Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
What a powerful statement! Today we might get hung up on referring to all Gentiles as Greeks, but even a cursory understanding of the culture of the 1st Century should clear that up. With that out of the way, the next point is whether the Gospel is something to be ashamed of. We don’t have the same visceral response to the idea of crucifixion that people of that day did. Recent crucifixions by Muslim jihadists might help us understand that point! In those days, crucifixion was an execution reserved for the worst criminals, and the Gospel proclaims that Jesus was crucified for our sins. That was shame-worthy both because of crucifixion itself and because all who receive the Gospel are saying that they themselves are worthy of crucifixion. Even today, many are unwilling to say that. Even apart from that, there are those today who are unwilling to claim the Gospel because in their eyes it isn’t “cool,” it isn’t the philosophy of the “in crowd.” That particular pressure is extreme in American academia today. However, Paul’s reason for not being ashamed of the Gospel is as valid today as it was when he recorded it: it is the power of God for salvation for all who believe. It is a major problem when we fail to really grasp that point. Far too many church members today aren’t really settled on the issue of whether Jesus is the only way to salvation. That is a major push of the devil, the liar and father of lies. If we fail to grasp that fundamental issue, we will lack both gratitude for our own salvation and motivation for sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible.
This is of course why I am a pastor in Japan. If I didn’t agree with Paul on this verse I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing! However, I have seen time and time and time again that Jesus really does save those who believe. I was talking with someone just yesterday about how many people have a distorted idea of what salvation is. They think in terms of being rescued from immediate difficult circumstances, when it is far more than that. We’re talking about eternity here! When people are fixated on the problem in front of their nose they have trouble grasping the reality that even at the worst it is just temporary, but salvation totally transcends that. As the Bill Gaither song says, “The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.” However, that doesn’t mean that life becomes “easy street.” I’ve baptized a few people who disappeared once they discovered that Jesus doesn’t mean easy street! I am to be faithful to speak the truth in love, proclaiming the same Gospel Paul did, and for the same reasons, and trust God with the results.
Father, thank You for the two major ministry opportunities You gave me yesterday. Neither was planned on my part, but they were clearly in Your plan. One recipient is not yet Christian and one is. I pray that they would both receive what You said through me, so that Your Word would work Your salvation in them on every level, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!