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Rom. 1:1 THE CREDENTIALS OF PAUL THE APOSTLE Part 1

Intro: Tonight, we embark on a study of what is perhaps the greatest Book of the New Testament. I know that is a big statement, however, Romans is, without question, the greatest theological work of the Apostle Paul. This book has been called "The Constitution Of Christianity"; "The Christian Manifesto"; and "The Cathedral Of The Christian Faith". Without a doubt, this book has been responsible for more change in the church than any other.

It was this book that in September of 386 AD touched the heart of a North African native who was a professor in the city of Milan, Italy. As Augustine sat weeping in the garden of a friend while contemplating the wickedness of his life, he heard a child singing, "Tolle, lege. Tolle, lege." These words from Latin mean, "Take up and read. Take up and read." Beside of Augustine was an open scroll of the Book of Romans. He picked it up and read the first verses that caught his eyes. They were Rom. 13:13-14. These verse brought about the conversion of Augustine and he became, in the mind of many, one of the greatest theologians and leaders in the history of the church.

1,000 years later, a Roman Catholic monk of the Augustinian Order named Martin Luther, who was a professor at the University of Wittenburg in Germany, was teaching his students the Book of Romans. As he studied the text, his heart was arrested by the theme of justification by faith, Rom. 1:17. The Holy Spirit used this verse to bring Luther to Christ and the Reformation to the world.

A few hundred years later, an ordained minister in the Church of England named John Wesley was repairing to take the Gospel to America as a missionary. However, even though Wesley was a preacher and was going to cross the Atlantic as a missionary, he was confused about the Gospel and was seeking a genuine conversion experience of his own. Then, one Wednesday evening, he attended a Bible Study in London. While there, he heard some of Luther's comments on Romans being read and this brought about his conversion to Christ. Then John, along with his brother Charles, would be the tolls God would use to bring the great Wesleyan revivals to the world.

Over the next several months, as the Lord leads, I intend to preach through this great book verse by verse. As I do, we will find that a great many questions about God and what He has given us in Jesus will be answered. This is a Book that is impossible to exhaust. It will captivate the most brilliant of theological minds and will bring the humblest of God's servants to tears.

Romans was written by Paul the Apostle between 56 and 58 A.D. from the city of Corinth while Paul was on his third missionary journey. The Bible tells us that after Paul was saved, he spent 3 years in Arabia, Gal. 1:17-18. During this time he studies the Old Testament writings and how they speak of Jesus. When he returned to Jerusalem, he came with this great epistle burning in his heart. Let's join Paul tonight in these first 7 verses as he discusses his credentials with the members of the Church in Rome.

As Paul discusses himself and his ministry, he also sheds some light on our mission as we go through life. This is the longest introduction to any of the New Testament epistles. It is also the richest in theological content. Let's spend a few minutes here as we consider The Credentials Of The Apostle Paul.

I. V. 1 THE FACTS ABOUT THE MESSENGER

A. His Condition - As Paul begins his comments to the Roman Christians, he doesn't begin boasting of his office. He begins by proclaiming himself to be a "servant." The word means a "bond slave." This calls to mind the "law of the bond slave" from the Old Testament. According to this law, a slave could refuse his freedom and could choose to remain with his master forever, Ex. 21:1-6. Instead of exalting himself before the Romans, Paul chose to humble himself. This was the secret of Paul's greatness! Paul knew that like a slave, he had no personal rights. His life was dictated to him by the master. He was totally sold out to the will of God. There is no doubt that this is why the Lord used Paul so greatly!

(Ill. This is a lesson that the modern Christian needs to learn. We have so many who feel that they are in control of their lives and that they have the right to do as they please and make their own decisions. We need to remember that when we were saved by Jesus Christ, we became His bond servants! He bought us, and now He owns us completely - 1 Cor. 6:19-20.)

(Ill. This image of slavery was commonplace to Paul's readers. However, we don't understand it so well. Therefore, I would like to take a moment to share a few facts about slaves and slavery with you this evening. As I do, I want you to let the Lord speak to your heart about your relationship with Jesus and about your own level of surrender to Him.

