“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it has been written: “The righteous will live by faith.””
A number of years ago I had an experience as I was driving back to First Baptist Church from running an errand which illustrated very powerfully the issue that the Apostle Paul raises in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans. As I was driving and approaching a red light that I knew had an advanced green light which would allow traffic to start early in the oncoming lanes, I was bringing my car to a stop when to my great surprise the car in the curb lane beside me sailed unconcernedly through the intersection against the red light. The driver of that car either was unaware of the red light, or was unconcerned about it, and as a result put themselves, as well as every other driver in great danger. As I saw the scene unfolding before me all I could do was offer an insufficient warning with my horn. Perhaps the driver, or one of the others crossing legally into the intersection, would hear and respond to the warning. Thankfully all of the oncoming traffic stayed put, and the unaware driver sailed safely through the intersection. The events of the morning however got me to thinking. How often do I see people who are unconcernedly living their lives without the knowledge of God and do nothing to warn them? The danger they are facing is far greater, because it is in fact an eternal danger.
Today I am meditating upon that question within the context of the Apostle Paul’s theme statement at the beginning of his letter to the Romans. To paraphrase what he tells the Romans Paul glories in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, because it is in fact God’s powerful word which redeems anyone who believes it. Robert Haldane in his Geneva Commentary on Romans (Banner of Truth, page 47) writes.
“For it is the power of God unto salvation. – Here the Apostle gives the reason why he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is the great and admirable mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God, into which the Angels desire to look, whereby His manifold wisdom is made known unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places. It is the efficacious means by which God saves men from sin and misery, and bestows on them eternal life, — the instrument by which He triumphs in their hearts, and destroys in them the dominion of Satan. The Gospel, which is the Word of God, is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. By it, as the word of truth, men are begotten by the will of God, Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; and through the faith of the Gospel they are kept by His power unto salvation, 1 Pet. 1:5. The exceeding greatness of the power of God exerted in the Gospel towards those who believe, is compared to His mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, Eph. 1:19. Thus, while the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, to those who are saved it is the power of God.”
What Haldane writes here puts things in their proper experience. It also helps me to put into words my own conversion. The Gospel is in fact a living Word from God. It is personal in that it is in fact the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, living, and active among us. His Word of the Gospel is powerful to accomplish the purpose for which it was spoken. As I was living my life, blindly unaware of my danger, the Lord spoke the Word of the Gospel and it became something which arrested me. It stopped me in my tracks. It awakened concern for my eternal destiny. It became an irresistible force in my life calling me to put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As a Christian it now raises another question for me. Do I believe that it has the power to do what it did in me for others? If I do believe that is has that power then I will never tire of glorying in the Gospel because it is the Word of life for anyone who believes it. It does not matter whether the person I am speaking with, or preaching to, looks like a good candidate for salvation. I certainly did not look like a good candidate when I first heard the Word of Christ. That is not the issue. This Gospel proclamation is God’s power to save. So do I slumber on keeping the Word to myself? Or do I Preach it, believing that it can save anyone who believes it?