For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mohler on Marriage: Follow up to yesterday's post

On the heels of my comments yesterday on morality and legislation, especially as it relates to recent issues, I thought you might be interested in this.  Al Mohler addresses the issue of gay marriage and the cases now before the Supreme Court.  It's worth your time to read as Dr. Mohler reminds us of the facts of the issue as well as the real heart of it.  

Marriage in the Dock -
The Supreme Court Considers 
Same-Sex Marriage

Monday, March 25, 2013

The "Can't Legislate Morality" Lie

Arkansas recently passed some of the most life-affirming legislation in the country by banning abortions anytime after the baby's heartbeat can be heard, and/or after 12 weeks.  Good for Arkansas.

Of course, the pro-death crowd couldn't wait to rally and protest.  And in the midst of the chaos, the old mantra was heard again:  "You can't legislate morality."  People somehow think this is a trump card in any debate, but they are obviously not intelligent enough to understand either legislation or morality.  Because the truth is, our legislation process in general comes from a moral basis.  For example, it's immoral to kill, and so it's outlawed, etc.  

What's really ironic/idiotic is that this rally comes on the front end of the week in which the Supreme Court will take up the discussion of Gay Marriage.  Interestingly, these pro-death folks who yell about legislating morality are often the same ones crying out for the Supreme Court to do just that, and tell us what is moral or not in terms of marriage; forcing an acceptance of homosexuality on us whether we want it or not.  So which is it?  Do you want to legislate morality or not?

I think in the background what they mean is, you can't make laws that force me to accept certain moral values.  But again, the paradox here.  They don't want laws that "force" them not to kill innocent children, which they see as morally acceptable; but they don't mind "forcing" the rest of us to accept aberrant homosexual behavior as normal by "forcing" us to recognize gay unions as marriage. 

So, what it boils down to is this.  People want to say "you can't legislate morality" only in terms of those things which disagree with my own wants and desires.  We want the government involved in things when it's to our advantage, but not our disadvantage.  And I know what you're thinking:  "Don't you do the same thing, affirming the Arkansas decision while hoping the Supreme Court comes down on your side as well?"  Well, not exactly. 

You see, I'm not the one saying you can't legislate morality.  I think society can and should legislate morality.  Morality, by definition, is simply "Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."  In essence, that's what all of our laws are; defining right and wrong, good and bad behavior.  Running stop sign: bad; not allowed by law.  Stealing from store: bad; not allowed by law.  Killing innocent children: bad; should not be allowed by law.  Violating laws of God, biology and nature in gay marriage: bad; should not be allowed by law.  

Now, I realize that not everyone is going to agree on right/wrong, good/bad.  That's why we have elections, and legislative processes, etc.  Of course, in the case of the Supreme Court's discussions this week the case could be made that the judicial branch has no business overturning laws created by the people and the legislature, but that's a whole other blog post.

The point here is simply this:  "You can't legislate morality" is a foolish lie.  It's not the trump card argument pro-death folks think it is in their rallies.  Governments have always legislated right and wrong behavior, and will/should continue to do so.  Our hope is simply that as a society we retain enough common sense and high standards that the right and wrong we legislate doesn't end up dragging society as a whole into the gutter. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Christ in the Passover - A Worship Experience

Last night we had a representative from Jews for Jesus come to our church and present "Christ in the Passover."  If you've never experienced this, or a presentation like this, I strongly urge you to have your church set one up as soon as possible. 

Several years ago we had a Jews for Jesus missionary come and do a presentation on the Feast of Tabernacles.  It was an amazing lesson in history, culture and faith.  We've also used the video version of Christ in the Passover for Maundy Thursday services in the past.  But having the presentation live is a huge blessing. 

Micha Cohen and his wife Leah, along with their two young daughters came and spent the evening with us.  After a fine meal together, we went back to the church for the presentation.  We had a wonderful crowd, pretty unusual for a Wednesday night.  And I'm sure everyone who came went away with a new appreciation for Passover and for God's grand design in Christ. 

