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Are You Ashamed of Jesus?
Are you Afraid of the Cross?
Gen. James Green
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith...There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 1:16, 17; 8:1, 2).
JESUS, NO DOUBT, was, and is, the world’s greatest man…the most loved, the most misunderstood, the most disliked. Millions upon millions, both Christian and non-Christian, have studied the Holy Scriptures in order to get acquainted with both Him, His Message, and His purpose.
Jesus: the Son of God; Jesus: the Son of man, the humble yet powerful redeemer who will descend to the earth (some day) on the clouds of Heaven to JUDGE and REDEEM, DESTROY, and REMAKE!
Paul (converted Jewish leader formerly called Saul) boldly proclaimed: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Rom. 1:16, NIV, 1984). Many saw Jesus as ascetic and mystic, warrior/worker priest, apocalyptic visionary, and social revolutionary, ecclesiastical dignitary, and street preacher, healer and deliverer.
Paul wrote about Christ and the Cross, and He wrote about the POWER of SALVATION. With this deeply rooted conviction, Paul put forth his personal view of the “good news”…that which he could not do himself, that which he believed the Law could not help him to do, Christ Jesus had DONE for him. And I may add, Jesus has done it for me too.
Paul can now stand boldly in the presence of both God and man and declare that he is NOT ASHAMED, nor AFRAID of the Gospel/the Cross (to die to “self”). Oh, how many in this generation are weak-kneed cowards? Is it any wonder that America is fast becoming PAGAN? Will we (Christians) wait until Christianity is OUTLAWED before we will boldly proclaim Him and His message to this mess-age?
The Bible, if one dares, or cares to read it, is loaded with symbolism of evil, and focuses attention on the means whereby it is overcome, as well as how a quality of life (called “eternal life”) can be known and experienced.
While too many are just waiting for some kind of catastrophic change to come (of course they believe the “rapture” will take them up, up, and away (write for our “rapture” magazines, debunking this myth and man-made doctrine). This whole ESCAPE mindset has bred a whole church of cowards and worldly-minded Churchites that are both “ASHAMED” and “AFRAID.”
Disparagement and Ridicule
OH HOW THESE CHURCHITES of today FLEE from such! No doubt Paul had to overcome the temptation to do likewise. In his day, the Gospel of Christ was attacked by both Romans and unconverted Jews with savagery (as he himself had been a murderer of Christians).
Frankly, the Gospel did not appeal to the proud and wealthy. No, it condemned both man’s personal riches (putting them before the love of God makes “wealth” a kind of “idol”), and it condemned man’s power (this also is a kind of “idol”—man trusting in himself: “self-worship,”); hence the church is full of idolaters!
The word “power” and “salvation” (both to be encountered again in Paul’s epistle), as well as the word “Gospel,” call for definition.
The word “Gospel,” as suggested by many theologians, is originally an old English term used to translate the Greek evangelion/euaggelion (G2098) which means “good tidings”…in our context, the “good news” about Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and glorification. This ought to be par excellence for ALL!
Power of God!
YES!! This is what we all need. The term “dunamis” (G1411, where the English word ‘dynamite’ comes from), also a word to designate a miracle, a manifestation of God’s omnipotence (all powerful), a mighty work etc. So, the “good news” is the proclamation of this dynamic event; it was, and is, the “dynamic.”
So, dear lazy believers, those of you who are too ashamed and afraid to teach/preach/proclaim the “good news” to ALL, realize that this is part of the continuing dynamic event that Jesus started.
The LOST need salvation. Why have you “zipped the lip”??
IN THE FULL Life Study Bible, pages 292 and 293 expound on Romans 1, and the (emphases added):
“BIBLICAL WORDS FOR SALVATION
Rom. 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."
God freely offers us eternal life in Jesus Christ. But understanding the exact process by which that life becomes available to us is sometimes difficult. Therefore, God paints various pictures in the Bible to help us grasp the concept, each with its own unique emphasis. This article examines three of those pictures: Salvation, Redemption and Justification.
