The excitement of the gospel: Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), a world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn’t able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase the beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner’s home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. “Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?” he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector’s emotions were deeply stirred. “I have no right to keep that to myself,” he exclaimed. “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it.”
(Our Daily Bread, February 4, 1994)
Paul says, “I am so eager to preach the gospel”… “I am not ashamed.” The world needs to hear the message of Jesus Christ, the truth. When the timing is right, when the messenger is eager, when the recipients are ready, the transformation is life changing. Is this the right time? are we excited? are people ready to hear? Take it into the world, and let people hear it
The Timing of the Gospel – v.13 God’s timing. This tells me to not worry about the past. God’s timing is always right. My mother tells the story of her father that was being called to be the pastor of the Pasadena A.C. Church many years ago. For right or wrong grampa had a personal policy that he would not accept a church unless there was unanimous agreement. The church invited him, there were no objections, he thought, and he accepted. One man, unknown to my grandfather at the time, sent a personal letter not thinking grampa was the right man. The letter caught up to grampa long time later. My grandfather told the man that if he would have received the letter in time, he would have never accepted the invitation. The man said he was proved wrong, and my grandfather was the right man. God’s timing is always right.
I tried many times to come to you, Paul says, the timing was wrong, but now it is happening, and I am on my way. And I am excited. When God’s timing is right, when there is excitement…
Let’s look at The Recipients of the Gospel – v. 14. Greeks, non-Greeks, wise and foolish. Later Paul adds Jews and gentiles. The gospel is for people like me and people unlike me. There is a broad appeal, a wide net. I’ll let you divide yourselves into who belongs on the foolish and wise category. Not for the elite. Not a select group. “Take it into the world. Let people hear it.”
When God’s timing is right, when there is excitement, cast a wide net.
The message of the Gospel. What is this good news? What is the message? READ Romans 1:16-17. (The following outline is from a message by James Lincoln, The Gospel According to Paul, 10/17/04)
1. The Gospel is amazing, not something to be ashamed (16a). "For I am not ashamed of the gospel ..." (1:16)
The gospel is incredibly exciting. Lives are changed. Encouragement. Hope. It’s easy to understand how someone might be tempted to be ashamed of the gospel. Our culture rejects anything that claims to be absolute... I read about a sophomore in high school, her teacher assigned Carl Sagan's novel Contact as required reading for first year science class. Of all his books this is the one where he mocks and vilifies Christianity the most. When she objected to his harsh and biased attacks on Christianity without the opportunity to respond to his criticisms the teacher told her to "relax it was only a novel." She answered, "That's my point. This is a first year science class not a literature class." He got more upset and made life difficult for her. He assumed that any thinking person couldn't possibly object to a man who was as brilliant as Carl Sagan.
There are legitimate things in this world we ought to be ashamed of. If our words contradict our actions. If our actions contradict our values. If we do that which we don’t even believe in. We should be ashamed if we deny knowing certain people, if we put down others, make jokes at other people’s expense. We should be ashamed if we see prominent Christians act in ways that contradict our faith. I am ashamed of certain laws of our great country and don’t understand certain societal decisions.
But there are some things we ought never to be ashamed of. Our family, level of income, if you’ve done your best but did not win, don’t be ashamed, don’t be ashamed if circumstances beyond your control derail your goals. Your background is neutral. If you’ve been a victim of abuse, that’s not good, but neither does it diminish you as a person. Why do people try to shame others for any number of things: In Paul's day opponents attempted to shame Paul for his faith. Here’s a summary in 2 Cor.11:23ff, "beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned..." During his last visit to Jerusalem over forty Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under oath saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had murdered Paul. The gospel is a wonderful message. The gospel is good news for those who accept. The Gospel is amazing, not something to be ashamed of. When the time is right, when there is an excitement, the power of the gospel will transform and change lives.
2. The Gospel is powerful to save us (1:16b). " it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Fundamentally the word saved means to be rescued. By nature we are not as autonomous and free as we might imagine. Paul describes salvation in Col. 1 as being rescued out of the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son. In Titus 3:3-7 he writes, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures... But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."
To be saved is to be liberated from the guilt and penalty of sin. It also means to be liberated out of the oppressive dominion of sin and wickedness. In Christ we have been given with everything we need for life and godliness. Through the gospel God rescues us by a power and a righteousness that comes to us from outside of ourselves. By nature we all try to manufacture our own salvation/righteousness. Every religion outside of Christianity promotes this. There are the Five Pillars of Islam, the 10 commandments of Judaism and the Eight-fold path to Enlightment in Buddhism. In every other religion you have steps. "Go do this and you will ascend to heaven."
In Christianity, God comes down from heaven and rescues us. In every other religion it's the principles and your determination that save you. Christianity says that God in Christ is the source of salvation. Jesus saves! In every other religion your actions merit your salvation. In Christianity it's the merit/actions of Christ that saves you. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Blessed are those who recognize the inability of their own spirit to save themselves.
The gospel message has the power to pierce to the core of a life, and that life is transformed through the power of the gospel. It changes the way we think about things and feel about things, the things we value, adore, prize and honor.
Paul says that this gospel is for all who believe to the Jew first and then the Gentile. The old story of the tight ropewalker over Niagara Falls is still a good one. After crossing the falls he said to the crowd, "How many of you believe that I can cross it with someone on my shoulders?" The crowd cheered and then he asked, "Who will go first?" Believing is transferring your trust, hope, confidence from yourself and onto Christ. Christ died for your sins and then was raised from the dead to rule and reign for you. Is this your hope and the confidence of your heart? If so, you have been saved by nothing less than the power of God. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.
3. The gospel unveils the righteousness of God (Rom. 1:16-17) Clarity happens in the heart of those who believe. In a fallen world where there is much pain and suffering and injustice. People don't believe God is righteous. God seems distant, arbitrary. The evidence for God's righteousness is obscured by our fallen nature.
In the gospel his righteousness is revealed. For those who believe, they see. In it God makes known how it is that God sets everything right while remaining just, righteous and trustworthy. He doesn't play tricks or cut corners. He treats everyone fairly and at the same time heals the wound of the world and provides a means of escape from the grip of sin. The Gospel reveals that God can be trusted. We see this when we place our trust in Christ. Paul says that this righteousness is "From faith to faith." We cannot earn or merited this gift. Elsewhere Paul writes, I consider all things loss and rubbish so that I may gain Christ and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law. But that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness, which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering..." Phil.3:8
In August 1513 Martin Luther was obsessed with finding a gracious God. In Ps. 31:1 David said, "In Thy righteousness deliver me!" //How could God's righteousness deliver him? God's perfect standard could only condemn him. Luther turned to Rom.1:17 and the reference to Hab. 2:4. Here's what he said, I had greatly longed to understand Paul's letter to the Romans, and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, "the righteousness of God" because I took it to mean the righteous whereby God is righteous in punishing the unrighteous.... Night and day I pondered until...I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby through grace and sheer mercy, He justifies us by faith.... Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of scriptures took on new meaning, and whereas before "the righteousness of God" had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage in Paul became to me the gateway into heaven.
Is this the right time? are you excited about the message of salvation? are people ready to hear? "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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith." The gospel is yours, take it into the world, and let people hear it.