"I am not ashamed of the Gospel . . ."
When Paul wrote those words he had a clear understanding of what he meant by the term 'gospel.' For us today, I'm not so sure we're on the same page when we use the term.
This week I picked up a national news magazine. The headline screamed, "Does God want you to be rich?"
This same week Hugo Chavez, in addressing the United Nations General Assembly, called President Bush "the devil," clearly a biblical allusion. The president of Iran has referred to the U.S. as "the great Satan," again a biblical term used to conjure up spiritual imagery.
Is the gospel a flexible term that can be used to make political points? Is the gospel a magic formula for the accumulation of wealth? Is the gospel a series of maxims designed to help us live a good life in our own strength? What is THE gospel? Is there an exclusive meaning to that term? Did Paul mean one thing to the exclusion of all others when he used the word?
I was straining to remember something the other day. I honestly cannot ever remember preaching a series of messages from the book of Romans. Now, I have preached on passages from that book, but I don't remember doing a series. The reason I want to do this now, is that Romans is Paul's grand statement of the gospel. This is where he makes clear what he meant by the term.
It was the book of Romans that opened Martin Luther's eyes and led to great Reformation. It is safe to say that we might never have had God's word in our own language if Paul had never written Romans nor Luther ever read it.
Here is what I expect. I expect that as we get into Romans, we will have the fog lift. We will be clear about what the Lord has promised us and even clearer as to what it is we should be sharing with others.
Is Christianity just one path to the truth, on par with Islam? Are we all going to heaven if we just do good things? Are we guaranteed wealth, or are we, like the Muslims, promised virgins in paradise? As we begin to study this amazing book, it is my prayer that we will emerge from our study with great confidence, and even greater gratitude for what the Lord has done for us.
Copyright 2006 by Jim Jenkins. All rights reserved.