There are a few scriptures in the bible that succinctly and clearly sum up key or critical messages of the gospel of Christianity.
These few verses are one of those examples and thy tell us much in a very few words.
In these few words we see what the function of the gospel is, what it's purpose is, the foundations upon which it is built and the outcomes of following the gospel. It is a clear message and is a fantastic summary of the journey we take when we come to Jesus Christ and follow in His ways.
So let us look at these words and take in what they have to say.
These verses in Romans 1:16-17 read as follows.
16 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.”
Paul begins these verses saying he is not ashamed of the gospel. And why should he be? As you read on and see what the gospel message is and what it is capable of achieving and the changes it affects in a person's life, it is clear that it is not something to be ashamed about.
On the contrary it is a message that should be shouted from the roof tops for the message is a message of life. It offers and promises a better life now and the promise of salvation to eternal life in the future. That is certainly not something to be ashamed of.
And yet we find Christians sometimes do feel ashamed, especially in their early years with Christ. Whether they feel they are missing something by coming to The Lord or they feel they have betrayed friends who are left in the world or whatever the reason is, they sometimes feel shame or other negative emotions just because they ARE Christians.
There is no reason for it, and you can be sure that the devil will try to push and promote such feelings in Christians, and especially young Christians as he tries to drag them back into the world and a life of sin that leads only to destruction.
But in Christ we are looking to a better life. We are looking to a life of joy, peace and love. We are looking to a spirit filled and led life that promises a future without troubles and sin. So again I say, why should anyone feel ashamed? It is a blessing to be called to The Lord and we should replace any sense of shame with the knowledge that we are indeed blessed and blessed mightily.
Righteousness and Faith
Then we see in the words of these two verses the importance of faith. The power of God that is brought to bear to give us this salvation in Jesus Christ rests upon us believing what He has done and holding fast to our faith in Jesus Christ.
We see also that it is through faith that the way has been opened up to all mankind. No longer is there any distinction between people. No longer are the children of Israel favoured over all other races for in Jesus Christ the door has been opened to all mankind. Everyone and anyone who comes to The Lord in faith will be accepted by him.
And the promise of this faith and the outcome of this faith is life. As it says, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”
We have the offer of righteousness NOW by faith. The Lord has declared His people to be righteous when and if they will believe in the power of God to save them through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God established a process by which we could receive His righteousness as a free gift, and that process depends only on faith. If you believe it you will receive it.
And although we have this gift of righteousness by faith, there is still much more. God has chosen to give us this great gift BEFORE we actually are transformed and changed into the image of Jesus Christ. He proclaimed us righteous through faith so that we could be helped by God to become like Christ.
How does this work?
Well god said he would have nothing to do with man because he was a sinner. Sin is the thing that stands between man and God. So if He was to help man to return to the state of righteousness that Dama and Eve had before they fell, then God had to deal with and get rid of sin.
He did this through the death of Jesus Christ. When we die with Him in our baptism and are raised with Him, in our baptism, reborn as a new creation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we are set free from sin. And if we are set free from sin we are righteous. And if we are righteous and have no sin standing between us and God, then He is ready, willing and able to come to us and help restore us to a perfect state where He wants His people to be.
And all of this rests on faith in what He achieved in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why was Jesus' death the perfect sacrifice? Because He died without having sinned. Jesus was righteous because He never sinned but He paid the penalty for sin when He died.
The scripture says, “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) So when we sin we EARN death. During our lives we build up a debt of sin that has to be paid off and the payment for this sin is death. So when we die the debt of sin is paid and the punishment is complete.
But Jesus died without sinning. He paid a debt he did not owe and that is why His sacrifice was perfect. And it is by faith that we take on His death as our own when we are baptised into the death of Jesus Christ so that through faith the debt of sin can be paid and we can be declared righteous so The Lord can come and help us to become perfected and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. That is how this gospel message works.
So going back to my earlier comment, why would you be ashamed? This is the power, wisdom and insight of The Lord that leads us to a place where all sin is removed, we are declared righteous by God and He gives us his Holy Spirit to assist us by doing the work of transformation to be like the Father and be in the image of Jesus.
The gospel message is truly the greatest message ever given in the world, yet it never ceases to amaze me how simple it is and how accessible it is to anyone. All they need to have is the faith to believe.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng provided by Billy Alexander)
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