Romans 1:16a – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…
In this verse, Paul is describing the nature of his readiness “to preach the gospel” (Rom. 1:15). As he says, this readiness involved “as much as in me is” and testifies to the fact that there was something working in Paul that produced the readiness (Rom. 1:11-12). My understanding is that the readiness involved was the product of the effectual working of the “some spiritual gift” that had been deposited with him; that is, the explanation concerning the gospel of Christ that he longed to preach to the saints at Rome for their establishment and comfort as ambassadors for Christ (Rom. 1:11-12). It was because of the confident understanding that Paul possessed of what the gospel declares, along with “the power” that it possesses by virtue of the resurrected Son of God whom it concerns, that Paul could be ever “ready” to preach it and never “ashamed” of it.
Notice that he does not say, “I am not ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ”, but rather “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” The fundamental problem with shame concerning preaching the gospel is not really due to a lack of willingness for most saved folks, but rather it is a problem of shame in relation to our clear understanding of exactly what the gospel declares, where to begin declaring it and how to answer the oppositions that arise. The fear and shame associated with this lack of readiness stifles our witness and this is what Paul’s words in Romans are meant to remedy.
As this process begins to unfold for our understanding of the gospel of Christ, God gives us inside information in Rom. 1:18-20. He teaches us that God Himself has begun the process with every man by the things which He has shown to them. He alerts us to the fact that every man is 1. God conscious, and 2. Wrath conscious. There is enough revealed in the things God has shown every man internally through his human conscience and externally through the creation God made to bring a man to the realization that he “holds the truth in unrighteousness” and is, therefore, in need of “the righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17). Obviously, these are basic truths that need to be built upon to lead a man to a saving knowledge of Christ, but understanding this is an important first step when it comes to dealing with men. Begin with the things men know about themselves naturally, and you too will be “ready” to begin preaching the gospel of Christ to them (Rom. 1:15).
This is only the first part of our readiness establishment, and more along these lines is developed in us as we continue through the chapters of Romans. I encourage all saints to devote time to these chapters and allow God to perfect this readiness and freedom from shame in you as well so that you can be an effectual ambassador for Christ, equipped, established and every “ready to preach to gospel” (Rom. 1:15).