For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...
In Romans, Chapter 1, Paul is speaking of the exalted power of the Gospel, and when properly understood, I believe it speaks to an even bigger concept than the Church has realized up til now. We have all been taught that Jesus came to die for our sins, so that we might escape the wrath of God by receiving Him as our Savior. The benefit of that decision is exchanging a life of sin that leads to Death and the eternal absence of God for a life lived in Jesus's imputed righteousness and the gift of spending eternity in Heaven with the Father and Son. Does that do a pretty good job of what the Body of Christ is believing? It is all correct, without a doubt -- but there's so much more!
For those of us who are willing to hear and see what the Word of God is actually saying, that picture takes on new dimensions and significance. If you read the first few verses of Romans 1, you see Paul laying out the foundation of our faith ... the Gospel of God prophesied [through the prophets] that the Son of God would be born as a descendant of David in the flesh; that Jesus Christ was declared the Son of God [as a result of] power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Holy Spirit; that we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all people for His name’s sake.
I'm afraid we might have reduced the real magnitude of these verses to a simplified "salvation message". And I believe that is borne out by our limited understanding of verse 16, in which we don't see the big picture of what "the power of God for salvation" really means. Let me see if I can explain ...
Are we guilty of reading this verse from the standpoint of the Reformation, which preached God's mercy to bring us into freedom from sin and His wrath? In other words, are we interpreting this word "salvation" as strictly meaning the escape from eternal damnation in the Day of Judgment, and only seeing the work of the Holy Spirit as He relates to conversion?
If you are seeing with newly opened spiritual eyes, I hope that you are discerning salvation in the larger scope of its purposes for the Kingdom. As I have continually written, it is my opinion that the Church has lost the sense of God's Power in us, and doesn't have a very good sense that Jesus came to preach the Good News about the influence of that power [through us] in this dimension called earth. Furthermore, we don't have a clear grasp that those Kingdom purposes are about forgiveness, and about having the ability and the authority to communicate with God (as Jesus did) so that we can actually be in communication with God's enabled power to heal the sick, for instance. We don't understand that He desires to use us by releasing His power through us to cast out demons, and even raise people from the dead, if He tells us that is His will.
We have not been taught that the Holy Spirit [in us] enables us to see in the spirit, and hear in the spirit so that we can implement our Father's plans and will -- just as Jesus did in His incarnate state. He showed us that is possible! And this is the fullest sense of that word SALVATION which includes forgiveness, healing, deliverance and the redemption of "the poor in spirit."
For too long, we have believed that the power of God worked independently from us, and we saw Him as some distant Benefactor or Judge [depending on our circumstances]. Remember, God identifies Himself as the "I AM". He is not the "I WAS" or the "I WILL BE". The same actions of healing and deliverance from demons that He exhibited through the Apostles are to be acted out in faith and obedience by us.
When we proclaim the Gospel Message, are we making sure that we know the full extent of that Good News? That it is not limited to eternal life in Heaven, but extends to daily healing and deliverance in the here and now? We are called to proclaim that Gospel to the ends of the earth and until Jesus returns. But can we truly say we are fully proclaiming that Gospel if it does not include the signs and miracles that Jesus modeled during His preaching?
I know that this is probably outside the purview of mainstream Christianity, but it is precisely because this message has been neglected that the Church is powerless today against the forces coming against our families, the culture, and our government. It is time that the Body of Christ quit trying to come to terms with the Enemy and go back to the fundamentals of Jesus's message... He clearly tells us that He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him. All we have to do is read the Scripture through spiritual eyes and see what He did. That is the true Gospel and the full sense of how the Father views salvation. That is the power Paul is talking about; it is the length and width and height and depth of God's power and love to deliver us all from every kind of evil. That is the picture of His Kingdom and Power and Glory that He wants us to see and to do!