Monday, August 15, 2016

Separated to Preach the Gospel

Studies in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Separated to Preach the Gospel

There is nothing more foreign to New Testament Christianity than a “born again” believer who is not burdened for the souls of lost people.  Reaching the lost is the main purpose of God in our salvation and discipleship. 

In other words, the purpose of God in creating local churches is to create a Spirit-filled army of soldiers who are theologically trained and spiritually armed to bring the world to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Every Christian’s life should be preoccupied with this goal.  This is what defines biblical discipleship. 

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

The word “separated” in Romans 1:1 is from the Greek word aphorizo (af-or-id’-zo).  The basic meaning is to set apart by a boundary.  The intent is that every Christian’s purpose in life is set apart from all worldly ambitions and pursuits after worldly pleasures by a God ordained motivation to reach the lost of this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This mission should be among our first thoughts as we arise from bed in the morning and among our last thoughts and prayers before we retire at night.  This missional vision will not happen by accident.  We will need to do everything in our power to keep it at the forefront of our lives.  We will soon discover that the forces of evil in the world, along with our own fallen and corrupt nature, will soon relegate this priority to the bottom of life’s demands upon our time. 
There is a great deal of difference between ambition and mission.  Ambition wants what it wants for our own purposes.  Mission wants what it wants for God’s purposes.  Mission is the major priority of the Christian life because mission is a direct command of the commission of Jesus Christ given to ALL believers. 

“16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth {refers to Jesus as the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; I Timothy 6:17}. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations {enroll people of all nations and ethnicities to become scholars of the Bible and followers of the teachings of Jesus}, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen {so be it or so let it be}” (Matthew 28:16-20).
Every Christian’s ministry is to enroll people in their own discipleship training once someone is “born again.”  In other words, leading people to repent of sin and “dead works” and understand and believe/trust/rest in the finished work of redemption through the shed Blood of Christ are just the first two decisions in a faith decision to be “born again.”  Then the believer must confess Jesus to be Jehovah incarnate with Sovereign authority over the believer’s life.  The believer must then call upon the Name of Jesus requesting the gift of justification and receive the impartation of the indwelling Spirit of God.  These five verbs constitute what the Bible defines as a faith decision to be “born again” into the New Genesis.  Nothing else needs to be done to be saved. 

However, a believer’s decisions for Christ do not end with these five verbs.  Water baptism is another decision having to do primarily with a believer’s enrollment in a local church with a commitment to be a student of the teachings of Jesus so as to learn to live those teachings.  Water baptism that is disconnected to local church membership and enrollment in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is not baptism at all.  If there is no commitment to “walk in the newness of life,” water baptism has no purpose.  This disconnection in teaching water baptism is a great corruption of the Great Commission, thereby corrupting the doctrine and purpose of the assembling of the local church.  A local church is primarily an academic institution training disciples to win souls and make disciples.
Recently, I received a call from a lady who had found one of my tracks on Saving Faith in a medical clinic waiting room.  She proceeded to tell me the tract was all wrong.  She said, “God is a God of love and when lost people die they just cease to exist.”  She said, “There is no such thing as an eternal place of torment.”  I listened to her ramble on without a breath for about five minutes.  Then I simply asked her, “Are you born again?”  Then there was a moment of silence.  Without really answering my question, she just started where she left off repeating the same things over again.  Then I asked her, “Mam, are you a Jehovah Witness?”  She said she was.  I told her if she wanted to have a Bible study with me, I would gladly show her the many Scriptures that teach on an eternal Hell and how she could be “born again.”  Ignoring my offer and everything I said, she began again with her diatribe against the Bible tract.  She had been deceived by the lies of the father of lies and was simply repeating the lies she had believed.  This is a truth common to almost every person that we will encounter in evangelism. 
Paul was not only a man “called” of God, He was man separated from the world for a specific task.  He was called to tell the whole world the good news of God’s wondrous gift of salvation and how “whosoever will” can be saved.  This is the calling and mission of every person professing Jesus as Savior and Lord.  There are only two categories of true Christians in the world. 

1. Those who are doing what they have been separated to do
2. Those who are not doing what they have been separated to do

Paul was “separated unto the gospel of God” before he was ever born.  This is known as the doctrine of predestination.  Paul even tells us the exact details in Galatians 1:15 of when God separated him “unto the gospel.”
Paul traveled extensively during his second and third missionary journeys planting churches in Galatia.  Galatia was a Roman province in the middle of what is today modern Turkey.  There were four main churches in Galatia - Antioch, Iconium, Derbe, and Lystra.  Disciples of Christ were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26).  The province of Galatia was populated by Gauls.  The Gauls were ignorant barbarians with little to no knowledge of the one true God.  When they were “born again,” they began to be influenced by some early corruptions of Christianity.  Judaizers had entered into the churches of Galatia and began teaching a mixture of Law keeping with salvation in justification by grace through faith. 

The second corruption was that Christian maturity (perfection) came through the sacrifices and moral laws of the Mosaic Covenant.  Paul condemns both of these false doctrines as corruptions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This was all going on within the first thirty years after the beginning of Christianity and probably about twenty years after these local churches in Galatia had been founded. 

