Three Great I Am's - Romans 1:14-16

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 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 (Romans 1:14-16).

 

To every believer, a sacred stewardship has been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is incumbent upon each one of us to invest it wisely and aggressively into the lives of others. The message of salvation in Jesus Christ is like a vast fortune that has been entrusted to us. We are accountable before God to invest it into the lives of people. We cannot hide the good news and bury it in the ground. We must put it out in the marketplace of this world. We must deposit it into people who do not know Jesus Christ. We cannot be a hoarder of the truth, but be a shrewd investor of this sacred message and see it yield an eternal rate of return throughout the ages to come.

 

When we stand before the Lord on the last day, we will give an account for what we did with the gospel. We will not be asked what our pastor did with the gospel. Nor what our elders did with it. Each of us, individually, will have to answer to the Lord for how we invested the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to come to a Bible study and take notes. It is not enough to be able to articulate what the gospel is. More than that, the gospel must be invested. The message of salvation must be proclaimed to this perishing world so that sinners may to come to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

As we continue to investigate the prologue of Romans, this opening section is all about the gospel. This is the good news of salvation that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the first seven verses, we looked at the fundamental truths of the gospel. In verses 8-13, we looked at the qualities of a servant of the gospel found in the apostle Paul. In this lesson, we want to look at Romans 1:14-16, in which the thrust of these verses is that it is not enough to know the gospel in your head. You have to speak the gospel with your mouth.

 

Obligated, Eager, and Excited

In Romans 1:14-16, the apostle begins each verse with the strong resolve of “I am.” These words reveal Paul’s compelling sense of obligation in the proclamation of the gospel. These three “I am’s” reveal his eagerness and excitement for the spread of the gospel. It is as if we are looking directly down into the heart of the apostle Paul. Here is the burning passion of his soul. Here is what motivates him and propels him forward. Here are the three great “I am” statements of Paul concerning the gospel. That which fuels Paul must fuel us as well. So let us give special attention to what the apostle says here.

 

I. I AM UNDER OBLIGATION (1:14)

 

Paul begins by saying, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (verse 14). Notice that he begins, “I am,” in the present tense. Not, “I will be” in the future. Nor “I once was” in the past. The use of the present tense indicates the constant state of his life. Every moment of every day, this is true. Paul writes on his third missionary journey while in Corinth. But no matter where Paul is, whenever it is, he is always under obligation. He is not saying, “I am only under obligation when I am preaching on Sunday morning.” Nor is he saying, “I am only under obligation when I am teaching on Monday.” This is not a multiple choice, and he gets to pick and choose which days he is under obligation with the gospel. This sacred duty is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

 

“Under Obligation”

When Paul says, “under obligation,” the King James and New King James versions say, “I am a debtor.” That is very much the idea, though, “obligation” works as well. As you know, it is hard to go from one language to another language. The word (opheiletes) means ‘a person indebted, one who owes another.’ Its background speaks of a financial obligation that is owed by one person to another. If you are a debtor to someone, you have an obligation to pay off the amount that is owed.

 

This should initially strike us as surprising for two reasons. The first reason is that salvation is a free gift. How can Paul be a debtor if he received grace as a free gift? Paul will talk about salvation as a pre-paid gift, “Being justified as a gift by His grace” (Romans 3:24). Likewise, he writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). How could Paul be in debt after he received a free gift for which he paid nothing? How could Paul say he has gone into debt for a free gift? Clearly, Paul is not in debt to God to pay for his salvation that has been provided without cost by grace.

 

The second reason this is surprising is that Paul has never been to Rome. Neither has he bought anything in Rome. He has never even met these believers. Yet he claims to be in debt with people he has never been to see. How does this work? You can be in debt two ways. One way is if someone lends you $100, as long as that $100 is in your pocket, you are a debtor to the lender. You need to give it back to him at some point. The other way would be if someone gave you a $100 bill and said, “When you see a certain person, give him the $100 bill.” This results in a two-way debt. As long as this $100 is in your pocket, you are not only in debt to the lender, but to the person to whom you are to give it. This second way is the manner in which Paul means he has incurred this debt.

