Rabbi Schneider - Today's Gospel vs. the Truth
The book of Romans is the gospel that was once and for all delivered to the church by the apostles. And so today we're picking up in verse 16 of chapter 1. Paul begins by saying this: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel". Now, I want to just point out, as I said in the previous two episodes, if we want to know what the gospel is, we have to find out what the Scripture tells us the gospel is about. Because supposedly the gospel that's being preached today oftentimes is not the gospel that was once and for all delivered to the saints. Paul later wrote in one of his writings, "If anyone comes to you bringing a different gospel than the one I've brought, let them be accursed".
So we want to pay very careful attention as to what the Word of God says the gospel is. You see, the primary difference between "the gospel" which is not the real gospel that we're often hearing today in contemporary society versus the gospel that is written in the Word of God, the primary difference, beloved one, is that the gospel that we're hearing today in the contemporary church is a gospel that is, listen, me-centered. M-E. The gospel that we're predominantly hearing today is me-centered. It's all about God has presented to us through contemporary preaching oftentimes in such a way that we take God to use Him to achieve the American dream. In other words, if you believe in God, He's going to answer all your problems with your finances, with your marriage, you're going to get a job promotion, you're going to be successful, wealthy, and happy. And it's all about God making us happy. It becomes all about us rather than it being a gospel that is, first of all, about glorifying him, about glorifying the Creator.
You see, the gospel that Paul gave to us was a gospel that begins when mankind recognizes the evil in his heart, his sinful state, that because of his sin, he separated from God and hellbound. And that because of this sinful separation between God and man, in the Lord's compassion, Yahweh the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fulfilled His promises in the Hebrew Bible by sending a redeemer who is Jesus, the descendant of Abraham, and it will come to the God of Israel through Jesus, God will take away our sin and bring us into fellowship with Himself. This is what the true gospel is. It's not about God becoming a magic Genie, that all I have to do is use the right formula and He gives me the American dream.
So I want you to pay real careful attention to what the Word of God teaches us about the true gospel. Because remember Paul said, "If anyone comes preaching a different gospel, let him be accursed". Beloved, you and I need to pay attention to God's Word. So let's continue verse 16, chapter 1 of Romans. "For I'm 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". Now, the English word "salvation" here is taken from the original Greek manuscript in which the New Testament was first written. The original New Testament word for "salvation" is called "sozo" in the Greek, and what it means is wholeness: spirit, soul, mind and body.
So when Paul says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, what Paul is actually saying is, is that through receiving Jesus, we're brought into wholeness with God. And this wholeness all comes through relationship. It causes us to have Shalom, completeness, spirit, soul, mind, and body so that the deepest longing is the human soul are met in God. Not with things, but in God. You see, Jesus said, "This is eternal life, that you would know God, and Jesus whom now I sent". So this good news, this gospel that Paul is bringing is designed to bring us unto salvation, which makes us whole in Jesus simply because we're in relationship, we're in unity with our Creator.
Let's continue on. He says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel," in verse 16. I want you to consider this. Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation". Now, as I just said that, many of us, it didn't really register that much. You're listening to me and maybe you're even paying attention and engaged, but somehow it didn't strike you. When Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel," that phrase, for many of you, it didn't strike you. But I want it to strike us. There's another portion in the New Testament, the written word of God, where Paul tells us: "Do not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord".
Now, I consider myself beloved ones, a pretty bold witness for Jesus. I mean, when I first got saved in 1978, I mean, if you're in back of me at the grocery store, I would have turned around and started witnessing to you because I knew that Jesus said, "You shall be my witness". And I didn't know if I'd ever have an opportunity again to witness to that person in back of me at the grocery store, so I thought, "I better do it now". So I'm simply saying that I consider myself a bold witness for Jesus. But you know what I recognized? Even I sometimes have to reject being ashamed of the gospel. What do I mean by that? Please forgive me, God, for even saying that. But I recognize it in myself.
I had a little card that I got printed up. It's called WhoAmI.com, which is a little business size card, and it has three questions on the back of it. Where did I come from? Why am I here? Is there more than this? And then on the reverse side of the card, it just says our website, WhoAmI.com. And when people go to that website, I present the gospel to them. So I was in my car one day getting ready to go into... I forget even what kind of store it was. And I had some of those cards in my vehicle, and I said to myself, "I'll bring that card in, and when you check out at the store, give one of the cards to the person that's checking you out". And you know what I sensed even in myself? A hesitancy, like, "Oh, why do I want to do that? They're just going to reject me. They're just going to think I'm some weirdo. They're just going to think I'm some kook". But I said, "No, do not be ashamed of the gospel or of the testimony of the Lord".
And I know that there are some that are listening to me right now and you've really struggled with this. I want to encourage you. Come out of your comfort zone. I know it's hard. I'm not condemning you. God loves us. But we have to, beloved, be His witnesses. Paul rejected being ashamed of the gospel. So we're continuing on here. I want to keep moving forward. But I want you to take this seriously. We need to be His witnesses. We need to reject the shame. Because Paul said, "I will not be ashamed". That's the opposite of being shamed. We need to reject letting the devil shame us for being bold testimonies in the earth for Jesus. Now, you know, I talk about this a lot, but I'm an evangelist, and I'm just trying to transfer the anointing, beloved, that's on me into you so that we all can be bold witnesses. I believe when the Lord calls apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, one of the roles of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers is to transfer their anointing to the entire body of the church.
