April 11, 2021
The greatest Christian who ever lived, apart from the Lord Jesus, was in my estimation the Apostle Paul. He authored more than half of the books of the New Testament, founded churches throughout parts of Asia Minor and the Roman Empire, took the Gospel to Rome, and was personally called into service by Jesus Himself. But what made Paul such a standout?
For one, he wrote the book of Romans, considered by many the greatest book in the Bible and certainly the greatest in the New Testament. But when you go beneath the surface to examine his heart and understand his motivation, you discover Paul was totally abandoned to the Gospel.
What does it mean to be “totally abandoned to the Gospel”? We find out in what he wrote about himself in Romans 1:14-16.
I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
He makes three “I am” statements here: I am a debtor, I am ready, and I am not ashamed. Together they explain what motivated the greatest Church pioneer and spokesman who ever lived.
Not long after Jesus ascended to Heaven, Paul was converted and began teaching and traveling as a missionary. Yet by the time he was martyred, there was a Christian church, a little colony of Heaven, in every major city in the western empire. A little man who had a heart aflame for Almighty God said, “I am a debtor, I am ready, and I am not ashamed.”
Would to God that everyone—myself included—could follow the Apostle Paul in those three statements. Paul had earlier said, “Follow me just as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
When Paul met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, He asked two questions: “Who are You, Lord?” and “What would You have me to do?” When you get the answer to those two questions and follow Him, you’ll understand what life is all about.
Do you see yourself as a debtor to the Savior who hung in agony and blood on that cross and died for you? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “You are not your own… you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
This includes all those faithful ones who have gone before us. Paul had a debt to Stephen, who was martyred right before his eyes. He had a debt to those Old Testament prophets who were massacred for the Kingdom of God. Many heroes of the past have suffered, bled, and died that we might be here today. We owe them for their vision, sweat, tears, and faith. We owe them for their sacrifice.
Paul speaks of them in verse 14: those of every tongue and culture who do not yet know the Lord Jesus Christ. We have received the Gospel. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). We must tell them about Jesus. How will you feel when you stand before the casket of your neighbor, your mother, your brother, your father, knowing you never told them about Christ? Paul said, “I’ve been saved by the grace of God, and I’m a debtor. I’ve not been called just to be blessed, but to tell others.”
As a debtor, if you would be faithful, you must be ready. He was available “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul was a great witness because his life was evidence for all to see.
Do others see a quality of life in you that makes them long for what you have? Are you ready to live for Christ? Paul was ready to preach the Gospel to those in Rome, and that’s where he was beheaded for the cause of Christ.
Are you ready to die for Christ? Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31), and “nor do I count my life dear to myself” (Acts 20:24). Until you are ready to die, you are not ready to live. Paul was absolutely in love with life, yet not afraid to die. He was ready to live, ready to die, ready to go.
Are you ready to go? If Jesus Christ were to say to you, “I want you to preach the Gospel; I want you to do this or that,” would you say, “Yes, Lord”?
The great missionary David Livingstone once wrote, “Send me where You will but go with me. Lay any burden on my heart, but sustain me. Sever any tie but the one that binds my heart to Thee.”
Paul was wholly—not half-heartedly—committed. “With as much as is in me,” he said, “I’m ready.” This made him the great man he was.
The Gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter who was crucified. Can you imagine going to Rome, the Imperial city, with its might, its power, its armies, and saying, “I want to tell you about a Jewish carpenter who was crucified”? Who would put faith in a crucified Jew from a land Rome had conquered? Why should Rome listen? Christians were the lowest of the low in Rome, but Paul was bold for the Lord Jesus.
Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Ashamed to put a Bible on your desk at work? Ashamed to bow your head at lunch? Ashamed to invite people to Jesus Christ? Ashamed of Jesus?
In all the history of the world, about 60 billion people have lived. But among all of those, only a handful made a true mark on history—scientists, rulers, philosophers, military leaders. But one name stands above all others—Jesus. We should be open and bold for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who could be ashamed of Him? Let’s look at what it means to be “not ashamed of the Gospel.”
The Gospel means “salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). There’s no greater purpose than sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pundits on talk shows are trying everything they can to save civilization. The Gospel is not intended to save civilization from wreckage, but to save people from the wreckage of civilization. Jesus didn’t come as a social engineer. He told us His purpose: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Among the losses in life, it's tragic to lose your health, wealth, friends, or loved ones. But the greatest tragedy would be to lose your soul.
Paul lived out what Jesus said in Mark 8:35-36, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”
How could we be ashamed of the purpose of the Gospel when the power of the Gospel is the only thing that can save this world today? Only the Gospel can make adulterers pure, the pervert straight, the thief an honest man, the liar speak truthfully. Only the Gospel gives a steadfast and sure hope that rescues the perishing and cares for the dying. Without the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no hope.
“…for the Gospel is the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). The Greek word for power, dunamis, is where we get our English word “dynamite.” No power in the world can take sin out of your heart. Only one power can make you whiter than snow. That is incredible power. When you receive Christ, His power comes in, enabling you to persevere.
“…to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). That’s it. You say, “That’s so simple.” Yes! Gloriously simple but simply glorious. To everyone who believes.
Aren’t you glad the Gospel doesn’t say, “…everyone who reads thirty chapters in the Bible.” Some people don’t have a Bible and some can’t read. It doesn’t say, “…everyone who takes a walk around the block.” Some can’t walk.
Instead, the Bible says, “everyone who believes.” God’s simple, glorious plan is that anyone, anywhere, anytime can say, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart and save me,” and He will.
Dr. George C. Baldwin, for 41 years pastor (and 15 years Pastor Emeritus) of the First Baptist Church of Troy, New York, said the following about the Gospel before his death in 1899. It’s so wonderful I want to share it with you:
At thirty, after examining the philosophies and religions of the world, I said, “There is nothing better than the Gospel of Christ.”
At forty, when burdens pressed heavily and the years seemed to hasten, I said, “There’s nothing as good as the Gospel of Christ.”
At fifty, when there were empty chairs in the home, and the mound builders had done their service, I said, “There’s nothing to be compared with the Gospel.”
At sixty, my second sight saw through the illusions and vanities of earthly things and I said, “There’s nothing but the Gospel.”
Then at seventy, amid many limitations and privations, I sang, “Should all the forms which men devise attack my faith with treacherous art, I’d call them all vanities and lies, and bind the Gospel to my heart.” (From the hymn, “Let Everlasting Glories Crown,” by Isaac Watts.)
What motivated Paul? What compelled him? “I am a debtor. I am ready. I am not ashamed. I am faithful. I am flexible. I am fearless.”
This hell‑bound, sin‑cursed world hopes science can save us. Science says, “I can tell you how far it is from the earth to the sun, but I can’t save you.”
The world hopes culture can save us. Culture answers, “I can tell you how to dress for a party and hold your teacup just right. All I can do is to make this world a better place to go to Hell from.”
It hopes finance can save us. Finance says, “I can tell you how to gather money to leave it all behind, but I cannot save you.”
“Philosophy—can’t you save us?” Philosophy says, “I can tell you more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing, but I can’t save you.”
Friend, there is One who can save you. His name is Jesus. Give your life to declaring the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.