“I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ!” exclaimed the faithful apostle of our Lord, “Because it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written ‘the righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
What a powerful idea is that of salvation. The perishing soul, eternally condemned, brought out of the its sorry condition is given new life, new hope, and a new future through the mighty blood of Christ. No matter how bad life has become, no matter the poor choices you have made prior, Jesus Christ offers you a new chance. He offers you salvation; a salvation that only He can offer, for “there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
It was exactly because of the importance of the message of Christ that the apostle Paul, writing to the Roman Christians, expressed a burning desire to preach that message in Rome (cf. Romans 1:15), and it was for this reason he boldly declared his lack of shame in that self-same message.
Men cannot be saved without the preaching of the Gospel.
Later in the same epistle, the apostle notes: “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But he then goes on to ask, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14; NKJV)
This emphasis on the Gospel’s role in salvation does not in any way diminish God’s power to save. Men cannot be saved apart from the grace of God. Rather, the Scriptures say that the Gospel “is the power of God,” and that men must call upon the Lord, turning to Christ for salvation. Yet, the Gospel is intrinsic to God’s plan, and those that desire salvation can not obtain this salvation without hearing and knowing what God’s word says.
Thus, elsewhere, we read the admonition to Timothy: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15; NKJV)
Timothy is reminded of the importance of those Scriptures he was taught from his childhood, as well as the ones who taught him (his mother, grandmother and the apostle Paul himself; cf. 2 Timothy 1:5).
But just knowing what the Bible says, is not enough. Men cannot be saved apart from a living faith, built upon the commands of the Scripture. This is what it means, “the righteous shall live by faith.” The Scriptures teach us how to be saved; it is our responsibility to believe them (faith) and obey them (live by faith).
This is what it means, as well, to “call upon the name of the Lord.” More than just a vocal cry for help, to call upon God implies a certain measure of obedience to God. Thus the inspired writer says in one place, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18b) And when Saul of Tarsus, was in penitent prayer, desiring for Christ to forgive him, he was told, “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16; NKJV) The command to be baptized was not in contrast to calling on the Lord, but was rather the method by which Saul would call upon the Lord; for it was the very command of Christ, as preached in the Gospel of Christ. (cf. Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19)
Do you desire to be saved?
There is a saving power by which men can be saved, and that power is the Gospel of Christ. Hear the message of salvation. Believe the message of salvation. Obey the message of salvation. That is God’s plan and only in obedience to God’s plan will men find salvation from their sins. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8)
If you would like to hear the Gospel of Christ preached, or study God’s word further, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.