Why should he be so consumed with this fiery passion to preach the Gospel even in Rome, the center of the heathen world?  Verse 16 provides the answer, and furnishes us with words that have fired the hearts of ministers and private Christians throughout the ages with courage for the work of serving God.  Paul declares, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”  And, indeed, as he unfolds the mysteries of the Gospel in the following pages, one should certainly agree that there is not the slightest reason in the world for any person who is a partaker of the benefits of the Gospel to be ashamed of it.  Yea, rather, those who are ashamed of that glorious message have clearly not fully embraced it into their hearts.  I confess that weakness and cowardice, or perhaps distrust of ourselves and our own knowledge, may sometimes cause us to wilt when pressure is placed upon us by the world.  Nevertheless, when our faith stands not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, we may boldly say that, however fiercely the world may mock or persecute us, we are not ashamed of this belief.  Our Lord Jesus Christ warned that whosoever should be ashamed of Him in this adulterous and sinful generation, of that man would He be ashamed when He came with the glory of His Father and with the holy angels.  And is not Christ Himself, His person and His work, the very Gospel itself?  This one person, both God and man, is the good news.  It is in Him that God is propitious towards sinners.  If we are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, then we are ashamed of Christ Himself, and thus place ourselves in eternal peril.  God give us grace that we never be ashamed of Him, Who was so far from being ashamed of that He even endured the agonizing and humiliating death of the cross in our stead!

But this idea of “I am not ashamed” may also be stated positively, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was so fond of pointing out.  It could be understood as saying, “I am very proud of the Gospel.”  I do not like to even use the term pride with a positive connotation, since it is never used positively in the scriptures.  Nevertheless, if ever there were a place to use that word in a good sense, this would be it.  We ought not only to arise to the confidence where we can say that we are not ashamed of the Gospel, but we should be ready to boast in it, for it is our only ground of hope for acceptance before the judgment of God.  Let the world be proud of its accomplishments, its beauty, its power, its glory.  The Christian should glory only in the Lord, and what He has done for the salvation of his soul.  We have nothing but what we have received, but what we have received is of more value and is far more enduring than the world’s proudest possessions and accomplishments.  “Let him that glorieth glory in the Lord.”  Only when we understand the Gospel as Paul preached it will we come to the point where Christ and His work is our only ground of boasting.

 

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