Monday, August 21, 2006

Romans 1:1, Part 2

As promised, below is my sermon outline for Romans 1:1, to be preached this coming Sunday. I'm doing it in manuscript form so you can see how I am going to attempt my argument rather than just giving you the usual bullet points. I'm also changing the title; after I wrote this out I realized that "The Designated Hitter" didn't really enter my mind at all. No decision yet on what the title will be; I'll get there eventually. Anyway, with no further ado.... Romans 1:1 - "Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, one called an apostle, one set aside to the gospel of God" (Deaf Jedi Translation - DJT) This verse is an important verse for all of us. It is the first time in the Bible that Paul talks directly to us, his readers. And Paul chooses to tell us three things about himself: 1) he is a slave of Jesus; 2)he has been called to be an apostle; and 3) he has been "set aside" to the Gospel. Today I would like for us to look at what Paul is tellilng us about himself.

Paul the Slave

Paul calls himself a "slave" of Jesus. Why does he do that? First of all, the Greek word translated "slave" is also translated "servant." Together, this tells us that Paul is someone who is under commitment to serve. That commitment is something he cannot break even if he wanted to. He is a slave, and because he is a slave, he does not have any rights whatsoever. The only rights Paul has are those granted him by his master. Paul will tell us later in Romans that he has had two masters in his lifetime: sin and Jesus. What happened was that Jesus came and bought him from his former master, sin. He is still a slave; he simply serves a different master now. In the same way, Paul will tell us later in Romans, all of us are slaves. We are slaves first to sin, and after God saves us, we are slaves to Christ.

Paul the Called One

Paul also calls himself "the called one." He is a person who has specifically been chosen. Not only that, Paul says he was chosen to do fill a specific job, that of an apostle. An apostle is someone who has been sent to deliver a message. So Paul is telling us that he is a slave who has a specific job, to deliver messages for his master. God has chosen Paul to deliver messages for Him. In the same way, Paul will tell us later, each of us has been chosen by God to do a specific job. These are, firstly, our spiritual gifts, which Paul briefly talks about in Romans 12:3-8. He also talks a lot about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14. Secondly, God has chosen each of us to do certain things with our lives. Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3), Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14), some of the apostles were fishermen, tax collectors, or accountants. You might be a minister, you might work at the post office, some of you work with me at UPS, some of you are stay-at-home moms, and some of you are fortunate enough to be retired! But God has chosen that role for each of you, just like He chose Paul to be an apostle.

Paul the Set-Aside One

Lastly, Paul calls himself "one set aside." What does he mean by that? Well, remember that Paul first says that he is a slave. Then he says he is a slave who has been given a specific job. Now he tells us what that job is. He has been picked to deliver a specific message, the Gospel. In the same way, each of us is to use our spiritual gifts in a specific way. I use my gifts to teach, preach, and counsel. Some of you use yours to encourage, to support, to speak the truth, to love, to speak wisely, and so on. Each of you use your spiritual gifts to do a specific thing, and no one uses them the same way. Pastor Tim usually uses his preaching gift to encourage and challenge you in the truth; I usually use my preaching gift to teach doctrine and show you the truth. We have the same gift, but we use it in two different ways. We also do our worldly jobs differently. Before I was promoted, I had the same job as some of our Deaf people at UPS, but I did it in my own way, just as they did their job in their own way. If you watched us side by side you could tell that we did some things differently. But each of us does our job in the way that God has decided that we will do it, not the way we want to do it or someone else wants us to do it.

"At The Same Time"

I want to draw your attention to the words "set aside" for a moment. Did you know those are the most important words in the entire sentence? In the Greek, the word that we translate "set aside" also tells us that Paul is a slave, a called one, and has been set aside at the same time. They are one and the same! Paul is a slave who is an apostle who has been set aside to preach the Gospel. To Paul, these three mean the same thing! Not only that, but the Greek word used here tells us that God is the one who made Paul a slave, called him an apostle, and gave him the job of preaching the Gospel. Paul will tell us in Galatians 1:15 that God had already chosen Paul before he was born. God decided long before Paul was born that he would become Jesus' slave and would be responsible for spreading the Gospel. The Greek word also tells us that this is happening to Paul every day. Each day, Paul becomes Jesus' slave, is called an apostle, and is given the job of preaching the Gospel. This is what we mean by the word sanctification. Every day Paul had to recognize that he belonged to God and had to obey God's will for his life. You and I are also slaves, called ones, and set apart ones at the same time. Just like God is at the same time Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we show a picture of that by being Christians, disciples, and witnesses. You and I also were chosen by God before we were born. Even before God made the universe, He chose you to play a part in His work. He saved you by His grace in Jesus' death on the cross. He commands you to obey Him in all things. Won't you give up trying to do things your way? God has already taken care of everything; all you must do is obey Him. How can you obey Him? Repent of your sins and trust Jesus as your Savior. If you are not a Christian, I ask you to trust Christ today. All you must do is repent of your sins. Ask God to give you faith to believe, and you will trust Jesus. When you trust Jesus, you will discover what God has made you to do in this life! If you are already a Christian, when you repent of your sins and trust Jesus, your sins are forgiven. You are restored to a right fellowship with God. Your bond with the Lord becomes deeper and stronger, because you have trusted Him to make you holy. The Bible tells us that now is the perfect time to repent and believe. Will you obey what God has said and trust Him?

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