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(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg
Romans 1:1-17 (NIV) Paul,
a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for
the gospel of God the gospel he promised beforehand through
his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his
human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the
Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his
resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through
him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call
people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from
faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong
to Jesus Christ.
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your
faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve
with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness
how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and
I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to
come to you.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to
make you strong that is, that you and I may be
mutually encouraged by each other's faith. I do not want you
to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but
have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have
a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the
foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also
to you who are at Rome.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the
salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the
Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is
revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as
it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
The most embarrassing moments, each
of us has a few, one or two that stand out, we cringe at them when we
remember them and the reason why we cringe is because we would like to
have others see us in a better light, we would like others to see our
unflawed side, our best profile. We would like to keep our
most embarrassing moments private - after all, we are ashamed of them.
I'm sure too illustrations will
suffice, I am also sure that most of us can add equally embarrassing
moments from our own stories. These two have to do with
church services, I suspect, sitting in those pews, they might hit home
In excess of 10 years ago, my wife
and I were attending a worship service. The preacher was well
into his sermon, points were being highlighted, our focus and serious
attention were on his wise words. Behind us, a man sneezed,
and believe it or not, the green goo flew over my wife's shoulder onto
the back of the bench in front of us, and for the remainder of the
sermon, we could hardly contain ourselves as the goo slowly drooled its
way down the back of the pew. From the point on, we knew the
absolute necessity of Judy having a good supply of Cleanex in her
purse. Telling the story, I still want to hide it for the
sake of the poor guy who sneezed.
But that was not the worst, the most embarrassing moment happened to me
on the pulpit - in Saskatoon, it was a morning service. I had
a serious sinuous infection, but I choose to lead the service anyways,
I could tolerate the headache. One of our children was sick,
so Judy was not at the service. What happened in the middle
of my sermon, I say with trepidation. One of my sinuses which
had a lot of pressure in it suddenly decided to explode sending mucous
shooting from my nose, in front of an entire congregation. I
had no Cleanex. And Judy's purse was not in church!
You know how embarrassing it is to have to ask a congregation for not a
few Cleanexes! That is irreversible embarrassment, permanent
shame. To say the least, I now know the absolute necessity of
either having cleanex in the pulpit or in my bible. Just in
Now if you used to have a high opinion of me, I have probably taken
that down a notch or two. I can tell you more embarrassing
stories, but my ego can only take so much beating in one day.
I'm as human as the person sitting in your skin, and like you, there
are some things I would like to hide and I too need all the help I can
get, and I have received some good help for my sinuses from one of the
doctors here in Thunder Bay, Dr. Turner.
Now consider this. If I
had the pretense of being better than the rest of us here, it would
have been stupid to admit my failings, and it would
have been stupid to admit to the help I have received.
I should have been more interested in maintaining my good
image. I think by now I have thrown pretense to the
wind. You might say I have no shame!
Paul also had no shame.
He said in verse 16 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because
it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a
righteousness from God is revealed."
Why is it that Paul had no shame
about the gospel? He gives two reasons in our text - first - because
it is the power of God for salvation, and second, because in
it, a righteousness from God is revealed. In both
of these reasons, Paul is speaking of the cure, the solution to a prior
condition, he is telling us that help can be received for a prior
problem. And the reason Paul is not ashamed of the
cure is because when it comes to the problem, Paul has no shame either.
If you have your bibles open, notice the very next verse, verse 18 - "The
wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness
and wicked of men who suppress the truth by the wickedness."
Understand that when Paul talks about godlessness and wickedness, he is
talking about himself as much as he is talking about anyone
else. In fact, in the rest of chapter 1, all of chapter 2,
and then chapter 3, Paul is describing in the most embarrassing detail
the human condition, his condition, my condition, your
condition. Regarding our wickedness, Paul has no
shame. Listen to his no shame analysis of
himself, and you, and me from Romans 3:
"There is no one
righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one."
13 "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know."
18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
That's a no shame description of me
and you and Paul - but the problem with the condition is that its
consequence is the wrath of God! The soul that sins
shall die. The consequence of our condition is wrath driven
separation from the life giving presence of God. The
consequence of our depraved condition is the curse, which when it is
fulfilled brings death and hell. It is a terrible thing to
fall into the hands of an angry God. Now I know that there
are many people, probably some people here today to, who feel that God
should not be angry at them, after all, they have not been that
bad! Paul's no shame analysis of our condition is that all
have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, with no exceptions,
himself included. He called himself, boasted that he was the
worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). This description applied
to him. No shame, no embarrassment! Paul, like all
of us here needed to be saved from the wrath of God.
It was because he was
not ashamed of the condition that he was not ashamed of the cure.
