I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL Romans 1:16-17
Steven Kryger writes about his experience visiting Christians in Iraq. He writes, “In the heartland of violent anti-Christian extremism, I was confronted with how openly and unashamedly Christians are displaying their allegiance to Jesus. Crosses are everywhere. They dangle from rearview mirrors. They hang on bracelets around wrists. They stand tall, fixed to the top of houses…. Less than 14km from the merciless armies of ISIS .. just minutes from people who wouldn’t think twice about burning them alive, Christians were proudly choosing to communicate “I am with Him.” I felt ashamed. I realised that while as a Christian in Australia I am at greater risk of being killed by a falling coconut than I am by an extremist, I am nowhere near this willing to be aligned with Jesus on a daily basis. Kryger goes on to write: “Our brothers and sisters in Iraq don’t have to display the cross in their cars, from their balconies, or on their wrists. They don’t have to paint the “Nazarene” sign on their front doors. And in fact, given the risks of doing so, we would be quick to forgive them for keeping a low profile. But they choose to do these things…they are not ashamed or afraid to make this known. What about you?” I don’t know if that challenges you as much as it does me. (Link below)
In the book of Romans Paul has a challenge: to get two very different groups of people to accept one another in Christ so that they can change the world. The Gospel was the unifying message that brought them both salvation and connection to God and each other. But he begins with personal testimony – I Am Not Ashamed!
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” – Romans 1:16-17, NLT
Barclay: “Paul had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Beroea, laughed at in Athens and in Corinth his message was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling-block to the Jews. Out of that background he declared that he was proud of the Gospel.”
What about us? Are we ashamed of the Gospel … ashamed to be known as a Christian? What might trigger that kind of embarrassment / shame? Fear of being rejected or ridiculed by others? We can be ashamed because of our own inconsistency or ongoing sin in our lives that others can see. We can be ashamed because we haven’t equipped ourselves to talk about the challenges to Christianity.
Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11). May we be unashamed to call him Lord.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is the expression of God’s work in the broken world to restore wholeness, in the lost world to restore salvation, and in your world to restore joy. Instead of being ashamed, Paul is calling us to be BOLD!
WE CAN BE BOLD BECAUSE…
GOD IS AT WORK! (1:16a For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work…) The Gospel is God’s Work in the World (1:1-2 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. ). Throughout Romans Paul points out God’s work:
-In the world lost without Him
-In the church needing his healing for unity
-In individuals, needing to know God’s love
That God would be interested in calling us to Himself is reason enough to be bold!
EVERYONE IS ELIGIBLE! (saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.) Paul had to struggle with the hatred and distrust between the Jews and the Gentiles through much of his ministry. He continuously affirmed that all Christians are added to the Body of Christ and become One in Christ. This is a good time to remind ourselves that racism is a sin – it is the total opposite of what God has called us to. In our fallen, godless, world there is much work yet to be done in this area. Also in the church – we must be vigilant that all people of all nations and races are welcomed into the kingdom of God!
We have never met a human being that God did not desire to save. Sometimes the most unlikely people can hear the truth about God’s love and be drawn to Him. This means we have to overcome whatever personal discomforts we have in order to extend the gospel to all. (1:14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. ) Not all will believe, but to those who do, eternal life is theirs! (1:17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.)
WE CAN BE BOLD BECAUSE OF FAITH! (1:17B This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”)
- Be bold in your way of life.
- Be bold in your speech.
- Be bold in your service.
- Be bold in your Prayers.
- Be bold in your church!
God is calling ourselves to Him through the Gospel – an eternal promise that found power in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. (1:2)
If Jesus had lived a lovely life and died a heroic death, and if that had been the end of him, he might have been numbered with the great and the heroic, but he would simply have been one among many. His uniqueness is guaranteed forever by the fact of the Resurrection. The others are dead and gone and have left a memory. Jesus lives on and gives us a presence, still mighty with power. (Barclay)
When God saves us he calls us to a life of faith. A signal of that faith is the life of bold commitment to Christ!
LIFEGROUP QUESTIONS FOR ROMANS 1
- If you decided that being bold for Christ meant wearing a Christian t-shirt, what would yours say?
- The sermon referred to Steve Kryger’s experience in Iraq where Christians were bold in their faith in the face of ISIS. What do you think are the biggest threats to an individual in our community who wants to be a bold Christian? Do you feel threatened in those ways?
- What are some of the experiences of Paul that might have made many people give up the mission effort? How does recounting those experiences make Romans 1:16 even more powerful?
- Can you think of any examples of people in the New Testament who were ashamed of their connection to Jesus?
- What were some of the barriers between people that the Roman church was having trouble with? How does our text begin to address those issues?
- Here are five areas of boldness. For each one, share a reason why it is a challenge and give an example of how you can be bold in that area.
-Your way of life.
- Your speech.
- Your service.
- Your Prayers.
- Your church!
- In verse 17 Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4. The NLT says, “As the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life.’ You might be surprised to know that this verse has had a lot of discussion as to it’s meaning. What does it say to you?
- What else was in our text that you wanted to talk about?
Pray for one another to be bold in the coming weeks and months, trusting that God is at work in our world, our church, and our lives.
Kryger, Steve. Are You Ashamed of Jesus?