 

A Two-Way Debt

As this related to Paul, he understood that the vast riches of the gospel had been deposited into his account the moment he became a believer. He was made the recipient of the free gift of salvation. But he was charged by God to give it to others. He must share the gospel with unbelievers in order to discharge his debt. He must tell people about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation in order to remove his obligation to God and those without the gospel.

 

The same is true for us. As long as I withhold the gospel from someone else, whether it is in my office, in my family, at school, or someone I sit next to on an airplane, I remain in debt to them, because God has entrusted to me the truth to give to them. However, in a far greater way, I am in debt to God with a heightened sense of accountability to Him. On the last day, I am going to have to give an account to God, and it will be revealed whether I invested the gospel into the lives of others or if I hoarded the truth and kept it to myself. It is my personal responsibility to share the gospel with others, and I am accountable to God for whether or not I do this. In this sense, all believers are under obligation to God and unbelievers.

 

A Watchman on the Wall

In the Old Testament, the imagery of being under obligation was presented with a different metaphor than being a debtor. The prophet Ezekiel said he was like a watchman on the wall, and there were people going about their day-to-day business behind the wall. If the watchman sees the enemy coming, he must blow the trumpet in warning. If the people do not respond, and the enemy comes and destroys them, their blood is on their own hands. That is to say, their death was their own fault because they failed to heed the warning. If they chose to turn a deaf ear to the warning, they will die because of their own refusal to act upon the truth. On the other hand, Ezekiel says, if the watchman sees the enemy coming and chooses not to blow the trumpet, and the people are destroyed, their blood is on his hands. He was charged to warn them, but if he failed to do so, he was culpable for their death.

 

By this analogy, Ezekiel saw himself to be a watchman on the wall. He had been appointed by God to be a prophet who would sound the divine message. No matter how difficult or unpleasant was the truth to be proclaimed, regardless of how unpopular it would make him with the people, he must be the faithful mouthpiece for God and bring the message.

 

In like manner, when Paul met with the elders at Ephesus after he had been with them for three years, he reminded them that he had fulfilled his obligation to give them the full counsel of God. As he said goodbye to them, he could say, “I am innocent of the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26). He had spoken both publicly and house to house, both in big groups and small groups, and he had not failed to blow the trumpet. Therefore, his hands were free from the blood of all men. If any turn a deaf ear to the gospel he preached, their destruction was due to their own unbelief. That is what Paul is saying in Romans 1:14 when he says, “I am under obligation.” He was compelled to go to Rome in order to discharge his debt to the people there.

 

This same obligation is binding upon you and me. Just like the watchman on the wall, we will each give an account on the last day for whether or not we shared the life-saving message of salvation. We are under obligation to do something with the message of the gospel. We must give it to others as the divinely-appointed opportunities arise. I want you to think about who you will cross paths with today. You must have this predetermined mindset that as God gives you the opportunity to witness for the Lord, you are resolved to capture the moment. You are purposed to talk to them about Jesus Christ. You are not going to have to pray about it, because you have already decided to testify for Him.

 

“Both to Greeks and to barbarians”

Paul explains to whom he is under obligation, “both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (verse 14). Here, Paul is using a literary devise called “parallelism,” where there is an A line and a B line. The second line restates the same truth as the first line, but with different words or expands the truth of the first line. We will look closer at the meaning behind Paul’s words. When Paul says he is under obligation “to Greeks,” he refers to his indebtedness to those who are at the top of society’s ladder. They were the cultured and educated of the ancient society. The Greeks were refined and polished. They loved literature and the arts. They had been trained in social graces and manners. The Greeks were those who had arisen to the top of the social and cultural scene of the day. They had read the philosophers of Athens and were very conversant with people on many learned subjects. Paul believed he must bring the gospel to those who had ascended to the highest levels of society.

 

But Paul also writes that he is under obligation “to barbarians.” The barbarians were the total antithesis of the Greeks. If the Greeks were at the top of the social ladder, the barbarians were in the basement. You could not be any more base than they were. The barbarians were crude and rude, lacking in any social graces or cultural polish. They had no learning and could not even read. The word “barbarian” was a derisive term used by the Greeks who looked down upon them. To the Greek mind, when the barbarians spoke, their pronunciation of words was so rough that they abused the language. They could hardly be understood in what they were saying. When they spoke, it sounded as if they were saying, “Bar, bar, bar, bar, bar.” ‘Barbarian’ is not even a word, but a mocking of people who have never been taught how to read, write, or speak with elegance. Paul must also reach them with the gospel.