SALVATION. Salvation (Gk sōtēria) means "deliverance,""bringing safely through,"and "keeping from harm"; it is described in the Bible as "the way" or road that leads through life to eternal fellowship with God in heaven (Mt 7:14; Mk 12:14; Jn 14:6; Ac 16:17; 2 Pe 2:2, 21; cf. Ac 9:2; 22:4; Heb 10:20). This road of salvation must be walked to the very end. We can describe salvation as one way with two sides and three stages:
(1) The one way of salvation. Christ is the way to the Father (Jn 14:6; Ac 4:12). Salvation is provided for us by God's grace, which he gives in Christ Jesus (Ro 3:24), based on his death
(3:25; 5:8), resurrection (5:10) and continued intercession for believers (Heb 7:25).
(2) The two sides of salvation. Salvation is received by grace through faith in Christ (Ro 3:22,24-25, 28). That is, it comes as a result of God's grace (Jn 1:16) and the human response
of faith (Ac 16:31; Ro 1:17; Eph 1:15; 2:8...).
(3) The three stages of salvation.
(a) The past stage of salvation includes the personal experience by which we as believers receive forgiveness of sins (Ac 10:43; Ro 4:6-8) and pass from spiritual death to spiritual life (l Jn 3:14...), from the power of sin to the power of the Lord (Ro 6:17-23), from Satan's dominion to God's dominion (Ac 26:18). It brings us into a new personal relationship with God (Jn 1:12) and rescues us from the penalty of sin (Ro 1:16; 6:23; l Co 1:18).
(b) The present stage of salvation saves us from the practice and dominion of sin, filling us with the Holy Spirit. It includes:
(I) the privilege of a person-to-person relationship with God as our Father and Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Mt 6:9; Jn 14:18-23; see Gal 4:6, note);
(ii) the call to count ourselves dead to sin (Ro 6:1-14) and to submit to the leading of the Spirit (Ro 8:1-17) and God's Word (Jn 8:31; 14:21; 2Ti 3:15-16);
(iii) the invitation to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the command to keep being filled (see Ac 2:33-39; Eph 5:18...);
(iv) the demand to separate ourselves from sin (Ro 6:1-14) and the present corrupt generation (Ac 2:40; 2 Co 6:17); and
(v) the call to fight for God's kingdom against Satan and his demonic host (2 Co 10:4-5; Eph 6:11,16; 1 Pe 5:8).
(c) The future stage of salvation (Ro 13:11-12; 1 Th 5:8-9; 1 Pe 1:5) includes:
(I) our deliverance from God's coming wrath (Ro 5:9; 1 Co 3:15; 5:5; 1 Th 1:10; 5:9);
(ii) our sharing the divine glory (Ro 8:29; 1 Co 15:49) and receiving a resurrected or transformed body (1 Co 15:52); and
(iii) our receiving rewards as faithful overcomers. This future salvation is the goal toward which all Christians strive (1 Co 9:24-27; Php 3:8-14). All present warnings, discipline and punishment have as their purpose that believers should not forfeit this future salvation (1 Co 5:1-13; 9:24-27; Php 2:12,16; 2 Pe 1:5-11...).
THE ROOT meaning of "redemption" (Gk apolutrōsis) is a ransom by the payment of a price. The expression denotes the means by which salvation is procured, namely, by the payment of a ransom. The doctrine of redemption can be summarized as follows:
(1) The state of sin out of which we must be redeemed: The NT represents humans as alienated from God (Ro 3:10-18), under the dominion of satanic powers (Ac 10:38; 26:18), slaves to sin (Ro 6:6; 7:14), and in need of deliverance from sin's guilt, punishment and power (Ac 26:18; Ro 1:18; 6:1-18, 23; Eph 5:8; Col 1:13; 1 Pe 2:9).
(2) The price paid to free us from this bondage: Christ secured the ransom by shedding his blood and giving his life (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; l Co 6:20; Eph 1:7; Tit 2:14; Heb 9:12; 1 Pe 1:18-19).