Let's continue on. "For I'm 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". Now, this is another point. I know we're going slow, but this needs to be pointed out. Because you know what is so unfortunate is that many people in the church, they feel, you know what, the gospel is good for the Gentile. But they think, but Jewish people, do they really need the gospel? Many people that consider themselves Christians, they don't witness to Jewish people because they think, "Who am I to witness to Jewish people? They're God's chosen people. I'm not going to force my Jesus on them". And many Christians shrink back from testifying about the Messiahship of Jesus to the Jewish people. But notice what Paul said in verse 16. He said, "The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes", now listen, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek".
Paul didn't say the gospel is the power of salvation to the Gentile. He didn't say the power of the gospel is the power of God just to the Greek. He said it's to the Jew and the Greek. Either Jesus is the Savior of the world, or he's the savior of none. Either he's the Messiah of everybody, or he's the Messiah of no one. He is the only message that brings salvation. And so don't ever be intimidated by presenting your faith beloved to a Jewish person. They need Jesus just as much as you do. This is why Yeshua said to His own beloved kinsmen, the Jewish people, he said to the Jewish people, "Unless you believe that I am He", meaning the Messiah, meaning the sent one that they were expecting. He said, "Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins".
In the Torah, Moses said, "The Lord is going to send you," he was speaking to Israel, "a prophet from amongst you just like me". And Moses said, "Whoever does not listen to Him will be cut off". In the beginning of book of Acts, Peter said, "Messiah Jesus is that one that Moses was speaking to". Moses said to the Jewish people, "God's going to raise up from you and for you a prophet, a deliverer just like me. And anybody that does not listen to Him will be cut off". And so Jesus, beloved, is the Savior of all. Again, if He's not the savior of everybody, He's the savior of none. So Paul says, "It's the gospel that saves people, to the Jew first and also to the Greek". Now, listen to the next verse, verse 17, "For in it", he's speaking of the gospel now, "in it the righteousness of God is revealed". What does Paul mean when he says "in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed"?
Well, to understand what Paul was referring to there, let's look in verse 1 and 2 of the same chapter. Paul is introducing himself and his message, and he says this: "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, of Yeshua the Messiah, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God", now listen, "which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures". So Paul said he had been made a messenger, an emissary, a sent one to announce this message in verse number 2, which God promised he would bring beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures. In other words, in the Hebrew Bible, in the Torah, and in the Hebrew prophets, God had prophesied that He would raise up a deliver, that He would send a Messiah. The Jewish people were waiting for this. The time that Jesus came to the earth, there was such messianic expectation, and many false prophets and false messiahs had already arisen in Israel. But God finally in the fullness of time, sent forth the true Messiah, he sent forth his Son.
And so Paul said, in sending forth his Son, in bringing the Gospel to us through Yeshua, His righteousness had been revealed. Why is His righteousness been revealed? Because, beloved, He did what He promised He would do. He promised that He would send somebody. Once again in verse 2, "He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures". And now He did it. And because He did it, God's righteousness is revealed. He does what He says He's going to do. He's faithful. So we're continuing now. "For in this gospel and God bringing forth in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The righteous man shall live by faith.'" And what is happening here is the scripture writer, Paul, is highlighting the whole fact that salvation has always been through faith.
We think about the first Jew Abraham. How did Avraham come into a relationship with God? Did he do it by keeping the Ten Commandments? No, because the Ten Commandments hadn't been given yet. But Abraham came into a relationship with God by faith. God came to him, he heard God's voice, he believed God, and the scripture said it was counted unto him as righteousness. Yeshua, the Scripture tells us, is the seed of Abraham. It's that which Abraham promised. When God said to Abraham, "Through your seed, Avraham, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed," Yeshua was that seed.
Once again the book of Galatians, we read that... this is taken from the Torah as well, but we find a quote in the book of Galatians where God said to Avraham in the Torah, "Abraham, through your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed". And then Paul, in the book of Galatians, tells us that the seed that God was referring to when He spoke that to Abraham in the book of Genesis is Jesus. So how did Abraham come into relationship with the Lord? Through faith. How do we come into relationship with the Lord today through Yeshua? Through faith. So we find in verse 17 that this gospel, this message of salvation it's been from faith to faith. It started with Abraham and it culminates through faith in King Jesus.
Now, next time we get together in this series, beloved, I'm going to be talking to you about the beginning of understanding the reason that God had a Son, the Messiah. God loves us. He wants us to be well. He desires us to be happy because He's a happy God. But unless we understand the seriousness of sin and its consequences, we will never truly have apprehended why Jesus came, why His blood was shed, why He was nailed to the cross. So we find in verse 18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth and unrighteousness".
Now, remember what I said earlier in today's episode. The Book of Romans is the most comprehensive doctrinal statement we have the entire Word of God to understand our New Testament faith in Father God through Jesus. It is the gospel. If we don't understand the main concepts in the book of Romans, we will not understand the gospel. And how does Paul begin to help us understand the gospel? Number one, he tells us it's good news, it's the power of God for salvation. And then he tells us, in verse 18, what it is we need to be saved from. And what Paul tells us in verse 18 that we need to be saved from, beloved ones, is the wrath of God. Listen again. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness".
I want to talk to you next time about the wrath of God and the fear of God, not to cause you to feel condemned, but to help us understand, beloved, how serious sin and its consequences are, and to receive into our heart the precious truth that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is clean and it converts the soul. We need to walk, beloved, in the love of God. And in loving God, we also have to have a holy fear of Him. Because the love of God and the Holy fear of God together transform us and conform us to the image of Jesus. You see, even Yeshua said, "Don't fear a man that can kill the body, fear God who can destroy both soul and body in hell".