17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:
and those who have not heard will understand.”
17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
It is not wrong to boast in the Lord. After all, that is to give God glory! We need to be careful that we are not so humble that we take away the glory due His name. We need to remember that we are only the instrument in the hands of the Master who has created a masterpiece - but we do not deny the fact that it is a masterpiece. We take no credit for it but give all the glory to God. That is the right perspective. That is what we boast in.
18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Paul will not take credit for something that he did apart from Christ, nor would he take credit for something Christ did though someone else. He will only take credit for what God has done through him, and even then will give all the glory to God for that work. That is true humility.
the first characteristic of a master preacher is he claims nothing but what Christ has done through him. And that's the essence of humility. He went where Christ led. He preached to whom Christ called. He receipted only for what Christ did. And he gave all the glory to Christ.
And the message he preached was one of obedience.
the Apostle Paul had his ministry marked out by the proclamation of obedience. He preached obedience to the sovereign Lord, a willingness to submit to His command and His rule. And his message was no different than that of the Lord Jesus Christ who also preached obedience to Himself.
Paul also had personal integrity - he was authentic, genuine. End of v18 - by what he had said and done. His walk matched his talk. He proclaimed the message of obedience through both his preaching and through the way he lived.
19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit confirmed Paul's preaching through supernatural power.
God authenticated the true preachers with these mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is, when Paul preached, there were demonstrations of supernatural nature to show that the power of God was behind his ministry. And all you need to do is study the book of Acts and you will see that in great detail.
That still occurs today. Oh, not usually in healing the sick or any of those supernatural wonders.
what is the greatest miracle of all miracles that can occur on this earth?...regeneration, the miracle of transformation, the miracle of conversion, the miracle of a transformation from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light, from Satan to Christ, salvation, from being a child of the devil to being a child of God, the new birth. And today I believe where you have a true preacher of the true gospel, his ministry is attended by the work of the Spirit of God in the transformation of souls. And although that is not specifically the same as the authentication of the preachers of the apostolic era, it is nonetheless an authenticating sign.
So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
We know he preached the fullness of the message.....But here I think the essence of the text is that he fully preached in every place the Lord called him and sent him. He maximized every opportunity and met the full range of responsibility God had given to him. Is it any wonder that when he comes to the end of his life in 2 Timothy he says, "I'm now ready to be offered because I have finished my course...I have finished my course"? His commitment was to do the work of the Lord absolutely without thought of what the cost would be.
And there was a cost to paid for Paul, that's for sure. But he never said no to God. He went wherever God called him to go and he went eagerly, to preach the fullness of the message of God.
and those who have not heard will understand.”
Paul didn't need to go to Rome - there already was a church there. He still wanted to go - but to encourage them, to visit them. But not to stay. Because Paul was called to the unreached people. That was his call, that was his desire, that was the vision of his heart. His call was not to water or build on someone else's foundation - his call was to reach those who had not heard the gospel message.
Some are called to lay the foundation. Some are called to come along and build on that foundation. The role of the pastor-teacher is to build on the foundation that is laid. The role of the evangelist, the Apostle, the sent one is to lay the foundation. The church needs both. He might visit a church founded by someone else, like the church at Rome, but not to stay there. He had absolutely no interest in staying there.
In v21 Paul quotes Isaiah 52:15 - that there would come a day when the Gentiles would be reached with the message of the gospel.
Now the fullness of that Messianic prophecy, I believe, comes to pass in the Second Coming. I believe it comes to pass when Jesus Christ comes back and gathers redeemed Gentiles to Himself. But I believe it begins to be fulfilled in the ministry of the Apostle Paul, who goes out to reach these Gentiles, to begin to gather them to their Messiah. And that is already happening and we are a part of that gathering even today.
Paul was a priest who offered a sacrifice to God. And as such he speaks to all of us of the need for us to offer up those we've led to Christ as a sacred offering to Him. He was a preacher who faithfully proclaimed the Word of God. Every opportunity God gave him he took it and used it to its fullest extent. And I asked my ownself, as you ask yourself, "Am I so faithful in the proclamation." And then he said, "I'm a pioneer and I go to the places where Christ is not named." In all of this he becomes an example to us.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 15:23-29