Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ashamed of the Gospel?

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes...

“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

~Romans 16a, 17 (NIV).

For many years I professed to be a Christian and never lived that way. Sure, I had more than a passing interest in the Bible and I prayed—at meals we even said grace. But that was about it as far as living the Christian faith was concerned.

Then a fantastic thing happened: my world as I knew it fell apart. And as a result of this I fell interminably into the arms of God—the true God, Jesus who died and became resurrected, and who ascended into heaven; he saved me—about thirteen years after I had originally been “saved.”

This ‘fantastic thing’ that happened to me, I didn’t know at the time, really. All I was doing—though I didn’t think of it at the time—was living by faith for the first time in my “saved” life. I was actually living like a saved person should. For, the righteous, as Paul says, will live by faith.

And when we know the miraculous saving power of God’s undying grace to forgive and restore, we’re anything but ashamed of the reality of our saving—of being ‘born again’ of the Spirit. We want everyone to know and to experience this wonderful power of God.

For the dynamism of God’s power is so multi-dimensional we cannot grasp it. It’s the very power each of us needs to solve the very problems each of us has—or at least to explain the problem to us in ways that makes sense. God is a healer, a provider, a guide; but that’s not all. He is so much more. He is even different in manifestation from one person to the next—this is why he’s a personal, relational God. He reveals himself to us in personal ways.

We’re defined as “righteous” by means of our living by faith. Many people confuse the term “righteous”—it is not the proud self-righteousness you could be thinking it is. Indeed, it is something totally different.

Righteousness, as far as humanity is concerned, is simply about placing our lives in God’s hands by faith—to walk humbly with him. This, when placed on a notional pride-humility continuum, is at the rank opposite end to self-righteousness, for it is surrender—but only to God’s Spirit and will and power. Faith is surrender to God in order that through him our best is finally realised.

And God is faithful to our faith, which is similar to one believer being faithful to another in their faith. Faith is the divine connection, linking the action of the gospel—in righteousness—to the ever-Present power of God. Faith from first to last holds us in our growth in God, assuring it—it exists through and through.[1]

I know what people experience when they hesitate in witnessing to their faith—I did too. But no more. I don’t care what I look like or what others might think of me when the subject of Jesus comes up—so long as God is glorified, for there are many ways that God is not glorified if we’re not prudent. All people should know that God is the power for salvation for everyone who believes.

He saves us daily—if we will only live by faith and thus be called righteous (by God’s grace, a believer).

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] John Stott, The Message of Romans – The Bible Speaks Today series (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 60.

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