Micha walked us through a traditional Passover Seder, describing all the elements and their meanings.  And at various points, he showed us how Christ can be seen in those elements, and how even some things that are done are a mystery unless you see Christ in them. 

As Christians, we know (or should know) the meaning of Passover and how it is fulfilled in Christ.  But as American Christians, non-Jewish Christians, the depth of that meaning can be lost on us.  This presentation is so beautiful and awe inspiring that, again, if you haven't hosted one I would strongly urge you to check into the possibility. 

I know this is nothing but a brief commercial for Jews for Jesus, but that's ok, too.  I appreciate their passion for making Messiah known to the Jewish people, as well as their goal to help Christians understand better our Jewish "heritage."  Check out their website. Consider hosting a presentation.  It will be worth it to you and your congregation. 

Here is a brief video testimony from Bro. Cohen, who is one of my new favorite people on the planet!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Patrick, the Trinity, and Mystery

OK, so I'm a day late with any reference to St. Patrick and all.  But remember, I'm Protestant, living this side of the Reformation and all, so references to "Saints" aren't on the tip of my tongue all the time. 

Anyway, I've posted before about our Irish heritage and some of my favorite Patrick Day sites and all.  But one of the things Patrick is maybe most well known for is the whole Shamrock/Trinity Analogy thing.  In fact, the sweet lady who helps with our children's messages at church even used that yesterday morning.  And while I appreciate the history of Patrick (the real guy and the work he did), and I appreciate the struggle to put the concept of Trinity into words, I sometimes cringe with this.  Mainly because any analogy we use will eventually break down, and when we think about it to its logical conclusion, will eventually lead us to heresy.

Still confused.  Well, watch this and you'll see what I mean:
(Thanks to the Ink Slinger blog for pointing this wonderful video out for me)

Again, this isn't meant to disparage Patrick or his work for the kingdom.  It's not intended to bash those who try valiantly to explain the deep truths of God in simple terms.  It's simply a reminder that when it comes to God, there are just some things that we'll never fully grasp; some things that are truly beyond human comprehension.  To deny that is arrogance.  To think we can fully explain God makes God our equal or lesser, not the Supreme Being He is.  

God is infinitely above us, as Creator above His creation.  He has revealed Himself  in so many ways, most clearly in the person of Jesus Christ (another "impossible" concept: fully God, fully man; still part of Trinity, etc.)  And yet our minds still cannot fully grasp all that He is.  That's why were left with all the "it's like this" or "it resembles that" analogies when trying to explain certain doctrines.

In the end, we need to be ok with the mystery.  Again, to think we'll get beyond that is arrogance. Charles Spurgeon once wrote of "the impertinence of attempting to pry into the essence of the Godhead, the vanity of all endeavours to understand the mystery of the Trinity in Unity, the arrogance of arraigning the Most High before the bar of human reason, the folly of dictating to the Eternal One the manner in which he should proceed." (Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 97:2)

So while the Shamrock/Trinity analogy will continue to be used, and there may be some help for some in it, let's be very careful to remember that when it comes to "defining" God, we allow ourselves to be comfortable with a little mystery. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A New Adventure...Playn' the Blues

I believe I've shared here before that I was a music major in college...for one semester.  I had pretty good success in high school with saxophone playing and all.  And since I picked up a couple other instruments and did all right, I thought I could do anything.  Well, my voice teacher and my piano teacher disagreed.  It was suggested I might be happier in another field of study. 

Anyway, music has always been a passion.  All kinds.  If you've read here in the past you know that I like everything from blues to hip-hop to good old rock n roll, and everything in between (mostly Christian, of course).  In fact, my last post had something about diverse musical tastes, didn't it?

