Wednesday 19 April 2023


ROMANS v 16/17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jews and also to the Gentile. For in it, is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written the righteous shall live by faith.                                        

Paul is writing to Christians in Rome, the mightiest city of the day, a city full of learning yet also full of immorality, where Christianity would not be appreciated, and he was ready and eager to go and preach the gospel no matter what the cost, even though Christians were in danger of persecution; a sort of London of the day. He had been beaten, stoned and left for dead, as a result of his preaching, but never gave up; now he is in the most powerful city in the then world. We need to look at particular words in the passage.
These are important  verses in the Bible, for they give a life-saving message which caused Martin Lither to initiate the Protestant Reformation.
There is a comparative likeness today, with Churches in the Western Hemisphere who have abandoned God’s Holy Word, to associate with the prevailing culture of society, which is dominated by activists who seek to destroy marriage and the traditional family, and cause mayhem attempting to destroy God’s order of creation.

Why do so few people attend Church? Where going to Church was once as normal as going to work or any other activity, this is no longer the case.
It is generally recognised that this is largely a godless nation. Most people believe that there is a God, they just don’t want Him to interfere in their lives. We forget or ignore the fact we owe life and breath to Him, but we still want Him to be available when we have a problem in our lives. People get annoyed when He does not act to their bidding, even though they have no time for Him at other times. We were created with a soul, with a spirit. All of us were made in the image of God. All of us were made to have a relationship with God.
But there is a section of people who do feel a spiritual need, as was witnessed at Christmas when many Churches saw increased congregations.
We have to also accept that the Church exists primarily for one purpose, to proclaim the Christian gospel. All other activities are subsidiary.  If we restrict that, then we have no claim to be here; people can get social amenities from many sources, they can only get the gospel from the Church. The primary means of bringing people to Christ, is through the preaching of the gospel.
What has dissuaded a lot of people, is the failure of the Church to preach a united message. The Bible states a house divided against itself will fall, and politicians have found to their cost, that any Party which is divided in its policies will lose support. So it is with the Church; people are confused as to what we believe and teach.
People have a right to expect a positive message when they attend Church, a biblical message. This is why Billy Graham became the most successful preacher of all time. His preaching was uncompromising, and people flocked in their tens of thousands to hear him, and they respected him for his directness.
The Apostle Paul was a devoted missionary, who took the gospel around the ancient world, and leaving his Letter to the Roman Church for generations to follow, learn and act upon. This Letter, has been stated  to be a masterpiece by eminent theologians,

He wanted to go to Rome, a city where clever and learned philosophers would meet in the city centre, and debate subjects of the day, and Paul wanted to preach the gospel to them. He was not, as others had been, frightened, for he believed that the gospel was the very power of God, and he would not be intimidated by what he might face.

He was ready to face Jew and non-Jew, and had confidence that God would support and protect him, especially as God had chosen him to take the gospel to all people.  He was proud to be an Apostle, and felt the privilege at being a preacher. This had caused him to be tortured, beaten, a prisoner, stoned, yet was ready to face anything and go anywhere to serve his Lord. He makes a lot of the preachers of today look weak and inept. Never ashamed in telling the gospel as God had spoken and Jesus commanded.

Paul explains why he was so eager to preach this gospel everywhere; it was the power of God in which the righteousness of God is revealed. In view of their size or honour in the Roman Council of influence, Christians were tempted to be ashamed of the Christian message. Paul said there is nothing to be ashamed of, for it is in the message coming with the power of God, which brings people to salvation. This was to be to the Jew first, to indicate the Jews salvation history and their election as the favourite people of God.  The role of the Jews is a major issue in the Letter to the Romans. Greek refers to all who are not Jews and bears no relevance to Greece.

The righteousness of God is a crucial term, which means having a right standing before God.  It also means God is righteous in mercy, justice and has a holy moral character.

From faith to faith, shall live by faith means, it is by faith from start to finish by faith, receives h gift of salvation.

