Scientists tell us that the oceans of the world contain more than 340 quintillion gallons of water—The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:12 that God holds them "in the hollow of his hand". They also tell us that the earth weighs 6 sextillion metric tons—The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:15 that to God, “it is but "dust on the scales". In addition to this scientists inform us that the known universe stretches more than 30 billion light years (200 sextillion miles)—The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:12 that God measures it by the width of his hand.
Finally, scientists claim there are at least 100 billion galaxies and each galaxy is made up of about 100 billion stars. To such mind-boggling math the Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:26 that God calls each star "by name".
The Universe undeniably displays the power of God. But did you know that outside of heaven, the power of God in its highest density is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ as expressed in God’s Word? Note I did not say that the gospel reveals the power of God—I said the gospel is the power of God. That’s right—that is what the Scriptures teach in 1 Corinthians 1:18 and Romans 1:16. Nothing else in the Bible is ever described as the power of God—except for Jesus Christ Himself in 1 Corinthians 1:24. Thus, when we read that the gospel is the power of God, what we should understand that to mean is that whereas God’s power is seen in miracles, miraculous sign gifts, and in every other work God does—it resides in the Gospel. So whereas, the size of our universe and the infinite number of stars in the universe evidences God’s power (Romans 1:20) it is not in the creation that God’s power resides—rather it is in the Gospel.
Now consider for just a moment that it would take you, flying in a jet airliner at 500 mph a little longer than 900 years to get to the dwarf planet Pluto at the edge of our solar system and you get some sense of the immensity of just our own planetary system. Now consider that if you wanted to take a trip to visit the nearest star to earth you would be booking a trip aboard that 500 mph jet that would take you six million years to get there. Now let’s really get into hyper drive and plan a trip outside our own galaxy to the Andromeda Galaxy, which is right next door to our own Milky Way Galaxy. To make this trip in our jet traveling at 500 mph it would take us 4.2 trillion years. But that’s not even very far compared to the fat that if we were to try and travel to the most distant galaxy in the universe or at least the most known distant galaxy in the universe known as z8_GND_5296 which was photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope we would have to travel 13.1 billion light years just to get there. At 500 mph it would take us 20 quadrillion years. But as great as all this is—the universe, as big as it is, is but a manifestation of God’s power whereas the gospel is the power of God.
And this was the reason why Paul felt so obligated to preach the gospel rather than do anything else. This is why he was so eager to preach the gospel to those in Rome than anything else. And this is why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel according to Romans 1:16. He knew that the omnipotence of God was best seen in the gospel than anywhere else. And since the gospel is imbedded in and communicated through the Word of God—we can say that the power of God is in the Word of God.
Now go back to Romans 1:16 and we see that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes no matter who they are. And it is important to understand that in 2 Corinthians 4:6 likens the power necessary to save a sinner from his or her sins to the divine power it took to create the universe.
Now, it is difficult for us to imagine that the salvation of a person requires the same kind of divine power than it took to create the universe, but that is simply because we don’t have a high enough view of God’s holy character and a correct understanding of our own sinfulness. You see, when we begin to attempt to fathom the absolute unimaginable and incomprehensible holiness of God and how unbelievably great is our crime against God—then and only then might we be able to get just a glimpse or just a sliver of understanding into how much it took to turn God’s wrath and anger and eternal punishment for our sins away from us. The reason we don’t see the gospel as being as powerful as it is—is because we really don’t understand how incredibly, dreadfully, and contemptibly wicked and evil just one of our sins is in the sight of God—let alone a lifetime of sins.
It is only when we begin to grasp our sinfulness and just how hideously offensive our wickedness is to God and how utterly powerless we are to do anything about it in light of His infinite holiness that must punish any and every evil inclination, thought, motivation, desire, and deed that we are able to even begin to see the power of the gospel to keep us out of hell for even one split second let alone for all of eternity.
It is only as we contemplate the “blistering holiness of our God, Who is described in the Scriptures as a consuming fire that we will ever be able to comprehend the infinite power of the gospel of this God—Who, as His Son, Jesus, was dying on Calvary, turned His face away in rejection from Him as He bore our sin—so that He could turn His face toward us, forgive us, and accept us for all of eternity.
Listen, the power to save sinners and keep sinners saved is the greatest exercised power in existence simply because this power satisfied and continues to satisfy the holiness and the righteous demands of infinitely Holy God against us and our sins for all of eternity.
And it is, according to Romans 1:16, a power that knows no limits or conditions other than what God places upon it. The only limit and condition God places upon His Gospel is that of believing in Jesus Christ—trusting Him to save you from the due penalty of your sins—embracing Him and Him alone as your Lord and Savior! In other words, the Gospel is effective to save anyone and everyone who believes.
There is absolutely no one who is so bad, so down and out, so decrepid, so horrible, or so indecent that the power of God cannot save them if they will only believe. There is no one who has lived such a wicked life or committed such horrific sins that God’s power cannot save if they will only believe. The power of God to save sinners who will believe in Christ is greater than the power God utilized to create the universe and it is greater than the power God is utilizing right now to sustain the universe—it is the greatest power on earth and thus, is certainly greater than all our sin and shame. There is absolutely no one whose sin cannot be forgiven and whose life cannot be changed by God if only they will believe.
But, let me also say this the power of the gospel saves sinners who know and admit they are sinners without hope unless God has mercy upon them. In other words, there is no power to save when the sinner thinks he is either not as bad as the Bible says or God is not as Holy. But for those who do not diminish their sin—the gospel has the power to save.