But one thing I've always wanted to do was play guitar.  I've tried a couple times.  Got to where I could play three or four chords to sing Amazing Grace, and that was about it.  My youngest daughter has been playing for a couple years now, and she's doing great.  Makes me want to try again.  

I've also grown fond of the more bluesy genres in recent years.  I especially enjoy Glenn Kaiser from Resurrection Band (another oldie, kids, look it up).  In recent years he's done a number of blues oriented projects, both as a solo act and with the Glenn Kaiser Band.  Good stuff. 

So when I saw that Mr. Kaiser was introducing a line of simple cigar box guitars, I thought I finally found my answer.  So I went online with some gift money and ordered me a Glenn Kaiser Signature Cigar Box Guitar.  It's Kaiser's own design and comes with a signed slide and a homemade carrying bag.

And now the adventure begins.  Of course, I had this image in my mind that I would sit down and just start playing, right?  How hard can it be with just three strings and a slide.  Well, harder than I thought.  I tuned it wrong to begin with, but now that I've got that figured out, it's still not the magic trick I was hoping for.  But I'm going to keep at it.  All things come with practice, and so I'm going to keep going until I can play at least a few recognizable tunes.

My first goal is a simple one, at least in theory.  One of the first little riffs on this Cigar Box Guitar for Dummies video I'm watching is a simple three chord progression that is common to many songs.  Most rock n rollers think of the old Bad to the Bone thing.  But I'm hoping to change it a bit and end up withe the old Allies song: Christian Man.  This is my goal.  Check back with me in a few months and we'll see how it's going!

Here's the song I'm working on.  With just one guitar.  And no drums.  And not all the fancy other stuff.  Just the chords.  Anyway...

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Concert Killers: A Love Story

My wife, Cheryl, told me I should post a blog about this because “someone needs to know our story.”  So here goes.

Flashback to 1987.  My then fiancĂ©e is looking to get me a birthday present.  We’ve never completely agreed on musical taste, but because she loves me she wants to do something wonderful for me.  So she gets me tickets to see Chuck Mangione.  (for those who don’t know, he’s an old flugelhorn playing jazz guy. Google his name if you have to, kids). She’s not even that big of a jazz fan, but she knows I like the guy. 

Having no car in college, she arranges to have a friend take her down to get the tickets (this predates internet and online tickets for you younger folks).  She also arranges to borrow a car the night of the concert.  She goes to great lengths to work things out for this birthday surprise.  But then…the concert gets cancelled.  I’ve never seen a more disappointed young lady.  Not because she was excited about the thing, but because she was trying to do something for me.

Now flash forward 26 years almost to the day.  In the last several years we’ve split concert duty.  Cheryl has taken the girls to a few of the more “mellow” concerts (i.e. Andrew Peterson, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.).  Meanwhile, I’ve taken the kids to the louder, rock n roll shows (Skillet, TFK, Newsboys, Flame, etc.).  We’ve both been quite happy.

But then I heard that a few of the “old guys” were on tour together.  Wayne Watson, Russ Taff and some others were coming to town (for those who don’t know, they were pretty popular back in that 1987 time frame!).  Honestly, I do like these guys ok, but they are much more up Cheryl’s musical alley, so I go out to get her some tickets as an early birthday present.

It’s a bit of a challenge.  The bookstore where I went to get the tickets didn’t even know they were selling them, but eventually found them. I should have seen what was coming when I later looked at the tickets and say that they were marked #1 and #2.  But I’m getting ahead…

We arranged for our oldest son to take the kids home after choir/band rehearsals last Friday and we stayed in town for the concert.  Just the two of us.  A nice date night out.

We pull into the concert venue and are greeted by an empty parking lot and a dark building.  I have Cheryl check the tickets to make sure we have the date right.  Yep.  Right place.  Right day. Right time.  But no one’s here.

