The vast efforts of the apostle Paul at preaching the gospel took him to many cities and villages throughout the world. For instance, he was privileged to preach in Tarsus where he was born; in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish worship; in Damascus, the world’s oldest city; in Antioch, the golden city on the Orontes; in Ephesus, the center of Diana worship; in Athens, the philosophical center of the world; and in Corinth, the metropolis of Greece. However, he had not preached the gospel in Rome when he wrote his letter to the church which had been established there. He affirmed that he was desirous of preaching God’s word to them as soon as possible (Rom. 1:15).
His failure to preach the gospel to the Romans was not due to any embarrassment he felt regarding the message or his role in proclaiming it. He wrote, “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” (Rom. 1:16). Paul was not ashamed of the content of the gospel; neither was he ashamed of the manner in which it was to be broadcast.
The word “gospel” is an encompassing word which includes the virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, powerful resurrection, and promised second coming of Christ. It is the good news of all that God has done for the salvation of lost man. It refers to every aspect of the Christian life regulated in the New Testament. Some viewed this message as foolishness and were ashamed of it (1 Cor. 1:18). Paul was not among them. He was not ashamed of the source of the gospel (God), its subject (Christ), its revealer (the Holy Spirit), nor of the high ideals and philosophy of life held out by the gospel. He was not ashamed of the hope or goal of the gospel (eternal life). Though such may be demeaned and ridiculed by the undiscerning, there is no justifiable reason why Christians should be apologetic of the gospel of Christ. Wherever it is proclaimed, this gospel is charged with power. It creates faith, reveals God’s righteousness, brings fulfillment of hope, and intervenes in the lives of men. Paul had seen the gospel bring a man to his knees in Philippi, turn a demented girl into a rational person, purify a wicked and corrupt people in Corinth, and establish congregations all over Asia and Europe. He had literally seen the gospel turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6)!
The temptation exists today to be intellectually, socially, and morally ashamed of the gospel. There is the fear that the gospel does not possess the virility of thought to commend it to the sophisticated minds of modern man. There is the danger of being socially ashamed of those who are obedient to the gospel for “…not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Cor. 1:26). One of the greatest tragedies is the possibility of moral shame. The acceptance of the gospel often demands severance from old ways, old habits, old tendencies, and even old friends. This places a strain upon certain temperaments which is almost too hard for them to bear. Herein lies the solemn possibility of being ashamed of Christ and His gospel; and yet the Master’s words ring out as clearly as ever, “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 his Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38).
Like the great apostle Paul, may we appropriate and prize the gospel of Christ and never be ashamed of it.