Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST”

Romans 1.16-17

For a period in my life, my brother and I would alternate summers, riding the bus to Texas to spend time on my grandfather’s farm. It was during the summer of 1964, when my brother Greg was in Texas, that he spent the entire summer learning how to mount a bareback horse by grabbing a handful of the mane and just swinging up Indian style. The only problem was my brother entered puberty that summer and grew about six inches in the course of about two months. For those of you who have already been down that road, you have memories of growing that much in so short a time and what it does for your grace, style, and coordination. Imagine what it took for a gangly and awkward thirteen-year-old to learn how to do something that not very many people can do, requiring a bit of leaping ability and proper coordination. He worked on that trick all summer long, from morning until evening, until he learned how to do it, showing it to us when we arrived later in the summer.

I pose a question to you. Why did he spend all that time learning how to do that one little stunt? Why was it that he refused to admit defeat, never giving up? Why was it that he worked at it until he was able to do it? What caused the young fellow to exhibit such determination to finish what he had started? The answer to that question tells you a great deal about a person. You see, my brother could have been as determined as he was because he was too proud to admit failure in front of my grandfather. Or, his determination might have been the result of having the strength of character to see something begun all the way through to its conclusion.

In his letter to the Romans, we learn of the Apostle Paul’s intention to journey to Rome and then to Spain. We also see Paul expressing his desire to bring the Gospel, his feeling of indebtedness to bring the Gospel, and his sense of duty to bring the Gospel wherever we went. Those three things, desire, debt, and duty, resulted in what we will see this evening to be a powerful determination to get to Rome and then to Spain by the will of God, and to allow nothing this side of heaven to prevent him from doing what he knew God wanted him to do. Just as with my brother’s determination to learn how to mount a horse without the aid of a nearby tree stump, fence, or even a stirrup, Paul’s determination to get the Gospel to Rome and beyond had to be the result of something. What caused Paul to be as determined as he was will tell us something about the man, as well as something about the Gospel.

In Romans 1.16-17, the Apostle Paul informs his readers why he is determined and why nothing will stop him from preaching the Gospel of Christ. I invite you to stand with me for the reading of God’s Word:

 

16    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

17    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

 

WHY ARE YOU SO DETERMINED TO PREACH THE GOSPEL, PAUL? TWO REASONS: FIRST, BECAUSE OF WHAT THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL IS

 

Verse 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

 

First, as to embarrassment. Verse 16 begins,

 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

 

Assume for just a moment that when Paul uses the phrase “gospel of Christ” he is referring to more than just the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Assume for a moment or two that this phrase refers to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. I will show you why in a bit. Why, then, does Paul indicate that preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not make him ashamed, does not embarrass him? Because it usually does embarrass people. Admit it if you will. How many of us who are Christians are ashamed of Christ? Few of us. However, how many preachers are ashamed of preaching Christ? Most of them. Hey, my friend, if preachers were not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ (that is, ashamed of preaching it), they would do it more often. Don’t you think? When Paul tells his readers that he is determined to preach Christ (because he knows what the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is), he tells his readers that what the preaching of the Gospel is to him is not an embarrassment. Do you suppose Paul knew something about the preaching of the Gospel of Christ that many “preachers” do not know? I very seriously think so.

Next, as to empowerment. Verse 16 concludes,

 

“For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

 

Rome was a city that appreciated nothing more than they appreciated the possession and the exercise of power. After all, it was the genius of Rome to employ brute power in the conquest and rule of weaker peoples. Therefore, Paul writes to Roman believers about the power of the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. There are four jewels of truth to grab hold of in this last half of verse 16: First, there is strength. This word for “power” refers to might that is an inherent attribute.[1] What Paul is saying here is that the preaching of the Gospel is inherently mighty. Quite a bold statement to make because the preaching of the Gospel appears to be anything but powerful. What it appears to be to lost men and women, according to First Corinthians 1.18 and 21, is foolishness. Second, there is source. It is not just “power” that the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is. It is “the power of God” that the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is. Can anything be more powerful than God? Remember, God spoke the universe into existence. God made the light shine where only darkness once was. Nothing is more powerful than God, and the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is God’s power applied to the salvation of a sinner’s soul. Awesome. Allow me to pull over to ask, what is the power of God, in this sense?

