In my morning reading, I came to a very familiar verse:
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." Romans 1:16.
But, because I was reading whole chapters, I did not stop with this verse and kept reading. Verse 17 says: “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.’”
The Gospel reveals righteousness. Stop here. Pause. Think. The Gospel reveals righteousness.
We could go off at this point and attempt to explain what Paul meant by the revelation of righteousness, and we would be accurate if we said that in the ultimate sense the righteousness revealed in the Gospel is found in the person of Jesus Christ. That is a valid point, but we can readily see that Paul wants to address the problem of the lack of righteousness seen in human beings.
The righteousness that comes from the Gospel is contrasted with the “wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” It is not that the truth is hidden from men -- no, since creation men have had enough information about God revealed to leave us without excuse. If we cannot see God it is because of our own sinful choices, leading to self-inflicted blindness.
The Gospel reveals a righteousness that is contrasted with the worship of created things. The Gospel reveals a righteousness that is contrasted with sexual impurity of all kinds -- including the ultimate degradation of homosexual practices.
Knowledge that leaves God out is a rejection of the righteousness that comes from the Gospel, manifesting, among other characteristics, evil, greed, depravity, murder, strife, disobedience to parents, praising those who do evil.
All of these things are contrary to the righteousness that comes from the Gospel, which brings me to my point. So many Christians today are simply unwilling to talk about sin. They are, in particular, uncomfortable with calling out sexual sin. They do not want to appear to be a “homophobe,” so they talk about choices and alternate lifestyles and tolerance.
Where should we place our emphasis in this scenario? I believe that we should not primarily be concerned about the moral fabric of our culture. Rather, we should openly and honestly preach the Gospel and the moral fabric will take care of itself.
Still, those who contend that the message of the Gospel is separate from the message of sin don’t understand the Gospel. The Gospel does not ask a sinful person to merely add Jesus to their lifestyle. The Gospel demands a radical change of heart. The Gospel exposes sin, names sin, condemns sin, and calls people to the only One who can save them from their sin.
I was a beach lifeguard for four summers (and a pool guard for one very anticlimactic summer thereafter). I made about 300 “saves,” or rescues, most of which were preventative in nature. I could see that the person was in trouble, but he or she often didn’t agree with my assessment and would bristle when I would say, “Grab on to my surfboard, I am taking you back to shore.”
About a quarter of the rescues, however, involved people who knew that they were in real trouble and would likely die if they were not rescued. It’s revealing that when a person knows he is in peril, a rescuer is always welcome.
Our unwillingness to name sin and our desire to come across to the world as tolerant is contrary to the message of the Gospel, in that it mutes the message that people are in peril and need a Savior.
And in reality, the reason we don’t want to confront sin in our culture is that we don’t want to be embarrassed or shunned or uncomfortable. In other words, we would be ashamed to be seen as taking a strong view on the sinfulness of sin.
Once again, stop, pause, and think. When we are unwilling to confront the sins of our culture, we are in fact ashamed of the Gospel. Because people are lost, and because people do need to be rescued, the Gospel is not a timid message. It is a profound message of truth. And, yes, as a lifeguard I realized that I was putting myself in peril to go make the “save.” I had to fight my way out of many dangerous head-holds when a panicked person grabbed me.
Those who present the complete message of the Gospel may be shunned or even attacked. If that dissuades you, you need to stop and ponder. Am I actually ashamed of the Gospel?
Michael P. Farris served as founding president of Patrick Henry College (2000-2006) and is now Chancellor. In addition to teaching Constitutional Law and coaching the Moot Court team, he serves as Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. Read full bio.