March 31, 2011
"I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."
Romans 1:14-16 (emphasis added)
I believe that the greatest Christian who has ever lived was the apostle Paul. Before he was saved, he persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ — hauling Christians into prison and watching while some of them were literally put to death. But he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and when Paul — who was then called Saul — saw Jesus, he asked Him the two greatest questions anyone can ever ask: “Who are You, Lord?” and “What would You have me to do?” He spent the rest of his life discovering the answers to those two questions.
Paul became the greatest missionary the world has ever known. What was it that so transformed him? I think the key is found in Paul’s repeated use of the phrase “I am …” to describe himself in the first chapter of Romans.
First, Paul said, “I am a debtor …” He was faithful to the obligations of the Gospel. But to whom or to what was Paul indebted?
He was a debtor to Christ. In verse one, Paul introduced himself as, “Paul, A servant of Jesus Christ . . .” He saw himself a bond slave to the One Who had died for him.
He was a debtor to the conquerors of the past. In verse eight Paul said, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Paul realized that there were others who had suffered, bled, and died that he might know the Lord Jesus Christ — including Stephen who had died a martyr’s death as he watched.
He was a debtor to those around him. He said, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians . . .” Paul owed a debt to share the message of Christ with those around him.
Not only was Paul a debtor, but he was flexible and ready for the opportunities of the Gospel. He was ready to preach the Gospel whatever it took.
He was ready to live. I hear people say, “I would die for Jesus.” But I want to know, “Will you live for Jesus?”
Paul was also ready to die. He was ready to preach the Gospel in Rome where I believe he lost his life. He knew the dangers, but he was ready to die for His Lord.
He was ready to go. In verse thirteen he said, “. . . I purposed to come unto you . . .” Are you flexible enough that God could step in and interrupt your plans and totally change the course of your life? Would you go where God leads?
Or he was ready to stay. In verse thirteen, he added, “. . . I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto) . . .” He was kept back or restrained. We don’t just up and go. Sometimes, God says, “go,” and sometimes He says, “stay.” Paul was ready — as we should be — to do whatever God told him to do.
Finally, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ . . .” There is one Person Who stands out above all of those who have ever lived or who ever will live, and His name is Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Gospel is to bring people to Him for salvation. And the Gospel, as we see in verse sixteen, is “the power of God unto salvation.” I am grateful for that divine dynamite. An atomic bomb with all its power could not blow the sin out of your heart; but there is a power that can make drunkards sober, crooked men straight, and profane men pure. And all anyone has to do is believe in Jesus. That’s it! All of the other religions of the world are spelled D-O, but Christianity is spelled D-O-N-E. It’s done! It is finished! Simply “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Thankfully, Paul was not ashamed of this powerful Gospel.
Paul lived his life to bring others to Christ. He knew his obligation; he was ready; and he was not ashamed? Jesus transformed his life, and he wanted to tell the world about it. Are you ready for an adventure?