Separated unto the gospel of God (Romans 1:1)

Religion

As we continue the series on Romans, running keywords in each verse, I stumbled on perhaps an interesting word and that of “separated” in Romans 1:1. God says in His word –  “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God”. But what does ‘separation’ mean? And what was Paul separated from? Today I would like us to understand this better and what it means and how important these words are for us today.

Firstly, the definition of separation is probably very familiar to us as we consider portions of scripture regarding biblical separation, separating from sin, separating from the world. Webster’s dictionary defines it as disconnect, disunited and parted. 

But obviously if something is to part, or disconnect it must be from something. For example, in Genesis 13:11 we see Lot separating from Abraham – “Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.”  In Deuteronomy 10:8, we see God clearly separating a people, the Tribe of Levi from Israel, “At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.” So clearly we can see when separation takes place in the Bible, it’s from one thing to something else.

So the next question, what was Paul separated from in Romans 1:1? Now that’s an entirely intriguing question given in the immediate context of the statement (Romans 1), it doesn’t give you “from what”, it merely states the “to”, or in this case the unto – “separated unto the gospel of God”.So we know directly from the reading that Paul was separated, divided, parted and disconnected from something to be put aside for the Gospel of God (to preach, teach and give his life for it’s dissemination). What a blessed mission granted to Him by God (Acts 9 for more details).

But back to the “from”, so what was He separated from? The commentary in my bible says this was holy biblical separation, that is from the world, or perhaps from all things sinful. I would partially agree with that but I believe there is a much stronger answer if we divide correctly the word of God. Looking up cross references on the word “separated” leads us to, Galatians 1:15, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,”. Here in Galatians Paul is giving some accreditation to who he is, his mission and how he was called, and we see here, that from the time he was in his mother’s womb, God had set him apart unto “grace”. This is starting to paint a picture. Could this be our answer? No but it paints an important picture of the flesh, law and grace. Let’s reference another verse, Galatians 1:23, “But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” This is Paul, emphasizing the great scholar taught by Gamaliel, this is Paul the great zealot of Israel who persecuted the church of God, but now there is a change in him, and now he is preaching and teaching the faith he was prior trying to destroy. So what’s the answer then, what was Paul separated from, and unto the Gospel? Quite simply from “religion”. Paul was a zealot of the law, and fervent in it’s traditions and practices, that is, he was religious.

What makes ‘biblical christianity’ different from all the world religions (including Judaism), is relationship, not religion. No more is one bound to do because it is required, no more is one bound to behave in a certain manner, no more is one asked to live in a certain manner, no, Jesus Christ died, reconciled us to Him, by His own life being our payment (our substitution) for our sin, and thus we are not constrained by commandment, but by love! That is a huge mind shift and change when you are ‘saved’. Sadly the modern day church is not only to separate from the “world”, but also the fancies and delusions of “religion”. This “form”, this religion is living their lives conforming to a set of practices as merit for self. This is that religion that Paul was separated from, that great delusion of service to God, but nothing more than hot air. God only desires we relate to Him, love Him, desire Him and honour Him in our thoughts and decisions. And when we love Him, we will fulfil the law of God! 

May we be granted the wisdom to identify “religion” and know that we not separating from the world alone, but also that which appears moral, appears holy, appears true, appears noble and appears God-led.

In Christ, For Christ

Dane

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Called to Be An Apostle

sunshine

 

Paul was “called to be an Apostle”. Quite clearly we as the current day church are not, and that is self-evident given the requirements in being an Apostle and the cessation (fading away) of signs and wonders that were used by God to convict the hearts of the Jews surrounding the Messiah (1 Corinthians 1:22, 14:22). Today, I would like us to look at our “calling”, as the church of Christ, what that is and what it means. Before we take any steps, lefts get our terminology right.

 

Webster defines a “call” as a divine vocation or summons. Perhaps even more elaborate “a summons from heaven”. More specifically “called” means invited, summoned, invoked, appointed.

 

Paul uses the word “called” 10 times in Romans alone, and while there are more references strewn across Romans and the New Testament we will aim our laser focus to here (Romans) on verses relevant to the church. This to give us a little deeper insight into our calling as the bride of Christ, that is those who are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

Romans 1:6 “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ”


Paul draws our attention in this the introduction, that yes he is called to be an apostle, given a divine vocation to be a witness of the Gospel to the Gentiles. However, so is the Church at Rome, or rather the Church as a whole. Note the calling, our divine vocation as members as saved individuals is not a calling from men, nor a calling of men, but a divine calling of Jesus Christ. Our instructions, our purpose, our direction does not come from elders, deacons, charismatic preachers or a Pope, but directly of Jesus Christ.

 

Note how beautifully scripture ties us to Christ? Do you see it? Scripture doesn’t say “Among who are ye also the called by Jesus Christ”, as if we are off at a distance and Christ is calling us. Quite the contrary, it uses the word “of”. The definition of “of” is – expressing the relationship between a part and a whole. Friends, what a wonderful revelation, that though we were sinners, sinful and wretched yet Christ redeemed us by His death, His blood atonement, and considers us to be His own, related, Father to son, Father to daughter, children of the living God. How truly blessed we are to be “called of Jesus Christ”.

