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.
We ascribe various shades of meaning to “Gospel,” and in the process often lose sight of what Paul says here. “Gospel” is applied to a style of music, that in Japan at least is often sung by non-believers who just like the music. It is applied to the four books of the New Testament that specifically recount the life of Jesus, and as an extension of that, is applied as a standard of truth, “the Gospel truth.” We must never forget, however, that it means Good News. Why is it good news? Because of what Paul says here. John 3:16 could rightly be said to be the foundation of the Gospel, because the good news is indeed that God loved us so much that He prepared a way, through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, for us to be saved from the penalty for our sins and brought into eternal fellowship with Him. The better we understand that, the better that news becomes! None of us is sinless, even after we encounter Christ, as John makes very clear in his first letter. (1 John 1:8-10) In the middle of that, however, John further clarifies the Gospel by saying, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The sticking point for many when it comes to accepting God’s salvation is acknowledging that they need it, that they are sinners. Confession, at least to God, is essential for salvation. It doesn’t necessarily need to be codified, as it is in some churches, but we’ve got to say to God, and mean it, “God, I’ve screwed up. I have no right to spend eternity with You. I believe Jesus died in my place, and I ask You to forgive me, cleanse me, and take me as Your child.” That we can do that, and it really happens as an eternal transaction, is the best news possible!
I have committed my life to communicating the Gospel, but I am by temperament and gifting a teacher. Those with Encourager gifting make better evangelists! However, I’m not to make excuses, or in any way hold back from declaring the Good News of salvation to all who will receive it. On one level I feel I agree completely with Paul in what he says here, but in all honesty I have to admit that I have held back at times out of concern for how my words would be received, placing a higher value on people’s approval than on their eternal salvation. That’s being ashamed of the Gospel! I am to seek, and act in, God’s wisdom as to timing and methods, but I must never let self-centered concerns hold me back from declaring the Gospel. It is possible to come across as holier-than-thou, and when that happens it certainly doesn’t sound like good news. It is also possible to come across as pedantic, downright boring. That’s a particular hazard for someone with Teacher gifting! The way to avoid both of those traps is to remember how marvelous and how essential this truth is to me, personally, because I too am totally dependent on God’s grace. If I will remember that, then my words will come across as Good News indeed.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be an effective communicator of Your Gospel, drawing many into repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!