Why does Paul say that he was not ashamed of the gospel? Does that mean some are and will be?
Ashamed of the Gospel?
There are sins of commission but there are also sins of omission, like if we see a brother or sister in need and do nothing, for us, that is sin (James 2:16). For example, “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1st John 3:17)? Good question, isn’t it? Of course, all sin is forgivable for the person who has trusted in Christ, but why are so many Christians silent about their faith? Are they ashamed to mention His name? Anyone who has studied the life of the Apostle Paul, and read any of his letters (books), knows that he was “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” (Rom 1:16). He was intentional in going to the temple in Jerusalem and into every synagogue he found, but he’d even go to the public square, where in one instance, the Greeks heard the gospel for the very first time. This was in Corinth where it said Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4), but it wasn’t as if Paul had a choice, as he once wrote, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish” (Rom 1:14). For Paul, “necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1st Cor 9:16b)! The other apostles also agreed that “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). The question is, are we ashamed of the gospel? Before you answer that, read what Jesus said about our silence before others in regards to His testimony.
If we think denying Jesus before others isn’t taken seriously by God, listen to what Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:32: “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven,” but on the flip side, “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:33). What does Jesus mean by not acknowledging Him “publically here on earth?” That obviously means proclaiming Him publically to everyone you know, and of course, that’d done here on earth, so whatever’s proclaimed here on earth, is proclaimed in heaven. But if it’s not proclaimed on earth, it’s not proclaimed before the Father. That is what the acknowledgement of Jesus on earth is all about. It’s wrong to deny Christ, because it shows we’re ashamed of the gospel. Again, Jesus says, “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” (Mark 8:38). Now, it’s not just denying Jesus publically, it’s doing it because you’re ashamed to be associated with Jesus. The end result is Jesus denying that person’s name before the Father in heaven, but also the Son of Man being ashamed of that person on the Day of Judgment. It doesn’t sound like a small thing to deny Jesus and be ashamed of His testimony. Those who have trusted in Christ are these who “have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev 12:11). In fact, the angel told the Apostle John that he is one of his “brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 19:10). Those who have Jesus’ testimony share Jesus’ testimony and they do it publically, at least with their family, friends, and co-workers. Obviously, these saints were not going to deny Christ, and many died for that.
The Great Omission
When someone refuses to do anything to help a person who is dying, even by calling 911, it is considered criminal negligence, and they could be held responsible. That’s because had they chance to help, but didn’t! In the same way, those who have trusted in Christ have the greatest of all news for those who are not saved and still have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:18, 36b). That’s why Jesus commissioned the apostles, and I believe the church, to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. They do this by teaching them the same things Jesus taught His disciples (Matt 28:18-20). What “things” did Jesus teach them? They show up on the gospels and in the books of the New Testament. If it’s true, as some claim, that this commission was not given to the church but only to the disciples, then the Great Commission has ended because the disciples are now dead and with Christ! And, this isn’t just God’s desire for us to go; it is an imperative command by the King of kings, Jesus Christ. There is no plan B. If they were to make disciples of people, and these disciples are to make other disciples, then it couldn’t possibly have been restricted to only the apostles. Jesus told us that we are to be salt and light (Matt 5:13-16), but salt isn’t helpful until it gets out of the shaker, and light is useless if it’s hid under a basket.
I think we know by now what it means to be ashamed of the gospel. It is being so ashamed of Jesus that His name never passes our lips, and no one ever hears His testimony. We are denying Jesus by our silence by failing to tell others about the coming wrath of God on all unbelievers (Rom 2:1-10). Any one of us can deny Jesus publically just by being ashamed to mention Him name, including family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I believe it’s clear that all believers are commanded to proclaim Christ, and of course that means publically, but not necessarily on the town square. We are to proclaim Christ publically and to do so unashamedly, wherever we go and with whomever we see. I know it’s not easy, but it is a command. Paul didn’t depend on his own strength but the strength of Christ (Phil 4:13), but he still asked the church to pray for him, so “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph 6:19-20).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.