I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Part Six

Monday, October 31, 2005

4. Jesus’ Command to Us Today

In the last post I made a comparison between Paul's understanding of ashamed in Romans 1:16, and his words to Timothy on this subject in 2 Timothy 1, 3, and 4. The words Paul spoke in Romans 1:16 were about himself. The words he spoke in 2 Timothy were to Timothy, a preacher of the gospel. Is it accurate then to take the description in Romans and the exhortation to a preacher in 2 Timothy and apply it to us? I think so. But in case you don’t, let’s look at a mandate that does apply to us. It is found in Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26 where both texts record the same thing. Jesus said,
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the
glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

This bold and harrowing statement comes right after Jesus’ famous words,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses
his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (vv. 34-35).

So being ashamed of Christ and of His words, that is His gospel message, is a person who does not deny themselves. He or she is a person who does not want suffering in their lives. Rather, they are seeking their life, not Christ’s. But in the end, this person will lose their life.

The contrast is a person who is not ashamed of Jesus and His gospel. These are people who deny themselves. They take up their cross and follow Jesus. The cross was an instrument of execution and death and pain and suffering. Jesus is saying that those who would follow him must say “no” to themselves and say “yes” to a life of suffering, pain, death and perhaps execution. They are saying “no” to their own lives and saying “yes” to Jesus, His life, His reward, and His gospel. In return, they will gain Jesus Christ and then the whole world on top of that.

One early church leader said this in one of his sermons, linking Paul’s statement in Romans with Jesus’ thought in Mark and Luke.
“Paul says that even if, in the very largest of cities, the preacher of the cross of Christ will be mocked by the ignorant, he is not to be ashamed. For if the Son of God bore the shame of the cross on our behalf, how could it NOT be out of place for us to be ashamed at the Lord’s suffering for us?” (Apollinaris of Laodicea, Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scriptures, p. 29).

The final three posts will come next, all stemming from the important question: Are you not ashamed of the gospel of Christ?

Read Part Seven.

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