“Wrestling With Romans”
Called to Service (Chapter 1 Verses 1-7)
The promise of course was concerning God’s Son (v3), who was manifest, appeared in human flesh (1Timothy 3.16), great David’s greater Son (Matthew 1.1ff). The one, who by God’s Spirit was raised from the dead (v4). That is what, or rather who, God’s gospel is all about. Jesus who died and rose again, and his resultant Lordship (Philippians 2.5-11). Can you see here in this heavily laden salutation of Paul’s, all the basic elements that we have learned in the gospels of, or, about Jesus Christ (Mark 1.1)? Now in receiving him, Jesus (Colossians 2.6), Paul tells us what the Church has received (v5). First, grace, God’s wonderful, unmerited favour. That which we did not deserve, all that the gospel brought to us, forgiveness of sin, freedom from the tyranny of Satan, love, joy and God’s transcendent peace, and much more. Second, an apostleship, a commission, the Church along with Paul has also been sent (Mark 16.14-15; John 20.21), to do what, to fulfil the gospel mandate given by the risen Christ to his disciples. Remember what we said the gospel is? It is God’s call to a people (Romans 8.30; 9.24), it is here in the verse (v5), to call them to obey God, in repentance, faith and total submission to Jesus Christ. Christians talk about callings, ministers about their call to ministry. Not so, there is only one call, and that is to be a Christian and from that point on, we all of us, minister to one another within the Church, to the world, to extend the Kingdom of God with the gifts the Holy Ghost bestows sovereignly upon each of us.
So all this is true not just of the Apostle Paul but the whole Church (v6) everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus (1Corinthians 1.2). All that is who belong to Christ, and they belong to him because he has called them to just that. Now that is what a Christian is you see, someone who has heard the Lord calling them through his word being proclaimed, whether in a preaching situation, or in the context of personal witness. Somewhere the Christian person has heard the voice of Jesus Christ calling them, follow me. We must understand this, it is not something we do ourselves, or can force other people into doing (John 1.12-13), God does it! When we understand this, we can rest with confidence in God’s word, in God’s Spirit to work sovereignly as he chooses, to call those whom he has lovingly selected to grace (Ephesians 1.1-4). Yes, we have our work to do, faithfully and energetically presenting the gospel, producing circumstances that will help and enable people to hear a good clear presentation of the gospel. There we leave off, and allow God to do his saving work. It is when folk receive this call that all the attendant blessings flow from God (v7), holiness, grace, peace, all poured out by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)