All of us know this intuitively. Let's say that we have a
sickness that is embarrassing, maybe a mental difficulty, or a plumbing
problem. First of all we are reluctant to tell others about
it. And when we receive help that cures us, we are reluctant
to tell others of the help we received because in doing so we are
admitting the problem. If we are without shame about the
problem, we will be without shame about the cure.
I am not ashamed of
the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of
everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the
Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is
The gospel, the good news is God's
power to save us from the wrath of God. Of this power, don't
have a weak picture in your mind. The word that Paul uses is
the word "dunamis," from which we get the word dynamite. The
gospel has the power to blow away the wrath of God. It
removes it from the picture all together. And for Paul, our
pride in the gospel is because it is the only good news that has the
power to deal with the wrath of God.
Oh yes there are other religions,
there is Judaism which boasts a relationship with God based on the
promises God gave to Abraham. But throughout the scripture,
we see repeatedly the wrath of God burn against them, we see judgement
role. Their relationship does not save them from the wrath of
There is Buddhism which celebrates
moderation, and yes it can help some people become nice, well rounded
individuals - it doesn't deal with the wrath of God.
There is Hinduism which honors self
negation, and we might honour those like Gandhi who denied themselves
from great human causes, but Hinduism doesn't deal with the wrath of
There is Islam which honors law and
purity, it makes for the better part law abiding people, but it does
not deal with the wrath of God against our sin. The Islamic
faith believes that every person has two angels, one recording the
things that we do wrong and the other recording the things that we do
right, and our eternal destination will be determined by who has the
longest list. But nowhere does it deal with the wrath of
God. And Paul's point is that we need to be saved from the
wrath of God. And he knew the only good news that
had the power to blow the wrath of God away from us!
I am not ashamed of the
gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone
Paul had no shame about his sinful
condition, he had no shame about the wrath of God, he had no shame
about the gospel which has the power to save us from the wrath of God -
but now the question is, how does the gospel save us from the wrath of
God? Paul gives the answer in verse 17:
For in the
gospel a righteousness from God is revealed.
This righteousness is the only
righteousness that pleases God. Yes we are good people, but
the righteousness that God is looking for is flawless. We
might think that the good in us far outweighs the bad, but the
righteousness that God is looking for has no hint of sin in
it. God is a Holy, Holy, Holy, and he will have nothing to do
with that which is unholy. God and even a pinch of sin do not
mix. Paul, who one time calls himself the worst of sinners,
also says in Philippians 3 that with regard to being a good person, he
was the best. Listen to these words
If anyone else thinks
he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5
circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of
Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a
Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for
legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of
Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared
to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose
sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain
Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of
my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in
Christ the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
This righteousness deals with the
wrath of God. It is perfect, it is flawless, in it God is
well pleased. Our eternal destination is determined by
whether or not we have this righteousness.
How is it then that we
come to have this righteousness that saves us from the wrath of God?
By believing in Jesus Christ, by
placing our faith, our trust in Jesus alone for our
salvation. There is a very simple reason for that -
you might remember the words of the Father at Jesus baptism and at the
transfiguration - these words - "This is my beloved son in
whom I am well pleased." Jesus, in his life, even
through death on a cross was perfectly obedient to his Father in
heaven. There was no flaw in his righteousness. The
wrath of God was not on him - and yet, he died, he bore the curse of
the wrath of God on the tree, but if not for him, then who?
The answer is Paul, and me, and you. Jesus, in whom God is
well pleased, without sin, took upon himself the wrath of God, so that
we would not be consumed by the wrath of God. And what
belongs to Jesus becomes ours, and what is ours becomes Jesus'
by faith. Something like marriage, when two become one, their
debts and assets belong to both. That's why faith involves
commitment to Jesus. When we believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ, our wrongs, our unrighteousness, our sins become his, and he
bore the wrath of God for them on the cross. When we believe
in the Lord Jesus, his righteousness becomes ours, given freely, and
because of that righteousness, the Father now says - behold
my children, in whom I am well pleased.
Romans 5:9 Since we
have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved
from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's
enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how
much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 1:16 I am not
ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation
of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the
Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is
revealed. a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as
it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
So today, I call you to faith -
believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be
There are some here today who don't
understand that call. Maybe you're one of them.
Coming to church is part of living a good wholesome life style or a
system of beliefs that upholds a good strong moral lifestyle.
Maybe the moral lessons learned in Sunday School will be good for your
kids. Maybe coming to church is part of a learned behavior
that has little meaning besides social
relationships. But if these are the reason you come
to church, the wrath of God still burns white hot against you, you are
destined for hell. It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of an angry God.
I appeal to you, believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ! Let me say that without shame!
There is no other way to be saved. Your goodness and
righteousness will not do. Consider your goodness, your moral
equity, your theological correctness garbage for the sake of knowing
Christ, and recieving from him, and being joined to him, being in
Christ, a righteousness that is by faith, from first to last.
Those who are going to heaven live by
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by
permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
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