Possessed By The Gospel (Rom 1:16-17)

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Pastor Mark Mikels – November 1, 2009
“POSSESSED BY THE GOSPEL”
(Romans 1:16-17)

Intro … For this little communion meditation I would draw your attention right away to what I’m calling Today’s Key Issue.

Today’s Key Issue …
The Problem many Christians have SHARING the GOSPEL.

And let’s face it, lots of born-again Christians do … We get a knot in our stomach; our mouth goes dry; our heart rate accelerates; our mind goes blank … whenever we enter the “Witness Zone” – that scary dimension of sight and sound where a word about our faith in Christ needs to be spoken – it’s like the “Twilight Zone” only worse.

This morning I want us to examine the attitudes and actions of one who had no such problem – the Apostle Paul – the writer of the Book of Romans – a man who was (as the title of this meditation suggests) literally “Possessed by the Gospel”.

Check out Paul’s personal testimony – note particularly his gospel passion and his gospel persuasion – as recorded in the first seventeen verses of chapter one …

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel
of God-the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s
sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to
the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called
to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to
last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Six times in these seventeen introductory verses Paul refers to the thing that literally possessed him – that caused him to be passionately persuasive – the Gospel (the Good News) brought by Jesus Christ.

* NOTE PAUL’S GOSPEL PASSION … four statements of testimony.

“I am set apart for the Gospel.” (vs. 1)
Key Word: IDENTITY

That was Paul’s most fundamental identity … He was a man “set apart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. That identity actually made it easy for him to share his faith – his faith in Christ was the thing that primarily identified him. He was not “Paul the tentmaker” – not “Paul the former Pharisee” – not “Paul the one-time persecutor of the church” … He was “Paul, the man set apart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

If you come by my house this afternoon … you may discover a man “Set apart
for the Denver Broncos”. Now that’s not a permanent identity and that’s not my primary identity but for a few hours today, it may seem like it is both permanent and primary.

Paul identified himself as “one who was set apart for the Gospel” – who of us is not?

Now that statement of identity in verse one led to a second statement found in verse nine …

“I wholeheartedly serve God in preaching the Gospel.” (vs. 9)
Key Word: ENERGY
There’s an interesting interplay between identity and energy … the first will always determine the second. Identify yourself as a loser and you will probably sit around and mope all day long. Identify yourself as a winner and you will probably be engaged in profitable activity.

Paul identified himself as a winner – “I am set apart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ” – the greatest task in all the world.

He was highly motivated and energized as he sought to carry out that task.
“I wholeheartedly serve God in preaching the Gospel.”

Again, were you to come by my house this afternoon, you might discover that my Sunday afternoon identity has indeed developed in me a particularly high level of energy.

Now I would hope that those who drop into this house on Sunday morning discover a similar thing, for serving Christ in this church is my true passion and my most primary identity and it stirs in me continual energy.

Identity – Energy … now a third statement of Paul’s personal testimony

“I am eager to preach the Gospel to you.” (vs. 15)
Key Word: DESTINY

Destiny is “identity and energy turned in a particular direction” … Paul knew that Rome was his next destination … His heart was set on it. His path took a lot of twists and turns for him to get there (read the last seven chapters of Acts) but he finally made it and he was eager for it.

Which of us does not have some loved one with whom we would want to “preach the Gospel” … someone in whose direction our heart has turned. They may or may not appear open to Christ.

The key is to be eager – to be ready … to even say to them –

“I would love to have the chance to tell you about Jesus –
let me know if you are ever interested.”

Identity – Energy – Destiny … and now the fourth and final statement of Paul’s personal testimony reflecting his Gospel Passion …

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” (vs. 16)
Key Word: REALITY
Now that was the fundamental emotional reality in which Paul lived – He was not ashamed of the Gospel – He was not ashamed to be associated with the Good News about Jesus Christ – He was not ashamed to be known as a follower of Christ. Quite the contrary!

Now the sad truth is … many are ashamed – many do drop their head and lower their voice when they speak of Jesus. Oh, I know the feeling and have known it for a long time – the tension between what I believe and what I admit to. (High School Lunch Bag)

Paul was intimidated by no such tension … the reality of his life was that he knew no shame when it came to the Gospel – he would and did proudly throw in his lot with Jesus Christ and the Good News about him. And why was that? Why was he so passionate about the Gospel – What was the source of His Gospel Passion?

Paul’s Gospel Passion was generated by Paul’s Gospel Persuasion.
He was persuaded – fully convinced – absolutely sure – of two things.

* NOTE PAUL’S GOSPEL PERSUASION …

The Gospel Produces SALVATION (vs. 16)
“It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

Paul was convinced that the Gospel is like spiritual dynamite – it can blast a person free from the debilitating affects of a sin-saturated society – it can blast a person free from judgment and condemnation – it can blast a person free from self-centered sinful living.

The Gospel Contains RIGHTEOUSNESS From God. (RFG) (vs. 17)
“In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed.”

Here’s the secret of the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – it contains righteousness (real righteousness) – Righteousness granted (by faith that saves) and righteousness gained (by faith that works).
Who could ever be ashamed of that?

Final Thot … In one way or another the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ
offers the SOLUTION to EVERY HUMAN NEED.

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