The Demand of the Gospel
By Dr. Tom Walker
Rom 1:1 says: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” The Apostle Paul introduces his epistle to the Romans with the text we are using for this article.
We are going to consider the demand of the Gospel that is issued in this verse, but before we go there, I see three important things given in Romans 1:1. When we see these three truths, we will move on to consider the heart of this study.
First, he calls himself a “servant.” It is also translated in our King James Bibles as “bond.” It is the word for a bond slave. It can have the idea of being brought into bondage. We were bound to Satan to serve Him, but now that we have been redeemed, we are prisoners of love, slaves to the Master. Dottie Rambo wrote a song years ago whose lyrics say the following; “I’m a prisoner of love, a slave to the master, I willing toil through the heat and the cold, I seek no reward, in this world below, but payday will come, when the pearly gates unfold.”
Paul the Apostle felt bound in servitude to the Lord as an instrument of labor. In Biblical times a bond slave was one who has lost his liberty and had no rights. Believers are no longer slaves in bondage to Satan, rather he or she is in bondage to the Master.
The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible makes the following observations:
- The slave was owned by his master; he was totally possessed by his master. This is what Paul meant. Paul was purchased and possessed by Christ. Christ had looked upon him and had seen his degraded and needful condition. And when Christ looked, the most wonderful thing happened: Christ loved him and bought him; therefore, he was now the possession of Christ.
- The slave existed for his master and he had no other reason for existence. He had no personal rights whatsoever. The same was true with Paul: he existed only for Christ. His rights were the rights of Christ only.
- The slave served his master and he existed only for the purpose of service. He was at the master’s disposal any hour of the day or night. So, it was with Paul: he lived only to serve Christ—hour by hour, day by day, and night by night.
- The slaves will belong to his master. He was allowed no will and no ambition other than the will and ambition of the master. He was completely subservient to the Master and owed total obedience to the will of the master. Paul belonged to Christ. In fact, he said that he fought and struggled to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5).
Secondly, he calls himself an apostle or a “sent one.” He was sent by the Lord, and as well by the church. The Holy Ghost separated Paul and Barnabas for the mission work God had called them to do (Acts 13:2). Romans 10:15 says, “How shall they preach except they be sent?” The Apostle Paul did not sit down one day and decide to go into preaching as a method to earn money or gain status. It was a calling from God. That is why Paul was in the ministry; the Lord put him there. One of the tragedies of our day is that many men are choosing the ministry without a divine calling from the Lord. Without a divine calling to preach, a person is weak and ineffective in the work of God.
Thirdly, Paul tells us he was separated unto the Gospel of God. The Gospel is to have a definite priority in our lives. That little word “unto” is an interesting word. It is not a very lengthy word, but it is an important one. It can figuratively speak of a purpose. His life, after his conversion, was lived with the Gospel of Christ in view. In Acts 9, Paul met Jesus on the Damascus Road. It was there his life turned around. His life was drastically changed through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our main thoughts will revolve around Paul’s concept of being separated unto the Gospel of Christ.
The Importance of Separation unto the Gospel
There is separation unto sin. Some people are contented to live their lives following sinful pleasures and living for themselves rather than for God and His glory. Most of the time we think of separation from something, but separation is far broader than that line of thinking.
There is a separation from evil influences and evil people. The Bible speaks of separation from evil itself and from the evil system the Scriptures call the “world.” The Bible says in 2 Cor 6:17-18, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” True separation is not isolation, neither is it conglomeration. What do we separate ourselves from in our Christian life? We are wise to disconnect with all that will dull our sensitivity to God, all that will bring displeasure to our Heavenly Father, and from all that will mar our testimony for the Lord. One can separate to the point he or she can be like the Pharisees of old, who thought they were better than everyone else. We should beware of an attitude of superiority that can overtake us and hinder our fellowship with God and with others. A spirit of humility should characterize the saints of God.
Too many today are separated unto money, power, food, fame, sex, alcohol, drugs, pornography, or some even to work. When you become a slave unto one thing, you give up your rights to another. If you are a slave to food, you sacrifice your health and your weight. If you are a slave to drugs, you give up control of your mind and body. If you are enslaved to fame, you lose your privacy and humility.
There is a separation from and a separation unto. Paul claimed to be and proved himself to be separated unto the Gospel of God. When he was a Jewish Rabbi, Paul was separated as a Pharisee to the laws and traditions of the Jews. But when he yielded to Christ, he was separated to the Gospel and its ministry. Gospel means “the Good News.” It is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and now is able to save all who trust Him (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Dr. Rod Mattoon makes the following observation: “This word “separated” is the Greek word aphorizo which forms our English word “horizon.” It comes from the word horizo which means “to define, mark off by boundaries, or mark out by an unmistakable sign.” The idea behind this word is the boundaries of Paul’s life were marked out by the Gospel. He was set apart and devoted to a special purpose of preaching the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ determined his path. Paul’s horizon or path was determined by the message of Jesus Christ. What influences the path of your life? Is it a boy or girlfriend, the opinions of the crowd, money, things, your job, or your family?
What is the governing factor of your life? Paul was separated unto Christ. A Christian ought to be separated in his lifestyle. We are not to live wickedly like the heathen who are without Christ. A Christian who is separated from something, but not separated unto Christ will have an empty life. Standards and convictions without devotion and love for Jesus Christ will leave you in the same boat as the Pharisees who were very separated, but not devoted to Christ. If you remove or separate yourself from something that is harmful, you must fill that void in your life with something else that is good. Fill your voids with the Lord and be set apart to Him.” It is not enough to separate yourself from devil deeds and evil people, you need to separate yourself unto God.
The Invitation for Separation unto the Gospel
Since Paul had separated himself unto the Gospel and was so successful in living for the Lord and influencing others to Christ, to me it is like sending an invitation of separation to the Lord for my own life. If we are separated unto the Gospel what will be true of us? We will follow the Lord, be faithful to the Lord, and spread the Gospel if we are separated unto the Gospel. If it worked for the Apostle Paul, then I can assure you that it will work to the glory of God and your benefit if you do take Paul up on his invitation and challenge for us to live godly, righteous lives.
The Indication of Separation unto the Gospel
What does this separation unto the Gospel indicate? It points us to the following realities in our lives: God’s will is being done, God’s work is foremost in our lives and the Gospel message is being spread as God intends it to be.
Be separated unto the Gospel and God will richly bless you.