Sermon: I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel Romans 1:14-17

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Romans 1:14-17

Truth Taught- Paul is obligated, eager and not ashamed to preach the Gospel because it is God’s power to salvation for all who believe.


Our text today shows us Paul’s responsibility and passion to preach and teach the Gospel of God to those in Rome.

Romans 1:1 (ESV)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

We’ll see that because of his calling he is bound by Christ, a slave of Christ and because of this, the Gospel will be preached. He also, has a passion for his calling. It’s not simply a duty that he executes begrudgingly but a calling that God has gifted him for and given him a passion for it.

I want to say that the best way to discover your calling is to ask yourself two questions…What am I passionate about? How has God gifted me?

Both must be present. The best way to tell your gifts is to be at work in the local church exercising those gifts. Those around you especially the leadership, over time, can help you either discover or confirm your gifts.

Human Need

Paul tells us that he is obligated, eager, and not ashamed of the Gospel. These are the exact traits I pray we have concerning the Gospel. This text shows us that we too are called to be those who give the Gospel away to others using our specific gifts.


Romans 1:14–17 (ESV)

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

  1. I Am Under Obligation to Preach the Gospel

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

The Apostle makes the claim here that Jesus Christ has given him the responsibility and calling to be a preacher of God’s Gospel. If you remember the Gospel he preaches is not man’s gospel but God’s. Man did not give it to him, nor did he learn it from anyone. The Good News Paul preaches is the Gospel he received directly from our Lord and with it came the responsibility to preach it.

Romans 1:1 (ESV)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

1 Corinthians 9:16 (ESV)

16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

He anticipates with great passion and excitement that when he comes to be with them there will be a great Gospel Harvest among them. Here he shows the extent of the Good News. Here he shows that the Gospel is color blind, culture blind, has no special ethnic groups, and does not choose the rich over the poor.

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians

To understand this verse is to first realize that all in Rome whether Jewish or Gentile, if they were educated spoke Greek. Those who did not have a formal education were considered among the barbarians. His point is that the Gospel is for people of all walks of life not just the rich, not just the educated, not just Jews and not just Gentiles but for everyone.

His obligation is to preach the Good News to all people. I pray today we praise God that the Good News has been extended to also encompass believing Gentiles. God in His wonderful goodness and grace has opened up the floodgates of grace to extend His mercy even to Gentile sinners like us!

Why is Paul under obligation? Many writers use the example of the banking system to express the idea of being under obligation but that doesn’t capture the complete picture. A better example is found in one who a King would call and delegate to go out to the battlefield after a war had ended to tell all his comrades that the war was over. There is urgency to his mission. Every moment the army is fighting the enemy people are being killed. The Good News is that the war is over, stop fighting!

We see this obligation and urgency in Paul’s message…we can have peace with God through Jesus Christ, we are no longer His enemies. Come to Christ and be spared sure and eternal death!

  1. I Am Eager to Preach the Gospel

15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

The reason why Paul is so eager to preach the Gospel to those in Rome is that Jesus Christ by means of Paul’s calling had given him the Gospel to share with others. Until that happens, Paul’s calling is, in some way, not fulfilled yet. His supreme desire is to glorify his Savior and take the Good News to all who are still without it. There were still some in Rome who had not received what Christ had given Paul to give to them.

It is this sense of obligation as the ESV puts it or the sense of debt as the KJV has it that drives Paul to share the Gospel with them. He is eager to preach or to dispatch this amazing message of peace to all who will hear.

This eagerness to preach is still there in Paul even when preaching would bring with it suffering and pain. He understood the cost in going to various places giving them the Gospel. It would eventually cost him his life.

Acts 20:22–24 (ESV)

22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Philippians 1:21–24 (ESV)

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

What is so convicting here is that for Paul, life had one meaning or one goal, which was to obey Jesus Christ by fulfilling his calling. He was driven and obedient.

How driven are we to fulfill our calling? What barriers keep us from fulfilling what God has called us to do? Why? What is more important to you than God’s glory?

I think these are good questions to ask yourself because they will show you areas in your life where you’re not completely sold out to Christ. These types of questions may also expose idols as well.

  1. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

16 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Here in these two verses we have the theme of the entire Book of Romans. Many scholars believe these verses to be the two greatest verses in the entire Bible.

Paul begins this section by declaring that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Lloyd-Jones brings into consideration the fact that here Paul expresses this sentiment in a negative sense. In other words, why did Paul not say it this way…I am proud of the Gospel or I am confident in this Gospel?

Here, he states it in the negative, probably because everyone else is ashamed of the Gospel! The world is ashamed of the Gospel. Why are they ashamed? We are told in another letter of Paul.

1 Corinthians 1:18–31 (ESV)

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

       “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The Gospel is foolish to the lost world. For that reason the world is ashamed of the Gospel, the Cross, and ashamed of Jesus Christ. In the passage I just read, the reason is that the world gets no credit for salvation; the world has no one patting them on the back saying great job. Gentiles who value wisdom cannot boast that salvation only comes to the wise or that they have attained it through wisdom. They are ashamed of the Gospel.

Jews who claim special status and seek for a sign can’t make any claim to Christ based on the fact that they’re Jewish, they too stand ashamed. They are ashamed because their boasting is removed. When salvation is offered to people by grace through faith everyone stands on the same level when it comes to salvation, none can boast. The harsh reality is that all people are ashamed of the Gospel and ashamed of Jesus…18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.

