The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 10
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16, ESV). The Greek word for “ashamed” is ἐπαισχύνομαι / epaischynomai. The believer is presently and personally to delight in the gospel and never be ashamed of it. To be ashamed of the gospel would be to view it dubiously, doubtfully, with uncertainty as to its truthfulness or embarrassed regarding its content.
Why would anyone consider being ashamed of the gospel? Dr. Warren Wiersbe comments:
What a testimony: “I am debtor! I am eager! I am not ashamed!” Why would Paul even be tempted to be ashamed of the Gospel as he contemplated his trip to Rome? For one thing, the Gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter who was crucified. The Romans had no special appreciation for the Jews, and crucifixion was the lowest form of execution given a criminal. Why put your faith in a Jew who was crucified?
Rome was a proud city, and the Gospel came from Jerusalem, the capital city of one of the little nations that Rome had conquered. The Christians in that day were not among the elite of society; they were common people and even slaves. Rome had known many great philosophers and philosophies; why pay any attention to a fable about a Jew who arose from the dead (1 Cor. 1:18–25)? Christians looked on each other as brothers and sisters, all one in Christ, which went against the grain of Roman pride and dignity. To think of a little Jewish tentmaker, going to Rome to preach such a message, is almost humorous. But Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel. He had confidence in his message. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Romans 1:16).
As another scholar has written, “This language implies that it required some courage to bring to “the mistress of the world” what “to the Jews was a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1Corinthians 1:23). But its inherent glory, as God’s life-giving message to a dying world, so filled his soul, that, like his blessed Master, he “despised the shame” (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. Romans 1:16).
Secondly, the reason Paul gives as to why he was not ashamed of the holiness, virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ was because the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1.16, ESV).
The church must remember the gospel is the power of God. The gospel evidences and contains God’s inherent power, virtue and nature. The gospel is mighty. God’s power, virtue, excellent nature and might are thereby reflected in the very essence of not only the gospel’s message but its ability to change people’s lives. This is why the gospel must be central in preaching.