So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 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. (Romans 1:15–16)
It is no secret that today’s Western world is becoming increasingly and shamelessly hostile to biblical Christianity. One result of this is that unbelievers brazenly flaunt truly shameful agendas while telling Christians that we should be ashamed to share the gospel of Christ publicly.
Think about that for a moment. Some of the largely-promoted agendas include pushing sexual awareness onto children and hiding gender transitions in public schools and attempts to legalize infanticide. (See page 12.) But Christians should not be ashamed to say that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, as 1 Corinthians 15 declares.
A message that condemns sin has never been welcomed by the world, especially not a message that insists sin makes one guilty before God and requires the blood of Jesus as the only possible and absolutely necessary atonement. But that is the message we preach, and it is the message that brings joy, deliverance, and eternal life to all who believe it and receive Christ as their Savior.
Because of outward pressure, however, many Christians are tempted to just privately practice their faith. Perhaps they will share it if someone specifically approaches them and asks, “What must I do to be saved?” But if they are in a position to discuss moral issues of our day—same-sex marriage, transgenderism, abortion—they feel uncomfortable, perhaps even apologetic, about the clear Bible positions. And generally speaking, they feel uncomfortable for people to know that they are a born-again Christian who loves the Lord and believes the Bible.
Some of this embarrassed attitude is, no doubt, due to the rude nature of our culture. Civil discourse is on the decline while cancel culture and public shaming is on the rise. But could it be that some of this attitude is also due to a lack of confidence in the supremacy of the gospel?
Think about it: the apostle Paul faced some of the most sophisticated, haughty cultures of his day and boldly proclaimed the gospel. Bible commentator John Philips wrote of Paul’s declaration in Romans 1, “Paul’s absolute confidence in the gospel was based on its supremacy. He knew it to be far superior to any religion or philosophy ever known on earth. In the face of Greek logic and Roman law he could say … ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.’”
Christians today need a renewed confidence in Christ and in the absolute goodness of the gospel. They need to know that, as offensive as the gospel message may be, it is an errand of mercy and an expression of God’s love to boldly share it with a world lost in its sin.
Paul presented the truth in a loving, but direct and unvarnished way. Even his enemies had to admit the impact Paul had on the world. “And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6).
If we are to shine brightly as lights in a darkened world, we must not hide the flame. No matter what the world says or thinks of Jesus Christ, we must not be ashamed. No matter what either our friends or foes may say, we must remain true to the gospel message. No matter how we are tempted to sit silently in the shadows, we must walk openly in the world as children of God, bearing His name not as a mark of shame but as a mark of grace and glory.
Our world needs Christians who are not ashamed of the gospel—its message, its meaning, or its mission.
Not Ashamed of the Meaning of the Gospel
The message that man is a sinner in need of salvation which he cannot provide for himself has never been popular. It was not popular among the Pharisees who opposed Jesus. It was not popular in the cities of the Roman Empire where Paul preached.
But the fact that the world at large does not want to hear the message does not mean that it needs to be changed. Indeed, it cannot be changed, because the gospel message is the same from the beginning to the end of time. The apostle John spoke of “the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).
All around us we see clear evidence of the depravity of man as well as man’s efforts to determine the cost and payment for his own sin. Ever since Cain presented an offering of what he had grown rather than a blood sacrifice as his brother Abel did, people have been trying to excuse, ignore, overlook, or deny this simple fact: by nature we are enemies of God and even the best we can do on our own cannot atone for our sin. Romans 6:23 tells us plainly, “For the wages of sin is death….” To try to pay for sin with good works is impossible.
The gospel, however, not only tells us that man is in need of salvation; it also tells us that God has provided a Savior. The Lamb of God was the sacrifice to atone for the sins of all who believe. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ may be the “old, old story” but it is still true, and it is still the best news mankind has ever received. William Tyndale wrote, “Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word, and signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings, that makes a man’s heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.”
The need of our day is not a new, less-offensive version of the gospel message, but a generation of people who will not be ashamed to tell the truth to a world filled with lies. We have nothing of which to be ashamed in presenting the precious good news that Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation.
Not Ashamed of the Message of the Gospel
Only the gospel has the power to save men from sin. As the apostle Peter declared, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There are not many roads to Heaven. All religions are not the same. Jesus is the only Savior, and it is through faith in Him alone, accepting His sacrifice on our behalf that we are delivered from the rightful wages of sin—eternal death in a lake of fire.
As difficult as it is for people to accept their guilt before God, the gospel provides a glorious answer of grace to the sinner. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Furthermore, the gospel tells us that Christ’s substitutionary death not only pays for our sin, but it is God’s offer of the free gift of eternal life. Yes, the “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Can we be ashamed of this message? It is a message of truth that the world needs. And it is a message of boundless love and unending grace.
