means ‘a sent one’ but beyond that in a Jewish context, the word was shali’aḥ which had a sense of authority where you represented a certain synagogue or parish, you were a delegate from a certain area. You had authority to represent a theological view of a certain group; more than an errand-boy. ‘Slave’ is without authority and ‘Apostle’ is with great authority.
Set apart for the gospel of God.
‘Set apart’ is a very serious phrase because it is as if God chose him, grabbed him and took him aside. First, he was set apart for the law, he was committed to the law. Now he is set apart for the gospel of God, and the gospel of God is a phrase you want to underline and highlight because it is what Roman is all about. The meaning of Gospel is Good news. Evangelia from which evangelism comes from. The gospel of God is the good news of God. That God Almighty has something to say, which is a good declaration for you. While that seems incredibly familiar to you, when you come to slaves with the message of freedom, it has a different ring to it. When Gentiles are approached with the news that what the Jews have is now theirs, that’s big news. When you come to a broken and sinful world as defined in chapter 1 and 2 of Romans, then chapter 3 is Good News. We ought not to lose the newness, the joy of the Good news. The book of Romans is about the Gospel of God, God the Father; all brought about, of course, by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Which he promised beforehand through his prophets.
What did he promise beforehand? The Good News! Jesus wasn’t declaring something new, it’s news but it’s not new. It’s always been around. It says which He promised beforehand. It’s always been there. Where was it Paul? Through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures. We are saying the scriptures are a station of the Gospel of God. So not just the new testament but the old testament as well. For to the Jew, Scriptures mean the Pentateuch not James etc. If you remember Jesus took the disciples through the old testament and revealed himself to them. He said to the Pharisees, “You hypocrites, if you knew the scriptures, you would recognize me.” Jesus is in the scriptures; the Good news is in the scriptures. Back in Deuteronomy, God says I will give them a new heart, I will put my spirit in them. That’s incredible, if they were actually listening.
Beforehand through his prophets, in the Holy Scriptures, concerning his Son who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
What do we know about His Son? Two things: descendant of David, Son of David according to the flesh, and then, also Son of God according to the power of the Spirit. He is the Son of David by his lineage, and the Son of God by the power of resurrection. He was not made the Son of God; He was made flesh through David but He was not made the Son of God through the resurrection. The resurrection did not make Jesus a Son of God, He was already a deity. So we are talking about a revelation, that we came to know for sure, that Jesus is a deity through the resurrection. Son of David and Son of Man are Messianic titles, for the Messiah was prophesied to be a son of David to the Jews. Son of God is a deity title.
According to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now he is expanding the name to Jesus Christ our Lord. THE Lord. Firstly, because there is no other lord. Secondly, He is the one and only Lord. Therefore, when speaking about The Lord Jesus, we use the definite article ‘The‘. The word ‘Lord’ is the word ‘Yahweh‘ so when Paul is talking to the Jews and he says ‘Jesus, Yeshua, Saviour, Mashiach, Yahweh, that calls for some stones because he has just declared Jesus not only Yeshua from Nazareth but Mashiach, Messiah and further, as Yahweh! That’s not negligible. Jesus Christ, The Lord. Now Yahweh has been attached to Jesus.
Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
The phrase ‘through whom’ can mean either ‘through’ or ‘because of’. It is due to him, because of him, through Him we have…We have. Present tense. Received. Past tense. Received grace and apostleship. He adds this about himself, because Jesus has allowed Paul to receive this. Why has God given him grace? This is not grace over sin; this is grace enabling to do something. God gives grace to accomplish something.
To bring about the obedience of faith.
Paul came from a background of law, he led Jihads and yet God didn’t say ‘obedience of command’. God has saved him from that and he’s bringing about obedience of faith. What does that mean? How do you obey faith? This brings us into the pastoral ministry, and you are all pastors, someone is following you. Pastor isn’t a title, it’s a function. you pastor a person. We are bringing people of faith to get them obedient to their own faith in Christ. If they have trusted Jesus as Lord, then we teach them to obey.
For the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus said ‘Go into all nations and make disciples’. How do you make disciples? By teaching them to obey. Who’s a disciple? An obedient person. Disciples are called to BELONG. You aren’t called to believe; we are not calling you to a faith but to a family. I’m setting you up for comes in the rest of Romans as Paul says ‘We preach’ so when you begin to preach the gospel, we understand that we are not a church that preaches a theology, but a church that preaches a Theos (God). A God who is calling you to be in His family. Who doesn’t want to be in God’s family? Who will not respond to a gospel of God to come back to his family. When you preach a theology, you immediately have an enemy; their theology. But when you preach a heavenly father, there is no other. When we present the gospel, even in the heaviness of the Romans, we present a very simple relationship. Some evangelists preach a heavy gospel loaded with belief rather than belonging.
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, we say ‘Dear Rome’ and sign our name at the end. But in Paul’s time, it was flipped around, hence he starts with his name and somewhere along the line, he says ‘Dear Romans’.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
This is a personal reach-out and some theologians have postulated that Paul may not have planted the church in Rome so he’s now trying to make a personal connect, like he’s sending a video! He wants to get to know the church in Rome, and of course he’s Paul and they need to know him.
