Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb, and shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name? [old hymn]
When every vile and wicked thing imaginable is coming out of its closet, I think it’s time that the people of God came out from underneath the rock, stood on the Rock, and let it be known where they stand, don’t you? I really do.
Do you stand up and stand out for the Lord Jesus Christ? I heard of a little boy who had a dog - kind of a mangy pooch. And somebody asked him, ‘What kind of a dog is that?” He said, “Well, he’s a police dog.” They said, “Well, he doesn’t look like it.” He said, “Well, he’s in the Secret Service.” I think we have some Christians who are in the Secret Service. I mean, they’re not bold believers. They don’t stand up like the apostle Paul and say, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”
You say, “Well, it was easier in his day.” No, you’re wrong. It was far more difficult in his day to stand up for the gospel of Christ than it is in this day. Today, we decorate with the cross. We put the cross of gold around our necks and we put the cross upon our steeples, but I want to remind you that the cross was an instrument of capital punishment. It was an instrument of execution. Can you imagine somebody coming to church tonight with a little gold electric chair around their neck or a miniature gas chamber around their neck? Why, in Roman society, you did not even mention the cross in polite society. It was so ghastly, so gruesome. And in Paul’s day, Jesus Christ was not known as the great world religious leader. Ah, to the people of Paul’s day, Jesus was a mad man at best and a criminal at worst. I mean, the gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter. And on top of that, this poor Jewish carpenter died an ignominious death. He was crucified.
Besides that, He was a Jew. Paul is writing to the Romans, and the Romans had no special appreciation for the Jews. The Romans would ask themselves, why should I put my faith in a Jew, a carpenter who was nailed up on a cross and crucified? Besides that, the Romans had some great philosophers and some great philosophy. Why should we at Rome pay any attention to the fable about a Jew who rose from the dead? Well, if Paul believes in this gospel, evidently he’s uneducated. He must not have any social standing. He must not have studied. Well, I want to tell you that the apostle Paul was not only brilliantly intelligent, but he was superlatively educated. He had the equivalency of a double or triple Ph.D. He was an intellectual genius. He had a pedigree. He was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. He was a born leader. And in the face of all of these things, the apostle Paul says here in Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ….”
Dr. R. G. Lee used to tell about a preacher. And this preacher talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and his relationship to it. And this preacher said, “At 30 I was a young preacher. I studied the world’s religions and the world’s philosophies and I compared them to the gospel. And I said, ‘There’s nothing better than the gospel.’” But he said, “When I got to be 40 and the burdens of life began to press heavily upon me and the years seemed to go by quickly, I began to say, ‘There’s nothing as good as the gospel.’” But then he said, “Time went on and there were some empty chairs in our house, those who had stepped over to glory. And, ah, the gravediggers had done their work and the mound builders had built up the mounds over our loved ones.’” And he said, “I began to say, ‘There’s nothing to be compared to the gospel.’” Then he said, “I got to be 60. When I got to be 60, I began to see with improved spiritual insight.” He said, “I began to see through the illusions and the vanity of earthly things. And in the clear light of eternity I said, ‘There’s nothing but the gospel of Jesus Christ.’” But then he said, “At 70, when my old body now is beginning to wear out and I have many limitations, and I know that before long I’ll be going home, I now sing,
’Should all the forms which men devise
attack my faith with treacherous art,
I would call them all vanities and lies
and bind the gospel to my heart.’”
There is nothing but the gospel, if you really step back and see what life is all about. So why should we be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Why should we be a closet Christian? Why should we blush and stutter and stammer, rather than standing up straight and bold and clear and saying, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
I want to give you four reasons why you ought to be incredibly proud of the gospel of Jesus Christ and why you ought to be a bold believer.