 

By this phrase, “both to Greeks and to barbarians,” Paul uses a figure of speech known as inclusion, where the author states the two extreme sides. What is implied is that he is also addressing everyone in-between. It would be like saying this, “From the east coast of America to the west coast.” That means not just New York and California, but it implies every flyover state in-between such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and everywhere else. When Paul says, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,” he means not only to those on the top rung and the bottom rung of life, but to every other rung on the ladder. In other words, he is under obligation to everyone. If a person is breathing, he is indebted to them to talk to them about Jesus Christ, as God gives him the opportunity.

 

“Both to the Wise and Foolish”

Paul then says, “Both to the wise and to the foolish” (verse 14). This is another way of saying the same thing. It is another layer of parallelism that refers to “the Greeks and Barbarians.” In this context, “the wise” does not refer to those who are well-taught in the things of the Lord. The reference is to those who are wise in the things of this world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). These are those who are wise in their own eyes, those who have excelled to the highest level of worldly schools and secular society. They are educated in the philosophies and ideologies of this evil world system. But the sad fact is, they are unaware that they do not know the most important thing in life, namely, God Himself. They are not wise in the matters of the kingdom of God. Instead, they are wise in the things that are spiritually bankrupt.

 

“The foolish” matches up with the barbarians. These are those who have never been educated in school. They grew up on the wrong side of town. They have not had the financial advantages and social privileges that have been afforded to the wise. They are not just foolish in the things of the Lord, but are even foolish in the things of the world. Paul knows he is under obligation to the foolish as well as to the wise. This includes everyone in-between. Paul cannot say that his ministry is exclusively to upper-class people. Nor is it only to lower class people. According to Paul, that kind of smug attitude is wrong. Whoever God providentially brings across his path as he travels the road of life, he is under obligation to talk to them about the gospel. This is as God gives him reasonable opportunity. By and large, he understands that he must bloom wherever he is planted, according to God’s sovereign providence. He is going to talk about Jesus Christ to whoever are the closest around him.

 

We Are Under Obligation

There are people today that I hear saying, “There is no such thing as duty or obligation in the Christian life. There is no indebtedness that is laid on me. Any talk about obligation makes you a legalist.” They say things like, “You are putting us under the law. I am free to live however I want to live. I can do what I want to do.” Let me say, that is sheer fool’s talk. The fact is, as believers, we are under obligation to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Moreover, we are also under obligation to others. Paul makes that abundantly clear in this text.

 

Wherever the Lord sends you, you are under obligation to speak to people about Jesus Christ. This presupposes as God opens doors of opportunity. I am not talking about being a wild-eyed fanatic, standing on a street corner, and intimidating people with the gospel. I am talking about building bridges towards people, befriending them, getting to know them, and as the opportunity presents itself, talking to them about the gospel. Some of us have been building bridges with people for years. At some point, we have to carry the gospel across that bridge to others and talk to them about Jesus Christ in order to discharge our responsibility.

 

When the apostle Paul says, “I am under obligation,” we must understand that this implies every believer as well. What is true of Paul is true for every one of us. Paul is not in a special category by himself, while the rest of us are in a different category. Paul is not the only one under obligation. What he says here, he is speaking to every believer today.

 

In witnessing, the easiest thing can be to board a plane and fly to a far-away foreign country to witness to people you will never see again. It is easier for us to be bold with them than with people we see everyday in our normal routine. Short-term missions abroad is easier in that regard. You want to know what is hard? It is to be a witness for Christ in your own family. That is tough, because you are going to see them on an ongoing basis. It can be equally hard to witness to people with whom you work. When you speak to them about the gospel, it will often be offensive to them. Being bold with them is much harder than talking to a stranger. We must talk about the gospel on an ongoing basis with those to whom we are the closest. The Lord has sovereignly placed you in their lives to point them to Jesus. Just like Paul, we, too, are under obligation to all men.

