What do these things have in common: a bad haircut, engagement rings, facial blemishes and a new grandchild?
Each set off a powerful internal reaction: either to gladly show and tell, or to hide and avoid sharing. Engagement rings are proudly waved around, grandkids boasted of freely. Not so much with pimples and butchered bangs—they are hidden. Covered. Some things are gloried in, others can be embarrassments.
The gospel was Paul’s calling, God’s re-direct on his life. Saul had despised and rejected the good news, now it was his life. He “saw the light” and was gloriously converted (Acts 9). He was eternally altered from Saul, zealous defender of Judaism and Jesus-hater, to Paul, teller and defender of God’s gospel of Jesus.
Paul tried repeatedly to go to Rome to share God’s good news wrapped-up in Jesus: the gospel. He longed to see more lost people found and believers edified. The gospel does both. In Rome—a place of political, intellectual and cultural prominence—many would see the gospel as more Jewish, mythical foolishness. Others would be saved. Thus, Paul wrote:
“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. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel [εὐαγγέλιον - euangelion], 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 1:13-17, ESV
We freely tell about things we are confident of and bring us joy. Topics that cause us ridicule or shame, we keep private, deny or obscure. The gospel – God’s saving truth of salvation in His resurrected Son, Jesus – is nothing to be ashamed of. It is good news we can glory in and should eagerly share, even if it brings scorn and derision. Take notes from Paul’s greeting to the church in Rome.
Glory in the gospel
As we see from this text, there are many reasons we can glory in God’s gospel. First, the gospel has power to save all who believe. It is divinely dynamic to rescue any who have faith in Jesus: Jew or Gentile. Be they religious or secular, worldly sophisticates or the simple, the gospel is God’s life-changing message.
By God’s powerful good news, the dead are made alive (Eph 2:1-1). The damned are rescued and declared righteous (Col 1:13-16; Rom 4). Hell-bound heathens (that would be me, that would be all of us) become heaven-graced saints. God’s mighty arm is not too short to reach even the most lost person (Rom 5:1-11; Isa 59:1).
Paul knew of the gospel’s power in his own life. The self-described “chief of sinners,” Paul was God’s Exhibit “A” of grace (1 Tim 1:14-16). If God could change him, He can change anyone: me, you, your hardest-of-hearts lost loved one (Rom 10:8-13).
Ashamed of the gospel? Hardly! We can glory in it because it tells of God’s provision to save us from sin and damnation. It unveils an alien righteousness from God (2 Cor 5:21). Job asked: “How can we be right before God?” (Job 9:2). By faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, a right standing with God is applied to us: Christ’s (2 Cor, 5:21; Rom 5:12-21)! Because of Him, we “shall not pass unto judgment, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, 36 & 5:24).
We can also glory in God’s gospel because it has the only proclamation that leads to salvation. It tells of a righteousness from God applied to us by faith, not law (3:21-31; 6:22-23). This deliverance from deserved damnation comes by faith in Christ (Gal 2-4; Eph 2:1-10).
Ask Martin Luther about its transforming power and message. That hopeless, miserable monk turned professor scoured the scriptures to learn how he could be right with God. In this passage he learned that anyone who is just before God has that hope only by believing the gospel, not through works (Rom 1:17; Hab 2:4; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38).
Paul made plans to persistently spread the gospel (Rom 1:1-13). Far from embarrassed, he purposefully and diligently shared it. Do you? Sharing the gospel is a glorious obligation. Are you obedient?
What does your gospel-sharing activity say about you? Is the gospel a source of shame or glory to you? Does its good news produce a joyous eagerness to tell others? Or, do you stay quiet, seeking to save face? Do you treat God’s good news like a pimple or a prize?
Be confident of its power—God’s power—to change all who believe. If God has changed you, rejoice and unashamedly spread the good news!
As we joyously share His birth announcement this Christmas, do so with confidence. Unashamedly declare this Baby's power to change lives. He has changed ours, and He gladly comes into the personal world of all who call upon Him. "Go tell it on the mountains," in which He has placed you, and share in His eternal glory which is without blemish or bad haircuts.
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