1. The slave was totally owned by the Master. In the spiritual sense, Jesus saw the wretched condition we were in and He bought us unto Himself. He made us His possession, Rev. 5:9.

2. The slave existed for his Master. He had no other reason for his existence. He had no rights of his own. The only rights he had were those of the Master.

3. The slave existed to serve his Master. He had no other purpose in life but to do what the Master wanted him to do. He was to be at the Master's disposal any hour of the day or night. This is how Paul felt. Does that describe your heart this evening? Our lives should be lived for the glory of the Lord. We are to do His will totally, and without question! (Ill. Eph. 6:6)

4. Even the slave's will belonged exclusively to his Master. He was allowed no will or no ambition outside that which his Master allowed him to have. In other words, there was to be a total surrender of every part of the slaves being to the will of the Master, 2 Cor. 10:5.

5. Note that when Paul mentions his Master, that it is none other than the Lord Jesus. A slave's live, whether it was good or evil, depended upon the character of his Master. In the case of the believer, our Master is Jesus! Therefore instead of cringing and cowering in fear before this One we call Lord, we are servants who have been elevated to the status os priests and kings. Our is a position of honor before the Lord. We are perhaps the only slaves in history who are allowed to sit with their Master in His throne, Eph. 2:6.

B. His Calling - Not only was Paul a slave to a new Master, he was also an apostle. This word means an "ambassador". This word literally means a "sent one." He was a person sent out into another country as a representative of Heaven. Ambassadors usually carried with them all the authority of the country and the king which sent them. Paul was no exception. He was a representative of King Jesus and he operated under His Divine authority. When Paul spoke, he spoke for the Lord. When he acted, he acted as a representative of the throne of Heaven. His authority was the very authority of God Himself.

(Ill. What does all this mean for us?

1. It is worthy of note that Paul was what he was by the will of God. Notice that he had been "Called". Paul did not just decide to go into the ministry, nor did friends and family persuade him that it was what he should do. he was placed in the ministry by the sovereign will of Almighty God, 1 Tim. 1:12-14. Paul became what he did by the grace of God that was operating in his life, 1 Cor. 15:10. Just as God picked and placed Paul, He also does the same for you and me. He places us in His kingdom work when and where it pleases Him, 1 Cor. 12:11,18.

2. If He could take his worst enemy, 1 Tim. 1:15, and make him His greatest messenger, then God can and will use your life for His glory if you will yield to Him. Never let the Devil or any person tell you that God cannot and will not use your life for His glory. He saved you by His grace and He wants to use you to bring others unto Him. He has a place of service for you and He will place you there if you will yield to Him.

3. While we do not hold the office of Apostle, we are the ambassadors of Heaven. God has commissioned us to be His spokespersons to a lost an dying world. In fact, the Bible plainly tells us that we are the very words of God written to speak to the peoples of the world, 2 Cor. 3:2-3. When the world sees you and me, lets ever let them see a people who are sold out and committed to the will of God in the world. They need to see people who are living like they are indeed the representatives of Heaven, Phil. 1:27. Like salt in a bland world, we should flavor our lives with the glory of God and create a thirst in others for the things of God, Matt. 5:13-16.)

C. His Commission - Paul's next statement tells us that he had been "separated" unto the Gospel of God. There are some great blessings contained in this little phrase.

1. Separated - This word has the idea of being "set apart." Paul is telling us that his life has been set apart for the glory of God and for the Lord Jesus Christ. This literally means that nothing else mattered to Paul but the things that mattered to God.

(Ill. People are concerned with being separated from the world. They will tell you that you have to stop doing this thing or the other thing to be perfectly separated. Their whole life revolves around what they can and cannot do. I personally believe that people like this are missing the boat. Our job is not to separate from the world, it is to separate unto Christ. If we are separated unto Jesus, then we are automatically separated from the world. I cannot be in Nebo and want to be separated unto Morganton without first becoming separated from Nebo. Does that make sense? If I am living in one area, then it is impossible for me to dwell in another! So, if I really want to be separate from the world, and I think that is what God wants, 2 Cor. 6:17, then the secret lies in totally devoting my life the Lord Jesus Christ. If I live to please Him, I will have no trouble with the world!)