So I call the bookstore; you know the one that didn’t know they had tickets.  I ask them if they know about the concert.  They say, “what concert?”  Finally after a few minutes of checking on the computer they tell me, “Oh, that thing was cancelled over a week ago.  No one bought tickets.”  I resisted the urge to verbally slap the person for essentially calling me “no one”, and hung up.  Now it’s my turn to be disappointed, not because I was all that excited about it, but because I was trying to do something nice for my wife.

Side note:  she was already having a bad night because earlier we went to stock up on her favorite anti-bacterial soap and lotion at a shop in the mall (the only reason I ever go to the mall, by the way).  Only when we got there we found out that they were discontinuing the line and had no lotions at all, and only a few soaps available for the next week. 

Now, you have to understand that she loves these so much that this is what we get her nearly every birthday and Christmas, and have for the last several years.  Last Christmas, however, she said she still had some and we didn’t need to get her more.  If only….

Back to the story.  I told Cheryl about the concert being cancelled and she sort of laughs and says “I guess this is payback.”  I thought, “what do you mean?”  She said, “You know, for that Chuck Mangione concert.”  So we had a great laugh and went to a bookstore for the evening and had fun just doing silly, flirty stuff that would embarrass the kids. 

Now, I’m not sure there is a moral to the story.  Maybe it’s that if a relatively obscure concert comes to your area, don’t let Scott and Cheryl get tickets because we’re concert killers.  Or maybe it’s that we both have odd taste in music that not enough people share to sell tickets to in the first place.

Or maybe it’s just that when you really love someone, trying to do something nice for them is great, but spending the evening together is really what it’s all about.  We didn’t get to see the concert, but we did have a nice evening together.  And after 24 years of marriage I’m so glad that we can enjoy each other’s company that much.

So, hon, I’m sorry the concert got cancelled.  But we had a great night out.  And I really like the new “rule” we came up with!  (Sorry, kids, I couldn’t resist)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spurgeon on the Beauty of Grace Alone

By the title of this little blog, you should be aware that I'm pretty keen on the idea of all things being by grace alone. Every now and then I think we all need to be reminded that everything we have, we have by grace.  So many want to argue that they somehow had a hand in their own salvation, and continue to have a hand in everything, but that does nothing but glorify man when all glory should be reserved for God alone.  God’s grace is for His glory alone, and we need the humility of being reminded of that.  Here is part of a message from Charles Spurgeon based on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:10, which “bookend” this quote: 

“By the grace of God I am what I am.” And that statement may be read, first, as meaning this, that Paul ascribed his own salvation to the free favor of God. He believed himself to be a regenerate man, a forgiven man, a saved man, and he believed that condition of his was the result of the unmerited favor of God. He did not imagine that he was saved because he deserved salvation, or that he had been forgiven because his repentance had made an atonement for his sin. He did not reckon that his prayers had merited salvation, or that his abundant labors and many sufferings had earned that boon for him at God’s hands. No, he does not for a moment speak of merit, it is a word which Paul’s mouth could not pronounce in such a connection as that; but his declaration is, “It is by God’s free favor that I, Saul of Tarsus, have been converted, and made into Paul the apostle, the servant of Jesus Christ. I attribute this great change entirely to the good-will, the sovereign benignity, the undeserved favor of the ever-blessed God.”

Now, my dear hearers, let me put this truth very plainly, so that you may not mistake it. If you are saved, you do not owe your salvation to anything that you have done; nor, if you ever are to be saved, will it be the result of any goodness of your own. You may spin, but if you are ever saved, the first thing God will do will be to unravel that which you have spun. You may clothe yourself in the gaudy garments of a self-made righteousness, but God’s first act of grace will be to strip you of them, and to make you feel that all such garments are nothing but filthy rags, fit only for the fire. You must deny your own merits, or you cannot have the merits of Christ. Your church-goings, your chapel-going, your baptism, your so-called sacraments, your confirmation, your private prayers, your family prayers, your Bible readings, your good thoughts, your alms deeds, all these put together have no merit in them that could help you to go an inch towards salvation. Salvation is not of works, but of grace alone; and they who do not obtain salvation in this way will as surely perish as the blasphemer and the drunkard. There is but one way of salvation, the way of free favor. That was the way in which Paul went, and that is the way in which we must go if we would enter into eternal life.

