Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: As soon as the "servant" issue is established, the "servant's task" becomes an extremely crucial concern.
Introduction: In our study last week, we attempted to do a couple of things. First, we attempted to identify the place Romans has in the New Testament canon of Scripture. Our conclusion is that Romans is Paul's attempt to set forth the essentials of his life-message. He had never been to Rome; so, he could not assume much doctrinal content on the part of his readers. Thus we conclude that the letter contains at least the seed forms of the doctrinal content that is necessary for a believer to grow to maturity in Christ. Then, we attempted to follow Paul's words regarding his self-identity into an understanding of the big picture reality of where his doctrine will take us. We argued that there is no real growth where two issues remain un-confronted and unresolved: first, the issue of the twisted pursuit of status [the Saul/Paul transformation given succinct statement in Galatians 1:10]; and, second, the issue of the twisted pursuit of life by means of 'lordship' [the bondservant nature of both the King/Savior and all who would participate in His Kingdom/Salvation]. Now, if these two issues really are fundamental, they stand as twin guard towers at the Gate of Life. There is no entrance into the reality of Life where there is no recognition of the supreme superiority of the glory that is God [the pictures of Jesus in the Gospels being brought into focus and harmony -- this is why there is salvation in none other] and of the supreme superiority of the glory God has to offer [participation with Him in what He is as that is expressed in relationship to others -- this is why salvation is by faith (faith is a relationally participatory term)]. Thus, once these twin towers are recognized and embraced, the next issue is the one Paul raises in Romans 1:1 with the words "a called apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God".
January 20, 2004
- I. The Focus of the Extended Phrase.
- A. There is a continuing "identity" phrase: "a called apostle".
- B. There is a linked phrase that takes the "identity" into "living": "separated unto the Gospel"...
- C. The two combine together to address one issue: the bondservant's task.
- II. The Bondservant's Task.
- A. It is rather pointless to discuss the "identity" of "bondservant" without moving forward into the next most obvious issue: what does the "Lord" want the "slave" to do?
- 1. In Philippians 3:12-17 Paul clearly establishes the fact that no "slave" is "laid hold of", by a master, to no end.
- 2. In I Corinthians 12-15 Paul clearly teaches that every "slave" has been given the capacities for the "lord's" assignment.
- 3. In I Peter 4:10, Peter claims that the imparted capacity(ies) constitute a 'stewardship'.
- 4. In 1 Corinthians 4:2, Paul claims that "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful".
- 5. In 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 Paul claims that "...we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
- B. In Paul's case, his continuing "self-identification" constitutes a revelation regarding his assigned "task".
- 1. He says he is "a called apostle".
- a. This isn't the same thing as "called to be an apostle".
- b. This is, rather, identifying the kind of apostle he is.
- 1) There are different 'kinds' of apostles identified in Scripture.
- a. 2 Corinthians 11:13 -- False apostles [Revelation 2:2 - self-appointed apostles]
- b. Luke 6:13 -- Called apostles
- c. Ephesians 3:5 -- Holy apostles
- 2) The point of the descriptive word, "called", is that Paul viewed his apostleship as a matter of specific divine appointment, not of any kind of volunteerism that he might have exercised.
- c. This, however, establishes himself as a surrogate final authority which the believers in Rome cannot ignore in any respect of doctrine.
- 2. He says that he was "separated unto the Gospel of God".
- a. The issue of "separation" involves two decision-makers.
- 1) One of the decision makers was the "Lord" Who issued the call.
- 2) The other decision maker was the "slave" who immediately found himself with all kinds of decisions that had to do with "separating" himself from/unto...
- a) The issue of "separation" has to do with obtaining a central focus through which all decisions are filtered.
- i. Nothing is allowed into the life that challenges the central focus.
- ii. Though all is allowed that does not challenge the central focus, sometimes there are decisions that are yet disallowed simply because the central focus can be elevated above what the focus actually calls for [such as Paul's refusal to accept pay for his services, or to get married, or...].
- b) The issue of "separation" will "flex" as maturity develops.
- b. The "separation" was "unto the Gospel of God".
- 1) In Paul's case, this meant becoming a surrogate source of doctrine from God to men.
- 2) In Paul's case, this also meant getting involved with making sure that doctrine got to men and was understood by men [...a preacher, apostle, and teacher... -- 2 Timothy 1:11].
- III. The Bondservant's Example.
- A. In Philippians 3:12-17, Paul says that we are to use him as an example.
- B. In terms of an example, we must understand something fundamental: it is the "Lord" Who assigns the "task"...thus it is the "Lord" Who bears the responsibility of making His specific will known to His bondservants.
- 1. All bondservants have the same "general" tasks that involve living in harmony with the specifics of Truth.
- 2. All bondservants, however, also have unique "specific" tasks which none but the "Lord" can identify.
- C. The major blockage for bondservants has to do with whether we copy Paul's example in Philippians 3, or not.
- 1. He deliberately set aside "all" so that he might "lay hold on".
- 2. He did not hesitate to embrace the identity of the "bondservant".