In to-day’s Church we have the Bible re-interpreted to please society, and the message is modified or controversial passages not preached upon.  Clearly, the gospel does make too many people ashamed.

I don’t say this lightly, I have been complained about by both clergy and lay people for not giving an alternative teaching about the physical resurrection. Gender and sexuality. When I ask what alternative there is, I either don’t get an answer or they just slide away.

Let us then look at what we (should)mean when we talk of the gospel. Jesus was a baby born in a stable, with Mary His mother, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Father.  He grew up, and accompanied by twelve Apostles preached God’s Word, performed miraculous healings, condemning false teachers, died a cruel and horrendous death after vicious beatings, and did so that all who believed He died to pay the penalty for all sin, so that people who accept they were saved by Him, and claim Him as their Saviour, may be made righteous before God; was buried and after three days was risen from death, and ascended after fifty days to be at the right hand of God, where he intercedes for us. There is nothing to be ashamed of in Christianity; we might be ashamed of things we did, and should have done differently, and for unkind words, but in no way can we consider the story of Jesus as shameful.

The Bible should be the basis for ALL our preaching, it is the foundation of all truth. We cannot just pick and choose which parts we want, and cast out those which are not popular with society, or might cast doubt on our way of living. We should all be preaching on the same lines.   Paul  glorified in the gospel.

Jesus in His preaching had two effects; He either saved people or upset them. If we study the preaching of Jesus, the people did not always go away smiling, even His own disciples walked away from Him at one time. We like to read and hear the stories of Jesus as long as they do not place too much of an obligation on us. But many did believe in Him and went away with a different reaction.
Preachers now should be prepared to tell the Bible as it is written, telling people what need to hear rather than what they might like to hear. Preachers can however be intimidated and be frightened of upsetting modern susceptibilities. To preach fundamental truth will inevitably cause some upset. But let us take heart from Paul who faced all that could be put against him, and so caused Christianity to spread throughout the ancient world.
I have been to three services in recent times when there has been a child being baptised, with people who have not been to Church for a long time, if ever. What an opportunity of preaching the gospel, yet there was absolutely nothing.
We may offer what is hard for sceptics to believe, but that should not stop us telling it. The gospel does annoy people, so the Church has tried to dilute the message to please and conciliate people, to such an extent that it has nothing special to offer. If it is just another social organisation with a religious flavour there is no cause for people to support it.There is power is for everyone who believes. This means more than just believing there is a God, the devil accepts that. It is not enough to just hear and say you believe, it demands a response. God wants all people to turn to Him.
. We cannot make ourselves righteous before God, but we can be through Jesus’ atoning death. Jesus acts as a bridge between God and us, putting us in good standing in God’s eyes, making it thus possible for us to be acceptable to God. This is God’s powerful way of bringing all who believe to heaven. We are saved by grace (Great Riches At Christ’s Expense) through faith, and when we believe fully in Christ we are in a right relationship with God.
You must have faith. Many people are reluctant to trust in God. We travel by plane, and put our faith that the pilot knows what he is doing although we know nothing about him. If you go to the doctor for some illness and he gives you a prescription, you then get dispensed and take, trusting the doctor and the chemist, but you don’t just leave it in a cupboard if you want to get better. So with the gospel; there is no point in just seeking a spiritual prescription; you have to take that by faith, which means reaching out to God and accepting the gospel.
The key word is righteousness, which means to have a right standing in God’s eyes. It’s a legal term which means to declare “not guilty” and to declare “innocent of all charges.” When we believe, repent and have faith, we are justified, just as if we had not sinned.
When we use the word justified in normal language, we mean we try to prove we were right in our actions. But we cannot prove ourselves to God; He is the One who puts us in the right when He forgives by His grace through our faith.
In conclusion, never be ashamed of the gospel. When Paul wrote to Timothy he told him not to have a spirit of timidity, but be ready to preach the word that God saved us by His grace which He has given us through Christ Jesus.  Let us Christians be as proud of our faith as other faiths are of theirs, remembering there is salvation in no one else than Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we can be saved



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