The Greatest Missionary - Romans 15

The Greatest Missionary

Romans 15:1-33

The apostle Paul is the greatest missionary who ever lived.  No one could have ever imagined that this small man, who had mercilessly persecuted the early church, would later be set apart by the Spirit of God for missionary service.  He was not only miraculously converted by the grace of God.  Paul writes that he became a minister of Jesus Christ "because of the grace given to me by God."  Romans 15:15.  Grace and apostleship went hand in hand.  Romans 1:5. 

Paul was sent by the Lord to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.  At the time of his call to missionary service the apostles in Jerusalem, all Jews, had no thought of going into all the world.  But Paul did.  He could write to the church at Rome, "From Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."  Romans 15:19.  Today Yugoslavia and Albania occupy what was Illyricum.

Paul preached the gospel "in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God."  Near the beginning of his first missionary journey, Elymas the sorcerer was smitten with blindness at the words of this man of God.  Acts 13:6-12.  Throughout his ministry the Lord granted signs and wonders to accompany the preaching of His Word.  Acts 14:3.  In Acts 19:11 we read, "Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul."  Unusual miracles!  Most of us would regard all miracles as unusual.

The apostle strongly desired to preach the gospel to those who had never heard.  He wrote, "And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation."  Romans 15:20.  Oswald Smith was the founding pastor of The People's Church, a great missionary church,  in Toronto, Canada.  (He went to be with the Lord in 1986.)  He used to say, "No one should get to hear the gospel twice until everyone has had an opportunity to hear the gospel at least once."

Paul was both a preacher and a priest.  He said that he was "a minister...with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering, acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:16, NIV.  Priests offered sacrifices to the Lord.         

In the Old Testament not all sacrifices offered were acceptable to God.  Israel often sacrificed animals that were blind, lame, and sick.  Malachi 1:8.  They were not acceptable.  Acceptable offerings had to be without blemish.  Now  the missionary was presenting to God those Gentiles who had responded to his preaching of the gospel.  The sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit accompanied the message that was preached in the power of the Spirit.  Sanctification by the Spirit was the seal of God acceptance. 

The apostle Paul is the exemplary missionary, saved and set apart for ministry by the grace of God.  Not everyone is called to be a missionary, but every Christian has a priestly service to perform before the Lord.  Be mindful of what you present to Him. 

 

Lord, teach us how to minister to others in the power of Your Spirit.  You are holy.  We realize that we have been called with a holy calling.  Use us in Your service.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!

 

Priscilla and Aquila - Romans 16

 
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