The word grace, in Scripture, also means something else besides free favor; it very of then means operative power. When the Spirit of God works savingly upon the heart, the influence which he exorts is called his grace; so the apostle means here, “By the grace of God I am what I am;” that is, “Whatever I am that is right, God made me that. If I am regenerate, I must have been born again from above by the power of God. If I have repented, my repentance was the gift of God. If I have believed, my faith was the work of God. If I have perseverance in faith, that perseverance has been the effect of the work of God in my soul. If I have ever prayed an acceptable prayer, it was God’s grace that enabled me to do it. If I have ever sung God’s praise so as to please him, that praise was first written in my heart by the Holy Spirit.” “What hast thou which thou has not received?” is a question to which the answer from every true heart is, “I have nothing which I have not received, except it be my sin; but all I have that is good must have come from God.” If any of you are to be saved, God must save you. Sinner, you are lost, and lost beyond recovery by any hand but that which is divine and omnipotent. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Let that text roll like thunder over the heads of those who think that they can save themselves. The Lord must do it from first to last. His is the first act of grace when he quickeneth the spiritually dead, and his must be the last act of grace when we lay down our vile bodies, and our spirit enters into the joy of our Lord.

Now, these two things being true, and being surely believed among us, that salvation is by the free favor of God, and that it is by the power of divine grace, I think I may say that, if Paul had been here, he would have pushed this matter a little further. There are some of our dear brethren, and true brethren, too, who do not see the doctrines of grace quite clearly. They see men as trees walking, for they seem to attribute the fact of their salvation in part to themselves. I do not say as to merit, for I believe they abhor that idea; and I do not say as to power, for I believe they hold as earnestly as we do that the sinner is dead in sin, and that the power to act comes from the Holy Ghost. But, somehow or other, they make a great deal more of man’s will than I think they should; just as, on the other hand, some speak too little of the will of man, and treat men as if they had not any wills, but were so many logs of wood. There is truth on both sides of the question; and, as some of my brethren preach the other view of the truth, I will preach that view of it which my text gives me.

If I am a saved man, how came I to be saved? Somebody asks, “But why are you saved, and not other men?” My dear friend, there are two questions there, so I must take them one at a time. Will you kindly let me take the first one, only altering it thus, — Why are you saved? If you are saved, there is a great difference between you and others who are not saved. You were once a lover of pleasure and of the world, and you are now a lover of God. Now, somebody made that difference, and whoever did it did a good action, so let his head be crowned. Here is the crown. Now, sirs, upon whose head shall I put it? Have you made yourself to differ from what you used to be, and from what others still are? Are you prepared to wear the crown? You bow your head, and say, “Oh, no! Let the Lord have the glory of it.”

Well, then, it is quite evident that God has made a difference between you and others, and that it was a commendable thing for him to do so; and as it was commendable for God to do it, it must have been so for God to purpose to do it; and if it was commendable for him to purpose to do it the day he did it, it was commendable for him to purpose to do it from all eternity; and thus we get back to the old and glorious decrees and covenant of divine grace of which some are so afraid, though, as surely as this Book is written of God, it stands there that he hath “from the beginning” chosen his people unto salvation. “By the grace of God I am what.”

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Comment Conundrum

A little "housekeeping" here.  For the longest time I used the "word verification" feature for the comments on this blog.  It was a way of keeping out the mechanized "spam" that you all know about so well.  

But after awhile, this simple little tool became not so simple.  People started to get frustrated because the system would give such runtogetherwords, or odd pictures that you couldn't see, and it was difficult to get past the little security nazi.  I know because I found the same frustration when trying to comment on others who had the same system going.  It was a pain.  And let's face it.  Nothing on this blog is so amazing that folks are going to spend twenty minutes and a dozen tries to get through a word verification procedure. So I removed it. 

