For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 1:16
There are things that you know that you know that you know that you know. Some of those things you learn and test and prove. Some of those things you experience and through that experience you prove them to be reliable.
I have learned a lot about music in my lifetime, especially before the time I turned 22. I know what scales and modes are. I know that a major scale is comprised of whole steps and half steps in the arrangement of: Whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. I know in a Harmonic Minor scale you have to raise the seventh degree of the scale and in a Melodic Minor scale your raise the sixth and seventh degrees when you are ascending and when you descend you lower them back to the natural minor. I know that a Natural Minor scale conforms to the key signature without raising or lowing anything. I know that major and minor keys are related by a minor third. I know what a perfect fourth and fifth are. I know that minor is a half-step smaller than major. I know that diminished chords are a half step smaller than minor and that augmented ones are a half step larger than major. I understand meters and rhythm. I speak Italian when it comes to musical terms. I know how to write orchestrations, what a cadence is, and how the parts of a song work. I know about harmony and dissonance. I can name any key signature by the number of sharps and flats it has in it.
I know that stuff because I studied it, learned it, and applied it. I have used that knowledge repeatedly. I played the piano, clarinet, violin, and saxophone growing up. I have sung by myself and with groups. I have directed choirs and instrumentalists, and I know that what I learned was solid information. It is information that is unchanging. The way music is written and arranged worked for Bach and Beethovan just like it does for David Foster, Adelle, and the Pentatonix.
I also know some things as a result of experiencing them. Allow me to show you one of my Christmas gifts. This is the “mother of all” body pillows. When I saw it online I knew I had to have one. I had been having some sleep issues this fall and winter and had a hunch that this special body pillow would help me rest well. I love to feel cocooned in when I sleep, and sure enough, this body pillow has changed my sleeping habits the way I suspected it would. My curiosity led me to try it. It has changed my life! I know that it works well to help me rest because I have experienced it. I don’t know how I will carry it through the airports and in and out of hotels, but it is going to have to go wherever I go from now on. I don’t want to live without it because I know what it does for me. It is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. In fact, I am having difficulty letting it go right now! J
Knowing that you know that you know something is so comforting, not because you know it, but because you can apply it and know you are applying something that is tried, true, and tested. Knowing that you know that you know something also adds to the quality of your life because it has added value or changed your life in a dramatic way because you have experienced it. So, knowing some things is really good!
Let’s revisit today’s verse: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16
Paul knew the Gospel. He knew it well. What is the Gospel? Let’s look at Paul’s words earlier in the chapter: Romans 1:1-6 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God– 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
- The Gospel was a Promised Message-(vs 2)
Verse 2 tells us it was promised by God and that promise was delivered through God’s prophets. They wrote those prophecies down in the Bible. By “promised” I mean that there were well over three hundred prophecies (what the world might call “predictions”) about Jesus, where He would be born, how He would come into the world, what He would do, and what others would do to Him. Prophecy is very important when it comes to the Gospel message because the fulfillment of well over 300 prophecies speaks to the reliability of the Gospel and the mission of Jesus to save the world from sin and eternal punishment. I found a great online article that speaks to this very point:
The reason why prophecy is an indication of the divine authorship of the Scriptures, and hence a testimony to the trustworthiness of the Message of the Scriptures, is because of the minute probability of fulfillment.
Anyone can make predictions. Having those prophecies fulfilled is vastly different. In fact, the more statements made about the future, and the more the detail, then the less likely the precise fulfillment will be.
For example, what’s the likelihood of a person predicting today the exact city in which the birth of a future leader would take place, well into the 21st century? This is indeed what the prophet Micah did 700 years before the Messiah. Further, what is the likelihood of predicting the precise manner of death that a new, unknown religious leader would experience, a thousand years from now – a manner of death presently unknown, and to remain unknown for hundreds of years? Yet, this is what David did in 1000 B.C.
Again, what is the likelihood of predicting the specific date of the appearance of some great future leader, hundreds of years in advance? This is what Daniel did, 530 years before Christ.
If one were to conceive 50 specific prophecies about a person in the future, whom one would never meet, just what’s the likelihood that this person will fulfill all 50 of the predictions? How much less would this likelihood be if 25 of these predictions were about what other people would do to him, and were completely beyond his control?
