Summary: We are all called to be totally committed to Jesus in every aspect of our lives.
THE CALLED CHURCH
Text: Romans 1:1-7
1. Illustration: One day on the warpath, Alexander and small company of soldiers approached a strongly fortified walled city and Alexander raised his voice and demanded to see the king. When the king arrived, Alexander ordered him to surrender the city and everyone inside.
The king laughed, "Why should I surrender to you? You can't do us any harm!"
But Alexander offered to give the king a demonstration. He ordered his men to line up single file and start marching. He marched them straight toward a cliff. The townspeople gathered on the wall and watched in shocked silence as, one by one, his soldiers marched without hesitation right off the cliff to their deaths!
After 10 soldiers died, Alexander ordered the rest of the men to return to his side. The townspeople and the king immediately surrendered to Alexander the Great. They realized that if a few men were actually willing to die at the command of this leader, then nothing could stop his eventual victory.
2. Today we are starting a new series on Paul's Letter To The Romans.
A. Many people believe that Romans is Paul's theological masterpiece.
B. Many of the great doctrines of the Bible are covered in this letter.
C. There are also some controversial concepts covered in this letter, and some of them are "hot button" topics of our day.
D. So we have much to learn from the letter written in the First Century.
3. Paul begins his letter by talking about calling.
A. Some of us have specific callings.
B. Some of us have more general callings.
C. All of us have a calling to be the Church.
4. Paul makes clear in this introduction the calling of the church...
A. We Are Called To Be Slaves
B. We Are Called To Be Partaker's Of The Good News
C. We Are Called To Be Proclaimer's Of The Good News
5. Let's stand together as we read Romans 1:1-7.
Proposition: We are all called to be totally committed to Jesus in every aspect of our lives.
Transition: First, we are...
I. CALLED TO BE SLAVES (1).
A. Slave Of Jesus Christ
1. When beginning a study of any book in the Bible it is essential to answer some very basic question about the book.
A. Who Wrote It: Paul (v. 1)
B. To Whom: Christians in Rome (v. 7). This was a predominantly Gentile church, and this is important, who were not Paul's converts.
C. When: AD 56. We won't necessarily find that in the text itself, but based on history and a record of Paul's life scholars believe this is the approximate date of the letter.
2. Paul's introduction in his letter to Romans is more extensive than in his other letters.
A. Many Scholars believe the reason for this is that his audience was not converts of his, and therefore, his authority with them is more in question than with other churches.
B. Furthermore, because this church was predominately Gentile, Paul stresses the Christians indebtedness to Jewish heritage both in the Scriptures and in the person of the Jewish Jesus (Witherington III, Paul's Letter To The Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 29).
3. Paul begins by saying, "This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, ..."
A. From the very beginning Paul refers to himself as a "slave of Christ Jesus."
B. A slave of someone in high position had more status, authority and freedom than a free commoner; the emperor’s slaves were some of the highest-ranking people in the empire, as the Roman Christians would know (Keener, New Testament, Under: "Romans 1:1-7 Introduction").
C. So for Paul and his audience the term does not have the same negative connotation that we put on it today.
D. Perhaps the reason for this is that Paul wants to set himself within the prophetic tradition.
E. Many OT figures, especially the prophets, who regularly identified themselves in this way.
F. So in a Scriptural sense to be referred to as a servant of the Lord is a term of honor.
G. Paul is, therefore, making it clear that his calling and authority comes from Jesus himself.
H. He is not his own person, and his calling and mission has been assigned to him. He has been called to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Witherington. 30-31).
4. Then Paul refers to himself in a different way. He says, "...chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News."
A. The term Apostle means someone who is "called out and set apart," and has it's background in the Jewish concept of shaliah, who was the legal agent of the one who sent him to undertake some task, and who carried with him the authority of the one who sent him.