LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The apostle Paul’s unashamed proclamation of the gospel and his desire to spread that message to all people should serve as a model for Christian ministers throughout the world, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said at the seminary’s convocation Jan. 30.
“Paul said, ‘I am 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,'” Mohler said. “Any Christian — apostle or otherwise — must be able to say these words: I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation.”
Mohler, preaching from Romans 1:14-32, said Paul entered the city of Rome with a boldness that should be exemplified today.
“There’s no public relations campaign,” Mohler said. “There’s no second-guessing, no hesitation, no shame. When Paul comes to Rome, he will do what he has done everywhere since the Damascus Road. He will preach the gospel.”
Much of the problem in the Christian church, Mohler said, is that pastors have discarded the foundation upon which their ministry was built.
“Are there those who are ashamed of the gospel? I would suggest that there certainly must be those who are ashamed of the gospel, and the evidence is their forfeiture of the gospel, their abandonment of the gospel.”
Mohler said Paul’s letter to the Romans shows that it is:
— the gospel alone that saves.
— the gospel that reveals the way to salvation.
— the creature who corrupts (man is sinful).
— God who judges.
— sin that consumes.
“Note that it is the only gospel that saves,” Mohler said. “That is not politically correct, and the prevailing worldview tells us that to make such a claim is out of bounds, totalitarian … but it’s the only gospel we have. To suggest that there might be some other gospel is not just to compromise the gospel. It is to repudiate the gospel.
“The Bible leaves us no such option. This is the only gospel that saves, but it is the gospel that always saves when it is believed by faith. It’s not a hypothetical or a theoretical gospel. It is a gospel that saves everyone who believes. This is not a sham promise or a hollow statement. This is Paul’s confidence in the gospel, and Paul says repeatedly, ‘How do I know that this gospel saves? Because it saved me.'”
Pointing to Romans 1:19, Mohler said those who claim that natural theology alone can lead to salvation are incorrect.
“There is natural revelation,” he said. “There is general revelation. But [verse 19] also means that those who would promise a natural theology are wrong, for it is not sufficient to lead us to a saving knowledge of God. In fact, those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness will corrupt and deny and contort and confuse the revelation of God and nature.”
Romans 1:20 proves it is the gospel alone where salvation is revealed, Mohler said.
“The next time you’re asked the question, ‘But what about the individual on a solitary island in the Pacific who has never head the gospel?'” Mohler said, “just remember that our missionary urgency is driven by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ and also by the knowledge that there is no one who has an excuse. There is no one who can claim, ‘I didn’t know.'”
God’s righteousness, Mohler said, is demonstrated throughout Romans 1 by his punishment of sin.
“We should not think of God’s wrath as anger,” Mohler said. “It is not his ill temperament against those who have disobeyed him. It is his settled opposition to sin, for it is a function of his character. It is the natural and necessary corollary of his righteousness. There is no righteousness if there is no punishment of sin. God is not truly and genuinely righteous if he tolerates sin, indulges sin and allows sin to go unpunished.”
The acceptance and celebration of sin in today’s society, Mohler said, can be compared to similar practices that occurred during the first century of the apostle Paul. In Romans 1, Paul says that men “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” and that “God gave them over to shameful lusts.”
“This is not some kind of isolated cultural analysis by the great apostle,” Mohler said. “It is a diagnosis of the age. … Throughout all human experience since the fall, this is the story. This is the pattern. The suppression of truth in unrighteousness, the refusal to honor God and be thankful — that is the root of all sin according to Romans 1. It is the desire of the creature to have God’s own glory.”
A prime example of this is the attempt by some in today’s culture to legitimize and embrace the sin of homosexuality, Mohler said, noting that Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality in verses 26 and 27 is very clear.
“In these days we’re told that evangelical Christians have a hang-up on homosexuality,” he said. “[We’re told that] it’s just something we need to get over. Not only that, but there’s an entire movement among some who claim even the name of Christ to redefine the entire biblical system of sexual morality so that what we know Scripture condemns is to be accepted.
“How many times have you heard that there’s very little in the Bible about homosexuality? Well, brothers and sisters, if these were the only verses we had, this is all we would need. It could be no more comprehensive. Paul has left no room for misunderstanding. He deals not only with the act but with the passion. … He deals not only with the act but the root cause, with the desire. And he uses words here that lack nothing in full meaning.”
Paul’s purpose of writing the letter to the Romans is clear, Mohler said.
“Paul’s great task in these early chapters in the book of Romans is to demonstrate the universal need for the gospel,” he said. “It is to demonstrate that all human beings are under God’s wrath — and rightly and justly so. … Those who have believed the gospel will escape the wrath that is to come.”