For example, how does someone “arrange” to be born in a specific family?
How does one “arrange” to be born in a specified city, in which their parents don’t actually live? How does one “arrange” their own death – and specifically by crucifixion, with two others, and then “arrange” to have their executioners gamble for His clothing (John 16:19; Psalms 22:18)? How does one “arrange” to be betrayed in advance? How does one “arrange” to have the executioners carry out the regular practice of breaking the legs of the two victims on either side, but not their own? Finally, how does one “arrange” to be God? How does one escape from a grave and appear to people after having been killed?
Indeed, it may be possible for someone to fake one or two of the Messianic prophecies, but it would be impossible for any one person to arrange and fulfill all of these prophecies.
God knew the skeptical nature of human beings. He gave us so many prophecies, so many details ahead of time that the most factual, logical, mathematical person in the room would have to agree that it would be impossible for Jesus to have fulfilled all of those prophecies had he not been God in the flesh. Only in Jesus is the impossible possible!
- The Gospel is a Personal Message (vs 3)
The Gospel is more than just a message or spoken word. It is a Person. It is a sacrifice. It is the demonstration of the love of God and heart of God for all people as was revealed in His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. God came personally in the flesh for all persons. Isn’t that intense? Isn’t that incredible? I grew up hearing that if I had been the only person alive Christ would still have come and died for me. Amazing!
Long before you could spell the word “God” or ever heard anyone put the three letters together, God knew you. He was up in your business before you had any business because He created you! Psalm 139 tells us God was personally involved in forming you, who you were, what you would be good at doing, what you would be interested in, how your personality would develop, etc. Every facet of who you are was touched by the hand of God before you ever had a thought.
God has always been “hands on.” You were created in His image. He has been at work in your life even this week. He has sent you reminders of His presence. He has counseled and cautioned you when you were tempted to go the wrong way. When you have chosen the wrong way He has convicted you and reminded you that He still loves you. He has used people and circumstances to get your attention. He has used both hardships and blessings, sufferings and surprises to move you closer and closer to Him and His heart for your life. He has come after you. You. He has put your name on people’s hearts, and they are praying for you. You. You, by name.
You matter to God. You are invaluable to God. Isaiah 49:16 says He loves you so much that He engraved your name on the palm of His hand. Matthew 10:30 says He loves you so much that He knows how many hairs are on your head. Psalm 56:8 says He loves you so much that He saves your tears in a bottle. Jeremiah 31:3 says He loves you with an everlasting love. You.
He is interested in who you are and what you long for. He wants to hear from you, to walk with you, and to provide for your needs. He is a personal God with a personal interest in you. His Word contains promise after promise that you can know and claim.
And when you couldn’t know God or love God or walk with God, He came personally by sending His Son to die on a cross for you. That is powerful! In every other religion you have to prove yourself or try to work yourself into some higher being’s good graces. Not so with the One, True and Living God. He came to do for you what you could never do for yourself because He LOVES YOU. He has made you who are unworthy, worthy to stand in His presence through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. And you can stand there as if you are blameless (Jude 1:24). His death and resurrection have brought you life with God and eternal life with God forever, if you want it.
God didn’t send you a text or an email to tell you about His personal interest in you. He didn’t tweet you. He didn’t send snail mail or a messenger to speak for Him. He came to you and for you Himself. He took your sin problem on Himself on the cross. My husband loves me, but he has never said, “Please give me all of your problems to bear.” My kids and friends love me, but not one of them has ever said, “Please hand over all of your problems. I’d like to carry them for you.” But Jesus did!
Each one of us has different issues. God is willing to take each one of us on in spite of those issues. And the way to Him is through this personal offer of accepting His Son. It doesn’t matter what your parents or grandparents have believed. Just because they were or are Christians doesn’t mean you are good to go. Even church attendance won’t save you or send you to heaven. This personal Gospel is about a personal response and a personal acceptance of what Jesus has done for you.
