“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” (Rom. 1:16). With these wonderful words Paul announces the theme of his epistle to the saints at Rome. In the verses leading up to this statement, Paul had mentioned his indebtedness and his desire to preach the Gospel in order to pay that debt. He now begins to discuss the Gospel.
“Gospel” means good news. It is the good message of glad tidings, the message which produces joy in the heart (Rom. 10:15). It is “the” Gospel. All other messages will only lead to destruction (Gal. 1:6-10; II John 9-11; II Pet. 2:1ff). There are several other terms that are synonyms for the Gospel. It is “the faith” (Jude 3), “one faith” (Eph. 4:5), “This doctrine” (II John 10), “the truth” (John 8:32), “the word” (II Tim. 4:2), and “The doctrine” (I Tim. 4:16).
It is the message of which Paul was not ashamed. Because he preached the Gospel, Paul had endured much suffering. His own nation had cast him off. He had been cast out of Pisidia, stoned at Lystra, beaten and imprisoned at Philippi, and had fled from Thessalonica to avoid his enemies. He had been mocked by the philosophers at Athens, persecuted at Corinth, and a great mob at Ephesus had sought to do him harm. Read II Corinthians 11:23-33. Through all of this Paul was still not ashamed of the Gospel.
Why would anyone be ashamed of the Gospel? It has God as its source, Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation as its subject matter, the Holy Spirit as its revealer, and Heaven as its goal. To be ashamed of the Gospel is to be ashamed of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Should any Christian, at any time, ever be ashamed to be a child of the Most High God and Ruler of the Universe? (I John 3:1-3). Why would anyone be ashamed of being a citizen of the glorious kingdom of Christ, and of striving to go to Heaven when life on earth is over? It is the Gospel “of Christ,” not Mohammed, not Buddha, and not the Pope.
The Gospel is power, divine power, “power of God” (Heb. 4:12). It is able to move people by its power. It can melt the hardest heart, change the vilest sinner, make homes strong, and unite all believers. God has no other power by which we are saved. Notice that it is “the” power, not “a” power. No man can be saved without it (Rom. 10:13-14; Mark 16:16; John 14:6; John 6:44-45; I Cor. 15:1-4). In every case of conversion in the Book of Acts the Gospel was first preached.
The Gospel is for everyone; the invitation is for “all” (Matt. 11:28-30; Rev. 3:20, 2:17). The salvation which it brings is conditional, “to everyone that believeth.” The only faith that avails is obedient faith—faith which compels one to do what God has said, just because God said do it! The faith of Hebrews 11 is such faith. Read James 2:14-16.
What about you? Are you ashamed of the Gospel of Christ?