 

First Corinthians l.17-18:  17  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

18    For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

 

First Corinthians 1.21-24: 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

22    For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24    But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

 

This is the first piece of evidence showing that when Paul refers to the Gospel of Christ being the power of God, he refers not only to the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection but the preaching of those truths to men. It is when God’s truth is delivered by preaching that God’s power is evidenced in men’s lives. But I am getting ahead of myself. Third, there is salvation. What the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is is power. Where the preaching of the Gospel of Christ comes from, its source is God. And what the preaching of the Gospel of Christ does is save. It is through Gospel preaching that sinners are saved from their sins. It is through Gospel preaching that saints are saved from tragedy. Marriages are restored. Homes mended. Families put back together. Addictions conquered. My friends, it is Gospel preaching, from salvation from the consequences of sin to sanctification and Christian growth, that is God’s power brought to bear for the remedy of the ills of mankind. Fourth, there is scope:

 

“To every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

 

Three things we find in this phrase. First, the scope of Gospel preaching’s reach is as broad as mankind. Anyone and every one is a candidate for Christ’s salvation through the preaching of the Gospel, even you. Second, the ones who are actually saved are the ones who believe. The saved are not saved because they believe in Christ. That would suggest that it is possible to believe in Christ before you are saved, which the Bible denies in several passages. The fact of the matter is that the saved are saved by their belief, through their belief, by means of their belief. Belief then, faith, is not the reason sinners are saved, but it is the instrument by which they are saved as they respond to the preaching of the Gospel. In other words, Jesus Christ does not save a man because he believes, but He does save that man by means of his belief. Why are you so determined to preach the Gospel, Paul? Because of what the preaching of the Gospel is. It is not embarrassment, but empowerment. It is strength and might. Its source is God, its salvation is complete, and its scope is universal. Then, third, why did you write “to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” Paul? Just to let you know that though the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and though the free offer of salvation is extended to everyone who hears the Gospel preached, the Jews are still God’s chosen people. Never forget that.

 

THERE IS A SECOND REASON PAUL WAS SO DETERMINED TO PREACH THE GOSPEL. THE SECOND REASON IS BECAUSE OF WHAT THE GOSPEL DOES

 

Verse 17: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

 

Listen to Paul’s explanation:

 

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.”

 

Circle the first word “is” and then circle the word “revealed.” Now, connect the two circles. “Is revealed” is a single word used by Paul, apokalupto, to describe the ongoing process that occurs as the Gospel of Christ is preached.[2] When the man of God preaches the Word of God, something is being revealed. What is being revealed? The “righteousness of God.” However, this phrase can be understood in two, or more, completely different ways. Roman Catholics maintain that this refers to righteousness that came from God and was given to sinners, “infusing them with grace” is the phrase they use so that eventually the sinner becomes righteous and merits entrance into heaven. Protestants maintain that this is righteousness which is God’s, which is not given to sinners, but which is imputed to them so that they are declared righteous and are then treated by God as if they are righteous. So, who happens to be right? Neither, completely, in my opinion. That is one reason I am neither Protestant nor Catholic. I am a Baptist. Protestants historically have had enough truth to see folks saved, and the Catholics have had enough error to keep folks lost. When God justifies the sinner, He declares him to be righteous, as the Protestants maintain and the Roman Catholics missed the boat on. To be sure, God does infuse a person with grace and make him more righteous, as the Roman Catholics believe, but He does not do that until after the person has become a believer by faith in Christ. Therefore, you have the Catholics putting the cart before the horse and many Protestants having the horse without the cart altogether. What Paul teaches is this: Through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s righteousness is revealed by establishing a relationship with sinners that is based on righteousness. The paradox is that the righteousness I have is neither deserved nor earned, but simply given. Once the relationship is established, however, God continues to work in my life and begins to make me more righteous than I once was.[3] Am I not a very good Christian? I am a better Christian than I used to be. So you see, Protestantism clearly saw the beginning, sometimes without seeing the ongoing work of God after conversion, and virtually all Catholics looked at the ongoing work of God in a believer’s life without ever seeing how the sinner became a believer in the first place. The religious mess we see today in Christendom is in many ways the result of these errors. The question remains how this revealing of the righteousness of God takes place . . . from “faith to faith.” Many differing views as to just what it was that Paul meant by this statement. That it started and finished with faith? To be sure. That it started with something on which to base your faith and then finished with faith? Could be that, too. The main point that must not be missed is that the entire thing, whatever the entire thing may be, involves, on man’s part, only one thing. Faith. Why is Paul determined to preach the Gospel of Christ? Because, somehow and in some way, God’s righteousness is revealed while the preacher preaches the message that can only properly be responded to by faith in Jesus Christ.