2. The word translated "separated" is the same word from which we get our word "horizon." The sense of this word is literally "off-horizoned". It tells us that Paul's horizons had changed. Before, he was headed toward a religious hell, living a life of legalism and rebellion against Christ. Now, his life has been changed and he is headed towards a new horizon. His is a radically different life.

(Ill. So it is with every child of God who is in the world today. We have been changed forever! We are headed toward a new horizon. Before, our destiny was an eternity in Hell. Now, we have been saved and are headed to Heaven to be with the Lord forever. Before, our lives were filled with sin and rebellion. Now, we have been called out as ambassadors of the kingdom of Heaven. The very representatives of God in the world today.)

3. Paul then tells us that he has been separated to the "Gospel of God." His commission is that of carrying the "good news" of Jesus to a world trapped in sin and lostness. This Gospel is a special message. Notice this:

a. It is the Gospel of God - This message did not originate in the mind of man. It came from the heart of God. The plan that would culminate with Jesus dying on the cross and then rising from the dead was and is God's plan. It was devised long before man ever stood on the earth, Rev. 13:8. Had man developed the plan of salvation, it surely would have included works and religious rituals. People love that sort of thing. Man would have fixed it so that he got a little of the credit. God, on the other hand, fixed it so that lost sinners could come to Him freely, in faith and receive eternal salvation by the grace o God, Eph. 2:8-9.

b. It is a Gospel born in the heart of God - Why would God want to go to such great lengths to save the world and get His message to the world? The answer is that God is love, 1 John 4:8 and that He does not want to see a single sinner die without Him, 2 Pet. 3:9. His love is so great that He will stop at nothing to get the message out. He will even use people like you and me.

(Ill. Just consider for a moment those people that God calls into the ministry!)

(Ill. This kind of love is illustrated by an old story from France. It seems that there was a young Frenchman who was loved very deeply by his mother. However, when this young man reached adulthood, he fell in love with a very wicked young woman who was able to gain his total devotion. When the young man's mother tried to turn her son away from this wicked and ungodly relationship, the young woman became extremely angry. She told her lover that if he really loved her, he would prove it by going to his mother's home, killing her and returning with her heart to prove that he had done the deed. This young man resisted, but his girlfriend continued to pressure him, until one night in a drunken stupor he went to his mother's home, killed her and cut out her heart. As he returned to his girlfriend's home. As he entered the door, he stumbles and fell to the floor. When he did, the heart is said to have cried out, "Son, are you hurt?")

(Isn't that how things are between God and man? He created us, He loves us and yet man rises up in rebellion against God, ultimately participating in God's death at Calvary. Even with all this against us, God still sees our hurt condition and reaches out to make things right between us and Himself. When we have done our best to keep the Lord out of our lives, He still reminds us of His love and calls us to come unto Him. His Gospel certainly is the Good News!)

c. It is the only Gospel that will save the lost - God only knows of one plan that will save the lost soul - Acts 16:3; Acts 4:12; John 3:16.

d. We are the messengers of this Gospel in this present day - Just as Paul was separated in the 1st Century to carry the Gospel to the lost then, we are called to do the same in this day. The message is juts as precious and the need just as great. Our duty is to submit to the Lord's will for our lives and be His ambassadors in the world. How are we doing in getting the Gospel out?

Conc: As I bring this first message from Romans to a close, we haven't covered much territory from the standpoint of verses covered. However, I think you will agree with me that the things that have been said this evening are of immense eternal and practical value. Paul considered him self to be a slave to Jesus, an ambassador of God and a proclaimer of the good news of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you know that God holds the same expectation for you and me? His will is that we go forth into this world with His message, as His representatives in His Name and power and that we tell His Good News to those who are perishing. When we lay ourselves alongside of the great Apostle, how do we measure up? Is there more we can do? Are we surrendered to the level we should be? Are we consumed with a burden for the lost and with the need to get out the Gospel? If the Lord has dealt with your heart through this message, I invite you to come to the altar and do what the Lord would have you to do!




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