There’s no question that Paul was successful in his ministry. What made him a success? What makes any pastor or any servant of God a success in God’s eyes? We’ll find the answer in the passage before us, Romans 15:13-33.
Let me begin with a simple Biblical principle which you and I must never forget. Our calling and responsibility is to GO with the Gospel and PROCLAIM the Gospel. God’s responsibility is to DO THE SAVING. You and I cannot save anyone. We cannot change anyone’s heart. Only God can do that. I’m glad I learned that principle early in my ministry. It has taken immense pressure off of me to attempt to try to do what only God can do.
Here are the six secrets of Paul’s success, secrets that will work for any servant of God in any age.
I HIS CONCERN FOR THE SPIRITUAL WELFARE OF OTHERS.
His dual concern was for the salvation of sinners and for the maturity of the saints. Romans 15:13, 9:1-3, 10:2, II Corinthians 5:13-15, Galatians 4:19. That concern results in a two-pronged ministry; that of preaching the Gospel to the lost and teaching and edifying (building up the saints) in the truths of God’s Word. As you read through Hidden Treasures you will soon note that this is also my dual concern.
II HIS CONFIDENCE IN WHAT GOD WAS DOING IN THEIR LIVES
Paul, in Philippians 1:6, writes of his confidence in God’s ability to complete what He alone had begun in the hearts of those who trusted in Him for salvation. That confidence has taken the pressure off of me to attempt to do what only God can do. My responsibility is to preach the Gospel to the lost and to take every opportunity to feed God’s people the Word wherever and whenever I have the opportunity. God does the saving of sinners and the edifying of the saints. Hence this Hidden Treasures web site. His responsibility is to do what I cannot do: save people and cause them to grow and mature as saints. What an unnecessary load that takes off my shoulders!
III. HIS CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS DIVINE COMISSION
In Romans 15:15-20 we learn that this consciousness resulted in holy boldness. 15:15, direction, 15:16,20, and Holy Spirit power to do what he never could have accomplished in his own ability. 15:17-19 What an encouragement this has been to me as a preacher, once a bashful, timid boy who was afraid to stand up in front of people and talk.
IV. HIS CONSIDERATION OF GOD’S WILL
In this same passage in Romans 15 Paul writes of the importance of seeking and knowing God’s will for himself.
Someone once asked a ship’s captain how he guided his ship safely into a harbor. The captain pointing to some harbor lights replied. “See those three lights out there? When those three lights appear as one light, then I know I am right on course to enter the harbor.”
The three lights for you and me as Christians are;
1. God’s Word Romans 15:21
2. Our circumstances Romans 15:22
3. Our heart’s desire Romans 15:23
When seeking God’s will about anything, all three of these factors must line up as one. There must not be any contradiction. Paul always desired God’s will and His will has always been my primary concern as a Christian.
The Psalmist had the same concern for God’s will. See it in Psalm 37 and Psalm 40:8. Is that the deepest desire of your heart?
V. HIS CERTAINTY OF RESULTS
Paul speaks of this certainty in Romans 15:24-29. He was always ready to preach the Gospel, assured that it was powerful enough to accomplish God’s will. There was never a hint of depression or of self-pity. It was not a self-confidence in his ability; but in the power of the Gospel. We see that same assurance of success in Philippians 1:12-14 and II Corinthians 2:14.
VI HIS CALL FOR PRAYER PARTNERS
That call is found in Romans 15:30-33. Note the use of the word beseech.
That word is found three times in Romans.
In Romans 12:1 Paul beseeches us as Christians to consecrate and present our bodies, our lives and our strength, to God for His use.
In Romans 15:30 he beseeches Christians to be prayer partners with him for Jesus’ sake, striving together with him in prayer as he ministers in his dangerous situation in Rome.
In Romans 16:17 he beseeches them, warning them to recognize and mark or identify publicly the dangerous false teachers who were straying from the doctrine Paul, by divine inspiration, had taught them.
He gives them two reasons for praying. First, for Jesus’ sake. He died for a lost world. The least we can do is to pray for our lost world. The second reason we are to pray is for the love of the Holy Spirit. Our human love can’t get us concerned enough to pray, but the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and controlling us can enable us to pray with burdened hearts.
How are we to pray? Romans 15:30 describes it as striving together with Paul. Colossians 4:12 describes effective prayer as laboring together with Paul.
For what should we be praying? In Romans 15:31-32 he request his brothers and sisters in Christ to pray that he would be delivered from the unbelieving Jews who rejected Christ. As he himself had been a persecutor of Christians before he was saved, so now he was being persecuted by the Jews who rejected and hated Christ.
He also asks them to pray that his ministry and message would be accepted by the saints, the Christians in Jerusalem, when he returned to them.
Finally, he asked them to pray that God would enable him to return to Jerusalem by the will of God and that together they would be spiritually and physically refreshed.
He concludes by asking that the God of peace would be with them. May God help us as we study the prayers in the Bible to learn to pray in the will of God.
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