And thus, the reason why Paul states so emphatically that he is not ashamed of the gospel. I mean how can you be ashamed of the gospel when the gospel is the power of God. None of us are ashamed of God’s creation—yet all the creation does is reveal the power of God—the gospel is the power of God.
But, furthermore, knowing the power of God resides in the Gospel as communicated in the Word of God—why do we try to evangelize and share the Gospel with others without using the Word of God?
And this is Paul’s argument in 2 Corinthians 2:16-17 where he makes the point that whereas not a single one of us is adequate to be used by God to bring people to salvation—His Word is—when it is communicated for what it really is—the authoritative, powerful, sufficient, Holy Spirit-inspired and Holy Spirit-empowered Word of God.
So in verse 16—Paul asks a rhetorical question having to do with all of us who as Christians have the responsibility and the privilege of living out and sharing the Gospel with others who do not yet know Christ. He asks—“Who is sufficient for these things?” In other words, Who is up to the task of being God’s instrument in confronting people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ so as to see them turn to Christ for salvation from their sins? Who has the innate ability to do this? Who has the necessary giftedness to be used in this way? Who is a natural at this? And the answer is—“no one”. NO ONE among us has the ability to turn the heart of an unsaved person to Christ. There are no natural evangelists among us who have an innate talent to convert sinners to Christ. That is simply not how salvation works. None of us are adequate for the task! None of us are more adequate than the other.
That’s the point Paul is making here in verse 16—the adequacy to see unbelievers turn from their sins to Christ for salvation is not in us—it is outside of us—It is in the Word of God. But more specifically, it is in the correct, sincere, and God-dependent sharing of the Gospel as found in and articulated in the Word of God—the Bible- that our adequacy to be used as God’s instruments in bringing people to Himself comes.
That is what Paul is saying when he asks this rhetorical question as the end of verse 16 and then answers it in verse 17. And in verse 17, Paul gives us the criteria or the requirements, if you will, regarding what it takes to be used by God as a powerful instrument in sharing His Gospel so as to mightily impact people so that they have to make a choice either for or against Christ.
Here they are:
1) You have to use God’s Word. The assumption in verse 17 is that you are using the Word of God to share the Gospel with others.
In other words, you need to be getting your information from the Bible.
Better yet, you need to be using the Bible and either reading people the verses having to do with salvation or quoting these verses to them.
The power of God unto salvation is in the Gospel as recorded for us in the Word of God. That’s what Romans 1:16 means.
The gift of faith which is necessary if any person is to believe on Christ comes through the Word of God. That is what Romans 10:17 says—“And Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.”
Learn the Gospel. Grow in your Scriptural understanding of it. Know the Bible verses that apply to it. Memorize them and then share them.
They have the power that you do not have to convict people of their sin and bring them to Christ!
2) Believe the Bible and trust it to do its work in a person’s life without compromising it.
God promises that His Word will not return void.” In other words, it will not fail to do the job God has planned for it to accomplish whether that is salvation or confirmation in damnation.
We need to get over the compulsion that we often have to soften the Gospel to make it more palatable to unbelievers.
That is what Paul means when he says—we are not peddlers of the Word of God.
The peddlers of the Word of God are those who feel that they need to make it more attractive to unbelievers if they are to accept it.
They are the false teachers—who either add to or subtract from the requirements of the Gospel.
They are the “health, wealth, and prosperity preachers” who twist the Gospel in order to relieve ignorant believers of their wealth and prosperity.
They are us—when we choose not to say anything about Christ or quickly change the subject for fear of what others will think of us if they find out we believe in Him.
And it is us—when we soft pedal any part of the Gospel because we think unbelievers won’t be able to accept it.
Keep in mind that no one—absolutely no one—comes to Christ because Christ is easy to swallow.
They come to Christ because God, using the power of the Gospel, opens their eyes to see Christ, desire Christ, and come to Christ for salvation.
Again as Romans 10:17 puts it: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ”—the Gospel.
Just believe the Word, live it, and share it—that’s all God asks you to do—He’ll do the saving!
3) Speak with simple sincerity. Don’t complicate the Gospel—don’t over simplify it either. Be real. Mean what you say? And do not promise what God does not promise—such as if you come to Christ you will not have any more problems.
4) Speak as from God. That is, take not only your commission from God, but your words and your authority from God as well.
Speak his words and not your own. Speak in his authority and not your own. Draw your strength and guidance from his power and wisdom, not your own?
5) Speak as one who is in Christ. That is, realize that because you are in Christ and thus completely accepted by God—it does not matter what people think about you. It should not matter whether they accept you. Your identity and your assurance and your confidence and your hope and your courage from your union with Christ?
6) Speak as in the presence of God. That is, reckon him to be your judge and no man. Care more about his assessment of your words than who you are talking to or want to talk to. And do not be deterred by human criticism. Remember the fear of man is a snare. If you fear God you need not fear anyone else!
And remember there are no perfect Gospel presentations or evangelists in God’s service. There are only imperfect Believers sharing their own imperfect stories using the perfect Word of God whom God uses.
And as we seek to be His people—people who are actively sharing our faith—the Gospel of Jesus Christ—we need to realize that God overcomes our inadequacy when we will believe, trust, and correctly and sincerely use His Word in sharing the Gospel with others.