Not Ashamed of the Gospel of ChristNovember 30, 2017
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….
— Romans 1:16
In the early days of our TV ministry, there was a national journalist who literally despised me because I taught the Bible on television. An avowed atheist, he often took advantage of his deep dislike for me by printing stories of my preaching in the national newspaper. In each of these news stories, he likened my preaching about Jesus and His parables to fairytales, and he particularly delighted in calling me “the Pinocchio preacher.” For years, he had taken every advantage possible to attack me and to deal a blow to the Gospel message.
One day I was flying from Riga to Moscow, and — lo and behold — who was seated on the plane directly across the aisle from me but this journalist who treated me with so much disdain! This man was filled with antagonism and hatred toward the Gospel, and he badgered me the entire flight. But regardless of how hard he tried to pick a fight with me, the peace of God ruled in my heart, and I responded to him in the love of Christ — which I think made him even angrier. He was traveling with a group of like-minded journalists, and he actually stood up on the plane and announced: “Hey, look who we’re flying with — the Pinocchio preacher!”
The companions of this journalist all joined in with him, laughing and mocking me. The more hard liquor they drank, the greater the velocity of their insults thrown my way across the aisle. The flight attendant became embarrassed and apologized to me for their behavior, but there was nothing she could do to stop them once they started. They were doing their best to humiliate and embarrass me in front of the other passengers in our section of the plane.
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you were mocked because of your faith? It isn’t an enjoyable experience, but if you’ve ever endured such persecution, please know that you are not alone.
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On that flight as I suffered the brunt of those men’s words for several hours, I made up my mind to grab hold of and meditate on Romans 1:16. In that verse, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….”
The apostle Paul faced hostile reactions to the Gospel in both the pagan and Jewish worlds. There were times when he was not only poked fun at, but he was physically abused by those whose hearts were filled with antagonism toward him. When Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,” he used the Greek word epaischunomai — translated as “ashamed” in this verse, which is a compound of epi and aischunomai. The word epi means for, and aischunomai means to be confounded or embarrassed. Literally, Paul declared that he did not find the Gospel a reason for embarrassment. In modern language, Paul did not find the Gospel a reason to feel awkward, self-conscious, or humiliated.
On the contrary, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe.” Paul knew that for those who believed, the Gospel unleashed the power of God! The word “power” is the Greek word dunamis, a word that generally denoted the strength of a whole army. Paul was in fact declaring that when faith is mixed with the Gospel and declared, it releases divine energy equal to the fighting force of an entire army!
A faith that is active releases this power for those who are “believing” — that is, for those whose faith is engaged. Based on the usage of dunamis throughout history, it clearly means that this power of God is like a host of troops placed at the disposal of anyone who has his faith forward-directed and actively working. Why would anyone be ashamed of such power?
I may have looked like one singular man sitting in that section of a plane with many people arrayed against me, mocking me. But inside me, there was an entire “army” of divine strength and power at work — and that’s true for anyone who believes! The power that was in operation that day was far greater than those who were poking fun at me. And it was that dunamis power that enabled me to love them in spite of their ugly behavior.
When I find myself in a difficult situation because of the hurtful actions of people or because life is sometimes tough and I’m tempted to feel isolated and alone, I often stop to meditate on the dunamis power of God that is at work within me. There is a mighty reservoir of divine power residing in me every moment of every day, and that means I never face a truly isolated moment. God has placed a “full army” of dunamis power at my disposal!
This is true for you too. If you feel isolated, alone, and solitary — and it seems like you’re facing troubles with no one at your side — let me remind you that God’s dunamis power is inside you and is continually available to you if you will engage your faith.
I saw that atheist reporter again years later, and he was still hostile toward the Gospel. I felt sorry for him, for the very thing he hated and resisted had the power to completely alter his life, change his disposition, and deliver him from a horrible eternal fate. But as before, his heart was hard like stone, and he wanted nothing to do with the Gospel or with “the Pinocchio preacher.”
Today I want to encourage you that when your faith is forward-directed, it throws open the door for a whole army of divine power to work on your behalf. The Holy Spirit dwells within you. He is the very source of dunamis, and He is just waiting to unleash that power on your behalf! All He needs is for you to be in a state of “believing.” It will throw open the door for that dunamis power to flow through you and strengthen you against any opposition or obstacle you could ever face!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the Person of that the Holy Spirit who resides within me. I acknowledge that His presence within me has imparted to me dunamis power — the strength of an entire army. Therefore, with confident assurance I boldly proclaim: the Greater One in me is mightier than any force that opposes me in this world! Father, I ask You to forgive me for times when I’ve retreated and acted in shame about the Gospel. I know I should have engaged my faith and released a flood of divine energy to empower me and overwhelm the enemy. So from this moment on, I make a firm decision that I will not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, but I will allow its strengthening might to flow through me, no matter what opposition or obstacle I face!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that there is a whole army of divine power at my disposal because the Holy Spirit indwells me. I believe the Gospel and its claim; therefore, I am strong and courageous knowing that divine signs of God’s presence and approval are manifest in my life. I am not confounded, confused, or embarrassed when others poke fun at my faith. I don’t shrink back or cringe in terror or intimidation. Instead, I simply draw from the supply of the Holy Spirit within me, engage my faith, and let His power strengthen me for what I am confronting at that moment. It is absolutely true that greater is He who is in me than He that is in the world! This dunamis power in me lifts me above any foe around me, and as I continually activate God’s power by faith, I am an overcomer over every challenge that I’ll ever face in this life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of a time when you felt bullied or made fun of because of your faith? How did you respond when that event occurred in your life?
- Now that you know the dunamis power of God is at your disposal, what will you do differently the next time you’re challenged in your faith?
- After your salvation, when were you filled with the Holy Spirit? What was that experience like when you received His supernatural enabling power?