Tempted to Be Ashamed of the Gospel?

Romans 1:16-17 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and then to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”

Such an infamous passage for all of history isn’t it?  The verse that had such a profound impact on Martin Luther and, in his own words said, “It opened for me the gates of paradise.”  The verse which many people think is the bedrock foundation of the robust book of theology known as Romans.  The verse in which we learn it is by faith we live life in Christ, not by works.  The verse which teaches the gospel is itself the power of God, the very thing that reveals God’s righteousness.

But notice what the verse implies: Paul boldly says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  Do you think Paul would have ever thought to say such a thing if there weren’t moments in his life when he was tempted with being ashamed of the gospel?  Why else would he so boldly state that he is not?  He must have felt tempted to believe the lie, to believe this gospel’s madness is ruining his life and making him out to be the biggest fool in the universe.  But was it?  No.  Which is why he is ultimately not ashamed of it.

When someone first told me this, it did wonders for me.  I had always thought of the Apostle Paul as a super-hero, an un-tarnished model of what it means to be a pastor, preacher, or missionary.  Yes of course he admitted sin, and struggles with not wanting what was good for him and wanting to do the very thing he hates.  But deep down I guess I did not believe him.  I do now.  Do you?  Have you ever been tempted to believe the lie that the gospel is something to be ashamed of?  I have.  It is a powerful one too.  Sneaky thoughts from the evil one saying things like, “Look at what this gospel has done for you?  Ripped you from your family, sent you all around the world preaching to people who hate you and want to kill you?  Hasn’t it done enough damage to your marriage?  Hasn’t it done enough damage to your congregation?  Hasn’t it done enough damage to your reputation?”

In the midst of those temptations Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and then to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”

Amen.

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