~Sigh~  Now my comment box is full of spam.  I've left the comment moderation on because I had an earlier problem with a spammer going way back in my blog archive and filling old posts with links to all kinds of unwelcome things.  It took me forever to find and remove all those.  So with the comment moderation, at least I can control what actually appears on the site.  But again, now that the word verification is off, I'm regularly deleting a boatload of advertising comments from my email/blog.

I've also noticed that the blog seems so much more popular now, at least according the stat keeper.  However, it largely involves a lot of hits to old posts that coincidentally are also the targets of the spam comments.  ~Sigh~ again.  

This whole thing is a bit frustrating.  Especially considering that I don't get an overwhelming number of comments to begin with, at least real ones.  I know that the three people who read this blog are often too busy comment, or that what's written here is usually not that comment worthy, so...   is it worth it to have the comments enabled at all, or not use the frustrating word verification, or... I don't know. 

Anyway, here's the deal.  For the next few days I'm going to leave things the way they are.  I'm hoping that someone out there will read this and actually offer me some advice on the best way to deal with all this.  After that, I'm seriously considering going back to the painintheneck word verification just to empty my spam box and get the stat numbers back in a realistic neighborhood.  Any thoughts?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Are You Ashamed of the Gospel?

Are we ashamed of the gospel?  How many of our neighbors, our coworkers, have no idea about our claim to know Christ?  How many could look at our lives, watch how we live day in and day out, and they would be shocked when they learned that we claim to be followers of Christ?  How many of us act embarrassed to be Christians by not sharing Him, and act as if we’re ashamed of Him by not living according to His will day in and day out?  How often do we just want to keep it to ourselves?

In Romans 1 Paul is writing to the church at Rome, telling of his desire to visit them, to minister to them, to share Christ with them.  And in the process he writes these very well known words about not being ashamed of the gospel.

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, ESV)     

 I am not ashamed of the gospel.  I am not ashamed.  Remember, Paul didn’t gain much in this world by his association with Christ, did he?  In fact, quite the opposite.  His preaching of the gospel led to so much suffering, and so much hardship, and so many trials, figuratively and literally, that it would be easy to see how some might think he’d just start keeping it to himself.  Easy to see why many had done just that.  But Paul says, I am not ashamed, for the power of God is in this gospel; the righteousness of God revealed in faith, by faith, and for faith.  Like Peter and John before him, Paul testifies that he can’t help but speak of what he has seen and heard in Christ.

How does that differ from our own life and testimony of Christ?  I know that most of us would say that we are not ashamed of Christ.  We know this verse, have repeated it, would say that it’s our confession as well.  But does the evidence of our lives match up to that?

The truth of the matter is that we can act as if we are ashamed of the gospel in more ways than one.  In fact, just looking at what Paul says here about the gospel message and the power of it, I think we can see at least three ways that we can act ashamed of the gospel.

I. Number one, we can do that by a LACK OF FAITH.  We lack faith by sometimes acting like we have to add something else to the gospel for salvation.  We say salvation is by faith alone, but then we act as if faith isn’t sufficient.  We think we have to add to it.  Salvation is by faith and baptism; faith and church attendance; faith and good works. Baptism and church membership and good works and all sorts of other service to God; those are all good.  Those are commanded. But they are not necessary for salvation.

All you need to be saved is to be dead, because Christ came to give life to the dead, to redeem those enslaved to sin.  His work on the cross was sufficient to accomplish that.  His blood is sufficient to save each and every person for whom God sent Jesus to die.  His sacrifice was enough; He paid the price in full.  Nothing needs to be added to it.  If we suggest otherwise, it’s as if we’re ashamed of the gospel of free grace; embarrassed by it.

