Three, nothing mystical about the number, nothing hidden in the number, nor a simplistic numeric solution to life, like 6 steps to holiness or three steps to a better life now. This isn’t a click your heels together and utter three magic statements. No, these are just three statements which occur within the context of an amazing letter written to the church in Rome. Three statements which can result in a life altering effect, if they are prayerfully taken to heart.
If you do not want to be convicted, if you do not want your life to be confronted, challenged or your heart and life stirred and shaken up, then I suggest that you do not read any further. If, however, you are open to confrontation, conviction, and three statements that will challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone, then by all means proceed at your own risk.
In Romans chapter 1 verses 14-16 Paul made three statements, three significant statements about himself and that should be life altering to the rest of us. First, he said, “I am a debtor” (v. 14). This is not a statement that we would want to say about ourselves in this day and age. We do everything to be sure that we are not in debt to anyone or anything. Debt is one of those bad four letter words. We want to be free from many things, even things like obligation to others. We don’t want to feel like we have to do something, especially when it comes to others. And we definitely don’t like obligations that we can never get out from under. But here we are. Paul says “I am a debtor.” We see from the verse to whom he is a debtor, and that is people, unbelievers to be specific. From this statement we see that Paul was conscious of a spiritual obligation. He realized he had an obligation because he had seen the truth concerning Jesus Christ. Those of us who have been reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus Christ have a ministry of reconciliation – we have an obligation to take the message, the gospel, to others (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). For any of us to receive the gospel is to incur debt. “Obligation to Him who died produces obligation to those for whom He died” (Morris).
Second, Paul stated, “I am ready” (v. 15). It’s one thing to sense an obligation and even to be willing, but it is another thing to be ready. Readiness involves a mental attitude – putting ourselves at God’s disposal to do His will. Not only this but there is an element of eagerness involved in this term. It is an eager preparedness to be used by God for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The hindrance was not going to be found in him, as far as he was concerned he was perfectly ready to proclaim the divine gospel. At the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, Lord Clyde, then known as Sir Colin Campbell, when asked how long it would take him to get ready to start for India, is said to have replied, “I am ready now” (Quoted by C. Neil, Romans, 20). If someone asked: How long will it take you to get ready? What will your answer be?
The third and final statement, Paul said, “I am not ashamed” (v. 16). He is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a clear and strong reference to the great doctrines which the Holy Spirit, through Paul, established by irrefutable logic in the succeeding chapters of Romans. The verb that Paul uses here (“to be ashamed”) denotes a reluctance to do something because of fear of humiliation or embarrassment: to be ashamed, be afraid to, lack courage to stand up for. Perhaps there is the specific concern that one's expectations may prove false. But Paul starts this statement with the negative particle “not” indicating that he was in no way fearful to proclaim the gospel about Christ Jesus in public or otherwise. He is in no way fearful that the expectations of the gospel will in any way prove false. “The reason why Paul is not overcome by the temptation to be ashamed of the gospel, but, on the contrary, exults in it and lives to proclaim it, is that he knows that this apparently weak and foolish message is really, in spite of all appearances, power, and not just one power over against another, but the supreme power, the almighty power of God Himself directed toward the salvation of men, God's almighty saving power” (Cranfield, p. 87). Even if it meant going to the metropolitan world and power of Rome to proclaim the message of a crucified Savior and a message which pronounced ‘the whole world guilty before God.’
Three simple statements, “I am a debtor,” “I am ready,” “I am not ashamed,” yet not so simple.