The Ministry of Paul To The GentilesĖ2
Three Different Ministries
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Text: Romans 15:14-22
The Ministry of Paul To The Gentiles (14-22)
In this passage, Paul explains his calling and ministry to the Gentiles. He begins by telling usÖ
Think back with me about what kind of person Paul was before he encountered the risen Lord Jesus Christ on the Damascus road. He was the chief diabolical crusader against the Christian Church. We read about this in Acts 9:1-6 "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" In verse 15 Christ answers the question -- "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:" Acts 9:15
His encounter with Christ changed his life and gave him a clear direction for his life. That is what Paul is saying in verses 14&15. He says, because of Godís grace, I am boldly challenging you (15) to grow in the Lord, even though you already know a great deal about the Lord and show that in the way you live (14).
Paul understood that it was by Godís grace that he was saved and it was by Godís grace that the was called to be an Apostle. Therefore, he was going to be faithful to his calling.
Friends, if you are saved, it is because of the grace of God! Therefore, you need to be faithful to your calling as a Christian. Even if you do not have a specific calling as Paul did, Godís grace is to be evident in your life. So, how will the grace of God evidence itself in the life of the Christian? Titus 2:11-13 tells us -- "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"
Christian, even if you do not have a specific calling as Paul did, you were saved by grace and therefore you are to live out your Christian life as Paul prescribed.
To summarize, Paulís ministry was given to him by the grace of God. Next we seeÖ
"That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost." Romans 15:16
A careful study of this verse reveals that Paul looked at himself as a New Testament priest of sorts. He knows well the ministry of the Old Testament priests in the Temple, after all, he was schooled to be Rabbi and for a time practiced as a Rabbi.
The phrase, "ministering the gospel of God" is revealing. The Greek word translated ministering is the word ierourgew hierourgeo (hee-er-oorg-eh'-o; 2418) & means to officiate as a priest performing a sacred service.
Paulís focus had changed. Instead of ministering the Old Testament rites, he offers a "new and living way" (Hebrews 10:20) into the presence of God. This new way is by the preaching of the Gospel. In fact, Gentiles can enter into the Holy of Holies (the very presence of God) "by the blood of Jesus." (Hebrews 10:19). It is a most sacred service to preach of the Gospel! Think about that for a moment. Sharing the Gospel is a high and holy privilege.
But there is more! Paul looked at the Gentiles that he had won to Christ as a "Thank Offering" or spiritual sacrifice to God. Verse 16 of our text indicates that the Holy Spirit, by His indwelling presence, has made born-again Gentiles an acceptable offering to God.
We have seen that the origin of Paulís ministry was the grace of God and the focus of Paulís ministry was the preaching of the Gospel. Now we move on toÖ
"I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God." Romans 15:17
The word glory is the translation of the Greek word kauchsiv kauchesis (kow'-khay-sis; 2746) which means to boast, brag or take pride in. But, it would be a mistake to read into this verse that Paul was out for personal fame or that he was bragging about his ministry. He was not! But, he was bragging about what the Lord had done. His driving desire was to bring glory to Christ.
Christian, that should be our desire as well (Psalm 34:3). Next we come toÖ
In the foundation period of the Church (that is the time period from the founding of the church in Acts 2 until the death of John, the last Apostle), signs and wonders were given to the apostles to authenticate their ministry was from God. This is confirmed by what we read in Hebrews 2:3-4 "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?" Paul, the apostle "born out of due time," had the witness of the Holy Spirit on his life. This Holy Ghost power strengthened and enabled him to "fully preach the Gospel."
Today, we have the completed Word of God. The signs and wonders that were for the foundational period of the church have ceased. But, the Holy Spirit still empowers the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12) and, if the believer will yield to the Holy Spirit, He will fill that believer enable him to serve Christ powerfully. Oh, how we need genuine Holy Ghost power in our lives today!
Godís special plan for Paul was to preach were no other Apostles had preached. If you study his missionary preaching journeys you see the man covered an incredible amount of territory! In addition, church history tells us that Paul preached in Spain and Great Britain! Now, I want you to think of the implications of what Paul said in verses 20-22. Since Paul was to preach the Gospel where no other Apostles had preached it, and since he desired to go to Rome (and in Acts 28 we see he did), we can be sure that Peter did NOT found the Church at Rome and was not the first pope.
As I conclude this final point, I want to stress how important it is to seek the Lords guidance in living your life. It is utterly foolish to live your life according to your plan and not Godís plan.