How do we know Paul is right? How do we know that Paul is Scriptural? Because of his verification. Reaching back into the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, 2.4 to be exact, Paul quotes a verse which shows his readers that he is not inventing something new. He is simply building on a principle already established in God’s Word. What is that principle? The faith principle. Any relationship between God and man which results in life for the man must be established by faith and continues by faith. You see, without faith, it is impossible to please God.[4] Therefore, people need to forget to pin their hopes on being a good person or in doing good things as a means of pleasing God. They need to come to God by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

“Pastor, why is it so hard for me to tell people about Christ? Why do I feel so self-conscious? Why can I not tell one person, while Paul was willing to tell the whole world? Why do I not have that kind of determination? Why do I make up excuses to skip out on evangelism and witness to my friends and family?” To be sure, there are butterflies in the stomach of anyone who is doing something that is new and different, something for which they have not properly prepared, or something which involves certain risk of public embarrassment and humiliation. These kinds of things sap a person of the determination to do right.

Those things aside, because those are things rather easily dealt with in the Christian’s life, why are there so few believers who have the determination to present Christ without fear or embarrassment? Why are there so many Churches that do not present Christ?” Two reasons, I think. First, you do not properly appreciate what the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is. You do not understand that the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is something that I do, not you. After all, I am the preacher, not you. It was John R. Rice, a strong 20th-century advocate of personal soul winning, who said that there are very few sinners who are saved except under the preaching of the Gospel by a preacher. Recognize that real evangelism is shown in God’s Word to be a cooperative effort, with your responsibility being to befriend a sinner, to engage a sinner, to gently open a dialogue with a sinner (perhaps by means of a simple Bible study), and to eventually bring a sinner to the point of sitting under Gospel preaching, with the preacher’s primary responsibility being to present the Gospel to the sinner. There is another reason that is just as good as the first. You do not appreciate what the preaching of the Gospel of Christ does. It reveals (you are revealing as you are doing your part and I am doing mine) the righteousness of God. Do you want God’s righteousness to be revealed? Then engage sinners, befriend sinners, cultivate sinners, in some cases Bible study with sinners, so that you can bring sinners into Church on Sundays. While you are at it, give to finance the Church’s efforts to see folks saved.

 

SERMON:

 

Romans 10.14-15:  14  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

Titus 1.3:  “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.”

 

Many of you here are saved people. Being Christian people, you are commanded to, and empowered to, and expected by God to, witness to sinners. My remarks at this time are for the rest of you here this evening. You are distinguished by never bringing anyone to Church, by never much witnessing, and certainly by not bearing fruit. Remember the verses that I just read to you? As I mentioned earlier, the primary method chosen by God to communicate the saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners is preaching. Therefore, though it is possible to be saved anywhere, anytime, the great likelihood is that you will be saved, if you are ever saved, as a direct result of hearing the Gospel presented by a preacher. Insist on staying home and not listening to preaching in a Church service with the gathered saints? Fine. It is not likely that you will be saved. Folks are rarely saved apart from Church Gospel ministry. They are usually saved through preaching, and Gospel preaching is preaching that is delivered by a God-called preacher.

Of course, many these days do not like what I have just said. I am sorry. I mean no offense. However, go to the book of Acts and try to find someone who is saved any other way than through the ministry of a God-called preacher. Not necessarily a pastor, mind you, but a preacher. You will not find one. That said, let us agree on some things: You are a lost sinner, condemned and undone in the sight of God, and you need to be saved. You are in no position to dictate terms to God or call any of the shots. Should there be any expectation of you being saved from your sins you need to pay close attention to preaching.

Without mincing words or seeking to tickle anyone’s ears, I want to present to you a simple Gospel message. Listen, respond in faith believing and be saved, or refuse to pay heed, reject the truth, and be damned. I want to show to you your wickedness toward God, the wrath of God that awaits you, and the way to God:

 

First, YOUR WICKEDNESS TOWARD GOD

 

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one measly piece of fruit, they sinned greatly. Not a big sin by most people’s standards, but a horrendous sin in the sight of God. A sin of such magnitude that those two were cast out of the Garden of Eden and an angel with a flaming sword was placed at the entrance to deny any possibility of them returning.[5] Did God overreact to their sin? Did He blow things out of proportion? Did He exaggerate the importance of the offense? Was His rejection of them just a little excessive considering the nature of their offense? Or could it be that since God is good, and since God is holy, and since God is righteous, and since God is merciful, and since God is wise, that God’s reaction to Adam and Eve’s sin, and His response to their sin, was appropriate, measured, and proper? After all, did not God have every right to expect and insist upon absolute obedience, especially since He had told Adam that he could have anything he wanted, could do anything he wanted to do, except for one thing?

