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Summary: The apostle Paul did not preach or teach the Gospel because of personal reasons or because the calling seemed attractive. I have talked to some who went into full-time Christian service because their father was a pastor, or because they grew up being told

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An Obedient Spirit

Paul continues to talk about his attitudes and motives about doing ministry. In his introduction to the letter to the Roman believers, Paul gives us some marks of true spiritual service we would do well to study and use as a standard to measure our own service to God.

The apostle Paul did not preach or teach the Gospel because of personal reasons or because the calling seemed attractive. I have talked to some who went into full-time Christian service because their father was a pastor, or because they grew up being told they would be a preacher someday. Or someone may be a Sunday School teacher and their reason is, “nobody else would do it”. If it is not being done willingly, then it might be a questionable motive.

Now let’s look at what Paul said. The Gospel stirred Paul with a deep sense of indebtedness. He considers himself a debtor to the whole world. But why? Paul is a Jew. He was once a very proud Jew. What is different about Paul the Christian? First, Paul’s motives are different than they were.

I. Paul’s Motive for Service – obligation

A. Debtor – to owe, to be obligated, to be bound by duty

1. The Gk. is impossible to translate into English, for two ideas are being expressed by Paul. He was a “debtor”…

a. because Christ had done so much for him (saved him)

b. because Christ had called him to preach (given him a task to do)

2. Paul served God and others BECAUSE!

B. “The just because factor” What if we don’t feel like “doing” ministry? Every sincere pastor and Christian worker knows there are times when ministry is its own reward, when study, preparation, teaching, and shepherding are exhilarating in themselves. There are other times, however, when the work does not seem very attractive, and yet you still study, prepare, teach, and shepherd because you are under obligation to God and to those you are serving. Christ is our Lord and we are His servants; and it is a poor servant who serves only when he feels like it.

C. Paul’s two-fold duty

1. First, he was under obligation to God on behalf of the Gentiles. Because God had appointed him as a unique apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:5; Acts 9:15), he was under divine obligation to minister the gospel to them.

2. Second, he had an obligation, or debt, to the Roman believers directly, because of their spiritual need. That is the kind of obligation a person has to someone whose house is on fire or who is drowning. When someone is in great danger and we are able to help, we are automatically and immediately under obligation to do what we can to save him. Because unbelieving Gentiles, like unbelieving Jews, face spiritual death, Paul was obligated to help rescue them through the gospel.

3. Paul wanted to get there soon. Paul exhibited instant obedience. “Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.” Thomas A Kempis

Question: Is obligation alone a good motive to serve God? Well, it’s a start. For it to fully please God there needs to be another element to our service.


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