Sermons

Summer Wind Pt 2: Not Ashamed

Pastor Don Prewitt 

07-06-14

 

This morning we are going to look at one sentence from a letter from the Apostle Paul to the Roman church.  A verse that has both haunted and blessed followers of Jesus since it’s writing.  But before we do, lets look at some history regarding Paul and his letter to the Roman church. 

The Apostle Paul wrote a majority of the New Testament in the form of letters to churches.  These letters are I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews and Romans. Most of his letters had a corrective feel to them as the churches were still new and wading through what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Paul had either established or had great personal contact with all of these churches, except for Romans church.  Paul had never met the Roman church so there were no corrections to be made.  This gave him the ability to simply center in on Jesus Himself. For this reason Romans feels more like a theological dissertation packed full of deep truths about Jesus. 

Rome was THE place to be in those days.  If you were a scholar or poet or a wealthy merchant you wanted to settle in the city of Rome, the hub of all culture in those days.  Paul starts his letter to the Romans giving his credentials. He was doing what we often do when a famous speaker comes to speak.  Before they hit the stage we lay out all of their great accomplishments and who they know.  I don’t know what would be said about me if I were speaking to these learned, worldly Romans: 

  1. I once made a salad for the singer Amy Grant
  2. I got beat up by a homeless man
  3. I once met the actor Matthew Broderick in the basement of a theater.
  4. In one day I got stung by bees 5 times in the same hand and lived to tell about it. 

What about you?  What credentials would you pull out to say about your own self to these Romans?  

As intimidating as the Romans could be, Paul’s credentials start in verse 1 of Romans: 

“This is a letter from Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ…” 

Really? That’s all Paul could come up with? A SLAVE of Jesus Christ… 

Yet this laying out of his credentials to some of the most learned and sought after people was his way of setting up for the text we will study today.  He laid all his earthly credentials down to share with this highly educated church the simple truth’s about Jesus; truths that had very little to do with Paul and his credentials.  

What is it that you lay before people?  Credentials are ok, but they can give us a false sense of identity when we share Jesus with others.  Credentials can often get in the way. 

This brings us to the passage that I want to talk about today. Lets read it together: 

“FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES, FOR THE JEW FIRST AND ALSO FOR THE GREEK.” Romans 1:16 NKJV

Many of the great piano concertos begin with a crashing chord and then state the theme, which they are going to develop musically.  The reason for this is that they were often first performed at private gatherings in great houses.  When the pianist first sat down at the piano, there was still a buzz of conversation.  The crashing chord was played to attract the attention of the company, and then, when attention was obtained, the theme was stated.  Paul was doing the same thing in his letter to the Romans.  He made some contact through his greeting and then his credentials and then here comes the big crash of the book of Romans before he establishes the theme. 

  1. NOT ASHAMED

The Romans called themselves the “wits”, giving the impression that they were the only ones in the entire known world with the smarts.  You’ve heard the phrase “all roads lead to Rome”?  That’s because all roads DID lead to Rome.  They invented the roads!  Here were a people who boasted of their great philosopher’s, artists, liberated thinkers, modern technologies and government.  Here were a people who didn’t embrace the simple minded, marginalized and un-educated world but instead cruelly beat them into submission to the Roman rule.  

First Paul tells these people that he is a slave of Jesus; void of any personal rights and ruled by Jesus alone.  Then he says that he’s not ashamed of this fact.  In the Greek, this phrase “I am not ashamed” is really more like this: “I am not SHAMED” by the gospel of Christ. 

Before Paul’s conversion these were people he would have hung out with and with whom he could have impressed with his knowledge and education.  No doubt, the city of Rome had a lot of influence on Paul himself as he was a Roman citizen. Rome was packed full of the world changers in its time; the “up and coming’s”, inventors and masterminds.  And to these people he states that he is not shamed by the fact that he has put his entire trust in this seemingly simple gospel of Jesus Christ coming to earth and dying as a peasant in his place.  

We all have our own Rome’s, don’t we?  We all admire people and look up to them as superior and a bit intimidating.  Silicon Valley holds its own set of world changers, intellects and inventors.  Sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing to share Jesus with people in this area.  Maybe some of us get intimidated sharing this simple gospel with people that seem so thought out!  

The issue is more than a simple sounding gospel; the real issue is that it can be embarrassing to have to acknowledge to anyone, especially someone that we might look up to, that we are broken enough to need a Savior.  The real issue is that we might not want people to know that we are really weaker than we put on and that we actually NEED this Jesus in our lives!  

“FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES, FOR THE JEW FIRST AND ALSO FOR THE GREEK.” Romans 1:16 NKJV

“It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim” The Message 

What is Paul shamelessly staking his life on?  He says that it’s the gospel, or literally, the good news of Christ.    

If we find ourselves ashamed that we serve God, maybe we haven’t seen what Paul saw in the good news of Jesus? 

If we get embarrassed at the thought of what others would feel if they knew we had given our lives to a man we cannot even see, maybe its because we have forgotten what Paul knew in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

If we find some reservation in telling others about what we call the “good news”, it might not be a sin issue, but it certainly could be because we haven’t understood the gospel and let it penetrate our lives in the same way that Paul had. 

I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL: 

The gospel, or good news is not a set of rules.  It’s not the fact that we go to church or that we are trying to live good lives.  It has nothing to do with our accomplishments or credentials.  It is demonstrated, not by argument but by what it does.  

What is this gospel that Paul is not ashamed of: 

Romans 5:8 tells us: 

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The good news that Paul was so proud to boast about was not the persuasive sweetness of Jesus’ words, or the inviting beauty of Jesus’ life, not even the miracles that Jesus performed, but rather the mysterious agonies of His last hours, by which he would have us all realize where our power, the foundation of our beliefs and the reasoning for our service lie…in this one fact alone:

God demonstrated His own great love toward every one of us when He left His throne, became a man, seeking us out while we were still sinners, filled with the wrong kinds of credentials and taking our deserved punishment by being nailed to a criminals cross.

THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS, THE GOSPEL THAT PAUL WAS NOT ASHAMED OF.  AND THERE ARE DAYS THAT WE CAN GET CAUGHT UP WITH OUR OWN CREDENTIALS, GET LOST IN OUR RITUALS AND RELIGIOUS ROUTINES, AND CHOKE ON OUR OWN ACHIEVEMENTS AND COMPLETELY FORGET THE ONE THING THAT GIVES ANY OF US ANY KIND OF IDENTITY AT ALL…JESUS CHRIST, CRUCIFIED, BURRIED, RISEN IN THREE DAYS AND COMING AGAIN FOR PEOPLE LIKE PAUL, AND THE ROMANS AND YOU AND I.

As Paul said, this gospel is a “stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (or non-Jewish people), and yet He stakes his life and reputation on this gospel!

This gospel is a gift and not an achievement and when we remember all that Christ has done for us; experiencing the undeserved forgiveness and mercy of God, this gospel becomes good news that HAS to be shared, not a laborious task that we have to accomplish to feel better about ourselves!  

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER of God to salvation…”

This gospel is not just the experience of receiving Gods mercy through the cross, but all that the scriptures share with us about new identity as children of God. And though I wouldn’t be a Pentecostal preacher if I didn’t believe that the Holy Spirit gives us power to live out our lives and that the Holy Spirit sometimes has his way and gives us experiences that we find difficult to intellectually explain, I also believe that there is great power in the gospel, in the word of God, in the truths wrapped up in that book that we carry with us to church.  And if we find ourselves longing and seeking after more and more sensational experiences or prophecies or manifestations without devouring this book then we have neglecting the very power of God himself through the gospel.  How much more of God do you want?  He is found in this gospel.  How much more power do you want?  It is found in the revelation of Jesus Christ and no experience you will ever have will overshadow the power or the authority of this book.  Enough said! 

It is only through the revelation of this gospel that we receive the power to live meaningful, holy-spirit controlled and powerful lives for Christ.  If we pray for revival, let us pray that God will revive us to see and understand the power that he has already imparted to all who call ourselves followers of Jesus!

God says of this powerful gospel:

Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29 

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES”

After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to many, His very last words to the disciples rang the same powerful message as Paul.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved…" Mark 16:16

Paul eventually made his way to Rome by ways of imprisonment unashamedly proclaiming that this good news that has no rank is free FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE THAT IN JESUS.  The Jews had the first opportunities to receive this free gift and then the entire world was given the invitation to come in faith and embrace the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  This good news has not stopped being proclaimed in spite of religious wars and differences, persecution and politics, sins and humanistic theology.  This good news is for ALL who will accept its gift of life and life more abundantly…and I AM NOT ASHAMED TO PROCLAIM IT!