With the completion of Psalm 121, I found myself thinking about what I could take time to meditate on today (Friday). With the up-coming theme of our life group meetings centering on evangelism, I found myself almost drawn to Romans 1:16. I have entitled this article and lesson for Sunday, Follow My Example. It comes from 1st Corinthians 11:1 where the apostle Paul says, “Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ.” Christ came down to from heaven “not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). That will of God was completed here on earth, when Jesus uttered the words “It is finished!” (John 19:30). In the presence of such grief, the Good News came forth, the mystery was revealed. So, as Jesus gave all that He could, so the apostle Paul would give all that he could, to share that Good News. It is that example we consider today.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Have you ever felt shame? Okay, that is a rhetorical question, for I know the answer is most likely yes. Shame is a powerful emotion! Here though, Paul expresses that there is no shame when it comes to the gospel of Christ, a message he once vigorously fought against for a time (Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6). I like the ETRV translation of Romans 1:16, which says, “I am proud of the Good News…” Paul’s lack of shame manifested itself in the adversity he suffered from proclaiming it. We are familiar with his conversion. How the brethren informed Ananias of the hardship Paul, who was then named Saul, was inflicting on the Church, just before sharing Christ’s hope with him. The Lord said to Ananias, “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). It didn’t take long either, for in Acts 9:20 we find Saul preaching “the Christ in the synagogues” which resulted in the Jews plotting “to kill him” (Acts 9:23, 29). Not long after, Saul “who is also called Paul” (Acts 13:9) was persecuted, along with Barnabas, and run out of Antioch (Acts 13:50). Soon after, in Lystra, he would be stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). He, along with Timothy and Silas, were beaten with rods and thrown into prison (Acts 16:23-24). The list goes on and on. Even so, Saul the persecutor, now transformed by the Good News of Jesus Christ and named Paul, can’t help but speak of Jesus.
That Good News is powerful! The word “power” found in Romans 1:16 comes from the Greek word dunamis which means (miraculous) power, might, strength. It is the word attached to Alfred Nobel’s invention, dynamite. Paul’s use of that word was not because of its explosive nature, but because of the power it exhibited. So it is with the Good News and its capacity to save sinful mankind. Once again, Paul knew all too well this truth. A once self-righteous man who would come to realize the truth about himself, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) You see, he could not proclaim Good News unless there was bad news. The bad news was simple, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Paul knew this all too well. Paul, lifeless and broken, the power of the gospel emerges, for this wretched man answers his own question and announces, “I thank God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25) The power of the gospel brings Paul to salvation…to eternal life.
His hope now anchored in Christ and a mission given to him by God, Paul endeavors to preach the gospel. Nothing will stop him, for he is unashamed of his Savior Jesus Christ and the hope that He offers to sinful man. You could say, he was proud of the Good News. It was Paul’s overwhelming conviction of this message of hope in his own life that empowered him to share it with others. I want to follow his example and it begins, as it always should, with my conviction about Christ and the hope of salvation He offers..