What we must learn from Paul’s Epistle to the local churches of Galatia is that we must all be dedicated to maintaining the purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This includes both the message of the Gospel in what Christ has accomplished on behalf of sinners to be justified before God AND what defines a biblical faith response to the objective facts of that message. 

“6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men {pleasing or placating men to avoid division in the churches}? for if I yet pleased men {just to be agreeable, but compromise the Gospel}, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man {finds no source of origin in human philosophies}. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation {the way I lived} in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion {was famous, privileged, and wealthy} above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus” (Galatians 1:6-17).

Before we were ever born, God foreknew those who would trust in Christ and incorporated them into His plan to bring the message of redemption to a lost world.  Even before we were saved, God began working in our lives to prepare us for the ministry that He would call us to do.  Many people think that it is only men like Paul, John the Baptist, Jacob, Samson, Moses, Samuel, and Jeremiah that are unique in this way.  Actually this is a common truth for all believers.  Every believer is separated from the womb unto the “gospel of God.”

“29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren {the ‘church of the firstborn’- Hebrews 12:23}. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called {‘them’ here refers corporately to the priesthood of all believers known as ‘the church’}: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

          What Christ said about the Apostle Paul is true of every believer born again of the Spirit of God.  All who have accepted God’s free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ also have a vocational calling to take that good news to everyone with which they come in contact according to the threefold plan of evangelism defined in the Great Commission. 

“13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:13-16).

The “gospel of God” is broad in the scope of its intended audience.  The word translated “gospel” is from the Greek word euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on).  It refers to the good news for humanity regarding the kingdom of God soon to be established on earth.  The good news revolves around the finished work of Jesus the Messiah and how His life, death, and resurrection opens the door to the New Genesis “in Christ” for “whosoever will.” 
However, the “gospel of God” does not end with the good news regarding deliverance from condemnation.  The Gospel message continues the good news for those who accept God’s free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus by teaching that the resurrected Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of God in heaven.  From here, He will return in glory and majesty with His redeemed to establish the kingdom of God on earth.  

Therefore, the Gospel of God to which we must be committed to proclaim is much more than a fire escape message of salvation.  The “gospel of God” is a proclamation of victory and restoration of the lost dominion of humanity over this world given to humanity by God and stolen by the deception of Satan (Genesis 1:26-28; Revelation 5:1-13).  The “gospel of God” is a proclamation of a complete salvation and an already accomplished victory over sin and Satan.  The battle is already won.

“9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete {perfect tense and passive voice} in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (Colossians 2:9-10).

“55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:55-58).

The “gospel of God” is doctrinally definitive.

The “gospel of God” to which Paul refers is the whole book of Romans detailing every aspect of Christ’s work on mankind’s behalf.  The “gospel of God” details the doctrine of condemnation, the propitiation of God, the availability of justification by grace through faith, positional and practical sanctification, consecration, and the believer’s ultimate and final glorification with Christ.  It is this complete body of doctrine that Paul calls “the gospel.”  It is this complete body of doctrine that we are commanded to go into all the world proclaiming (Matthew 28:19-20).  Therefore, to preach/teach the “gospel of God” moves far beyond winning a soul to Christ in salvation into discipleship in “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). 
There is such a superficial understanding of the “gospel of God” that the good news is reduced to little more than a few facts regarding Jesus Christ.  This reduction of the good news is often so shallow it is dubious that anyone could even make an intelligent faith decision.  For instance, the statement of Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4 is merely an abbreviation of this whole body of doctrine.  The work of salvation is just an introduction to the “gospel of God.”  We must remember that the first four verses of I Corinthians chapter fifteen are merely and introduction to the balance of doctrine regarding the resurrection and glorification of all believers.  The first part of the “gospel” involves what Christ accomplished in His death burial, and resurrection.  However, these truths are just the foundation for the “good news,” not is entirety. 

“1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

Additional aspects of the “gospel” are detailed in the balance of I Corinthians chapter fifteen.  The whole of the “gospel of God” is the most thoroughly presented in the whole epistle to the Romans.
Paul clearly states in Galatians 1:6-9, that any person adding to, or subtracting from, the “gospel of God” regarding salvation retains the curse of condemnation upon himself.  However, when a person strays from any doctrine presented in the epistle to the Romans, he preaches “another gospel which is not another.”  The Gospel provides details about salvation that are much more than mere deliverance from condemnation.  The Gospel gives details about the New Genesis and the eternal life that is ours presently and in the hereafter.  The epistle to the Galatians is divided into two sections dealing with two aspects of the Gospel.  The salvation of the soul is dealt with in chapters one and two.  The salvation of one’s life from ruin and waste in chapter three. 

“6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).

“1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:1-5)?

Central to the Gospel message is what Christ has done to save our souls from Hell and to give us a new life.  Any admixture of religious ceremony, Ritualism, or works of self-righteousness (Moralism) for salvation perverts (Galatians 1:7) the Gospel of grace.

“15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:15-16).

“10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:10-11).

“1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from {out away from} grace” (Galatians 5:1-4).

How much “works” is too much?  To what degree can a person trust in religious ritual, ceremony or self-righteousness before the “gospel of God” is perverted and he remains under the curse of condemnation?

“5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? 8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. 9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:5-9).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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