My friend, God’s response to Adam and Eve shows, not that He is unreasonable, but that sin is horribly wicked. Therefore, since you are sinful by nature, since you have inherited sinfulness from your ancestor Adam, and since you sin against God just like he did (actually, worse than Adam did), you are wicked, as well.

Consider just one thing; love God with all your heart and soul. You have not done that. Perhaps you have not murdered anyone, but you have demonstrated horrible wickedness by not loving the lovely One who made you, by not seeking to serve the One Who created you. And that is the Great Commandment, according to the Lord Jesus Christ.[6]

So you see, though you may not be the greatest of sinners, you are wicked. Your wickedness is toward God. Do not reject the truth of what I say, if you want to be saved. The Lord Jesus Christ only saves sinners.

 

Next, THE WRATH OF GOD

 

God is nothing if not reasonable. He is rational and sensible in every way. Since it is so very reasonable for you to love, adore, and serve God, it is quite understandable that He is incensed and outraged that you do not. It is quite reasonable of Him to be angry with respect to your selfishness and your shortsightedness in this regard. As well, it is appropriate for His holy nature to be profoundly offended by your spiritual defilement and uncleanness.

Therefore, because of your wickedness, God has determined unending punishment for you. Should you die in your sins, you will be cast into the lake of fire created for the devil and his angels.[7] How do we know from God’s Word that His judgment awaits you? There are many indications of this terrible destiny that awaits you. About you, Scripture says that our God is consuming fire.[8] Scripture declares that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.[9] It is even shown that, come Judgment Day, you will cry for the rocks and boulders to fall on you and conceal you rather than face God and answer for your sins before you are cast into Hellfire.[10]

God has been long-suffering and patient with you for many years. You know He has. On how many occasions could you have, should you have, died and gone to Hell but for God’s mercy? Just understand, my friend, that patience is not forever. Mercy eventually runs out. There comes a time when you must turn or you will surely burn. And what brings this on? The righteous judgment of God. The pent-up rage and indignation of God at having been sinned against for a lifetime, at having been ignored for a lifetime, at having His dear Son rejected for a lifetime, and at having His children sneered at for a lifetime.

Do not put anything off, my friend. Do not plan on getting things taken care of on another day. You may be like the man in the parable who, planning to build bigger barns and do great things, had this said about him by the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

“Thou fool. This night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

 

 

Third, THE WAY TO GOD

 

If you die and go to Hell, understand that God is still good, righteous, and holy, because Hell and everlasting torment are what wicked people deserve. However, God is gracious in addition to being righteous and holy. And His graciousness is expressed in making a way for you to be reconciled to Him. God can never pretend you have never sinned against Him since that would be untrue and therefore unrighteous. However, He has provided a way for a sinner like you to be counted righteous in His sight. Here is how.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left heaven’s glory and was born of a virgin named Mary. He lived a sinless life and at the proper time took upon Himself all the sins of mankind. The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.[11] That done, the Lord Jesus suffered the punishment for your sins and mine on the cross, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.[12]

That wonderful and stupendous work of Christ included His death on the cross, His burial, His resurrection from the dead three days later, and His ascension to heaven. Having completed His saving work, He now sits glorified and exalted at the right hand of God the Father on high.[13]

This is all wonderful and fine, but it does you no good whatsoever unless and until you come, as a sinner with empty hands, and trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and cleansing in His blood. Why must you come to Jesus Christ, and not Mohammed? Why must you come to Jesus Christ and not Mary? Why must you come to Jesus Christ and not the Church?

You must come to Jesus Christ because you are wicked. Jesus Christ receiveth sinful men. You must come to Jesus Christ because of God’s wrath. Only He can and already has suffered God’s punishment for you so you won’t have to for yourself in Hell. As well, you must come to Jesus Christ because He is the only way to the Father. He declared, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”[14]

 

You are a sinner. I am a preacher. I have preached unto you the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.

Do you believe to the saving of your soul? Do you want to believe? Dare to take God at His Word and trust Jesus Christ to save you. Flee from the wrath to come.

__________

[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 262-263.

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 348.

[3] Philippians 1.6

[4] Hebrews 11.6

[5] Genesis 3.24

[6] Matthew 22.36-38

[7] Matthew 25.41

[8] Deuteronomy 4.24; Hebrews 12.29

[9] Hebrews 10.31

[10] Revelation 6.16

[11] Isaiah 53.6

[12] 1 Peter 3.18

[13] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[14] John 14.6

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org