Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

#4 Paul’s Testimony

In Romans 1:14-17 Paul shares his testimony as one who was radically transformed by the power of the Gospel of Christ and saw himself :

1.  As a debtor with an obligation to preach the Gospel to  a lost world.1:14

2.  As one ready to preach the Gospel wherever Christ led. 1:15

3. As one who had such confidence in the power of the Gospel that he was  not ashamed nor embarrassed with the Gospel. He knew it was powerful enough to save if he simply preached it.  1:16-17

I AM A DEBTOR!

 

Paul in I Corinthians 15:8-10  thoroughly understood that he was undeserving of God’s grace.  He understood that his salvation was  totally a  gift of God’s grace, a gift that he could never repay.  In the light of that, he sensed that he owed the rest of his life to God for all He had done for him.     That’s why he presented himself to Christ to serve Him as His bond slave for the rest of his life.

That’s also why in Romans 12:1-2 Paul challenges us as Christians to present the rest of our lives as our reasonable service to serve Christ as He leads. That’s the least we can do for Him in the light of what He has done for us.   This total surrender of our lives to Him has nothing to do with legalism, just as giving money to His cause has nothing to do with legalism.

It’s all a matter of responding to His gracious Gift of salvation.

You understand that Paul saw himself as a debtor to take the Gospel to a lost world.  More importantly, do you understand that  YOU are a debtor to take the Gospel to a lost world?

Every sinner is a slave to sin and Satan. As slave owners purchased slaves from the slave market with money, so Christ purchased us with His own shed blood from Satan’s slave market of sin, as alluded to in Acts 20:28.

Every Christian is a debtor to a lost, hell-bound world within our sphere of influence as far as it reaches. When Paul talked about the Greeks and the Barbarians he was referring to the educated and the uneducated, the upper class and the lower class of society,  Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to tell us in chapel at Bob Jones University “The measure of our gifts and opportunities is the measure of our responsibility.”

The amazing fact today is that the whole world is coming to America.  We can be missionaries to the whole world without leaving America.  That puts the responsibility at our own doors.   Are you willing and anxious to pay your debt by reaching out with the Gospel to those within your sphere of  influence?

I AM READY!

 

Paul was ready to preach the Gospel. Are YOU ready?  In the Upper Room just before Jesus went to the cross the next day,  Peter boasted in Luke 22:33 that he was ready to follow Christ; but under pressure, he miserably failed His Lord. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak.  However, later when he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he truly was ready to preach the Gospel, even to gentiles whom he had despised.

Paul was ready after spending three years being personally tutored by the risen Christ in the deserts of  Arabia.  In fact, he was more than ready. He was anxious to go to the ends of the world with the Gospel of Christ, even though it eventually led to his execution in  Rome.

Like Isaiah, centuries before him who answered “Here am I. Send me!”  Paul was willing to answer Christ’s call with “Lord, what will you have me to do?”

As a boy, shortly after I was saved at the age of nine,  I sensed God’s call on my life to be a preacher or missionary.

Though I have never been totally at ease in social gatherings, and have never had much to say about anything when others are conversing and though I have never been “the life of the party”;  when it comes to preaching the Gospel or sharing it personally with others, I am perfectly at ease.  I lose myself in the message.

In college I struggled academically, especially with Greek. However, thanks to tools in my library and the internet, I can find the shades of meaning of every Greek word in the New Testament and every Hebrew word in the Old Testament.

I know what it is to sense my weakness, as a preacher; but in my weakness, I have learned to rely upon God’s strength which is perfected in my weakness.  Read how Paul learned this lesson in II Corinthians 12:7-15.  I love to study God’s Word and prepare messages, which become burdens from the Lord. Others could deliver them with greater skill, but God deigns to use me in my weakness.  For that I am eternally grateful.  I say all of this to encourage anyone who may think God could never use you because you “do not have the gift of gab”.  You don’t need it.  God’s presence and power is all you need.

Through years of studying the Bible, I have the big picture and see how it all fits together and am never happier than when unfolding it to others. Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that I have a perfect understanding of every doctrine, nor do I believe any other preacher has that perfect understanding of every doctrine. 

It’s that mindset that we have a perfect understanding of every doctrine that causes us to be  divisive.  Let us remind ourselves what Paul said in I Corinthians 13:9 “For we know in part and we prophesy or preach in part“.  I encourage you to read the entire 13th chapter of I Corinthians and recognize the importance of love and humility in our ministry, even as we preach what we believe to be a correct understanding of Scripture.

