The Power of God for Life (Romans 1:16-17)

Scripture Text: Romans 1:16-17

The Power of God for Life (MP3)

The Power of God for Life (Sermon Text)


Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday. This is a day that has been set aside to celebrate the sacredness of all human life. Life is a gift from God and we ought to celebrate and praise God for it every day we live. While many people will celebrate new life or the unborn life, which we should, we should thank God for all life. All life is sacred. God wants us to live, but not just live. Jesus said that He came so that we would live fully.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Satan only wants to kill life. God wants to give life abundantly. God wants us to really live. People often talk about having a good quality of life. You may hear some talk about having a certain amount of wealth or a certain standard of living. Real quality of life is found only in Jesus Christ. Today’s passage is about the power of God for us to not only have life but to have it fully. Today’s passage is considered by some to be the theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which is about the Good News of Jesus Christ. This news is not merely useful information, but rather, it is no less than “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The whole letter describes the Gospel and this passage explains it in wonderful detail. I will point out four ideas from these two verses:

The Gospel is the Power of God for Salvation

The Gospel is for Everyone Who is Believing

The Gospel Reveals the Righteousness of God

The Gospel Promotes Abundant Life through Faith

The Gospel is the Power of God for Salvation

Romans 1:16 For 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.

Paul made several profound statements in this one verse. He wrote that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. The Gospel is not a display of our power. It is not evidence of our ability to do anything. It is solely the power of God and for our salvation. We can do nothing, absolutely nothing, to make ourselves right with God. Salvation is completely the work of God. We can claim no credit for it. It is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ that puts us in a right relationship with God. Because the Gospel is the power of God for salvation, we should therefore not be ashamed of it.

Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the Gospel. Why would Paul have to state this? What is there to be ashamed in the Gospel? The world considers the Gospel foolish. A crucified Jewish carpenter who claimed to be a king who will set men free seemed like foolishness to those in Paul’s time. It seems like foolishness to many today. But, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed? There is every reason to love the Gospel, to cherish it, and yes, to share it with others. You could restate what Paul was saying, “I am proud of the Gospel.” After all, Paul was called to “bring about the obedience of faith…among all the nations.” Paul was also “eager to preach the Gospel” to those in Rome. Paul was not intimated by the religious zeal of Jerusalem, nor the intellect of Greece, nor the power of Rome. He was willing to go wherever God sent Him to preach Jesus Christ no matter what the personal cost may be. Are we so bold to do the same?

We have a message that is accompanied by the very power of almighty God. We should not be ashamed to share the Gospel because it is by telling it that God has chosen to save people. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17) Telling others about Jesus Christ is a method which God has chosen to save the world. It is the way by which God is drawing people to Himself. People might ridicule you. Friends might desert you. But it is worth it because the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. Are you willing to risk it all to share Jesus Christ with others?

The Gospel is for Everyone Who is Believing

Not only is the Gospel of Jesus Christ the power of God for salvation, it is also for everyone who believes. Certainly, this means salvation to those who once did not believe. The Gospel brings about salvation to unbelievers. It changes those who were once alienated to God and brings them into fellowship with Him. If you wanted to know how to get right with God, it is by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But, to whom was Paul addressing this statement, “The Gospel is the power of God for salvation.” To answer that we may need to look at the previous verse:

Romans 1:15 …I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

Paul wrote this letter to Christians in Rome and he was eager to preach the Gospel to them – those who had believed. The Gospel is certainly for the unbeliever, to bring people into the family of God; but, it is also for the believer, to keep the believer in the family of God. Some people think that all they are supposed to do is say a prayer and get wet. They have believed in Jesus Christ and it does not matter what they do the rest of their lives. That is not the sense of “believing” here. In fact, Paul literally said that the Gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who is believing.” The Gospel is not just fire insurance but also the power of God to continue in a daily walk of faith.

