Lucia's Blog: FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher."
2 Timothy 1:7-11


The voice of wisdom calls out in the streets to the children of men, offering truth and righteousness, but most men hate her. Those who hate wisdom love death. "But he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death."  (Proverbs 8:36). The voice of Jesus also calls out to a lost and dying world, but they hate Him also because they do not know Him, John 15:18-25.  It is because of that almost universal hostility that we tend to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.''' (John 15:18-25)

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul begins his treatise on justification by faith boldly declaring,
"For 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 also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'"

I.   WE MUST NOT BE ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL:

There is only one way to be forgiven and justified by God.  For that reason, it is vital that we stress the importance of upholding and defending God's great Message, the Gospel.  Christians must never be ashamed of the words of the Master, especially when in conflict with the ungodly.  We Christians must not compromise our faith and convictions because of pressure and persecution (as the first century Christians) or out of a desire to conform to this world, (Rom. 12:1-2).  Jesus warned His disciples saying,
"For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26).

Paul told Timothy,
"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God."  (2 Tim. 1:8).

Apparently, there were some Christians who wanted to avoid controversy concerning the Gospel.  Today is no different.  Many are afraid to confess their faith and give the testimony of our Lord in defense of His Gospel.  They remain silent about their faith, the Gospel that they profess to believe.  They are afraid to enter any discussion of the Gospel.  They ignore what Jesus said,
"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."  (Matt. 10:32-33).  

It means to stand up for the Truth of God's divine Word even if that involves persecution, being scorned and ridiculed even put to death.  There is no need for us to fear since our God strengthens us with His living Word.   

We are ashamed of the Gospel when we refuse to speak of what must be the heart and center of our lives.  Some just don't want to upset non-Christians, so they avoid the confession of their faith.  In doing this, they never attempt to teach even one soul.  We cannot be counted as faithful to the Lord and His will when we are afraid of the Gospel of Christ and His Testimony.  Isn't it something how the devil shuts the mouths of weak Christians!  Another way Christians show they are ashamed of the Gospel is by failing to stand for the Truth, (Gal. 2:5).  Sadly, many Christians don't have a strong faith, nor do they have strong convictions, so they undermine the uniqueness of the Lord's church and fail to confirm and defend the Gospel, (Phil. 1:7).  And since the Gospel is a very narrow way which excludes many (Matt. 7:13-14; Acts 4:12), many Christians are uncomfortable with the Truth. They compromise the Message and deny their Lord, His Lordship, and His church.

We must never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and of His testimony.  The apostle Paul confesses and gives testimony of his faith in Christ in Romans 1:16.  The early Christians are an inspiration to me since they courageously confessed their faith in Christ even when they knew it would cost them dearly.  It was impossible for them to be silent.  Many paid the high price of prison and death.  The apostles were not afraid to speak of the riches of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They chose to obey God and not men!  This is what we read of Peter and the apostles in Acts 5:27-33,

"When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’  But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.’ But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them."   

The apostle Paul is another excellent example of one who had courage in speaking of his faith, hope and defense of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior.  He declared, 
"According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."  (Philippians 1:20-21).

Paul was willing to suffer all and not be ashamed of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior,

"For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."  (2 Timothy 1:12).  
Such commitment and determination to defend Christ, His Gospel and His Testimony amaze me.  I am in awe!   

Let us never forget that the central part of our Christian faith is to confess Christ and His Testimony.  
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.'"  (Romans 10:9-11).  

We confess that Jesus is the Son of God and we must continue confessing until we die.  We cannot hide our faith and keep it to ourselves!  In 2 Corinthians 4:11-14 Paul stated, 
"For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you."'

We Christians must hold fast to our faith and hope, 
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."  (Hebrews 10:23).

God does not allow us to have a "silent faith." He demands that we have a "speaking faith."  Let us not become fools by being ashamed of the Truth.  We must act against all deception!  We must not be ashamed to speak of God's testimonies before men even if that includes kings and rulers, 
"I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed."  (Psalm 119:46)  

Are you ashamed to carry your Bible everywhere you go?  I am always bewildered at how few Christians carry their Bibles today.  I know that in this age of technology we can have our Bibles on our iPads, iPhones and Smart Phones. I believe that there is nothing more personal than the Sacred Book in our hands.  I know I am old-fashioned, but I want to keep it that way.  The saddest part is that many don't even carry their Bibles to church!  No wonder we are not impacting anyone with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus!  No wonder our nation is in such terrible shape spiritually!  We are no longer people who love the Word of God, the Bible.  We don't care anymore if we know the Truth and teach the Truth.  We have become very comfortable in our bed of ignorance.  We have become easy prey to deception and are easily deceived by sin and false teachers.  We must refuse to be ashamed of our faith in Christ.
"Then I shall not be ashamed when I look upon all Your commandments."  (Psalm 119:6)

It is about time that we awaken from our slumber and become Bible believers in word and deed as well as Bible carriersI wonder what would happen if each of us Christians should start carrying our Bibles everywhere we go?  We would not think of going to church without our Bibles.  After church, we would share the Word of God with everyone and make the best use of the Book with friends, family, and neighbors.  Such people don't compromise their faith nor are they afraid to share the good news of the Gospel.  They love the Sacred Book because it is their standard for living a godly life.  So I encourage you to carry the Book everywhere you go and wait to see the difference it makes.  I assure you, you won't regret it!  This Sacred Book is the power of salvation for every man who believes in it.  This is loving our neighbor as ourselves.  We want to rescue them from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.  But to do this, we must carry this Sacred Book with us at all times.  We must be prepared to confess and give a defense of our faith!  We cannot afford to be wishy-washy Christians, because wishy-washy Christians usually fall away, (Luke 8:13).