 

II. I am Eager (1:15)

 

Next, Paul writes, “So for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (verse 15). In other words, he is saying, no matter what anybody does, for my part, he is eager to preach the gospel. “Eager” (prothumos) is a compound word that pictures the forward lean of a runner, pressing forward with the gospel. The main root word for “eager” (thumos) is the same word for passion. It literally means ‘heavy breathing.’ The word gives the picture of a horse that is breathing heavy, ready to charge ahead in the day of battle. The word passion even carries the idea of the heavy breathing of a husband and wife’s intimate, physical relationship. There is a heated excitement in the pursuit of something. This word has the prefix (pros) that intensifies the word. When it comes to the gospel, Paul is leaning forward to proclaim its truths to all people. If everybody is witnesses for Christ or if nobody does this, for my part, Paul is eager to take the gospel to others. The apostle is taking ownership of his personal obligation in preaching the gospel.

 

Every one of us needs to be able to say, “For my part, I am eager.” It is one thing to have an obligation to pay a debt, but it is something else to be eager to pay it off. Anyone can be under obligation, but then drag their feet to discharge their duty. They may think, “Can I just get this witnessing over with?” However, it is something else to be spring-loaded, sitting on ready, eager to tell others about Christ. Just like Paul, we must have the heart motive that it is a privilege to tell others about Christ. It is even a joy. It is fulfilling the very purpose of why we are here on planet earth.

 

“To Preach the Gospel”

When Paul says, “I am eager to preach the gospel,” he is not just eager to live the gospel in front of people. If he only lives the gospel, people will go to hell thinking he is a good person. How did that help them? In fact, it would be self-serving that he is only living as a good person in front of them, but not speaking the gospel to them. It is taking the easy road, keeping a comfortable distance, so that their feelings will not be hurt by the offense of the gospel. Nobody is going to heaven because they think he is a good person. He must open his mouth and speak the gospel to others.

 

The words “to preach the gospel” (euangelizo) is one word in the Greek language. We derive the English word ‘evangelism’ from it. This one Greek word comes to us as three or four words in English, “to preach the gospel.” You can almost hear evangelism in euangelizo. The word “also” clearly implies he has been preaching the gospel eagerly wherever he goes. That means whether Paul is in Corinth, Ephesus, or wherever he travels, he is eager to preach the gospel, no matter where he is. For the apostle, his strongest passion is to reach Rome with the gospel.

 

Hardest to Reach

This is an amazing statement, because the toughest place in the known world to preach the gospel would have been Rome. This was the capital of the Roman Empire, where flagrant depravity was prevalent everywhere. Rome was a cesspool of inequity as the most idolatrous, immoral, incestuous place in the known world. Yet despite how dark it is, Paul declares that he is eager to go to Rome, the toughest place, to share the gospel. He knows that the darkness cannot expel the light, but the light will always expel the darkness. Therefore, Paul is ready and eager to go to Rome.

 

Paul’s own conversion is a prime example of one who was the hardest to reach with the gospel. No one was further away from Jesus Christ than Saul of Tarsus. Paul understands that if he can be brought to faith in Christ, then anybody can. If the Lord can capture him, the Lord can capture anyone If he, the chief of sinners, can be saved, then any other sinner can be won to Christ. He was one who would be labeled as “hardest to reach” with the gospel. Yet he was the one who the Lord saved.

 

This begs the question: What is your Rome? Where is your hardest place to witness? Is it with your closest friends? Is it with people with whom you work? Is it with family members? Who are those people that you have almost written off as those who are impossible to reach with the gospel? We have to be eager to reach those who are the furthest away from the Lord. Like Caleb going into the Promised Land, who wanted the biggest mountain with the biggest giants, Paul is eager to go to the most difficult place, Rome. We must be ready and eager to go to the hardest places to reach the hardest people with the gospel.

 

III. I AM NOT ASHAMED (1:16)

 

There is one more “I am” statement that Paul makes here. After he says, “I am under obligation” (verse 14) and “I am eager” (verse 15), then he says, “I am not ashamed” (verse 16). Please note again the full impact of these two words, “I am.” He does not say, “I will be not ashamed,” as if one day he will finally be this. He does not say, “I am hoping to be not ashamed.” He does not say, “One day, I will arrive at this.” No, Paul declares in the present tense, “I am not ashamed.” This is his constant state. This is his habitual lifestyle.