(3) The resultant state of the redeemed: Believers redeemed by Christ are now free from Satan's dominion and from the guilt and power of sin (Ac 26:18; Ro 6:7,12, 14, 18; Col 1:13). This freedom from sin, however, does not leave us free to do as we wish, for we become God's property. Freedom from sin makes us willing slaves of God (Ac 26:18; Ro 6:18, 22; 1 Co 6:19-20 7:22-23).
THE WORD "JUSTIFY" (Gk dikaioō) means to be "righteous in God's sight" (Ro 2:13), to be "made righteous" (Ro 5:18-19), to "establish as right," or to "set or put right."
It denotes being in a right relationship with God rather than receiving a mere legal, judicial declaration. God forgives repentant sinners, whom he had pronounced guilty through the law and condemned to eternal death, restores them to divine favor, and sets them in a right relationship (fellowship) with himself and his will. The apostle Paul reveals several truths about justification and how it is accomplished:
(1) Being put right with God is a gift (Ro 3:24; Eph 2:8). No one can put himself or herself right with God by keeping the law perfectly or by performing good works (Ro 4:2-6), "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Ro 3:23).
(2) Being put right with God happens "through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:24). No one is justified who has not been redeemed by Christ from sin and its power.
(3) Being put right with God comes "by his grace" and is appropriated "through faith in Jesus Christ" as Lord and Savior (Ro 3:22-24; cf. 4:3-5...).
(4) Being put right with God is related to the forgiveness of our sins (Ro 4:7). Sinners are declared guilty (Ro 3:9-18, 23) but are forgiven because of Christ's atoning death and resurrection (see Ro 3:25, note; 4:5, note; 4:25; 5:6-9).
(5) When we are put right with God through faith in Christ, we are crucified with Christ and Christ comes to live in us (Gal 2:16-21). Through this experience, we actually become righteous and begin living for God (2:19-21). This transforming work of Christ in us through the Spirit (cf. 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pe 1:2) cannot be separated from Christ's redemptive work for us. The work of Christ and the Spirit are interdependent.”
HIS PREACHING about the “power of God” was powerful in itself—a sharp sword thrust that goes deep into one’s heart in order to kill all cowardliness and all compromises.
Remember, the Rome that Paul witnessed to was in imperial splendor, and full of proud, militant, people. It was, at that time, the capital of the known civilized world, and an arrogant city full of idol worship and self-esteem. It was a city with little reason, full with shamelessness in its vices, and brutal and blood-thirsty in its pleasures—kind of like good ol’ USA today!
It was in this atmosphere that Paul preached Christ.
Now, look at the cowards we have here in America!—millions of professing “Christians,” but so few possessing Him. BIG TALK, little walk!
Grant you, if we’re to be like Paul the apostle, we’re not likely to win any kind of enthusiastic reception, it just won’t happen. What we will receive is lots and LOTS OF CURSINGS—FROM BOTH THE “CHRISTIANS,” AND PAGANS, AS WE LIFT UP THAT WORTHY NAME JESUS CHRIST THE LORD.
1st Corinthians 2:4
“AND MY SPEECH and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power...”
As a demonstration of the Spirit’s (dynamite) power, Paul refers back to 1:18: “For this message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (“the lost”), but to us (“the redeemed”) who are being saved (from guttermost to the uttermost) it is the power of God.” The message of the Cross not only involves Wisdom/Truth, but the ACTIVE POWER of God (like to save, cast out demons, heal the sick/diseased, and to redeem fully from SIN’S power). Paul also mentions this power in v. 24 as well (1:24).
The apostle’s message included the Spirit’s convicting the people of sin/righteousness/judgment, and the bearing witness to the saving power of the crucified/risen/glorified Christ (see cpts. 5, 6; Jn. 16:8; Acts 2:36-41); the power to transform lives (like mine!, see 1:26, 27; Acts 4:13); the power to effect holiness/righteousness in the believer (see 5:3-5); and God’s power manifested by signs/wonders/miracles (see Acts 2:29-33; 4:29, 30; 5:12; 14:3; 2 Cor. 12:12).
