Text: Romans 1:16-17

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.

Romans 1:16-17 is the heart of the epistle of Romans, which speaks of the
gospel of Christ in full glory. These are the verses used by God to convert
Martin Luther, sparking the Reformation that caused millions of souls to be
saved for the glory of God. And these verses should grip our hearts today too.
Paul fervently expressed his zeal for the gospel by telling the Romans that he
was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”. The gospel is not any other gospel,
but the gospel of Christ. Paul was proud of this gospel. Hence, he declared that
he was “not ashamed” to be a preacher of this gospel. This phrase is in the
Greek present tense, telling us that this “un-ashamedness” was not a one-time
event, but something that was consistent and habitual in the life of Paul.
Indeed, Paul was exemplary in the ministry of the gospel. His exemplary
testimony for the gospel is recorded for us in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 – “Are
they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more
abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten
with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I
have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of
robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils
in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among
false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that
are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
He was ready to die for the gospel, and so must we.

The reason why Paul was so confident in the gospel of Christ was the fact that
it is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth”, yea to the
Jews first (because they were the ones who first received the oracles, see
Romans 3:1-2), but also to the Greeks (i.e. the rest of the Greek-speaking
world, the Gentiles). Man may have power, but his power is nothing compared
to the power of the omnipotent God. This is power that can cause a dead man to
be alive again. This is power that can deliver a man from his sins. No man, nor
any other creature, has power to do such things! All that is needed is for
man to believe. The gospel is open to all without exception. O sinner, will
you not receive this gospel?

Sadly, there are churches today that have become ashamed of the gospel.
John McArthur notes the downgrade of Churches in America in his book
Ashamed of the Gospel. He bemoans how these churches have become
“user-friendly” and “marketable”, substituting the “old-time” gospel for a
“show-time” religion. Instead of the preaching of God’s Word, the gospel
is substituted by pop music, jokes and philosophical rhetoric. Could it be
that they have forgotten that the gospel is “the power of God unto

How then is the gospel the “power of God” to save? Paul explained that it
was the constant revelation of the righteousness of God. This righteousness
of God is the righteousness of Christ that is imputed upon us when we
believe in him. We are saved by faith in Christ Jesus, and we continue to
walk in faith in Christ till we reach the pearly gates of heaven.

Alas, many a times have we also been found ashamed of the gospel when
opportunity arose, and we failed to speak the good news to the soul in need,
for fear of a negative reaction. Furthermore, we often succumb to our fears
when placed in testing situations, thereby perpetuating the message of our
lack of faith that our salvation is already secure in Christ Jesus. It is so easy
to be ashamed of the gospel when we lose sight that it is the power to save.

Paul then ended his proposition statement by quoting from Habakkuk 2:4:
the just shall live by faith”. The book of Habakkuk deals with the
punishment of the wicked in Judah during the time of king Jehoiakim.
Habakkuk was lamenting of how the wicked had remained unpunished.
God then reassured Habakkuk by giving him a shocking revelation – He
was about to use the Babylonians to punish Judah. This left Habakkuk
stunned and confused. Why did God have to use a more wicked people
than the Jews as His instruments of chastisement? God then proceeded to
show the prophet that the Babylonians too would be punished. No evil
person can escape the judgment of God. But for those who are righteous,
they shall live by faith! This humble trust and faith in the LORD will see
the believer through his pilgrim journey on earth all the way to heaven.
This is true in every age and generation. Faith in God and the Messiah is
the only way of salvation. Will your faith rest in the Lord Jesus Christ?

True Faith Rests Not in Man’s Wisdom
Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

If the Apostle’s preaching had rested exclusively on the power of
eloquence, it might have been overthrown by superior eloquence, and
besides, no one would pronounce that to be solid truth which rests on
mere elegance of speech. It may indeed be helped by it, but it ought not
to rest upon it. On the other hand, that must have been most powerful
which could stand of itself without any foreign aid. Hence it forms a
choice commendation of Paul’s preaching, that heavenly influence
shone forth in it so clearly, that it surmounted so many hindrances,
while deriving no assistance from the world. It follows, therefore, that
they must not allow themselves to be moved away from his doctrine,
which they acknowledge to rest on the authority of God…. Let it then
be known by us that it is the property of faith to rest upon God alone,
without depending on men; for it requires to have so much certainty to
go upon, that it will not fail, even when assailed by all the
machinations of hell, but will perseveringly endure and sustain every
assault. This cannot be accomplished unless we are fully persuaded
that God has spoken to us, and that what we have believed is no mere
contrivance of men.

Editor’s Note: We must be careful that our faith rests not in the
preacher but on the preached Word of God. We must obey that which
is preached not because we admire the preacher, but simply because
our faith rests fully in God’s Word and His saving power.