- The Gospel is a Powerful Message (vs 4)
Revisit verse four: and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
It doesn’t get any more spectacular, miraculous or powerful than to be dead for a couple of days and to be raised to new life. This is a powerful message. This is a powerful Gospel. The message of the Gospel is that anything and anyone at anytime, anywhere can be made new. The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” II Corinthians 5:17.
People that long for 2016 to be better than 2015 need to look no further than the Gospel message. With Christ first in our lives, old things can be made new. And if you haven’t given your heart to Jesus you can be made new on the inside which changes everything! When you surrender to Jesus the biggest miracle of all is that your sinful self, your sinful past, your sinful present, even the sins you will commit in your future, all become submerged in the blood of Jesus and you live with His righteousness and appear before God as if you have never sinned. That is power, people!
It isn’t about a new outfit or a new house or a new car or a new relationship or a new anything else this world has to offer that will bring you contentment and satisfaction. It is about newness that God creates every day as He transforms us by giving us the mind of Christ so that we have an eternal perspective rather than a perspective that is tied to all the toys this world says will bring happiness. They don’t and they won’t because they can’t. They don’t have the power to transform your life.
Revelation 21:5 tells us God makes all things new. All things. That is the power of God. That is the difference it makes to have Jesus on board in your life. Your marriage can be made new. Your finances can turn around. Your anger can be taken care of. Your hurt from the past can be healed. Your potty-mouth can be cleaned up (yes, I went there). Your heart of rebellion can be turned into a soft heart that is passionate about seeking after and following God. Your day to day life can be filled with joy. God has that kind of game-changing, life-changing power when we surrender to Him and let Him lead.
God raised Jesus from the dead, people! But what would have happened if Jesus said, “No thanks. I’ll stay dead. I prefer this dead state. I prefer this lifeless state. I prefer being a victim. I prefer this stale, lifeless existence. At least I know what to expect as a dead person.” That would be ludicrous, right? And yet many, many, even millions and millions of people, perhaps even some here today are walking around in a spiritually dead state when they could experience the power of God to make all things new in their life!
The message of the Gospel is that you don’t have to live powerless. You don’t have to live as a victim. You don’t just have to just sit back and take what life brings. You have a destiny in Christ that includes you having power to overcome adversity, you having power to change things about yourself and your circumstances through prayer, through miraculous God-interventions. It includes you having power to forgive those who wrong you and you having power to pray for the sick and see people be healed. It is a power that will help you endure life’s trials with faith, courage, and a testimony; Not because you possess power or are a source of power, but because when you are in Christ and live the surrendered life, God’s power resides in you!
Hear from Ephesians 1:18-20 about the power of the Gospel, the power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Apostle Paul says you can possess it is as well! 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
Paul knew this power to be true through His personal experience with the power of God. He himself had been physically blinded by the power of God and subsequently had his sight restored through a miraculous touch of God. Paul was a powerhouse for the Gospel! He preached and thousands were converted. He healed a man who had been lame from birth in Acts 14:10. In Acts 16:18 he delivered a woman from demonic possession. Acts 19 tells us he walked around performing so many powerful miracles that handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul’s body were taken to people who were sick or demon possessed and they were healed and delivered. In Acts 20 he raised a boy from the dead. In Acts 28 he shook a venomous snake off of his hand and wasn’t harmed in any way. After he did that he laid hands on someone who was sick with a couple of illnesses and they were healed. POWER! Do you know the power of God because you have experienced it for yourself?
- The Gospel is to be a Perpetuated Message (vs 5)
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
What this verse tells me is that God endued Paul with power and those who were with him in order that they could preach the Gospel message in a powerful way so that others could receive it. 2016 is the Year of the Gospel. It is during this year that we will be challenging you, equipping you with resources, and we will be asking you to share the Gospel with those around you. When we think about the fact that we have the cure for the sickness in every person’s soul, and that it comes with a personal relationship with God that includes His power for everyday life, why would we want to keep it to ourselves?
(Sam, please start the track for my solo: I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel)
Paul went on in Romans chapter one verse 16 to say this which is our theme verse for the year: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 1:16
Do you know the Gospel? Have you experienced its personal power and have you accepted the call to perpetuate the message of hope, healing, and life in Jesus’ name?