 

Romans 1:7 “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

 

We are called, appointed, invited, summoned from heaven to be “saints”. A saint is a person sanctified (set apart); a holy or godly person. What is a saint set apart to? Christ of course. Note, without Christ someone cannot be sanctified, and without being sanctified one cannot be a saint. A saint isn’t a title, it’s a state of being, it’s a person whose life is given unto the Lord. Saints are not men or women different from mere mortals, but are mere mortals who in the everyday normalcy of life, choose to be directed by Christ and live life through Christ.

 

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

 

This “called” does not separate the church. but unifies it. Some are not called to a higher purpose from others; though we may have different roles our purpose is never higher than another’s. A Pastor is never above the church, nor is the church above the Pastor, different roles, and both needed to the functioning of the body.

 

Purpose is so vital to the human life, for when life loses it’s purpose, it loses it’s way. Being born into the family of God, doesn’t leave us without direction, in fact it highlights it even more. From a broadened wide-angle to a narrow tunnel. Christ has called us unto His purpose, unto His glory and unto His desire. The question then that should rest on each of us, is what is our purpose in light of who we are, in light of the son’s and daughter’s we have become in Christ, and how best can we reflect His Glory unto the world. “If ye seek me, ye shall find me, if ye shall search for me with all thine heart”.

 

Romans 8:30 “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.“

 

God’s foreknowledge precedes election or predestination (Rom 8:29). God does not randomly of His own accord decide who will be pre-destined to heaven or hell, but rather in knowing a man and woman’s past, present and future, and in line with that person’s free will choice, He calls those to a higher purpose, His purpose. But it’s not enough for them to be “called” of God, that does not cover their sins or atone for it, but being the perfect and most righteous judge God; justifies those “called” through the death of Jesus Christ (His blood being the payment that covers the mercy seat).

 

Romans 9:24 “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

 

It’s amazing to consider how God opened the doorway to allow the Gentiles to also be called, as Israel (the Jews) were “called” as a special nation. The difference here, is that we are called as a spiritual body, and they as a physical one. We are not bound by blood or race, but by the shedding of blood (Jesus Christ on calvary) and grace (faith in Jesus Christ).

Thank you Lord!

 

Romans 9:26 “”And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.”

 

This is not a vocation, this is a noun, a name, a title – “children of the living God”. Friends, for a moment, consider that? We are children of God. We are adopted into His family, warts and all. Despite our color, our perspectives, our differences, our broken-ness, our mistakes, our failures – when we come to Jesus Christ in belief of His work on Calvary as THE atonement for all my sin (past, present and future), then we are adopted into His family, but not called “adopted”, oh no, called His own “children”.

 

For a moment we may forget to see that beautiful word “living” in the verse above. We are not just children of God, we are children of God who is real, but more so active in our lives. Though not visible, He is ever working out His purposes in our own lives, to the glory and honor of His name. His glory revealed in and through us, makes for a life worth living, a life of purpose.

 

How blessed we are to be “called” of God.

 

Cessation of Spiritual Gifts:

http://www.bible.ca/tongues-ceased-perfect-come-intro.htm

 

Qualifications for An Apostle:

http://www.gotquestions.org/apostleship.html

 

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We are servants not slaves…

Slaves we are not

 I will be commencing a series in Romans that is devotional and themed. So let’s begin with Romans 1:1. This verse has three divisions in it, Paul being a “servant”, Paul being “called” and Paul being “separated”.

Today we will focus on just the word “servant”.

 

A Servant:

 

A Servant as defined by Webster’s, “A person, male or female that attends another for the purpose of performing menial offices for him. One in a state of subjection.

 

It is easy in scripture to mix up a servant and slave. They are not the same. A servant’s subjection to a master is voluntary, the slaves is not. “Every slave is a servant, but every servant is not a slave.”

 

Christ has purchased us as His possessions according to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, our bodies are His “holy” temple. Yet God in His grace and mercy has desired that though we be bought, we be not “slaves” but “servants”, giving service unto Him voluntarily! This is such wonderful liberty that is granted to us, it bears consideration. That we were the one’s guilty of sin, that we were the one’s who had turned away from Him, yet despite all that He (Christ) had to overcome through His life on earth, His crucifixion, His death, burial and resurrection, He still setup our relationship with Him, as “servants” (and not slaves). What an amazing God!

 

However within the realm of that liberty comes responsibility. A responsibility too choose to please Him than displeasing Him. A responsibility to walk circumspectly in agreement with Him as opposed to raising up our own idols. These are not commands dear friends, but simple voluntary submission in awe, appreciation and response to His unending love. A love that should constrain us.

 

It is easy in having this liberty too forget that we are bound, that there is a contract and that we are under the subjection of a Great and Holy God. Our will, lusts and desires begin to dictate direction as opposed to what our Lord God would have us do (Proverbs 3:5-6). Now don’t be mistaken, it’s not the grace and liberty afforded us that’s the problem, but us. Our flesh desires it’s own way, a way of self, at the disregard of God, for however noble, for however true. A direction that is taken without consideration of Him, is not a direction at all, as it disrespects the gift we have in salvation, it disregards the one who thought it nothing to bear our shame and turn a slave into a servant. This is a sobering thought, and one considering.

 

5, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6, In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 

14, For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15, And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

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