 

Paul puts this statement – “I am not ashamed of the gospel” – in the negative by using a rare figure of speech known as litotes. This is a deliberate understatement that uses a double negative. He combines the word “ashamed” with “not,” both of which are negative. This actually means the total opposite of being ashamed of the gospel. He states dramatically that he is unashamed of the message of salvation. Isaiah 55:11 uses this same figure of speech when it says that God’s word will not return to Him void. This means, it will powerfully perform all that He intends. Here, this figure of speech – litotes – uses two negatives to make one positive. This form states a truth with an especially strong effect. It carries an extra punch that lodges it into the reader’s mind. Paul could have simply said, “I am fired up for the gospel.” Or “I am excited and eager to preach it.” But there is a far greater impact to put it with a double negative.

 

“The Power of God”

Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. When he states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation,” “it” refers to the gospel. This is why Paul is so eager to preach the gospel, as he stated in verse 15. This is, likewise, why he is not ashamed in verse 16. It is because the gospel has the supernatural power to liberate believers from their bondage to sin. It does not matter how sinful a person is. It does not matter into what deviant lifestyle they have fallen. It does not matter if you are a Greek or a barbarian, or wise or foolish. It does not matter who you are, what you are, or where you are. The gospel is far more powerful than the power of your sin. The gospel is able to overcome any hardened resistance against God. The gospel is far more powerful than any sinful lifestyle.

 

This word “power” (dunamis) comes from a Greek word that comes into the English language as ‘dynamite.’ The gospel is the explosive dynamite of God unto salvation. There is no more powerful message in the entire world than this truth. No message has a greater life-changing, eternity-altering impact than the gospel. No message makes a deeper effect upon a person’s life. No message has the power to change them from the inside out than the gospel. Any other message is simply behavior modification. Mere religion is only an outward face life of a person’s life. The gospel alone has the divine power to revolutionize a person’s life so that they are no longer the same. Paul writes elsewhere, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When the gospel explodes in their life, they are no longer the same person.

 

A Total Transformation

No one can receive the gospel, and it not dramatically impact their life. When you believe the gospel, you will be radically transformed at the deepest level of your being. The gospel is not just painting the exterior of your life. This is a total reconstruction process. The old practices of sin are torn down. New things are put in its place. You are totally rewired and restructured. You have a new mind, a new heart, and a new will. You have a new disposition. You have a new standing before God. You have a new priority, new pursuit, new life direction, and new destiny.

 

There could not be a more dramatic makeover of your life than what happens when you receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing in Him is not just a box you check on a religious survey. The gospel brings the total transformation of your life from the inside out. When you believe, you will never be the same again. I want to say this emphatically: If this dramatic change has not happened in your life, then you have never received the gospel. The gospel explodes in a believer’s life like an erupting volcano.

 

The person who wrote this verse – the apostle Paul – could not have been anymore in opposition to the gospel before he believed. He was hell-bent on apprehending the Christians in Damascus and dragging them back to Jerusalem. He was intent on putting them to death, like Stephen had been put to death. Paul once believed that the gospel was blasphemy against God. He was convinced it was abomination to confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But in one life-changing moment, Paul was captured by the power of the gospel. He was knocked off his high horse, and His entire life was dramatically changed. He was immediately transformed from death to life, from darkness to light.

 

“Unto Salvation”

Paul says that the gospel is the power of God “unto salvation.” The word “salvation” (soteria) means ‘deliverance from great danger, rescue from ruin.’ What is this danger from which the gospel saves? The answer is, from God Himself, from the wrath of God. Romans 1:18 states, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men.” God’s steaming-hot vengeance and fiery hatred of sin is bearing down upon every unbeliever. Those outside of Christ are but a heartbeat away from this soul-damning wrath. There is much more to the gospel than, “Smile, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” To the contrary, it is as Jonathan Edwards said in his famous sermon, all without Christ are sinners in the hands of an angry God. Edwards got this right out of the Bible.