1. Because of the sovereign majesty Whose gospel it is.
It is the gospel of Christ! The gospel of Christ! Who is Christ? He is Christ Jesus. Who is Christ Jesus? He is Jesus, the Son of God and Jesus, God the Son. He is the God man, totally unique. Only a few philosophers, a few scientists, a few rulers, a few politicians; just a handful of religious leaders out of all of these 60 billion who have ever lived have made any significant impact on the world. But I want to say, of that handful there is one person whose name is Jesus who towers like Mount Everest above the others. No person in all of history has ever attracted such a combination of attention, devotion, criticism, adoration, and opposition as Jesus Christ. It’s an incredible thing. Twenty centuries after His death there’s not a moment in time, whether it’s right now or any other time, when there are not millions of people who are reading what He said. This moment millions are endeavoring to live by His words. He’s an incredible person. His birth divides all history to BC and AD. He split the centuries. Jesus.
He never wrote a book, and yet more books have been written about Him than any person who ever lived. He never painted a picture so far as we know. He never composed any poetry. He never wrote any music. But more art, more poetry, more music has been written and composed about the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the object of songs and plays and poetry and art. He never raised an army, and yet millions would gladly die for Him. It’s estimated that there are at least 350,000 martyrs a year today in this modern world who die for the Lord Jesus Christ and die for their faith. When He was here, He only had a few thousand people that He ever spoke to at one time. But today, over 30% of the world’s population claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the largest religious grouping that has ever existed. He had no formal education, yet I went to a university that was founded because of Jesus Christ. Thousands of universities, thousands of seminaries, colleges and schools have been founded in the name of Jesus Christ. The sovereign majesty of the gospel.
Napoleon Bonaparte, that archangel of war, said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded empires, but on what foundation did we wrest the creatures of our genius? Upon force. But Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love. What an abyss lies between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and is still existing over the whole earth.”
Are you ashamed to identify yourself with someone as wonderful as Jesus Christ? There was a young man who had lived a wicked and a vile life. He had gone deep into sin, and he had drunk deeply of the cup of sin all the way down to the dregs. And then he was saved by the gospel of Christ. And then, after he was saved, he was called to preach. He did not have the gifts of education. He was not articulate, but he had a hot heart, a tongue on fire for Christ. But there was somebody in the congregation who had known him BC. They had known him before Christ had come into his life, and they resented the fact that he was up there because of the wickedness of his life before he was saved. And in a cruel way, I think, they wrote a note and sent it up to him by an usher, and it listed all of the things that he had done. And then it said, “What are you doing up there? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” Do you know what he did? Rather than crumpling it up and putting it in his pocket, he stood behind the pulpit on the platform and took the list of those terrible, horrible, heinous, hurtful, hellish things that he had done, and he read them one by one without leaving anything out. And then he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am very ashamed of myself, but I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.”
Why be ashamed of Christ? Jesus said in Mark 8:38: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of the Father with his holy angels.” The first reason I’m not ashamed of the gospel is the sovereign majesty of whose gospel it is, the Lord Jesus.
2. His saving ministry. Look at it again. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation, unto salvation….” That’s what the gospel is all about. Now what is more important than getting saved? Can you think of anything more important than that? You think it’s business? Do you think it’s fame? Do you think it’s pleasure? You let Congress run the nation. They’re trying and not doing a good job. You let Wall Street handle the finance. You let Hollywood have the fame. We’re in the greatest business of the world, and that is bringing men to salvation. The social engineers of this world are mistakenly trying to save society. Never get it in your mind for one little bit that the gospel is supposed to Christianize the world. It is not! That is to assign to the gospel an assignment that God never gave to it. The gospel has never been assigned or intended to save civilization from wreckage, but to save men from the wreckage of civilization. We’re being saved out of this world. It is the gospel of salvation. You see, the incarnate Christ, the Christ of yesterday, the incarnate Christ, the Christ of flesh – that’s the Christ of the past. And through Him I’m saved by grace. But then there’s the indwelling Christ. That’s the Christ of the present. And not only is He the gospel of grace, but now He’s the gospel of growth. He is saving me day by day. He is delivering me. And then, there is the invisible Christ. He’s coming again. And that’s the gospel of glory. All of it = salvation! Luke 19:10: “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Why should I be ashamed that I have a message that can rescue men from hell, give them a new heart, a new hope, and set their direction toward heaven, and all the time give them peace and joy?