We can lack faith by acting as if there are those God can’t save as well.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation for all who believe, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women and children.  But sometimes we lack the faith to believe that God can save that person.  We act as if the gospel isn’t strong enough to save those radical Muslims, or that pagan Hollywood star, or even that total pagan next door.  So we don’t pray for them, we don’t reach out to them.  

We lack the faith to believe that Christ’s grace is sufficient even for them.  We forget the simple truth that if God can forgive me, He can forgive anyone.  If the gospel can save me, no one is beyond reach.  And a lack of faith in that is the same as being ashamed of the gospel.   The gospel is sufficient; sufficient for me; sufficient for you; sufficient for all those whom God would save.  So let’s trust it and proclaim it.
II. Number two, we can act ashamed of the gospel through a LACK OF OBEDIENCE.  Paul says that we are to live by faith.  That means not only trusting in the sufficiency of the gospel for our salvation, but trusting in the sufficiency of the gospel for our entire lives.  That means living in obedience to His commands, living according to His Word, living as light in this world of darkness.  But so often we act as if we’re ashamed of this life we’ve been called to, and so we just ignore it, and we choose instead to live like the world so we fit in and don’t embarrass ourselves.

Folks, if you truly live for Christ, I’ve got news for you.  You will stand out.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “If we be true to our Master we shall soon lose the friendship of the world. The sinful find our conversation distasteful; in our pursuits the carnal have no interest; things dear to us are dross to worldlings, while things precious to them are contemptible to us.”

And yet how often do we act like what’s precious to them is precious to us as well, and how often do our conversations so resemble those of the world that the sinful would find nothing distasteful in them at all; our pursuits are the same; our desires the same.  The truth is that our lives are often so much like the world that they can’t tell the difference.  Our lack of obedience to the Word of God, our lack of conformity to His righteousness, our lack of living by faith, causes us to look so much like the world that we just blend right in.

Whether you realize it or not, those very actions demonstrate that we are ashamed of the gospel.  Just remember this one thing.  Jesus Himself says in Matthew 10:22 that “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”  And that’s not just a reference to our words.  We can deny Him by a lack of faith, and we can deny Him by a lack of obedience to His Word, His will and His way.  But of course, it most certainly does apply to our words, doesn’t it?

III. So, number three, we can act ashamed of the gospel through a LACK OF TESTIMONY.  Back up one verse here in Romans 1 and look at what Paul says there.  Verse 15: “So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”  I can’t wait to come and tell you about Christ.  I can’t wait to tell you what the gospel has done for me and continues to do for me.

Remember this, Paul is writing to the church.  He’s writing to folks who have already heard and believed the gospel message.  Yet he’s still eager to come and preach the gospel to them, the remind them of the power of the gospel, to remind them that the gospel is by faith, from faith, and for faith.  That means it has an ongoing power in our lives even after that initial justification.

The gospel isn’t just for lost sinners out there.  It’s for saved sinners in here.  It reminds us that our lives are indeed by grace through faith in all aspects.  We live by faith each day, we live dependent on the gospel each day, and so we ought to be eager to preach it to one another, to share it with our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as to share it with those around us.  We ought to be eager to share Christ with anyone and everyone we can.

Yet so often we keep silent.  So often we act as if we’re ashamed.  We don’t want folks to laugh at us, we don’t want them to think we’re fanatics or anything.  And so we keep our mouths closed.  Again, Jesus’ words whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.  Of course the verse right before that tells us the opposite as well: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”

 How often have you acknowledge Christ before men in the last week, or the last month, or the last year even?  How many times have you stepped out in faith, knowing that the power is in the gospel; stepped out and lived in obedience to the word of God in spite of what others thought, stepped out and spoken openly and boldly about the good of Jesus Christ and what He’s done in your life?  Are you ashamed of the gospel?  Here’s an idea.  Why don’t you get offline right now and go share Christ with someone!