As believers, it is important to remember that the work of the gospel doesn’t end with rescuing our souls from Hell. Rather, God’s work of grace in our hearts began at the moment of salvation in a process of transformation to the likeness of Christ. Our “becoming-like-Christ” lives should be an ongoing testimony to the message and power of the gospel.
In other words, God’s grace should motivate us to live in a way that is unashamed of who we are in Christ and unashamed to share the good news with others. “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south” (Psalm 107:1–3).
Perhaps you have heard the question: “If you were arrested and charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Are you living in a way that reveals you are not ashamed of Jesus and His gospel? Are you living in a way that those around you have no doubt you are a Christian? Is it time for you to make it evident to everyone that you are a disciple of Jesus?
Matthew Henry wrote, “There are two things we should be aware of: that we never be ashamed of the gospel, and that we may never be a shame to it.” Our lives should be a continuing testimony to the power of the gospel.
Not Ashamed of the Mission of the Gospel
We are not saved for our own sake alone. God could take us directly to Heaven the moment we trust Him for salvation, but instead He calls us to remain in this world and accept the responsibility for reaching others with the gospel. Paul wrote, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17–18).
We have a job to do as ambassadors for Jesus Christ. It is the most important job in the world. God has called us to be His voice to the world. This mission is not reserved for a few people who have a special gift, or for those who work full time in Christian ministry. It is a calling and assignment for every believer, and we should never be ashamed to fulfill that mission.
After the Civil War ended, Major Daniel Whittle went to Chicago where he worked for the Elgin Clock Company. A friend of D. L. Moody, Whittle began preaching occasionally while still working at the clock company.
As Whittle told the story, a woman came into his office one day and said, “Major Whittle, my husband was greatly impressed with the services last night, and he promised me that he would come down and see you this morning. Did he come?” “Yes,” said the major. “Well, what did he say?” Whittle replied, “Why, he just asked the price of brass, and talked around a little.” “Oh!” said the wife, “that was just an excuse for his coming; but what did you say to him?” “I am sorry to say,” said the major, “that all I talked about was just brass, too.” Whittle ended the story by saying, “That was a lesson to me which I can never forget.” Whittle was convicted of his need to speak to others about the gospel and he was transformed into an ardent soulwinner. He soon became a full-time evangelist.
Every day we encounter people who don’t know Christ. We can’t know their thoughts or how God has been preparing their hearts to hear the gospel. But we can be faithful to speak to them about a Savior who loved them, died and rose again for their sins, and offers them forgiveness and eternal life. And we can trust the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.
The mission of the gospel is given to the local church (Matthew 28:19–20), which is comprised of individual Christians. Thus, each of us are responsible to share the gospel with the lost.
Thankfully, however, we do not carry this work out alone. Most importantly, we have the Holy Spirit empowering us as Christ’s witness. Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus promised His disciples, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” (Acts 1:8).
Additionally, we have the joy of laboring together within a church family. God uses each of us differently, and He blesses the work of all of us collectively. The apostle Paul wrote, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
One day, we will see Jesus face to face. On that day, we want to be able to say that we have served Him faithfully and publicly—that we were not ashamed of Him or of His message. “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).
Our world is more than willing to act with extreme abandon for causes in which they believe. Just in the past two years, even as many told Christians to not assemble because of Covid-19, tens of thousands of people have publicly gathered for causes ranging from outright riots to political marches in support of abortion to sports gatherings.
But still, Christians seem tentative to share their faith. It is time that American Christians whole-heartedly embrace Christ and His instruction to share the gospel with unashamed abandon.
There were some people in the Lord’s time who believed that He was the Messiah, but were afraid to make their faith public. Yet there came a time when they had to decide whether it was more important to be safe, or to be obedient. For one man that moment came at the crucifixion, after Jesus had died on the cross. “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus” (John 19:38).
Perhaps you identify with Joseph of Arimathaea. You are a secret disciple. You are afraid of being canceled if others were to find out that you believe the Bible is true and that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Let today be the day you decide that it is more important to be obedient than it is to be safe.
Do you know Christ? Did He save you from the penalty of your sin? Is He transforming your life day by day? Do you believe the gospel is the message the world needs? Do you believe it is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16)?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then you have no reason to be ashamed. Let nothing keep you from publicly identifying with Jesus Christ. Let no criticism, opposition, or persecution keep you from sharing the gospel with others. Live in such a way that your life is a positive reflection of the Lord. And witness for Christ in such a way that it is clear you are one of the unashamed.