Romans 1: Good News

Read Romans 1:1-17

Good News

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation
of everyone who believes, first for the Jews, 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 is written:
“The righteous will live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17)

Going Deeper: As you read the opening paragraphs of Paul’s letter to the Romans, you immediately recognize the apostle’s emphasis on “the gospel.”  In the first seventeen verses of this introductory section alone, the word “gospel” is used six times. “Gospel” is not only the theme of these first few verses, it is not just the touchstone of the entire letter, it is ground zero for Paul’s life.  The Apostle Paul is simply enthralled with the gospel!

And why not?  It was Paul’s Damascus Road encounter with the Subject of the Gospels that radically and instantaneously transformed his life from Jewish zealot to zealous Christ-follower. (Acts 9:1-6) Overnight, Paul went from pious Jew and persecutor of Christians to preacher of the Christian message.  No wonder Paul declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” If the gospel could save a religious thug like Paul, then that same righteousness from God could certainly be revealed to anybody and everybody!

But just what is “the gospel”?  The word itself comes from the Greek word, euangelion, which means “good message” … the good news!  And what good news it was to Paul, and to everyone who hears and believes it, for through the resurrected son of God, Jesus Christ, Almighty God has revealed that his very righteousness can be imputed to thoroughly and hopelessly sinful mankind, thus bringing even the worst sinner into a right relationship with God himself. Good news? You bet, for nothing less than eternal salvation is imparted to people worthy only of eternal damnation.

Furthermore, this imputed righteousness that brings eternal salvation is free of charge to sinful man.  Man can do nothing to earn it, and can never be holy and good enough to deserve it.  This, too, is good news.  You see, God’s righteousness covers man’s sin at the expense of another—Jesus. And it is only by faith—another key term in Paul’s letter, used in these opening words four times—that God’s righteousness is received. Simply by believing, accepting, receiving and submitting to the gospel—both the Subject and the Predicate, the person and work of Jesus Christ—one is thoroughly saved for time and eternity. Not by works, not by human righteousness, but by personally accepting God’s righteousness through Jesus’s death and resurrection does faith catalyze the grace of God that produces salvation.  It is therefore by faith that the righteous will live—in both the active sense of receiving salvation and walking with Christ and passive sense of being brought into eternal life once this life ends.

And that, indeed, is good news—the Gospel—the best news you will ever receive.

Now that is nothing to be ashamed of!  In fact, it is something to be proud of, and to proclaim near and far at every chance we get.  For that good news has made you right with God, and it is the only message that will bring salvation to those who were once as you and I were—thoroughly and hopelessly sinful and inexorably bound for a Christless eternity.

If you haven’t shared this good news with anyone lately, maybe you should today.  Just unabashedly tell them your story—no matter who it is that God puts in front of you.  Even the worst, most resistant, and unlikely sinner falls into the category of “everyone who believes,” which simply means that they, too, can be saved!

So go ahead and deliver some good news. Who knows, you might be telling it to the next Apostle Paul.

“Salvation is from our side a choice; from the divine side it is a seizing upon,
an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God.  Our accepting
and willing are reactions rather than actions.”
~A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Assignment:

  • Memorize Romans 1:16, I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
  • Meditate on what it means and what it took to have personally received a righteousness from God.
  • Make a commitment to share “your” gospel with one person this week.  Ask God to lead you into a spiritual conversation with the person of His choosing.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Romans 1: Good News

  1. When I read words like “I am not ashamed of the Gospel,” which are so downright religious-sounding, I have to look at the context in order to keep myself from rushing through it, or using modern word meanings to influence and perhaps even distract from the original intention.

    “Gospel” has become, in our day and age, a word to depict one of the first four books of the new testament. Is Paul saying he’s not ashamed of those books? Of course not… those books hadn’t even been written yet.

    As you pointed out, “Gospel” in whatever orignal langage (probably Aramaic, but I don’t know for sure) merely meant “Good News.” Paul is not ashamed of the good news? Why would he be? Why would any of us be?

    And here’s where I have gotten distracted in the past. If I’m ashamed of my church, am I ashamed of the gospel? Many would say so, because the church is the modern proclamator of the gospel. If I’m ashamed of my Christian brother’s behavior, am I ashamed of the gospel? Some would say so, because, after all, the the gospel is what saved that Christian brother.

