“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) It is these words “I am not ashamed” that acts as a staple that holds all of Christianity together. After all, if we were ashamed of the Gospel why would we ever obey it or want to tell others about it?The truth is, we wouldn’t. If we claim that we are not ashamed of the Gospel, then we should not be ashamed to teach the Gospel.
If you think of the Apostles and the early Church the phrase “not ashamed” takes on a deeper meaning. I fear that over time we have lost sight of the depth and importance of the statement “I am not ashamed.” These early Christians were not simply telling their co-workers that they were Christians; they were actually laying down their lives for preaching the Gospel! Not to mention their faith during this time of persecution was unshaken.
Look at how the Apostles handled persecution for the Lord (Acts 5:40-42). First the Sadducees beat the Apostles and commanded them not to teach in the name of Christ.
(Vs.40) “And to him, they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go.”
This was a critical moment in defining the faith of these men. They had one of two options at this point. 1. Give into the high priests’ commands and cease to preach Christ. 2. Continue serving the Lord despite the physical consequences. What do you think they did?
We find our answer in the next two verses. (Vs.41-42) “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Vs.42) And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
They rejoiced that they were able to suffer for the name of Christ, then they continued to teach the Gospel! Sometimes it can be hard for us to grasp just what that meant for them. In continuing to teach the Gospel, many of them had just signed their death warrant. The next time the Sadducees saw them teaching the Gospel, they may have been put to death for not obeying their commands. In fact, the “religious leaders” of that day often put to death those that preached Christ, remember Stephen in Acts 7. So when these Christians continued preaching Christ after being warned to stop, they were truly living out the phrase “I am not ashamed.”
Look at what the Psalmist says about speaking with boldness: (Psalm 119:46) “I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings and will not be ashamed.” Here he shows great conviction in the fact that he is willing to proclaim the goodness of God before kings, and therefore everyone else who falls underneath the ranking of “importance” beneath the king. Then he ends this thought with the phrase that we have already examined “not ashamed.” These few verses go to show that throughout history (under the old and new laws) God has called for bold men and women to stand up for Him. Think about all of the Prophets who stood for truth and all of the Apostles who laid down their lives for the Gospel.
The least we can do is wear the name of Christ with pride. (Ephesians 4:1) We are so blessed to have freedom of religion in this country; however, there are still people in the world today that may be faced with the choice of serving God and dying physically or denying God and living physically. It is my prayer that we can have a fraction of this boldness and pride exemplified by the Apostles and Prophets. May God bless you in your endeavors as you labor for Him.