I genuinely believe that the reason why many Christians don't carry their Bibles with them wherever they go is that they don't value the Word and the Truth enough.  They just don't care enough!  They don't even read their Bibles at home.  Do we care if we read the Word of God, the Bible even to our children?  If your answer is NO, maybe you are telling your children you are ashamed of the Word, and it is not essential in your life after all.  Let us encourage our children to carry their Bibles with them to church.  Encourage them to open their Bible, take notes and follow the Preacher as he speaks the Word of God.  But we must start at an early age with them, 

"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."  (2 Timothy 3:14-15).  

You will be surprised the impact you may have on the church as well as on the world of darkness.

 "For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."  (Mark 8:37-38).  
"May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed."          (Psalm 119:80).

Let us be thankful to God for the freedom we have to read, teach and preach God's Divine Word in this nation.  Remember we must hold fast that which we have, lest it be taken away,  
"Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name." (Revelation 3:10-11).  

We must purpose in our heart, soul, and mind to be boldly faithful to speak God's Truth all the time:  in season and out of season!


II.   THE GOSPEL DECLARES THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD:  

Paul was never ashamed of the Gospel because he knew well it was the only way to save men.  God's power for salvation is a proclamation of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, King over all, Ruler of land and sea, who was raised from the dead (this is the Good News).  Jesus is the only way of salvation to this world of darkness.  So are you ashamed of the Gospel?  I heartily hope you will be able to say, "NO"!  Remember, Jesus can only claim you as one of His when you are not ashamed to confess Him and His Gospel before all men, (Heb. 2:11; 11:16). The Gospel calls us from the shame of our past sins. That shame or guilt causes us to be pricked in the heart and accept whatever terms that God might demand for our forgiveness. The righteousness of God and our shame go hand in hand, helping us to be convicted and make a commitment to obey, love and serve the Lord our God.   You see salvation is offered to anyone who believes the Message of Christ. Thus, we are responsible for hearing the Good News that Jesus brought.  God saves through the Gospel and the Gospel alone.  Jesus is the only way to salvation, and it is available to all who believe in Him and His Gospel.

The Gospel which brings salvation was given to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles. The Jews heard the Good News of Jesus' Message and saw the power of God through His works,  (John 3:2,  4:54, 9:3, 14:10, 12; Matt. 12:28, 14:28-35; Lk. 4:36-37, 40-41, 7:22). It was Jesus’ purpose to go to the Jews first, to the lost sheep of Israel. This Message was not exclusive to the Jews.  The great theme in the Book of Romans is that the Gospel is for all people. The Gospel reveals God’s righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:  “The righteous will live by faith.” So, what is the righteousness of God?   It is God doing what is right, what is just, what is fair, and what is morally upright. Justice, fairness, and uprightness are built into the concept of righteousness. Indeed, the Gospel declares that God is just, fair, and right.   In the Old Testament, God’s righteousness was bringing salvation to His people Israel.
"Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations."  (Psalm 98:1-2)
“Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.” (Isaiah 46:12-13)
"Thus says the LORD: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed." (Isaiah 56:1)

In Isaiah 56:1 God declared that His salvation was coming soon and his deliverance (as a synonym for salvation) would be revealed. Paul was speaking to the fulfillment of these prophetic messages. Paul declared that God’s righteousness has now been revealed through Jesus (the Gospel Message) which gives salvation to all who believe.

The Gospel reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith.  Paul quotes Habakkuk to prove his point. In chapter one of Habakkuk, the prophet begins by crying out to God over the wickedness of the nation. God answers the prophet by declaring His intention to use the Babylonians as His instrument of judgment against them. A stunned Habakkuk thought that could not be right, for the Babylonians were worse than the nation of Judah.  So, how was God going to be faithful to the covenant He made with His nation if He was going to bring the Babylonians against Judah to take them captive?  In chapter 2, God answers by declaring “the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4).  You see, God is faithful to His Word.  This is God’s righteousness. God will do what is right, just, and fair. God is reassuring Habakkuk that He will be faithful to the faithful. In effect, He calls on the prophet to trust (have faith) that God will keep His Word.  Habakkuk showed his trust in God when he remained faithful to Him.

Now Paul's message in Romans 1:17 is that God has revealed His righteousness and faithfulness in the Gospel of His Son.The Gospel brings the salvation and reconciliation that He had promised from the beginning. God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith since God is faithful to His word (the first “faith” in Romans 1:17). We are called to put our trust (faith) in God by being faithful (the second “faith” in the sentence) to God’s commands. So, when God declared in Habakkuk, “The righteous shall live by faith,” He meant that faith and faithfulness are inseparable. Therefore the proclaiming of the Gospel is the revealing of God’s righteousness to mankind.


CONCLUSION:

The Gospel is God’s power God’s power is Jesus as Messiah and Savior of the world. God's power for salvation is the news about who Jesus is, what He has done for our salvation and the way of life that He taught.  God’s salvation is accessible to all who will believe that Message. No one is forbidden or excluded. God does not show favoritism or partiality in salvation.   All humanity can be saved and transformed into the image of God. Jesus was not the Savior of the Jews only, but the Savior of the world.

God has been faithful to His promise to save all people, and He continues to keep His words. The righteous live by faith. Will you trust God? Will you put all of your faith in Him? Will you be faithful to God as He has been faithful to you and His promises?  Will you be ashamed to proclaim faithfully the riches of His Gospel which is God's power for all who will believe in Him?

May our Lord help us to never be ashamed of His Testimonies, Precepts, and Statutes which are life to the dying soul.  May we proclaim faithfully and boldly the riches of His Gospel which is His power unto salvation for everyone who believes in Him.  To Him be the glory!

Luci