Summary: There is something intensely individualistic and ego affirming in the idea that you make your own way. We would all like to think that we could pull ourselves up by our own boot straps, that we are ‘self-made people.’
4th in the series
Called To Be Saints
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.
(Romans 1:5-7 NIV)
There is an old story from the Middle East about a little sparrow: "A man was traveling on his donkey when he came upon a small fuzzy object lying in the road. He dismounted to look more closely and found a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust upward. At first he thought the bird was dead, but closer investigation proved it to be very much alive. The man asked the sparrow if he was all right. The sparrow replied, 'Yes.' The man said, 'What are you doing lying on your back with your legs pointed towards the sky?' The sparrow responded that he had heard a rumor that the sky was falling, and so he was holding his legs up in support. The man replied, 'You surely don't think that you are going to hold it up with those two scrawny legs, do you?' The sparrow, with a very solemn look, retorted, 'One does the best he can.'"
We often are much like that sparrow. We are going through life trying to do the best they can. As a matter of fact, we think that is the way things ought to be. After all, everything is up to us, we are in charge of their life. We make the plans. And we do what we have to do to accomplish those plans.
There is something intensely individualistic and ego affirming in the idea that you make your own way. We would all like to think that we could pull ourselves up by our own boot straps, that we are ‘self-made people.’ We like the idea of being in charge of our lives. We want to cry aloud with W. E. Henley, in his poem Invictus,
W. E. Henley
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow'd.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Just visit the self-help section at the bookstore for verification. The shelves are filled with all kinds of books teaching how one can take charge of their life, and accomplish their dreams and goals. "You can do it on your own!"
But the Bible reveals that there is a plan. It is God's plan. And it is His plan for us. God does have a wonderful plan for your life. It is called the Plan of Salvation, or the Gospel. Gospel means "good news." The good news of God is that He has a plan for each of us.
Do you know God's wonderful purpose for your life? What is the purpose of the gospel? What does receiving this good news from God produce in our lives?
If we can understand what God’s purpose for us, then that purpose can be accomplished in our lives. We will walk from a different perspective, seeing our lives in light of God's purposes, and consequently we will live differently. Rather than do the best we can, we will be able to live a life that matters. So, to understand this, let's look at several purposes of the Gospel. Our text reveals one primary purpose and three secondary purposes.
To Exalt Our Savior
The primary purpose for the Gospel is found in the first phrase in verse five. When Paul says that he received his mission as an apostle through Him and for His name's sake, he is revealing the central place that God holds in all of this. It all begins and ends with God. It is all by His grace and for His glory.
You see, everything in the entire universe finds its meaning in God. He has created all things. He sustains all things. And one day all things will return to Him. This is what Paul means when he says, in Romans 11:36, "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."