by Sean P. Cavender
One of the greatest statements in all of the Bible is found in Romans 1:16 where Paul stated, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” When you pause to consider what Paul was saying, it is very impressive. He was stating he was not afraid of the gospel. He was not afraid of being associated as a preacher and apostle of the gospel. He was not afraid of being associated with Christ. He was not ashamed of the salvation that is availed to everyone. He was not afraid to tell others about his confidence in the gospel. This is an impressive list because too many times we find ourselves acting ashamed of many of these things. I know many of us will quote this verse and say that we are not ashamed of the gospel. However, do we show this by our actions? That is an entirely different question.
You are ashamed of the gospel if you are not ready to teach the gospel. Paul said he was “ready to preach the gospel” to the Romans (Romans 1:15). Sadly, we want to say we are unashamed of the gospel when we assemble with the brethren at the church building, but throughout the week we will not speak to our friends, neighbours, or closest family members about the gospel and the need to be obedient to the truth found in God’s word. We are not ready to teach. We fear being rejected, or we fear that we will mislead them—but honestly, we are ashamed. If we refuse to carry the message of Christ and share it with others then who will? And how will someone be saved if we refuse to teach them? Sometimes, even preachers are ashamed of the gospel. They would rather be known as a “facilitator” of discussions rather than a preacher (Romans 10:14) or evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). Have we become ashamed of such religious terms like “preacher” and “evangelist”? Imagine if Paul was ashamed to call himself an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul confidently and unashamedly identified himself as a preacher, minister and apostle of our Lord (Romans 1:1, 5).
You are ashamed of the gospel if you are not living by the gospel. So much of the Roman epistle is about salvation and God’s scheme of redemption. Paul writes about faith, repentance, confession of faith and baptism (Romans 6:3-6). Furthermore, we are called to not be like this world, but to be changed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:1, 2). Our behavior and conduct is supposed to be different; we are to be confirmed to the image and behavior of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Yet, when we allow sin to linger on in our lives and we willingly compromise in areas of our conduct such as immodest dress, corrupt speech, social drinking and fornication then we are really ashamed of the gospel. Our actions prove that we are ashamed of the gospel. When we do not live according to the gospel and its principles then we are hiding the gospel and the power of salvation.
You are ashamed of the gospel if you distance yourself from the gospel. Those who are Christians are “called Christians” (Acts 11:26). They are saints (1 Corinthians 1:2). They are the children of God (Romans 8:14). But sometimes we do not want people to know that we are Christians. We are afraid of the stigma attached with that name. we think people will judge us for being “conservative” and for being a “freak.” Let them believe what they want to believe and think what they want to think. Never be ashamed of the name of Christ. He was unashamed of us and went to the cross, enduring the shameful death on the cross, to die for our sins (Hebrews 12:2).
You are ashamed of the gospel if you separate yourself from the church of Christ. Sadly, many people do not want to be called a Christian or even recognized as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. But what is also sad, is that people do not want to be associated with the church of Christ. The apostle Paul closed his epistle with the statement “…the churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). If the churches (in the plural form) were called “churches of Christ” then what was one (singular) congregation called? Identifying ourselves as the church of Christ is important. “Church of Christ” is not the only Scriptural name we could call ourselves. The church at Corinth was recognized as the church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul called the church, “the church of God” in Acts 20:28, but interestingly Paul contends that God purchased the church with His own blood. Whose blood was shed? The blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore the church of God is the church of Christ. Let’s not be ashamed of Christ and His church.
Why do we act so ashamed of the gospel? If we are afraid of ridicule, we need to understand that Christ and the gospel are never going to be the popular thought in society. Jesus taught that many will follow the path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). If we are afraid others will reject us, are we more concerned about being accepted of men than being accepted of God (cf. Matthew 10:33-35; Romans 12:2)?
Be of good courage, dear brethren. Do not be afraid and ashamed of the Lord and His wondrous gospel. It is the way of salvation and we ought to be teaching the gospel, living by the gospel, identifying ourselves with the gospel of Christ and unashamed of the church that Jesus built.