Not Ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16)

Not Ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, January 16 and Sunday, January 17, 2021

Please turn to Romans 1:16

I read the following a few years ago.

In January of 1925, Nome was this remote outpost, faced suddenly with a deadly outbreak of diphtheria, and virtually no vaccine to stop it. The National Health Department in Washington concluded “an epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable.” That meant up to 75% of the children in and around Nome could die.

Well, a train brought the needed antitoxin as far as the train could go – to Nenana. That’s 640 miles from Nome. From there, it had to be dog teams, taking the mail route that they called the Iditarod Trail. But that was usually a 25-day trip, and that was way too long to save the lives in Nome.

Knowing that their mission was life-or-death, the mushers and their dogs defied the weather; they defied the odds to do what had never been done before. Like the Pony Express, one team went as far as they could and then handed it off to another musher and his dogs. And history records that the winter of ’25 was one of the worst ever, with temperatures that plunged to 60 below. Then the blizzard closed in around them. The only doctor in Nome said, “All hope is in the hands of the dogs and their heroic mushers.” 

At 5:30 in the morning on January 30, the final musher drove his dogs – and the serum – into the streets of a sleeping Nome. It took twenty men; it took 150 dogs to get it there. Amazingly, they made the trip in just five and a half days, breaking the world record, and more importantly, saving hundreds of lives.

The drama of that desperate race to Nome touches something deep inside me, because it’s a picture of a race for life where the stakes are even higher; a race that began on an old rugged cross 2,000 years ago. Our word for today from the Word of God in 1 John 3:16 and chapter 4, verse 9, says this: “Jesus Christ laid down His life for us that we might live through Him.” The news of His death for our sins and His game-changing resurrection – that’s the only “serum” that can save a person from a hellish eternity and give them heaven instead.

And from generation to generation that life-saving message has been entrusted into the hands of every person who’s been saved by hearing it. And today, it’s in my hands and the hands of every person who belongs to this Jesus.

Getting Jesus’ message to the people within my reach is not some casual, “get around to it sometime” thing. It is urgent beyond words. In the Bible’s words, it’s snatching “others from the fire” (Jude 23 ), it’s rescuing “those who are being led away to death,” it’s holding “back those who are being led away to slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11 ). People I know. People I see all the time. People whose forever depends on what I know about Jesus. They are one heartbeat away from meeting God. Waiting any longer to tell them is gambling with their eternity.

Somewhere along the way, the cause for which Jesus died has become, well, like the Iditarod, a spectator sport, lots of activity but no thought about the lives at stake. But those of us who’ve been saved by the serum of the Gospel are responsible before God to get that serum to those who are going to die without it. Jesus expects that the driving passion of His people and His Church, will be the passion that kept Him on the cross, “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10 ). In a very real sense, we hold their eternities in our hands.

It really is a race for life[1]

So, this is the purpose of Romans. Romans is all about the Gospel. Romans is all about Paul getting the good news of our salvation out to the world. He wanted to spread the serum.

Let’s look at the thesis statement:

Read with me Romans 1:16-17:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Now, turn to Romans 15:20:

and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation…

My theme and application:

Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel. Take the Gospel seriously.

  1. Pray for a passion for the Gospel.
    • Look at Paul’s passion for the Gospel. 2 Timothy 2:10: Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
    • Let’s come back to Romans 1:16-17.
    • Paul says he is not ashamed of the Gospel.
    • Why?
    • The Gospel is the power of God for salvation.
    • Who are saved?
    • Paul says the Jew first. This is likely because salvation came through the Jewish people, through Jesus, and back to Abraham.
    • Paul says, “also the Greeks.” This was a big deal in that time period. Salvation is opened to everyone.
    • Verse 17 references “The righteous man shall live by faith” and this is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4: The Righteous shall live by faith
    • Now, let me talk about these two verses with applications for us:
  2. We must also be eager to preach the Gospel.
    • Paul says that he is not ashamed. If we go back and look at verse 14 he says that he is under obligation to preach the Gospel to Greeks and Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
    • Barbarians would be anyone who did not speak Greek. This is based off of their language.
    • 1 Cor. 9:16 Paul writes: For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 
  3. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel. Let’s make this more personal.
    • We must not be ashamed at school.
      • We must not be ashamed at work.
      • We must not be ashamed in public.
      • We must not be ashamed on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
      • We must not be ashamed at church. At church? You are wondering what I mean by this. Even churches are compromising the Gospel. We are compromising the Scriptures and compromising our Savior.
  4. We must proclaim the Gospel.
  5. We must have a Gospel mindset, always praying, and thinking of opportunities to share.
  6. We must recognize the exclusivity of salvation and the inclusivity of the Gospel.
    • The Gospel is the only means to salvation. So, in that way Salvation is exclusive, only through Jesus. But the Gospel is inclusive, opened to all.
    • John 3:16-18; 14:6
      • 16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. 18 The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 14:6:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

So, get this in John 3:18, rejecting the Son means rejecting the Father.

Notice John 14:6: Jesus is the only way.

Luke 9:23:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

We must recognize that the Gospel represents the power of God. I must be compelled to worship our mighty Savior.

We must recognize that God’s righteousness is revealed. We are only righteous by faith in Christ. We are only right before God by faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). This must compel us to worship. 

This passage, this phrase “righteousness of God is revealed” has brought a lot of theological debate. I had a note in my Bible that says “our faith alone for salvation, not works.” I think that is key.

Some would say this is talking about God’s righteousness in the way we are saved. Others would say that we only receive righteousness by trusting in Jesus. I really like both. God is righteous. But we only receive right standing before God by trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.


A bazaar was held in a village in northern India. Everyone brought his wares to trade and sell. One old farmer brought in a whole covey of quail. He had tied a string around one leg of each bird. The other ends of all the strings were tied to a ring which fit loosely over a central stick. He had taught the quail to walk dolefully in a circle, around and around, like mules at a sugarcane mill. Nobody seemed interested in buying the birds until a devout Brahman came along. He believed in the Hindu idea of respect for all life, so his heart of compassion went out to those poor little creatures walking in their monotonous circles.

“I want to buy them all,” he told the merchant, who was elated. After receiving the money, he was surprised to hear the buyer say, “Now, I want you to set them all free.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“You heard me. Cut the strings from their legs and turn them loose. Set them all free!”

With a shrug, the old farmer bent down and snipped the strings off the quail. They were freed at last. What happened? The birds simply continued marching around and around in a circle. Finally, the man had to shoo them off. But even when they landed some distance away, they resumed their predictable march. Free, unfettered, released . . . yet they kept going around in circles as if still tied.

Until you give yourself permission to be the unique person God made you to be . . . and to do the unpredictable things grace allows you to do . . . you will be like that covey of quail, marching around in vicious circles of fear, timidity, and boredom.

Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

People need Jesus.

Do you see the Gospel as healing serum which people need?

Paul was not ashamed. He wanted to preach the Gospel. He wanted to preach to those who have never heard.

Let’s review the Romans road to Salvation:

Walking Down the “Romans Road” to Salvation . . . .

Because of our sin, we are separated from God.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God  (Romans 3:23).

The Penalty for our sin is death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins!
For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved  (Romans 10:13).
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9,10).[2]

Go and share the Gospel



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