Vol. 5, No. 5
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In one of the most often quoted passages of the New Testament, Romans 1:16-17, Paul makes his thesis statement of this wonderful treatise concerning the Gospel:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
The Gospel will never give you a reason to be ashamed. Paul was not ashamed of preaching the Gospel anywhere that he went, and this was certainly true of Rome. For what about the Gospel could possibly cause shame? It is the good news of Jesus Christ, salvation provided, and victory achieved. Which of these would cause us shame? Are we ashamed of the perfection of Christ's life, his sacrifice on our behalf, or the fact that he died? Or are we ashamed of what he has taught and demands of each one of us? We may be ashamed of our failure to do what Christ says, but we should never be ashamed of what he has said for us to do.
The Gospel is the power of God. Surely, the dynamic power of an omnipotent God is difficult to comprehend! But perhaps even more difficult is the thought that this power is expressed in the words of the New Testament. But when we realize that the Gospel expresses God's power over sin, death and Satan (1 Corinthians 15:55-57); his power over creation (Colossians 1:16-17); and his power to redeem man (1 Peter 1:18-19), is it that hard to believe that this message is truly the power of God at work? The verb related to this noun means "to be able." Therefore, while many people think that the Holy Spirit must speak to them personally in some way to enable them to be saved, Paul teaches here that the Gospel is God's enabling force.
The Gospel is the way unto salvation. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). But since the Gospel reveals Christ and his will totally to us -- not only in the "gospels" but also in the remaining books of the New Testament -- the Word of Truth is simply an inspired translation of the Word which became flesh. It teaches us how to live and what to do to please God by showing us how to live like Christ (1 Peter 2:21). Within the Gospel, we find the attitudes, the actions and the incidentals which keep us on the correct path. But, we must be willing to follow the Gospel completely if we are to be led to the salvation God offers.
The Gospel is for all. How unfair and unloving God would be if he kept back the only message that will save. But God, being love itself (1 John 4:8), has the desire that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, he has provided a message for all peoples of all nations, for all are in need of the salvation which he alone can give (Romans 3:23). Unfortunately, many Christians wish to restrict certain races, those on "lower" social levels and "undesirables" from hearing the Gospel lest they believe and thereby enter into the fellowship of the Lord and (gasp!) the saints themselves. How carnal in thinking we must be to let souls in need remain lost.
The Gospel reveals righteousness. The Gospel reveals righteousness, all that which is right in nature. It is not only the declaration of avoiding evil but also that of doing good. In the Gospel God has revealed himself to us so that we might become like him (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16). Good is not only the absence of evil but the presence of light (1 John 1:5). Therefore, the Gospel teaches us what righteousness is by the standard of light and truth. Righteousness is thus the condition of being like God according to the standard. We are righteous, then, because we have been forgiven of our sins and are walking in the light (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:7-10; 3:7).
The Gospel produces faith. The phrase "from faith to faith" has perplexed many and caused some to interpret rather than translate. But as Paul continues his discussion concerning the Gospel, he wishes to show that this righteousness revealed is the foundation of belief. The first "faith" is a source (ek) while the second "faith" is an objective (eis). The first "faith" describes the Gospel, as opposed to the Old Law, as the new system of belief (Jude 3) which produces "faith" in those that hear and believe it. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). God did not intend for the content of the Gospel to be encased only between leather but also in the minds of those who hear it.
The Gospel leads to life. The faith produced in the hearts and minds of believers is not to be a stale or static belief but a belief that produces righteous (just) action in life that leads to life eternal. It is the righteousness of God put into action because of the faith produced by the Gospel of Christ, lived for the hope of eternal life. All this the Gospel will do -- if we will listen and obey.