The Man Behind the Christian Magna Carta, Part III

6 02 2013

romansHere’s the second way Paul chose to introduce himself to the Roman Christians.

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle…”

It reflects the truth that Paul was…

Magnificently called by Christ: summoned by the God of the Universe

Paul continues his introduction of himself…He’s a called man. He’s specifically been called to the position of apostle. To be an apostle is different than being a disciple. Every believer is called to be a disciple (a follower or learner). But only a few were called to be apostles. Apostle’s had special authority given to them by Christ.

  • Apostles did not choose the position, but rather they were chosen for the position. In Matthew 10:1-2 Jesus appoints the 12 disciples as apostles and gives them power over unclean spirits and the power to heal. In Acts 1:26 the 11 apostles came together to replace Judas, the betrayer of Jesus and to fill his role as an apostle. But it’s God who chooses Matthias through the casting of lots.
  • Apostles were chosen for special assignment. In Greek culture the idea of an apostle was someone who was sent by another to accomplish a special assignment. We could view the apostles as sort of like God’s special ops forces who are strategically sent out to battle on the front lines of the enemy. An OT example of this type could be Samuel who in 1 Samuel 16 is sent on special assignment by God to anoint the next king of Israel. We wouldn’t call Samuel an apostle, but he fulfills the idea of a NT apostle. He goes to anoint the next king and he doesn’t just anoint any one of Jesse’s sons, but he anoints the one God tells him to anoint. Paul wasn’t chosen for special assignment based on his own merit or skill, but based on the favor of Christ who called him.
  • Christ qualified Paul to be an apostle by appearing to him on the road to Damascus. Apostles had to witness the risen Christ firsthand (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1).
  • Finally the authority of the apostle’s was in Christ. Paul’s authority to write, to heal, to lead the churches, and to proclaim Christ was all authority that came from Christ. Anything that was in Paul’s resume that he could boast in himself about he disqualified from mentioning. He only mentions who he is in Christ. He says to the Galatians, “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  • The point here is that the Romans were to receive this letter as authoritative from God. We also are to obey it as the Word of God.

Hudson Taylor in challenging English students during his time to be involved in China mission work, used to tell of the story about Peter, his Chinese convert and disciple. On one of their sea journeys, Peter (who do not know how to swim) fell from the side of the boat. Fortunately, there were fishermen nearby, just a grab away from where Peter fell. Taylor shouted at the fishermen and asked them to help his friend, “Hey, help my friend, he is drowning.” However, the fishermen did not bother to do his call for help because they were busy loading their catch from the net to their boat. Taylor continued to yell, “Stop what you are doing, and help my friend. He is just a grab away.” But the fishermen continued on their work until the last fish was loaded to the boat. Then they jumped and got Peter out of water. They tried to revive him, but to no avail. Peter died of drowning. He could have been saved because he was just a grab away from the fishermen. Then, he asked the students/church members what they thought of about the Chinese? Some said, they are bad, evil, selfish, unconcern about the salvation of a dying man. You know how Taylor responded? He said, “I saw differently. I think the Chinese are like most Christians today, they are unconcerned about the plight of the sinners who are now just a grab away from them. The reason is that they are so busy with their work.”

  • We have not been called as apostles, but we have been called as ambassadors. And we need more Christians who live with the deep sense of calling on their lives. Christians who will forsake the obsessions of their hearts that have far more to do with this temporal life than they do with anything eternal. Christians who will feed the desire for more of Jesus Christ and who will embrace the obsession for Him and what He loves and desires.
  • If you’re in Christ then you’re a marked man or a marked woman. You’ve been called…summoned by the King of glory…summoned as an ambassador in chains to the gospel. Paul uses that language in verse 14: I am a debtor… The love of Christ constrains us to pay a debt to the Jews and the Gentiles…We owe them the gospel for the sake of the glory of Christ! Are we living like this?

If Christ is our obsession, then the gospel is our obligation to the nations!



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