He’s basically telling them, “Yes, I’ve been trying to come, but I’m not getting tickets! I’ve been going around and I’ve been hearing about your faith. In the privacy of my spiritual life, where only God sees, he will attest to the fact that I have been praying for you”. Notice that, he’s moved from gospel of God to Gospel of his Son.
What is there in this? I see a good pastor in Paul. If you look through this passage you see, ‘I serve’, ‘I pray’, ‘I remember’, ‘I come’, ‘I long to see you to strengthen’, ‘I impart’. In verse 8, Paul hears about their good faith and in verse 11, he wants to impart some spiritual gift. When you see faith, you strengthen it, that’s what a pastor does.
…that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
That’s a humble heart, to be encouraged by someone else. Whose faith? Both yours and mine.
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.
Reap harvest. That’s evangelism. That is; reap harvest amongst Romans as well as the Gentiles. So not only has he got a pastor’s heart for the people, he’s got a missionary heart for the Gentiles. He knows clearly who he wants to reach out.
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
He’s talking about all Gentiles; Greek, barbarians, foolish and wise. He’s not talking to Jews at all, but everybody else, all the nations of the world. What is the importance of preaching the gospel? Don’t be satisfied with the natural meaning of the words but dig deep
Preaching and proclamation are the same thing. Proclamation means something is declared and it’s not open to discussion. When you say ‘Fire!’, there is no discussion. I preach the gospel of God, the Good News, to you and I proclaim the content of that good news. That proclamation is the gospel which brings about your motivation. It brings about a certain end. That is why he is excited about the gospel and he proclaims the gospel. But the next verse bothers me.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel…
What does that mean? He could have said ‘I am not equipped’, or ‘I’m not educated’ or ‘I’m not loud enough’ or ‘I’m not understandable or comprehensible, I am in a foreign land’. But he doesn’t say any of this, he seems to set up shame as the enemy, the deterrent of the proclamation. He says he’s not ashamed. A good chunk of why we don’t proclaim is not the lack of comprehensibility or content; it is the lack of courage, the lack of faith that the Gospel of God is true. The word ‘shame’ says ‘I am ashamed to speak about Jesus’. Opposite? ‘I am not ashamed to be speak about Jesus!’ Now why on earth would anybody be ashamed to speak about Jesus? To be different from the crowd? The threat of insecurity that you’d lose your place, standing or friends?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel… Why?
for it is the power of God.
I am not ashamed to show you my car. Why? Because it is a good car, but if it was a run-down bucket of bolts, that broke down and it was powerless, I would be ashamed of it. But if it was a powerful car, I will not be ashamed of it, I will show it off. I submit to you that the reason why many churches are very poor in declaring the gospel is because people are not accustomed to seeing the demonstration of the power of God.
He says, ”for it is the power of God for salvation“, he has seen the power of the gospel bring people to Christ. He has seen the gospel breakdown people’s pride and bring them to their knees. He has seen the gospel fix lives, marriages, arrogance; he’s seen the gospel change people. He’s seen the power of the gospel at work.
“Friend, you should buy this, it really works! Use this! I’ve seen it work!” The boldness comes from seeing the power of God unto salvation. Once you’ve seen something working, like guys find a pick-up line that works on girls, they start using it too much till it runs out of power. When they see a working screenwriting formula, they use it for 60 years because they see it works, they’ve seen its power to draw the crowds and they use it, ‘let’s not stray from the formula’ the director says. Paul is saying ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, I can’t deny its power, it just works.’
Let’s be honest, you haven’t seen that many people come to Christ in your life, through you. You haven’t seen a powerful move of people dropping to their knees, so why bother telling? It doesn’t work anyway. Paul is the opposite! “I can’t stop telling because every time I tell the gospel, someone gets saved.” How can we get to place where we preach a gospel of belonging rather than belief?
for it is the power of God for salvation… it is a power that grabs you and leads you to salvation. You don’t do it. You don’t convince people. You are not into the ministry of defending and apologizing. You are just leading the people to the gospel. I submit to that even great pastors, evangelists, leaders and miracle-workers, who do amazing miracles of faith and thereby lead a lot of people to the Christian faith, will not keep those people and you may not see those people in heaven. The gospel that leads a person to salvation is the Gospel of crucifixion, dying and rising again. That is the gospel that has a powerful impact. It has a self-extracting power that it does its own work. How do you defend the gospel? The same way you defend the lion; you let it out of the cage!
for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Anyone! Cultural? Economic? Linguistic? No barriers! You can send the gospel and you can have it bring people to Christ because it is a Gospel that brings people to salvation.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Inside the self-extracting power of the gospel, there is a revelation of the righteousness of God and this will do two things: in the face of God’s righteousness you will see the lack of your own righteousness, and His righteousness. I’m comparing myself not with you or anyone else, I am comparing myself with Christ. I see the darkness of my soul and in the light of the gospel, I am drawn to the righteousness of Christ. The second thing is; in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, that is the righteousness of God is given to me more and more. As I believe the gospel, I have right standing with God, walking closer to Him.
From faith to faith, as it is written the just shall live by faith.
The wages of sin is death.
When I sinned, unrighteousness led me to death; when I have righteousness, it leads me to life. But I have no righteousness of my own, the gospel gives me God’s righteousness and as I live off God’s righteousness, I experience life. As I lived off sin, I experienced death. The Christian life is a life of living off Christ’s righteousness.