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The Power of the Gospel: Romans 1.16-17

Romans shows us how we have a relationship with God, and how God reaches out and pulls us into relationship with Him.  Question: Are we ashamed of the Gospel?  Of Jesus?  In our culture we are confronted with whether we are ashamed.  Paul starts with this question.  He says he is not ashamed and he tells us why.

Have you ever been ashamed?  In college, I worked in maintenance.  We had a huge project to restore old church buildings.  I’d go out and tear old barns apart and use those old materials to restore churches.  One day I was driving back and the load on the truck shifted and busted out the glass behind me.  I forgot to secure the load!  What a shame!  I could not believe I did that!  I had to tell my boss what I did.  I was ashamed.

Paul is asking, “Are you ashamed?”  Why would we be asked such a question?

Rome was the most predominant city full of highly educated people.  Paul goes into this city telling a story of a carpenter from a remote village who the Romans crucified who was actually God.  This man was crucified and resurrected.  How do we reasonably walk into conversations and tell people this is true?  Paul answers:

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God

We connect to God’s power.

Why are we not ashamed?  It is the power of God.  In God we find power to live poured into our lives.  Paul had already been beaten and ridiculed for his beliefs.  He lost his social status and his wealth.  He lost it all for Jesus.  Look what God has done for you and I.  It is in the Gospel that lives are transformed and we find hope.  It’s life changing.  It’s not just a list of ideas and concepts. Jesus took our place.  We can list ideas but the Gospel is more!   It’s alive!  There’s power!  When we proclaim the Gospel it comes alive.  There’s a reason why we send out mission teams.  There is power in speaking the words of the Gospel.  When people hear the Gospel it is God speaking to them.

D.L. Moody said, “The Gospel is like a lion.  What a preacher does is open the cage and let the lion out.”  The Gospel is alive.  When we speak it we open up a door for it to speak into people’s lives.  It has the power to transform.  Paul can say this because he experienced it.  Paul was respected and wealthy.   He lived a life many people long for, but Paul was missing a relationship with God.  Paul found God on the Damascus road.  He found hope, peace, joy, and love in the power of the Gospel.  Paul would say he is not ashamed of the Gospel.  Paul has seen lives transformed.  Why be ashamed of this?

We find hope and restoration.

            for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 

“Salvation” is a word that makes us think about Heaven.  This is a part of salvation.  Positive effects of God are transferred into our lives.  God puts the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.  What happens at salvation is God transforms and changes us.  This is the power of God through the Gospel.  There are three ways to look at salvation: past, present and future.  Mostly we think of salvation in the future.   There’s also the past tense.  The point we say, “I was saved.”  At some point we trusted Christ to be Lord.  We experienced God.  We say, “We will be saved,” because we know we aren’t there yet.  We long for the day we won’t hurt people anymore.  In the present tense here, something is happening in our lives right now, the power of the Gospel. God is taking what’s broken and transforming it.  All damage, hurt, and brokenness God is replacing even today. 

Here’s a problem: we have damage in our soul and we are comfortable with it.  We know it hinders us but we still hold onto it.  Paul talks about this a lot.  He held onto what damaged him.  What are you holding onto that is still damaging you?  Salvation is past, present and future.  God is still saving us and transforming us through the active living Spirit of God.  It’s for everyone, all who believe, any race, gender, nationality, age, everyone.  The power of God is such that there’s never been a point when God cannot continue to transform us.  This is not your will power!  It’s the power of God in our dead bones to raise us to life.  I am not ashamed.  Paul went to cold, dark places. He saw the Holy Spirit transform people’s lives.   Verse 17 tells us how:

17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,

We see the way forward.

Verse sixteen tells us what God does and verse seventeen tells us how.  We know our hearts and the barriers in our lives.  Salvation is like a legal declaration over us.  Righteousness is a legal term.  It’s an Old Testament, Jewish court word.  “It” in this verse is the Gospel.  The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel.  In Old Testament times in court, if you were declared innocent your status changed to not guilty.  Paul places this over our lives.  We are declared not guilty. 

Imagine you have a clean driving record.  You get a ticket for a moving violation.  You go to court and the judge forgives it and it’s wiped off your record.  Legally you have a clean record.  Did you commit the violation?  Yes.  This is what salvation means, legally, but The Judge says you’re forgiven and declared righteous.  How?  We have sinned.  We are separated from God because of our choices.  How can he declare us right?  God doesn’t just overlook our sin.  Jesus laid down his life.  It’s by His blood!   He paid our sins.  It’s not something we can earn.  It comes as a gift from God.  We are declared in Heaven’s court as righteous.  How can we be ashamed?  This isn’t just something we created.  God revealed it to us.  We are made whole again. 

We have gender reveal parties today.  Blue or pink?  This is God’s reveal to you and I.  When you trust Christ as savior you are revealed before Heaven and earth as whole and restored, Past, Present and Future.  Why do we live in defeat?  We live like we are still guilty and broken.  We are His, restored.  We respond by trusting what Jesus has done for us. 
We respond by trusting what Jesus has done for us.

            as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Verse seventeen is not a new teaching; it’s just being further understood. The last part of this verse is quoting Habakkuk.  We have life because we have been declared righteous.  We have life, peace, and hope.  We live in the present tense of the Gospel.  It’s not something we earned but something we experienced.  Those declared right live.  The power of God is there, available.  It’s like flipping on a light switch.  The power is there.  We just have to flip the switch.  God calls us to respond by faith to trust Jesus.  God does this work, makes us new, a legal declaration.  Trust Him and respond by faith.  Walk in newness of life.

These sermon notes were taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.

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