Thursday, September 26, 2013

Understanding the Scriptures Romans

Romans 1:1
   Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

     Paul the apostle, a servant (doulos - slave) of Jesus Christ.  We are given servant in our text, as to signify the light yoke of Christ.  How gently are we handled here by Christ.  We are His and should respond with the obedience of a slave as according to the commandant, yet as a servant from the heart now that we are under grace.  Those who serve because they must are surely missing the joys of redemption.  Those who serve because they "can do no other" (quoting Martin Luther) serve as constrained by love that reciprocates from God's love to them, and thus that love is directed back towards God.  God's love is manifested in them by the Spirit. Then God's love is reflected to others. Through this, their hearts are taught to love by God, and they love Him because He first loved them.  We are merely vessels which bear the fruit of love produced by God.
     Paul is called (klētos - to be called or appointed) to his position of apostleship.  Let us be careful that we do not self-appoint ourselves to ministry, but serve as He has called us.  We should keep our minds fixed on the thought that God invites His people to serve: 1. Generally through His word (duties for all Christians) 2. Specifically through leading of the Spirit (the "where & when" of service - found through prayer, counsel, etc.) and 3.Through appointment of His sovereignty (calling out ministers by the Holy Spirit into His full-time work - they that preach the Gospel must live of the Gospel [be supported by it] 1 Cor 9:14).
     Paul is separated unto the Gospel.  We need not set ourselves on separating from things to gain holiness. If we separate unto Jesus, we have left all that is unholy.  Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness (God who justifies the unrighteous).  Let us not be known by what we have separated from, but by Who we have separated unto.  Discipline bears not saving fruit, but if we are separated unto Christ, then the fruit of the Spirit abounds, and in that fruit is the seed that the world needs.  The fruit of the Spirit is evidence that you are yielded and allowing Jesus to live His life through you.  Our scruples are no such evidence, only the Spirit's fruit is. 
      I remember a while back visiting a church out of town that was recommended to me while I was away traveling on vacation.  I entered in and sat down preparing myself for the service and looking forward to great preaching from God's Word.  As the service started I was somewhat shocked at the format.  The music was a little different, the presentation was not the same thing that I was familiar with, and I began to feel like a duck out of water.  I became uncomfortable and decided that this was displeasing to God.  As I remained in the service for a while it became obvious that the presence of God was in this place.  It became even more obvious that the fruit of the Spirit was in the people.  Love, joy, peace, and truth  without compromise doctrinally was the theme.  I then decided that if God was not displeased with them why should I be?  They were separated unto Christ, like Paul; and therefore, God was pleased with them.