 

To be saved by God means to be rescued from His wrath. The gospel does not save from superficial felt needs like loneliness. It does not deliver from a bad job. It does not rescue from personal insecurities. The gospel saves from the anger of God Himself against sinners. There is only One who can save from God, and that is God Himself. Only the power of God can rescue from the wrath of God. If God does not rescue sinners, God will damn them. They will suffer the torment and affliction of eternal hell. Hell cannot be hot enough for the person who is outside of Christ. He has risen up in rebellion against the holy God of heaven and earth. Every person desperately needs to be rescued from the imminent danger of the vengeance of His holy wrath. Hebrews 10:31 tells us, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

 

There is only one way to be saved from God’s wrath, and that is through the gospel of His grace. That is why Paul is so eager to go to Rome, because people there are under the wrath of God. Souls need to be delivered from eternal destruction. There is only one way for them to be saved, and that is through the gospel.

 

“To Everyone Who Believes”

Paul writes, “to everyone who believes.” The sole condition to receive salvation from God is faith alone in Christ alone. In other words, faith plus nothing. The one who “believes” (pisteuo) means to commit one’s life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It means to trust Him exclusively and to rely upon Him completely for a right standing before God. Faith in Him means no longer trusting in one’s own deeds or morality, but looking to Christ alone.

 

This truth runs throughout the book of Romans, as well as the entire Bible. Paul writes, “the righteousness of God has been manifested…through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). God, he states, is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus….For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:26,28). This faith involves knowing the facts of the gospel intellectually and being persuaded of its veracity and one’s need for it inwardly. But, finally, it requires the volitional step of entrusting one’s life to Him decisively.

 

“To the Jew First, Also the Greek”

Paul explains that the power of God in salvation is “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Paul will now distinguish the world religiously. In verse 14, he distinguished the world culturally, by seeing it as comprised of Greeks and barbarians, wise and foolish. In verse 16, he distinguishes the world religiously, as Jews and Greeks. Whether you are a Jew or a Greek, salvation is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, this gospel is for everyone. There is not one way for a Jew to be saved and a different way for a Gentile to be right with God. There is only one narrow gate that leads into the kingdom of God, and that is through the gospel.

 

When Paul says “the Jew first,” he is picturing the spread of the gospel like a ripple effect, like tossing a pebble into a pond. The ripple begins where the rock first hits the water, and subsequently the effect moves out from the center to the perimeter. The gospel came initially to the Jews, because they were God’s chosen people. Salvation, Jesus said, would come through them (John 4:22). The Jews, in turn, were to take it to the Gentile world. However, they hoarded the saving message to themselves.

 

In fact, when the prophet Jonah was commissioned to go to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire, he ran in the opposite direction. He did not want the Gentiles to be saved, but wanted the gospel to stay inside Israel, the way it had always been. He did not want foreigners to receive this salvation and be included with the Jews. Jonah wanted to keep the gospel to himself. So he boarded a ship and headed to Tarsus, which is modern day Spain. That is like being in Dallas, and when God calls you to go east to New York, you get on a plane and fly west to Los Angeles. This runaway was trying to go as far away from what God wanted him to do as he possibly could. He did not want anyone else to have this salvation that had been given to the Jews.

 

What a selfish mindset of national prejudice. What a self-absorbed, self-consumed way to live. But it is not just Israel who acted this way. It can be also the church. We often act as though we want to keep the gospel to ourselves. We can become so inward focused that it appears that we do not want anyone else to have this salvation. We can act as if we do not want anyone else to enter into this glorious grace that we have received. How contrary to what Paul says here. The gospel must be taken to everyone, because it is for everyone who believes.

 

God’s Own Power

We often forget how much power the gospel has. We sometimes think the power has to be in our presentation. But nothing could be further from the truth. God works through weak people to spread a powerful message. The power is in the gospel itself. When it is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit, it explodes in human hearts. We do not have to make the gospel powerful. It is intrinsically powerful in itself. All we do is present the gospel as God gives us opportunities. Then we pray that God will cause its power to be unleashed in their souls when it is received by faith. The gospel is a supernatural message with supernatural power. This good news comes from God with soul-saving power that He alone possesses.

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.