“How Do You See Yourself As A Christ-follower?”
I know no better place to go than the book of Romans to explore our subject. We are quite sure that Paul had not been to Rome when he wrote this letter. It seems apparent that he had a number of friends there. It is likely that he met some of the church members in other places in his travels. Aquila and Priscilla were some of his dearest friends and it seems likely that the church in Rome was founded by them. Even at that, it seemed that the church had experienced a lot of his spiritual influences.
In verses nine and ten of chapter one, we see how he felt about them and longed to see them –
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I
Make mention of you always in my prayers, making request, if by some means, now at last I may
Find a way in the will of God to come to you.” Vs. 11, “For I long to see you, that I may impart
To you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established….”
You can tell that he loved them and longed to see them. I can tell you in all sincerity that’s how Joyce and I feel about Jubilee Fellowship. We can hardly wait for Sundays to come. In 1:12, Paul wrote, “that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith, both of you and me.” He not only wanted to encourage them but expected to be encouraged by them as well. That is what we are experiencing here, week after week.
1. Paul Makes Personal Statements About Himself.
As we look at how the Apostle saw himself as a Christ-follower, I want to lay the same grid over our lives to see how we measure up.
Paul saw himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ.” 1:1- Actually the term he used was a “bond Servant of Jesus Christ.” He saw himself as a “love slave” to his Lord. He saw himself as belonging to Jesus Christ. He wanted to be totally given over to the will of his Lord. He wanted only to live for and please Jesus Christ. FOLKS – that’s where the foundation of our Christian service begins. In Timothy 2:19, Paul wrote “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription: THE LORD KNOWS THOSE WHO ARE HIS and everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness.” (HASB).
- Do you see yourself as a “love servant” totally belonging to Jesus Christ?
- How does He see you?
2. Next, Paul called himself “an apostle” of Jesus Christ, 1:1. The word “apostle” means “one sent”. Those who were designated as apostles had seen the resurrected Christ. Paul had his encounter with the living LORD when he was on his way to Damascus to persecute those who were followers of “the way”. (Acts 9:1-9) From that time on, he would bear witness of his encounter with Jesus Christ.
We are not apostles in the sense that Paul and the others were. But, Jesus is alive and if we have met and received Him, we are His disciples also commissioned to bear witness that Christ is alive. We are saved to serve, because He has redeemed us or purchased us for Himself.
- Do you see yourself as one of His disciples?
- Do you realize He wants to send you forth to bear witness of Him to the rest of the world? Matthew 28:19-20. In John 17:18 Jesus in His high priestly prayer said, “As you (Father) sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
3. Paul said that he had been “set apart for the gospel of God.” (1:1) Jesus made it very clear to Paul shortly after Paul’s conversion that this man had been saved for a reason. He would go forth to bear witness of the resurrection of Christ. He was to be separated from a life of sin, from addiction to the world, a self-serving mindset, and be separated unto Christ and our LORD’S work. Seeing himself set apart to Christ in this way was essential to his apostleship and service.
- Do you see yourself as one who is “set apart” to be and do what God has in mind for your life? In Cor. 6:19-20, Paul wrote, ”Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (HASB).
- Do you see yourself as one belonging to God and set apart to know Him and make Him known?
4. Next Paul tells us that he had received grace and apostleship. 1:5 “Through Him and for His name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the gentile’s to the obedience that comes from faith.” Grace is the unmerited, unearned favor of God and it is essential to all of our serving. Christ called me to serve Him as pastor/shepherd to His people. I did nothing to deserve such an honor. It is because of His amazing grace that I can serve Him in this way. “In light of His grace, each of us who have received Him are called to a life of obedience to His glory.” Is that the track you are on?
5. It only seems natural that Paul would now say concerning his apostleship and service – “God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness.” Isn’t it special when we know that because we are under the dominion of the Holy Spirit and fully yielded to the Lord’s work, that we can say, “God is my witness.”
- Are you guided by the fullness of the Holy Spirit?
- Are you serving Him with your whole heart?
- Would God see you in that light?
6. As we have already seen in 1: 9-10, Paul had a great love for these people and he longed to visit them for mutual encouragement. In verse 13, he tells them that several times he planned to visit them, “but was hindered until now…” As we have seen in our series in the book of Daniel, God’s servants came under direct opposition from Satan and his emmasaries. If you are a child of God, you can expect to “be hindered.”
- Are you experiencing the devil “hindering you?” In James 4:7 we are told specifically to “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
7. In verse 14, Paul says that he felt an obligation to the whole world to share the gospel and especially to the Gentiles. Paul saw himself as a trustee of the gospel. That being the case, he felt he had no right to keep the Gospel just to himself. Listen to how he saw himself as a trustee of the good news about Jesus Christ – “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and unwise.” A debtor is one who “owes someone” something. I wonder if there isn’t a two-fold debtor-ship? First to God and then to those who have never heard. Dr. Oswald J. Smith many years ago, was the pastor of the People’s Church in Toronto, Ontario. It was a great missionary-minded church. Dr. Smith became known all over the world for a saying that was very probing – “Why should anyone hear the gospel twice until all have had a chance to hear it once.”
- Do we see ourselves as trustees of the gospel under assignment by Jesus Christ with an obligation to those who have never heard?
8. In verse 15, Paul said he was going to give his all to fulfilling his apostleship and trust of the gospel. “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” “What would our churches and the world be like if each of us Christ-follower gave our all to getting the good news out. Talk about commitment!
9. Lastly, please note the confidence that Paul had in the gospel. In verse 16 he says – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Folks – that is why in 15 Paul said, “I am eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.”
- Do we have an eagerness to share the good news with those who have never heard? I pray that each of us at Jubilee Fellowship will lay this grid over our hearts and lives to see how we are spiritually.
In Him Alone,