Many of us are familiar with the I Am's of Jesus. At various places and times He declared Himself to us using the introductory phrase, I am. He said, "I am the Bread of Life; I am the Truth; I am the Way, I am the Good Shepherd; and I am the Life. Over the years, I have preached many messages on those passages, but this morning I want us to consider a passage from Paul's epistle to the Romans. Here Paul uses the same phrase: I am…
I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 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. (Romans 1:14-16)
Did you notice what Paul said? Three thoughts this morning:
1) I am debtor,
2) I am ready, and
3) I am not ashamed.
Two of these thoughts formed our theme for our recent Mission Conference. Let's consider them today.
I. I am Debtor v14
A. Debt = Obligation
1. Most of us understand this all too well.
2. When we are in debt we are obligated to pay the one to whom we are indebted.
3. Sometimes folks ask if we own our home, the answer is yes we do, but in reality we and GMAC own it.
4. If I fail to meet my monthly obligation, then I will join the ranks of the homeless!
B. What was Paul talking about when he used the phrase 'I am debtor'.
1. He wasn't talking about a financial obligation.
2. This obligation was to preach the Gospel message.
3. I will spend a bit more time on the Gospel in a moment, but for now suffice it to say that Paul recognized that he had a responsibility to God and to man in this area.
4. Example from a turtle on a fencepost.
a. He is above the realm of most turtles.
b. He didn't get their by himself.
c. He owes his rise to prominence to someone else.
5. I am not sure just where you are spiritually speaking this morning.
a. But I know where I am, and I know how I got here.
b. I am a debtor first of all to God who saved me…but I am also a debtor to Ben Harrison, who was the first person who ever shared the wonderful message of the Gospel with me.
c. A few weeks ago you met my first pastor, J.C. Mattox and his wife, Fayrene... I owe them a debt.
d. You have met Ed Johnson, a pastor who took a green Bible college graduate with little or no experience, and allowed me to serve alongside him and learn so much.
e. I could go on and on with many who have had an impact upon my life.
C. Paul never forgot what he was before he met Christ.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)
1. Here is another of his 'I am' statements.
2. Paul is quick to remind us that he wasn't always the great church planter and evangelist.
3. He was merely a sinner saved by grace!
4. It would serve us well to remember that we also owe a debt to God and to those who have ministered to us along the way!
D. We also have an obligation to those who have never heard the Gospel.
1. Later on in this epistle Paul reminds us that faith cometh by hearing.
2. He asks, 'How can the believe if they haven't heard?'
3. 'How can they hear if there isn't one to declare the Word to them?'
4. There you have it…we have an obligation to share with all the message of salvation!
5. We owe a debt.
II. I am Ready v15
A. Paul was not just resigned to go…he was ready!
1. This word carries with it the idea of being eager to do God's will.
2. The phrase 'chomping at the bits' speaks of the race horse who can barely wait to get out of the starting chute and into the race.
3. Does that describe our passion to witness?
4. Are we ready?
B. Paul was totally committed.
1. Listen to his passion.
2. 'So much as in me is'
3. With all my heart and soul.
4. Are we passionate about sharing Christ with those who need to hear?
5. Are we totally committed to the task at hand?
6. Occasionally I will watch a football game on TV, and I like to see the camera pan to the bleachers.
7. What you see are fans who are passionate about their team…not only do they dress in their team's colors, but some go over the top.
8. The word 'fan' is a shortened form of the word 'fanatic'!
9. Oh that we would be 'fanatics' for the sake of the gospel.
III. I am Not Ashamed v16
A. Why would Paul be tempted to be ashamed of the Gospel?
1. Persecution for preaching the Gospel.
2. He was hated by his own people, the Jews.
3. The Greeks (the educated elite of the day) called it foolishness.
4. The Roman government rejected the teaching of Christianity.
B. How could Paul be so confident?
1. He had first hand experience.
a. Remember Paul never forgot who he was and where he was before he met Christ.
b. Throughout the NT we find Paul sharing his testimony.
c. He knew what Christ had done in his life and he knew what Christ could do for all who would simply believe.
2. He believed God's Word.
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)
a. Paul tells Timothy here that there is no doubt when it comes to where he has placed his faith.
b. It is in the only One who can save our souls…Jesus Christ.
c. Not only is he convinced that Jesus can save…he is persuaded that Jesus can keep!
d. Eternal security is key to not being ashamed of the Gospel.
e. We have a message that is for today and that will be forever.
f. We have a message that will bring salvation to ALL people. 'for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth'
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:11-12)
C. Let's make it personal.
1. We first must experience the power of God through salvation…have you placed your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary?
2. We must believe the promises of God's Word to us…That is the essence of faith; believing what God has said to us in His Word...no doubts, no second thoughts…Do we believe God's Word?
3. We need to be ready (eager and willing) to declare the Gospel to all…without any hesitation and with all the confidence of the Apostle Paul.
Will we say along with Paul…