For the last month or so I've been reading through Romans, and when I finished it was so good I started again. This time, to help me meditate more on the truth I'm reading, I thought that it would be a good thing to blog through selected portions, since I think best when I'm writing, and I write best when I'm typing, and I'm most likely to type when I blog (welcome to my life). So this is a part of my devotions, but I hope you can benefit from my thoughts.
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 for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
This verse is an important one to church history, for it is the one that changed Martin Luther's heart and helped reveal to him the idea of "salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone." I just want to briefly go through each phrase here with some thoughts.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel: Am I ashamed of the gospel? Being ashamed is when I avoid the gospel and don't live my life with it in view, thinking "that's for unbelievers, I don't need it anymore." We need it every day and every moment, so am I embracing it?
For it is the power of God for salvation: the gospel is so amazing in that it is able to save! What other message do you know that can save? Not the message that a book or movie is trying to teach you, not the politician's message to give the poor more money or to do something in Iraq. Only the gospel can save, because contained in the gospel is the truth that Christ died to save sinners, including me. He gave his life for me as an atoning sacrifice in my place so that I could live forever with God!
To everyone who believes, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile: the gospel can save anyone! Just think about that: it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. You can be a goody two-shoes church kid, a serial murderer, or anyone in between. It doesn't matter, because Christ died for all! This means that we never have to give up hope on someone, because they could at any time have their hearts changed by the Holy Spirit, no matter how far away they may seem. On the flip side, everybody needs the gospel! It doesn't matter who you are or how good you act or how much money you give to charity, you still need the gospel for your salvation.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith": As my pastor Robin Boisvert said yesterday, "Faith and repentence are not the gospel, it is the hand we reach out to take hold of the gospel." And the most amazing thing is that, even as we're reaching out that hand, even that move is empowered by God! This is such a crucial truth that we often take for granted, but the only way we can be saved is not through anything we do, but through accepting what Christ has done for us. Through faith in what he has done for us, we can live forever with God.