GET ACQUAINTED: What is the best news you’ve ever received? Who did you share it with and how quickly did you share it?
SCRIPTURE: (Romans 1:16 a)
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
In Romans 1 , Paul addresses the Gentile believers at Rome and begins by explaining his mission, which was to preach the gospel to everyone. He concludes his explanation by saying, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:16 –17; cf. Habakkuk 2:4 ).
The word translated “ashamed” means “disgraced” or “personally humiliated.” A person “ashamed” in this way is like someone singled out for misplacing his confidence—he trusted in something, and that something let him down. The word can refer to being dishonored because of forming the wrong alliances. So, when Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, he is saying his confidence in the gospel is not misplaced. There is no disgrace in declaring it. Paul had given his life to proclaiming the truths that Jesus Himself had revealed to him (Acts 9:3 –6; 2 Corinthians 12:2 –4). He explained to the Romans why he did not believe that he had wrongly identified with Jesus and why proclaiming Jesus’ message was his life’s work.
The application can extend to us as well. Just as Paul placed his confidence in the gospel of Christ, so can we. We can proclaim with boldness the truths that God has revealed in His Word, with no fear that our confidence is misplaced. “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:11 ; cf. Isaiah 28:16 ). We can rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing of Scripture never changes (2 Peter 1:21 ; Malachi 3:6 ; Hebrews 13:8 ). What was true thousands of years ago is still true. The offer of salvation that was presented to people of the first century is still open to us (Acts 2:39 ; John 17:20 ).
To live unashamed of the gospel means we proclaim it, but it also means we apply it to our lives and show we believe it. Paul’s life choices supported his message. He did not preach one thing and live another. We are “ashamed of the gospel” when we allow sin in our lives to go unchecked (Matthew 3:8 ). When we indulge in worldliness and carnal desires or blatantly disobey scriptural standards, we indicate that we lack confidence in our own message (1 Corinthians 3:3 ; 1 Peter 2:11 ). When we “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, and sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1 ), we are being ashamed of the gospel. We are not allowing its truth to penetrate our lives so that others see its changing power. To live unashamed of the gospel means that we, like Paul, allow it to dominate our lives to the extent that everyone within our sphere of influence can see that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 ).
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- What are some reasons that you have been ashamed of the gospel in the past? How can you prepare yourself so that it won’t happen in the future?
- Why is it important to understand that salvation is not just a human decision, but requires the very power of God in imparting new life? What errors occur when we forget this?
- Why is it important to insist that justification means that God declares the sinner righteous, not that He makes them righteous? What implications follow from each view?
- What is the difference between genuine saving faith and superficial, false faith (believing “in vain,” 1 Cor. 15:2 )?
Personal Application: The gospel is the good news that God has revealed to us how we can be rescued from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:5-10). It is the very power of God to save everyone who believes, because in it God reveals how His perfect righteousness will be put to the account of the guilty sinner who trusts in Christ. I pray that we will understand the gospel, believe it personally, preach it to ourselves every day, and proclaim it unashamedly to this lost world.
Prayer of commitment: Father in heaven, please give me wisdom, sensitivity, and courage to share Your wonderful story of grace with those around me who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name. Amen.