Saturday, August 27, 2011

Separated to the Gospel of God

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God (Romans 01:01, NKJV).
The Apostle Paul used to be the Pharisee Saul.

That's interesting in that the name, Saul, means "Desired One", while the name, Paul, means "Small" or "Little".

When he was Saul, he was a rising professional LawKeeper, taught by the most prestigious teachers of Judaism, including the famous Gamaliel. His career path was a pure trajectory upward, receiving promotion and acclaim far beyond his years.

When Christianity first became known as a rival to Judaism, at least in the Jewish ruling counsel's (the Sanhedrin) collective wisdom, Paul was appointed bounty hunter by the High Priest himself, and was instructed to go about the cities and towns and arrest the first Christians for the crime of blasphemy.

On the road to Damascus one day, in fulfillment of his new job description, the Risen Lord knocked Saul off his high horse (literally) and opened his eyes to the truth by blinding him for three days, during which time Christ changed his name to Paul, and told him what the truth really was - that Christianity was what all of Jewish history was really pointing to.

So, from "Desired" to "Little", from bounty hunter to blinded fugitive, Paul went from an up and coming religious ruler to a bondservant of Jesus Christ.

That is also a very interesting transition, especially since the word translated bondservant is duolos, which means slave, and brings us back to the ancient Israelites during the time of Moses, some 1400 years before Jesus walked on the earth.

Back then, Jewish household slaves were to be set free after a certain time of servitude unless they chose to remain with the family. In that case, voluntarily and out of love and gratitude to the master of the household, the slave would have his or her earlobe pierced, and be given a golden earring. This signified willing service for life.

And a willing slave of Christ for the rest of his life is how Paul introduces himself here in Romans; such an astounding transition, from arresting Jesus' followers to becoming one of the Lord's most significant church leaders!

Next, the Apostle writes that he was called to be an apostle. That word, called, is like being invited to a banquet or feast, rather than being commanded to go someplace or do something. And Paul was more than happy to accept the invitation. In fact, in another letter to believers, he tells us that he would be full of woe and sadness if he could not go out and preach about Jesus to people. 

In other words, if the Lord had not sent him out, which is what apostle means - to be sent out, Paul's life would have been empty and without purpose in comparison.

Finally, he tells us that he was separated to the gospel of God

You see, his mission was very specific. All that Paul was, from beginning to end, from being knit together in his mother's womb, to his growing up as a Roman citizen in Tarsus, to his being trained in the Old Testament writings in Jerusalem, to his brilliant and scholarly mind and his extremely logical and persuasive way of communicating, all this was entirely for the purpose of preaching the gospel of God

It was the package the Lord had put in him, the boundary of his life and energy, in order for him to be able to carry out that one vitally important purpose God had planned for him from before the foundation of the world.

Now, gospel means good news, the good news of God sending His Son, Jesus, to die for forgiveness of our sins, to pay the penalty on the Cross that we could never pay. He died so that we could live. And rather than earn our way into heaven by our own measly and faulty works, something we could never do, we must believe that Christ died for us and rose again from the dead on the third day, and now sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

That is the gospel of God - that we are forgiven of our sins if we believe in the work of God's Son on the Cross. Telling people all about that was Paul's life and love.

It is why he wrote this marvelous letter that we call Romans.