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The most worthwhile purpose.



The subject of discovering and knowing one's purpose is an important one - one to which I have devoted a lot of study, thought and teaching. As we come to the end of this brief look at the book of Romans, we clearly see that the man Paul lived on purpose. Is there something you and I can draw from him? O, I believe so.



It is told that once when Michelangelo began to carve a huge and shapeless block of marble, he said that his aim was to release the angel imprisoned in the stone.  I love that.  In many ways, that is how Paul looked at men …he saw what they could be if they surrendered themselves to Christ.1


Take Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles, for instance.  In itself, it was quite ironic how God used Paul. The man, a Hebrew among Hebrews, striving always to be made righteous by the Law … mentored by the Rabbi Gamaliel … hate-filled persecutor of the followers of The Way—that is, any and all who endeavored to uphold Christ’s teaching--but God called this Hebrew to bring the Christian faith to the Gentiles.   The Gentiles?! How so?  Paul broke through with a ministry of the Word and the confirming work of the Holy Spirit, which included miracles that were wrought at his hands.   


Oh, yes, Paul’s ministry was powerful!  At this point in Romans 15, he launches into a mini-retrospective:


“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.    It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”  Romans 15.17-21


We see the character of the man, Paul, revealed once again.  Here we see Paul practicing what he preached, walking the ‘talk’, embodying humility in his service for Christ.  All glory goes to God, as he cites the source of his power—the Holy Spirit.  We do not see Paul saying, ‘yeah, it was rough—but I did it…’ or ‘look what I accomplished…’  No, Paul does not list the number of souls he had won for Christ, the various miracles he had worked, or the numerous churches he had established over his 10 years of laborious service on his three missionary journeys.  What an amazing amount of ground—both spiritually and geographically—Paul had covered!  

In one sentence, he sums up his missionary journeys—from Jerusalem in an arc all the way to Ilyricum— preaching the gospel as he went.  His strategy was to evangelize the populous and influential cities, and plant churches, and then leave to others the radiation of the Gospel into the surrounding villages.2. And it worked.


See, Paul saw himself as an instrument in the hand of God, forever changed by the Savior, Jesus Christ.  And because of that, he laid his ‘all’ on the altar … whatever else he might have done, whoever else he might have been, whatever expectations his (very) Jewish lineage might have had for him, he was fully devoted to Jesus Christ.  And so, when God chose to use him, he was ready. 


Paul was an instrument in the hand of God. Compelling. Attractive to me for sure.


‘Reminds me of another story, which just might have application right here: It seems that the change in the life of D. L. Moody came when he went to a meeting and heard a preacher say:  “If only one man would give himself entirely and without reserve to the Holy Spirit, what that Spirit might do with him!”  Moody said to himself, “Why should I not be that man?”  His spiritual legacy is renowned.  Moody was an instrument in the hand of God.


Paul – an instrument in the hand of God.  Moody – a more recent instrument in the hand of God.  Mother Teresa – an instrument in the hand of God.  Billy Graham – an instrument in the hand of God.  

How about you? 

 How about me?  

Instruments in the hand of God?

O God, show us how to be used of you,

fulfilling the life of purpose you have for us.


May this song be our prayer: Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1c3m8mRb8g

Christine



1  William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans

2  John Stott, The Message of Romans

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