Romans 1:16 I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (CEB)
Many Christians keep their beliefs to themselves. The idea that there are two topics you never bring up in any conversation: politics and religion, is so ingrained in us that we seldom talk about our faith and only say “I go to church on Sundays”. The problem is not that they are not believers but that they are ashamed and even embarrassed of their faith. They don’t want anyone to know their private life. After all, it’s none of your business that I go to church. What I believe is none of your business. Or is it?
The word that is used in the original Greek is Epaischunomai. It is associated with being afraid. The word conveys feeling shame which prevents one from doing something. This shame results in a reluctance to say or do something because of fear of humiliation. Someone who is ashamed experiences a lack of courage to stand up for something or feels shame because of what has been done.
Throughout history, terrible things have been done in the name of religion and it is understandable that one would be ashamed or embarrassed at the atrocities of misguided individuals who claimed to be Christians. The same could be said of many other religions. This is precisely why the Apostle Paul doesn’t talk about or promotes a religion. He writes about and preaches the gospel. Religion will always let you down because it is man’s attempt to reach out to God. The gospel, on the other hand, is the story of God reaching out to man through his only son, Jesus Christ. This is what a Christian must not be ashamed of but proud of. The fact that the everlasting, holy God, creator of the universe, chose to offer the gift of grace to mankind so that by having faith in the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, we could be found righteous and holy to Him should make a true believer proud that he or she has been specifically chosen by God. As a Christ-follower, you are a member of an exclusive group that forms the body of Christ, his Church. You are unique in your talents, gifts, skills, and abilities and He chose you to be a part of his body. There should be no shame in this. On the contrary, we should be very proud of the message of the gospel because of its power.
The gospel is God’s own power for salvation. The Greek word used is dunamis from which we get the English word dynamic. Dunamis is the power that overcomes resistance. It is power in action. It is the power to accomplish. It is the ability to produce a strong effect.
First, the message of the gospel overcomes the resistance that some may have to a change of life. Secondly, the gospel message can be seen in action in believers who are active participants of their faith in its message. They have fellowship, worship the Lord, and love their neighbor as they love themselves. Third, the gospel message has led to amazing accomplishments such as the founding of orphanages, schools, universities and hospitals. Finally, the gospel message produces a strong effect on believers by changing the lives of those who believe in its message. The beauty of it all is that this power is available to all believers.
Salvation, or soteria in Greek, describes rescue or deliverance from danger, destruction and peril. Those who do not have salvation are in peril of destruction. We know this as the destruction of the soul perpetually in hell. The opposite for this scenario would include a restoration to a state of safety and deliverance from destruction. It is in this state that the believer should have absolute confidence that the gospel message has and continues to accomplish its intended goal to all who have faith in God.
A commitment to faith in God, relying upon and trusting in the person of Jesus Christ as the only means of this salvation is the definition of Christianity. This faith involves the consent of the mind as well as an act of the heart to end the current course of life and embark on a new path. To begin with, there must be an intellectual understanding of the message of the gospel. This doesn’t require special training, a diploma or a high I.Q. It is the simple understanding that a person of reason can make. This intellectual understanding in the mind produces the acknowledgement that the message is truthful and produces conviction of the soul that there must be a change. This personal conviction moves a person to submit and accept the message of the gospel which inspires a change in behavior and conduct that is consistent with that submission.
The target of the message of the gospel is to Jews and Greeks. In the time the letter to the Romans was written and from the cultural perspective of the Jews, there were only two classifications of people, Jews and Greeks. Greeks can be taken to mean anyone who is not a Jew. One could even say that the division is between Eastern and Western civilization. The gospel message is to all people but it was first proclaimed to the Jews and then it was preached to the non-Jews or gentiles. The key sentiment here is that the message of the gospel is universal and can be applied to every culture on planet earth because it is a message of faith that does not require payment, sacrifice, blood, or gifts on the part of the believer. It is a message of a totally free gift given to mankind that crosses all cultural boundaries.