We were all in the perishing category until God worked.

That’s why the lost world hates God’s Gospel so much because there is no ground for boasting and because God is infinitely in control not them. Let’s face it, we do not like the fact that God is sovereign and we are not. Lost people loathe that truth. However, Paul tells us, those who are being saved, love it.

We come to Christ on His terms or not at all.

The cross is offensive to the self-righteous. It is unpopular to a world that is addicted to climbing the ladder of success. It is a scourge to the intellectual. The biggest danger the Church has is not persecution but it’s in seeking approval from the world; it’s trying to not be too offensive and conform to it’s standards.

Geoffrey Wilson wrote, “The unpopularity of a crucified Christ has prompted many to present a message which is more palatable to the unbeliever, but the removal of the offense of the cross always renders the message ineffective. An inoffensive gospel is also an inoperative gospel. Thus Christianity is wounded most in the house of its friends” (Romans: A Digest of Reformed Comment [Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1976], p. 24).[1]

That’s why Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel, because the vast majority of people are ashamed.

I pray we are not ashamed of the Gospel of God. I pray we are not tempted to water it down to seek the least common denominator. I pray we are eager to speak about the pure, hard to swallow sometimes, offensive, Gospel that tees off the world but is glory for those who are being saved.

  1. It Reveals the Power of God

for it is the power of God for salvation

It is God’s dynamite (dunamis). It is God’s omnipotent power to break through stony hearts and bring sinners back from the dead.

Here’s the offense of the Gospel: man cannot change himself. The lost sinner will forever remain lost unless God does something.

Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV)

23    Can the Ethiopian change his skin

or the leopard his spots?

       Then also you can do good

who are accustomed to do evil.

It is not within man’s ability to change himself. God must ignite the dynamite…the power of God. Here’s the very strange part about it: God doesn’t do some earth shattering miracle for everyone to see but simply works quietly within the sinner’s heart then someone comes with the message of a crucified Messiah and faith springs forth.

Later in Romans, Paul declares man’s impotence and God’s power, saying, “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6), and, “What the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin” (8:3). Affirming the same basic truth in different words, Peter wrote believers in Asia Minor: “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).[2]

The greatest manifestation of God’s power is seen when He changes, as it were, the leopard’s spots or more vividly the sinner’s heart.

We embrace the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and God’s power in salvation simply because mankind cannot save themselves. If one person is to become a Christian it was because God worked and brought it about.

everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek

This is a Good News that spans all people groups and includes all who believe or all who exercise faith. The Greek word is (Pistuo) and used in this way means the act of continued belief. The believer has faith now and will continue into the future. Where does this faith come from? Does mankind believe first then God rewards his belief with salvation or does God first work causing the sinner to believe? The reality in God’s Gospel Paul is preaching is that it is ALL a work of God. This is why He receives all the glory and this is why when we believe, we praise Him for salvation. The entire package comes from God including the saving faith required for salvation.

Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Salvation is not merely professing to be a Christian, nor is it baptism, moral reform, going to church, receiving sacraments, or living a life of self-discipline and sacrifice. Salvation is believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation comes through giving up on one’s own goodness, works, knowledge, and wisdom and trusting in the finished, perfect work of Christ.[3]

This is why Paul is going to continue to remind us through this letter that faith is coming to God through Jesus Christ empty handed. I don’t care what people claim to be. Many today claim to be Christians but I fear they’ve not come to God empty-handed willing to submit to Him and ready to grab a hold of Christ. Rather they come with the idea that they have somehow aided or helped God save them. This, I’m afraid, is not salvation, not the Gospel of God but the gospel of man.

I pray we see the true Gospel as it’s presented to us in the Bible trusting in the Gospel, which is God’s power (dynamite) to save the sinner.

  1. It Reveals the Righteousness of God

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

During his early years, whenever Luther read what would become the famous “Reformation text”—Romans 1:17—his eyes were drawn not to the word faith, but to the word righteous. Who, after all, could “live by faith” but those who were already righteous? The text was clear on the matter: “the righteous shall live by faith.”
Luther remarked, “I hated that word, ‘the righteousness of God,’ by which I had been taught according to the custom and use of all teachers … [that] God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.” The young Luther could not live by faith because he was not righteous—and he knew it.
Meanwhile, he was ordered to take his doctorate in the Bible and become a professor at Wittenberg University. During lectures on the Psalms (in 1513 and 1514) and a study of the Book of Romans, he began to see a way through his dilemma. “At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I … began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.”[4]
It is through the Gospel that God reveals true righteousness. This is the righteousness God requires for salvation and yet, like everything else in salvation it doesn’t originate within man but comes from God.
Before salvation all people have some sort of way to justify themselves. We create some standard by which we think qualifies us to be acceptable to God. Whether it’s a works righteousness such as the Jews had adhering to some moral code or law. Some people think their good deeds will outweigh their evil deeds. Others simply think that there is something special about them that others perhaps don’t have and so God will accept them. Yet others have some deal they thing they’ve worked out with God and because of that deal they’re ok. Ive heard it all, I think.

Philippians 3:8–9 (ESV)

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

This righteousness that comes to us through faith is first God declaring us righteous based on faith then as the verse continues is a righteousness that begins to show itself through our lives, this too is a result of our ongoing continued faith.
[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 51). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 52). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 55). Chicago: Moody Press.


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