THERE ARE SEVERAL New Testament passages that emphasize that the preaching of the “good news” was accompanied by a special power (see Mk. 16:17, 18; Lk. 10:19; Acts 23:3-6; Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 4:20; 1 Thes. 1:5; Heb. 2:4). I have seen and experienced all these and more in the years of ministry.
Power to Forgive Sin!
WHO ELSE has this power? (see Mt. 9:6, 8). Those who listened to and heard Jesus knew that “His Word was with power” (Lk. 4:32). But what do we see in CHURCH TODAY?:
$ adulterers, -and-
$ idol-worshippers etc., etc. (few exceptions).
Have you had your sins forgiven? Religion will not, and does not free you, it only enslaves you.
The “good news” does not demand an extraordinary grasp of intellect, or even keen spiritual endowments. NO! We are merely to repent of our sins and the Holy Spirit does the rest (by faith, see Romans 1:17).
Romans 1:17 and 18
“FOR THEREIN is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness...”
The term “righteousness” designates both the intrinsic character of God, and the outgoing activity of God. You see, God’s own righteousness, and His opposition to all unrighteousness are seen in His WRATH (v. 18). Most “Christians” are too squeamish to accept this Truth (write for our 2 magazines entitled “The Wrath of God”). They only want to portray God/The Son as “love,” but WRATH IS ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN “LOVE.” In the big picture, like it or not!, God’s righteousness means God vindicating His righteousness.
The New Testament is full of warnings against sin/sinning: which provokes the “Wrath of God.”
Righteousness necessitates wrath. At salvation, we receive a portion of God’s righteousness that enables us to hate sin.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven”…from the heart of God Himself! The one revelation is incomplete without the other. The “good news” declares the holy purpose of God as it speaks to us in love in Jesus Christ; to understand God’s Wrath, is to understand His love. Thus, man may realize the utter abysmal nature of his/her need. God hates sin, this righteousness of His sets us free.
If a Christian does not HATE sin, there is something lacking in their lives. As soon as they begin to form some understanding of what righteousness really is, there immediately follows an inevitable awareness of that unalterable antipathy and revulsion from evil which MUST be the MARK of goodness/godliness.
Most, sad to say, don’t understand the “Wrath of God.” They believe it to be harsh and unloving. NO! It is God’s nature, as well as His love. We’re not just dealing with emotion here, but justice! His justice=His judgment upon evil/sin. If God did not hate and judge sin, none of us would be saved today.
Sin is not merely an “act,” but also a “state.” Men were born into sin; to be free, there must be a saviour. Jesus is that Saviour who frees man from the contagion of sin. This is love and wrath working together.
LET IT BE SAID that God is The Creator, man is the created. He makes the rules, not man. Man cannot ABSOLVE God of responsibility for judgment, without accepting in effect, as one scholar once wrote: “The Marcionite belief in two Gods—one of judgment, and the other of love.” Sadly, most of today’s Churchites accept the “love of God” but reject the “wrathful God.” Really, there is one, not two Gods, but God, though one has characters of both love and wrath.
Why would you think that God only “loves” and never hates/judges/punishes? Are you committing sin and don’t want to be judged for it? Wishful thinking folks.
Hey, God is Master of history. History has seen both His blessings and His judgments. History has seen fearful retribution that wrongdoing can bring on those who practice it. AND DON’T BE DECEIVED, HIS WRATH IS ABOUT TO BE RELEASED UPON THE WHOLE OF MANKIND IF REPENTANCE IS NOT FORTHCOMING.
IT ALL BOILS DOWN to these two. Many times, God delays His Wrath in order for sinful man to repent (see Rom. 2:4). With all this said, let us not be ashamed or afraid to proclaim both His “love,” and His “Wrath;” both of these are needed.