3. The supernatural miracle of that gospel. Paul said, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God, the power of God…..” There has never been greater power than the power of the gospel. What can wash away my sin? Psychiatry can’t do it. Psychology cannot do it. It is the power of God. And apart from the gospel, God is powerless. God has limited Himself to the gospel. You say, “Well, I just believe there are many ways. I think there are many ways to go to heaven.” You do? Well, if there are many ways to go to heaven, why did Jesus die? Why didn’t God just take one of those other ways? Why did God let His darling Son die in agony and blood on that cross when there was some other way? Don’t you think if there was another way God would have taken it? If God let Jesus die the most shameful, horrible death that anyone has ever died, and there was some other way, I'd lose respect for that kind of a God. I wouldn’t want to meet Him in a dark alley.
I’m not ashamed of the power of this book. I know that I know that the gospel, and the gospel alone, has power to transform, to rescue the perishing, to care for the dying, to snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. That alone is the job of the gospel.
Thank God for the supernatural miracle, the power of God. Christians are not just nice chaps; they’re new creatures. Our gospel is a supernatural gospel.
4. The simple method of the gospel. The apostle Paul said, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation [now listen to this. It seems so simple], to everyone that believeth.” You say, “Now, Paul, come on. Complicate it up a little bit. Make it a little more difficult. “No,” he says, “the preaching of the cross is to them which perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it’s the power of God.” You can call it foolish if you want, but the simple message of the gospel is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is gloriously simple. It is simply glorious. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. That’s the only requirement.
Well, why does God do it that way? Well, I want you to go to chapter 4 and look in v. 16. Look at it. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace….” You see, if there were any other requirement other than belief then it’s not of grace.
What if God said, “Everybody who wants to be saved, run around the block.” Well, you say, “That would be simple enough.” But some little crippled children can’t run. What if God said, “Everybody who wants to be saved, read a chapter in the Bible.” Well, that would be simple enough, except some people can’t read. What if He said, “Everybody who wants to be saved, give a hundred dollars.” Some people don’t have a hundred dollars. You see, “It’s by faith, that it might be of grace…for by grace are ye saved through faith….whosoever believeth.” That’s so wonderful. Now listen. We’re not finished yet. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed….” All the descendants you see, this plan doesn’t leave anybody out. It’s a “whosoever” gospel. This is the only way it can be a “whosoever” gospel. It’s by faith because it’s of grace. And if it’s not by grace, then it leaves certain people out who can’t do certain things. Isn’t that wonderful?
Some believe you have to be baptized to be saved. Well, how about the thief on the cross? What if your plane was going down? Could you be baptized? No! But you could believe on the Lord!
For years men used to look for the tomb of old King Tut. Seven nations were spending thousands and thousands of dollars to try to find this tomb about four hundred miles south of Cairo in the Valley of the Kings, and they were digging, led by Howard Carter. One day, some of Howard Carter’s men came to him and said, “We’ve been digging in a hillside.” They said, “We have found a smooth stone. We think you ought to come.” And Howard Carter came to that place. There’d been sixteen stairs that led down and there was this smooth stone. He said, “Bring a sledge hammer.” They brought a sledge hammer and they broke it. And he lighted a candle and put it in there and looked around. And he saw it was a room. It was a tomb. He said, “Break out some more.” And they broke out some more. And he put his head in there and looked. It was the tomb of King Tut. He came out, stood up, blew out the candle. They said, “Mr. Carter, what did you see?” He said, “I saw the richest treasure in the world.” They said, “But you don’t seem to be very excited. Why are you not excited?” He said, “I’ll tell you why I’m not excited. Twenty long, dreary, dusty, dingy, expensive years ago I dug within seventy-two inches of this same spot and didn’t find it. I was so close.”
Did you know that some of your friends and family and co workers are very close to being saved? The greatest treasure is not the king of Tomb Tut, it’s to know Jesus Christ, and it's not far off for many who have been seeking God and looking for something real. You've got it. God has to lead someone to them to give them the gospel. It might as well be you!
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