By Irvin Himmel
One of the great texts of the New Testament is the following from the pen of Paul the apostle:
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).
To be ashamed of something is to have a feeling of disgrace, dishonor, or impropriety. In one of the parables of Jesus we are told of a man who lost his job because he had wasted his master’s goods. It appears that he had no training for any other line of work, and he was ashamed to beg (Lk. 16:3). Some in this modern age have no shame that restrains them from begging, especially begging help from the government! And there are people who go from city to city begging from churches (not to mention churches that constantly beg from the whole brotherhood). Work is still honorable. Able bodied persons ought to be ashamed not to work.
Note that Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” In relation to the good news or glad tidings of salvation through Christ, Paul felt no emotion of disgrace, dishonor, or impropriety. Let us now think of a few of the ways in which Paul proved that he was unashamed of the gospel.
1. Paul was not ashamed to believe the gospel. Although he fought against the Lord by persecuting His disciples in former days, Paul put his whole confidence in the Deity of Jesus. From the time that the Lord spoke to him on the road to Damascus to the day of his death, he believed with all his heart. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” was Paul’s attitude the moment he became a believer (Acts 9:6).
Despite his past deeds performed “ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Tim. 1:13), Paul fully committed his heart to child-like faith in Jesus. When surrounded by idolaters, Paul was not ashamed to believe the gospel. He labored to turn men “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9). When in the midst of worldly-wise philosophers, Paul was not ashamed to believe the gospel. In Athens among the Epicureans and Stoics he preached Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18). Among the Jews who were wed to the law of Moses and the traditions of their fathers, Paul was not ashamed to believe the gospel. He told his Jewish hearers that by Jesus “all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
2. Paul was not ashamed to obey the gospel. The Lord Jesus sent Ananias to him at Damascus to make known what he needed to do. Finding him a praying and repentant believer, Ananias said, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). He “arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).
Later he wrote, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3,4). Paul knew that one must obey from the heart to be made free from sin (Rom. 6:17,18).
3. Paul was not ashamed to proclaim the gospel. What he believed was no carefully concealed secret. Shortly after his baptism, much to the astonishment of the Jews in Damascus, “he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). He went from country to country, town to town, among Jews and Gentiles alike, among the learned and unlearned, over land and over sea, in fair weather and in foul weather, preaching the gospel.
Paul’s attitude toward the proclaiming of the gospel was one of readiness. To the saints at Rome he wrote, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Rom. 1:14,15).
4. Paul was not ashamed to suffer for the gospel. He viewed the gospel as the means by which life and im= mortality are brought to light. He was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:10-12).
Unashamed to suffer for the gospel, he did not want others to be ashamed of his tribulations. “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:8). Peter urged Christians not to be ashamed to suffer for the cause of right. He wrote, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:16).
Today, many people act as if ashamed to believe and obey the gospel. Jesus said, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed. . .”(Lk. 9:26).
Truth Magazine XXII: 48, p. 779
December 7, 1978