The Dynamite Gospel
By Terry Cheek
Paul writes in his letter to the Roman church some of the most intense doctrines and theology in all of God’s word. Among them, we find the following from chapter one, verses sixteen and seventeen. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.”1 We understand these verses to be among the many which teach the doctrine of justification. Will you join me for a deeper understanding of these verses and what they reveal about justification?
Paul opens with what I consider a very unusual statement. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” Why would Paul feel it necessary to open with this? If you have followed this series, you know that in previous articles, I discussed how Paul and all of the Church faced persecution from the Roman government, pontifical Jews, and followers of antagonistic religions. Included in this persecution was their attempt to disgrace Paul, Church leaders, and ultimately the gospel. If successful, the consequence would make Christians ashamed of the gospel. Therefore, silencing the preaching, teaching, and witness of its power. I feel it was important for Paul to encourage the Church, then and now, by letting them know he was not ashamed of the gospel. His firm footing of the gospel supplied a foundation for his doctrine of justification.
“for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” power is the noun that sets justification in motion. Power translates the Greek word dunamos from which we also get our word dynamite. The gospel is the dynamite of God’s word. It is that powerful. We often give a very flippant Amen to this statement when we should be zealous toward the gospel every time we open our Bible, at home, at church, in public, and in private. Martin Luther had this say regarding God’s word. 2“Luther said that in times past, people would run to the ends of the world had they known of a place where they could hear God speak. Now that we hear and read God’s Word every day, this does not happen. We hear the gospel in our homes, where fathers, mothers, and children sing and speak of it. The preacher speaks of it in the parish church. We ought to lift our hands and rejoice that we have been given the honor of hearing God speak to us through His Word. People say, “There is preaching every day, often many times every day so that we soon grow weary of it. What do we get out of it? I go to church, but I don’t get much out of it.” Yet, this power isn’t just sitting there for anyone. It is composed by God the Holy Spirit through the hands and mouths of man only for those who believe. God’s grace opens our hearts for us to believe. Only then does the power (dunamos) of the gospel reveal itself. We should glorify God through our lives every day because of the gospel.
Paul clarifies the order of God’s dispersing of the gospel. First, it was given to his chosen race, the Jew, then to the Greek (Gentile). This is not a prophecy of things to come. It is a description of what is taking place at that time. The gospel was being shared with everyone. There is no restriction. God uses his elect to spread the gospel, then and now. The understanding that God would use the saved sinner as a vessel worthy to possess, read and share his written word is beyond humbling.
Paul continues to write. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” From the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. It is fitting to interject here that these two verses opened Martin Luther’s eyes and heart, as he prepared to preach and teach notes on Romans. Luther arrived at this point and understood that the Pope, Priesthood, or the Roman church provided no hope for the soul’s salvation. Salvation came only through God’s righteousness, grace, and faith in Jesus Christ. “He (Luther) glanced at a manuscript from Augustine and found where Augustine said that the righteousness here is not God’s righteousness but that which He provides for people who do not have any righteousness. It is the righteousness He makes available by grace to all who believe. Luther called it “alien righteousness.” This righteousness is not our own; it is Jesus’ righteousness.”2 The phrase “faith to faith” seems to have many thoughts. I agree with the school of thought of this phrase paralleling “everyone who believeth” from the previous verse. Faith that one has and shares through the gospel is multiplied by God to others for their belief in Christ as Lord and Savior. This phrase introduces the final and anchoring phrase of these two verses, “as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” Paul tells us faith isn’t new to mankind or the growing Church. “Abraham, the father of the faithful, believed, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3), just as every person’s genuine faith, before and after Abraham, has been reckoned to him as righteousness (see Heb. 11:4–40).”3 John MacArthur. The just, a.k.a. justified, are the redeemed in Christ. I remember an acronym for justified from years ago, and I’ll bet many of you have heard it too. It goes like this, just as if I’d never sinned. Notice with me Habakkuk 2: 1-4, “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end, it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” 1 Living by faith means exactly what is written. A believer is committed to being a vessel justified for God’s righteousness to work through. When the believer understands this, we immediately realize this is something beyond our ability to fulfill. Therefore, we repent daily and live humbly before the Lord, trusting in Jesus to be the author and finisher of our faith. There is much more to be written about this passage, but I submit this rambling to the Lord for his application to your heart and mind.
Until we meet again, in print or person, may God bless you is my prayer!
3MacArthur, John. Romans 1-16 MacArthur New Testament Commentary Two Volume Set (MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
2Sproul, R.C. Romans: An Expositional Commentary (p. 17). Ligonier Ministries. Kindle Edition.
1 Nelson, Thomas. The Holy Bible, King James Study Bible (KJV) (Kindle Locations 149132-149137). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Terry is the Executive Director and broadcaster of The Inspiring Word media ministry
You can contact Terry by email at email@example.com
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