Another aspect of the Gospel is that it is for everyone who believes. It is not just for a certain group of people, but for whosoever will hear it and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. The Gospel saves everyone who believes in Him, whatever their color, their race, their geographic location, their wealth – whosoever will come to Him. God is drawing all nations unto Himself. He wants to create a holy people from all over the world who will worship Him. If you have a problem with someone who is not like you, who does not look like you, who does not sound like you, then you are going to be miserable in heaven. In fact, you might want to re-evaluate whether you are truly right with God. God is not a racist. Paul declared this when he added “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” If God told you to share the Gospel in Africa, would you go? If God told you to share the Gospel in Asia, would you go? If God tells you to share the Gospel to a poor neighborhood in this community, will you go? You know what? He already has!

The Gospel Reveals the Righteousness of God

The next verse in this passage is one that has greatly influenced the Protestant Church. From his study of Romans 1:17, the reformer, Martin Luther, rediscovered the doctrine that we are declared right with God through faith in Jesus Christ, not by our works.

Romans 1:17 For in [the Gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Since the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who continues to believe, the righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel. There are a couple of ways to understand this. For one, it means God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel, meaning His divine characteristic of being holy and always doing what is right. God’s righteousness of satisfying His justice by putting the penalty of our sin on Jesus Christ is revealed to those who believe in Him. That is true. Those who trust in Jesus Christ perceive the righteousness of God in punishing sin and giving grace to sinners.

Many see this verse as meaning something more. God’s righteousness is also a gift to His people. The early church father, Saint Augustine, once wrote, “The righteousness of God is that righteousness which He imparts in order to make men righteous.” We are not righteous in ourselves, but God imparts His righteousness to us so that we become righteous. That is the sense of what Paul wrote elsewhere:

Philippians 3:9 not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We receive righteousness from God. If there is any rightness in us, it is because God is righteous and imparts His righteousness to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The way for us to become righteous is in the Gospel and through faith in Christ. God always initiates a relationship with us and we respond to it in faith. Not only do we begin our relationship by one act of faith, we continue our relationship with God by faith and living faithfully. Every point of the Gospel’s influence in our life depends on faith, not on works.

The Gospel Promotes Abundant Life through Faith

I began this message talking about life. The Gospel is about giving life to those who were once dead. The Good News of Jesus Christ is that though you were once dead in your sin, you have now been raised to new life. By the power of God, you have abundant life through Jesus Christ, right now and in the future. Although Christians receive salvation when they repent and believe in Christ, they will experience the full benefits of salvation only when Christ returns at the end of the age.

1 Peter 1:3–5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Salvation is a process. You must be saved, you are being saved, and you will be saved when Jesus returns. Salvation is accomplished through what Jesus Christ did and what He continues to do in our lives through the Holy Spirit. All of it is accomplished by faith.

Romans 1:17 (NLT) This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.

Paul quoted the prophet Habakkuk saying, “The righteous shall live by his faith.” The one who is declared right with God lives by faith. They must believe in Jesus Christ and trust in Him to be declared right with God. It is by faith that we initially receive the gift of salvation, but it is also by faith that we live each day. The righteous will live by faith and by faith the one who is righteous will live. Life is found by daily trusting in Jesus Christ.


In closing, the Gospel is not just a one time experience to get you right with God. The Gospel is the power of God to keep you right with God. You must put aside any sense that you can do it yourself. It is not faith to say that you can earn God’s favor. It is not faith to say that you must do something to be right with God. You cannot do enough good things to be right with God. It is by faith alone in Christ alone that will make you righteous. But you must die before you can live. The one who lives is the one who dies to self. What I mean is that you must put aside yourself, your desire to promote yourself, your love of self, and trust in Jesus Christ as your very life. If you choose to elevate yourself, to praise yourself, to find life in yourself, you will loose it. Life begins by bowing before the Almighty God and saying to Him, “Here I am, Lord! I have nothing to give You except my very life, which is Yours anyway. I am utterly dependent upon you, but I trust in You to save me, to keep me saved, and to give me abundant life forever.”

What can wash away sin? What can make me whole again: Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can keep me whole? The last verse in the hymn says:

This is all my hope and peace

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

This is all my righteousness

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

There is no other way than Jesus Christ. There is no other standard for being right with God. Trust in Jesus. Lean on Him. He is the Good News. He is Life! Amen!

This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site:

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