Be Separated to the Gospel of God
In the first book of Romans in the New Testament of the Bible, the Apostle Paul introduces himself: “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).
The word ‘apostle’ used here is translated in the Greek as ‘apostolos’, meaning: ‘a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”) (with miraculous powers): —apostle, messenger, he that is sent.’ This same word is taken from the root word ‘apostellō’ in the Greek, meaning: ‘set apart, i.e. (by implication) to send out (properly, on a mission) literally or figuratively: —put in, send (away, forth, out), set (at liberty).’ (Strong’s Concordance).
The word for ‘separated’ that Paul uses in this same verse, is translated in the Greek as ‘aphorizō’, meaning: ‘to set off by boundary, i.e. (figuratively) limit, exclude, appoint, etc.: —divide, separate, sever.’ (Strong’s Concordance). In introducing himself in this way, Paul is in essence declaring: that he is called by God; commissioned and sent out by Christ; set apart; set off by a boundary; limited; exclusively appointed or divided off to be a special delegate; messenger; or ambassador of the Gospel of God – with miraculous powers!
In the same way, the church as the body of Christ, has been given an apostolic call to go into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature.
“And He (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen”.(Mark 16:15-20)
Be a Good Steward of the Word
When speaking of his apostleship elsewhere, Paul describes himself as a servant of Christ, sent to steward the mysteries of God. “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).
This is a Very Important and Significant Verse!
The commission to proclaim the gospel has not been given to man lightly!
Christ has commissioned His Church to be the vessel through which He will reach this dying world.
Without Him there is no life. Without Him there is no light. Through new birth in Christ, every believer carries the promise (Who is the Messiah) written upon their hearts. Therefore, each one of us needs to rightly represent Christ, both in thought, word and deed, so that we may steward the Gospel well. No man or woman of God should claim his or her own purposes or agenda when declaring the Word (Who is Christ), but must wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to following Christ’s purposes for His Church. Man is not the author of the Gospel message – the Lord is. Man is a steward of the word of the Lord that has been entrusted to him or to her, and this is where if we are not very careful, that we can so easily enter into deceit. When in the synagogue as was His custom, Jesus stood up to read, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18 & 19).
This is the same commission that Christ has given the Church. When continuing to speak of himself, Apollos and Cephas (also known as the Apostle Peter), Paul goes on to warn, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
There is a requirement here, given by God for each one of us, to steward the Gospel message well, so that each one of us remains faithful to His word. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian Church to follow his example as he followed the Lord’s. “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me” (1Corinthians 4:15 & 16).
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Keeping our eyes fixed on the gospel of Christ, means we will not easily deviate from his word.
Keep Yourself in the Word
To keep ourselves from sin and correctly discern error from truth, we must keep ourselves in the word. The foundation for all truth is the word of God found in the Holy Bible. It is the measuring stick by which everything else is tested by. When reading the word, we must allow the Holy Spirit to gently speak to our hearts, while asking the Lord, “Is what I’m hearing coming from You, or is it coming from me?” Then speak only that which the Lord has given you. The writer of Hebrews said: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:3 & 4).
Signs and wonders are to bear witness to the Word – Who is the living Christ, but they are not to replace either the word (the Holy Bible) or the Word (who is Jesus Christ). In the context of the Gospel, Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Make Yourself of No Reputation
The Apostle Paul, in order to lift up Christ, abased himself first. ‘To abase’ means ‘to humble, lower in rank, office, prestige or estimation.’ This means Paul literally laid his worldly credentials and achievements on the altar before the Lord, counting them as rubbish – fit to be burnt.
“Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:4-8).
In putting Christ first, Paul acted as a wise master builder. He laid the only foundation, which is found in Jesus Christ. “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation and another builds on it” (1 Corinthians 3:10).
Similarly, Paul warns us that no other foundation can be laid, other than that which is Jesus Christ.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” .(1 Corinthians 3:11)
- The apostle Paul has already laid the foundation!
- No other foundation is necessary!
- The work has already been done!
- All that is left is to build on it!
Seek the Wisdom That Comes From God
Paul expressed himself well, as being determined to know nothing except Christ and Christ crucified. For there is a wisdom that comes from man, and a wisdom that comes from God, and the two are not the same. Though this was God’s wisdom, He showed forth this wisdom through the hand of a man (who was Paul).
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.(1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
When speaking of the wisdom of God, Paul went on to say: “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
Buy Gold Refined in the Fire
The Lord is always purifying His Church. After speaking of Christ as the foundation of the Church, Paul goes on to tell us: “But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (1 Corinthians 3:10). “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:12 & 13).
The day will declare it because the day brings darkness to light!
Anything done without Christ as the centre, is as wood, hay and straw that will be burnt in the fire. Even precious stones have a melting point at which they can be destroyed. Paul goes on to warn us, that anything not built as Christ would have us build it, will not pass this final test.
“If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” .(1 Corinthians 3: 14 & 15)
To the Church at Laodicea, who thought they were rich, having need of nothing, but who were dangerously lukewarm, Jesus said: “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:14-18).
These are important verses, because they enable us to understand God’s heart for His Church. Christ wants His Church to see (v18) and to hear (v22) what HIS Spirit is saying to the churches, so He sends a messenger. Christ’s desire for His Church is to pass this final test, so that what it is built on will not suffer loss, but will count for all eternity. Jesus Christ instructed the Laodicean church to ‘buy’ (meaning to ‘redeem’ – Strong’s Concordance) gold from Him that was refined in the fire. This speaks of a church that has been purified. The ‘angel’ (or ‘messenger’ – Strong’s Concordance) given to a church, will always bring words of purity – without taint or mixture. But for everything given by the Lord, the enemy always has a counterfeit. For this purpose, Christ instructed the Laodicean Church to anoint their eyes so that they could see. This anointing speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Allow No Room for Mixture
When the Apostle Paul wrote or preached, by the Spirit of grace, he allowed no room for mixture. This meant he was not just mindful of the words he spoke or the tone of voice that he used, but that the heart and intent behind his words was of the Lord. As an apostle, Paul’s instructions were not given to support his own views, but to be very clear in his intentions when addressing the church.
He instructed Timothy equally, to be diligent; to rightly divide the word of truth: “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:14 & 15).
To be able to rightly divide the word of truth, it must be the bona fide word of the Lord. ‘Bona fide’ is a Latin term meaning: ‘in good faith’; ‘sincere’; ‘with earnest intent’; ‘without fraud or deceit.’ So, before we speak, each person should prepare their heart well first. Our private times of praise and worship before the Lord are so important. For it is as we give ourselves over in genuine praise and worship to the Lord on a continual basis, that He allows the dross from our lives to flow to the surface, so that, that which is not of Him can be removed. Our private times of praise and worship also brings purity to our motives and to the word, by removing the dross from the word of the Lord. For the word that comes from a pure heart will also be pure. We need to be asking God for the Spirit of grace to rightly divide the word of truth so that there is no mixture in our words. The Apostle Paul did not need to seek out explanations from others, nor did he enter into his own deceit. He spoke the word of the Lord to the church with a pure heart and motive, knowing that, that which the Lord had spoken to his heart was true. He did not allow himself to deviate from the word of the Lord, but allowed the Holy Spirit to do a work of grace in the lives of those who heard his words.
Be blessed as you spend time with the Lord and continue in His word.
Keep yourselves in the word!