As Jeremiah,  let us rejoice in the truths of Scripture and as we present them to others. “Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16

Young men, I challenge you to earnestly seek God’s will about going to a sound Christian college to prepare yourself  to serve the Lord. He may not choose to use you as a pastor, but make yourself available to His will. As you follow Him step by step, He will open up His wonderful will before you.

Young women, God has a plan for your life also. Though not in the pulpit, God can use you in a ministry with women and children, a ministry just as influential as your male counterpart in the pulpit.  See I Timothy2:12  and read the qualifications of a bishop, another name for pastor.  God may lead you to be a pastor’s wife or a Christian school teacher or missionary.  Talk about influence!  Go to category INFLUENCE on this web site to learn how  Christian single women have perhaps had a greater influence on my life than men in making me the man and preacher I am today. 

I guarantee you, that God has a prepared place for His prepared servant.  In Genesis 24:27 Abraham’s servant, when seeking a bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac, said when he found Rebekah, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.”   The Bible says it is not good for a man to be alone. If that is true, and it is; you can be sure that God will bring into your life the young woman best suited to be your wife.

Proverbs22:29  says, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business. He shall stand before kings.”   Daniel is a good example of that.  As a young man he purposed to stand true to God and God used him over a period of eighty years to influence world leaders such as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Darius of Persia.  You can read his exciting stories in the Book of Daniel.

Are you actively watching and praying for God to lead you in His perfect will for your life?  He’ll not disappoint you and He promises to “meet all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

The question for you is not “Was Paul ready?”  The question for you is, “Are YOU ready?”

I AM NOT ASHAMED!

 

Finally, in Romans1:16-17 Paul announced that as he preached the Gospel he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He did not doubt, nor was he embarrassed that the Gospel would fail as he preached it.

He understood what Isaiah had written about God’s Word centuries earlier in Isaiah 55.   I encourage you to read the entire chapter.  Especially focus on verses 8-11.   There we learn that whenever the Word of God is proclaimed to people,  it is never in vain.  It always accomplishes God’s purposes.  How that has encouraged me  throughout my ministry!

So Paul was never embarrassed or ashamed when he preached the Gospel.  He was convinced that it would always accomplish God’s purposes.  

Paul was always aware that he was handling dynamite when he preached the Gospel.  I did not say that Paul thought he was a dynamic speaker.  The facts are that he was NOT a dynamic speaker and he knew it.  Read what he said about this in I Corinthians 2:1-5.   So I take comfort in this truth.  Though I am not a dynamic speaker, I preach a dynamic Gospel that is able to change lives.  I’ve seen it happen repeatedly throughout my ministry and it is a source of great comfort to me.

The Gospel transformed self-righteous, Christ-hating Saul of Tarsus and Paul,  that former Saul of Tarsus,   knew this better than anyone else.

Paul saw the Gospel humble the cultured people  of  Athens.

He watched it change the immoral people of  Corinth.

He was aware of how it changed the idolatrous people of  Ephesus.

The Gospel is as powerful to save as the word of God is powerful to create and sustain His universe.

Our personalities and our approaches may be flawed and inadequate.

Simply present the Gospel facts and watch God perform the miracle of salvation.

1. Make sure the one to whom you present the Gospel first of all, has a clear understanding of his own sin and the consequences of sin.  He MUST recognize this before he is ready to listen to and accept the Gospel.

2.  Then show Him from the Scriptures how Jesus died on the cross to bear the punishment for his sins.  God’s wrath, which we sinners deserve, was being poured out on  God’s Son, the Lord Jesus,  instead.

3. Show him that Jesus arose from the dead the third day and was seen by a huge number of  eye-witnesses.  This proves that Jesus  is God and that His death on the cross was sufficient to pay the penalty of sin for all who will believe.

God help us to always remember that we are debtors to share the Gospel with others God brings into our lives.

God help us to take steps now to prepare ourselves, so that we are ready on a moment’s notice to share the Gospel with people He brings into our lives.

And God help us to never be ashamed or embarrassed by thinking God is not big enough or someone is too sin-hardened for God to save.

And God help us to not short out God’s power to save souls  by our disobedience, rebellion, fear of man or lack of surrender to Christ.

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May 20, 2011 - Posted by | Romans

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