    If I am ashamed of Jesus before men, I am worthy of judgement. Jesus told us this in the “Good News” according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Is this the same thing as being ashamed of the Gospel? Is this the same thing as being ashamed of my church or my Christian brother?

    I suspect being ashamed of Jesus and being ashamed of what Paul is reffering to as the “Good News” is in fact the same thing. In fact, I think Paul is summing up the work Christ accomplished on the cross as the “Good News.” He’s taking for granted that the readers have already heard the Good News Herald (with trumpets sounding, standing on a street corner with newspapers in hand, reading the headlines):

    “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Christ has done it! All Sinners’ Debts Have Been Paid in Full! We Can Now Enter the Throneroom of God with Confidence!”

    Paul is summing up all of that with the term “Good News” because, well, can you imagine repeating all of that 6 times in the first 17 verses?

    Meanwhile, he seems to be defending himself against something. It’s as if someone is telling him he *should* be ashamed of the Gospel.

    If we look at the context of when this letter was written, and to whom it was written, it helps me with this. I find in the study notes for the epistle that:

    1) Paul has not yet visited the Romans, this will come later. In fact, this epistle is probably by way of introducing himself to them, along with exhortation and education about the “good news” he preaches.

    2) Paul is probably on the return-trip to Jerusalem of his 3rd missionary journey. This would put him smack-dab in the middle of Acts 20. This means that, by this time, Paul has been imprisoned, stoned, the subject of riots, not to mention being scorned by his own people (just as he scorned and persecuted the Christians before his own conversion).

    Based on this, I’m sure people are ashamed of Paul, both Jew and Christian alike. These people are asking “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? We certainly are! Don’t you think God is ashamed of you? And if God isn’t ashamed of you, you don’t worship the same God as us! Aren’t you ashamed of a god who would let you be imprisoned, insulted, stoned, left for dead, and persecuted? What sort of god do you worship, anyway?”

    To which Paul replies… “I am not ashamed of God, nor of Jesus. He should be ashamed of me, because of all I did to His followers, passing judgement in His name. Instead, Jesus saved me. I am not ashamed of him, I owe my life and my salvation to Him!”

    Paul was at times ashamed of his brothers. He was ashamed of John Mark for “abandoning” them on the road. He was ashamed of his people for not hearing the Gospel and turning a deaf ear to it. He was ashamed of himself at times.

    But he draws the line at being ashamed of the work Jesus did on the cross for him, and for me and for you; for the world. It was a shameful thing. We put the creator of the universe on a cross because we didn’t recognize him as the giver of life, the way to peace and wisdom. He had to die to pay for our sin, but we didn’t have to make it so humiliating. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

    And it would be tempting to be ashamed of any God so humble and meek to be weak before men and submit Himself to such humiliation and shamefulness. Zeus would never have done that! (Nor would Lucifer, by the way.) But, in fact, due to the nature of this fallen world of ours, the requisite death which paid for the penalty of our sin could come in no other way. So I guess overcoming the temptation to be ashamed of my God who is willing to stoop to my level to reach me is one that I should in fact work hard to overcome, because I’d rather be in God’s company than Lucifer’s.

    And in fact, I don’t find shame like that to be much of a temptation, as I suspect would be the case with most readers of your blog.

    Am I ashamed to tell others about the Good News? That’s not quite the same as being ashamed of the Gospel, but it might be close. It’s especially difficult to proclaim my own Christianity to my workplace when I am ashamed of the behavior of other Christians in my workplace. Or if I’m ashamed of how the church is acting in my community or society. But if shame of my brother’s behavior or my church’s social engagement causes me to be ashamed of the Good News, I suspect I’m probably confusing my priorities. I’ll have to think on that one.

  2. The Good News is the power of God! It’s the one thing that can not only change a person’s eternity, but bring true fulfillment and purpose to a life. And I am often too worried about making myself or someone else “uncomfortable” by sharing that with them. How selfish I am! That’s what the Lord reminds me of whenever I read verse 16.

    But that’s the power of Scripture: to give us an accurate picture of God and to turn our hearts ever towards Jesus.

    So today, when faced with the opportunity to share the message of Jesus Christ and his salvation, I’m going to remember that it’s worth is so much greater than my discomfort and shame. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation.