Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostles, separated unto the gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: by whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-7).
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that’s oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:8-17).
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but becomes vain in their imaginations, and their soloist heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:18-25).
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned int heir lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves hat recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despitefully, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:26-32).
When you come to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find the first of the thirteen epistles which he himself penned. The epistle written unto the Romans is essentially an introduction to the rest of the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote—and not only an introduction to the epistles he wrote but also an introduction to the doctrine which he preached throughout Europe and Asia. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the writing of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome and how this epistle brings us face to face with the doctrine and teaching which the apostle Paul received directly from the living and eternal God. In fact when you come to the opening verses of this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul beginning it with his name thus indicating the author of the epistle. The apostle Paul opens this epistle by informing his readers and audience who it was who wrote the epistle for it would be he himself who wrote this epistle unto them that they might be informed of his doctrine. The epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome begins with the apostle using very specific language concerning himself—namely that he was a servant of Jesus Christ as well as an apostle. The apostle Paul deliberately and intentionally chose to begin and open this epistle with the emphatic declaration that he was first and foremost a servant of the Lord—something we have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to. I am absolutely convinced we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the way the apostle Paul viewed himself in the eyes of the Lord whom He served.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but escape the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul referring to himself first and foremost as a servant—and not only as a servant but as a servant unto Jesus Christ. I am absolutely convinced we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something to be said about the apostle Paul beginning this epistle by qualifying and positioning himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our end for more often than not we chose to begin with the title “apostle” and thus speak of the ministry unto which we have been called to. More often than not there are men and women among us who refer to themselves by that which they have been called to—apostle, pastor, teacher, missionary, prophet, evangelist, and the like. With this being said I am absolutely convinced there is something truly tragic and dangerous about this for there is something truly dangerous when men and women view themselves through titles rather than through their relationship to and with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul began and opened this epistle by referring to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ who was called to be an apostle and separated unto the gospel of God. Please don’t miss the tremendous truth that is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of the apostle Paul viewing himself through the lens of being a servant unto the person of Jesus Christ—something we have a great need of understanding within our own lives. What makes this reality all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the apostle Paul was separated in Antioch from the brethren—and not only separated from the brethren but first and foremost separated unto the person of the Holy Spirit and secondarily separated unto the work whereunto they had been called.
The more I think about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture the more I am confronted with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul and how he viewed himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it speaks to the apostle’s view of himself and his allegiance and commitment to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would indeed write and speak unto the saints which were at Rome and would in fact declare unto them that he was first and foremost a servant of Jesus Christ—something which we must all recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives. There must not be any doubt within our hearts nor within our minds that we are indeed and are in fact servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and that our allegiance is first and foremost unto the person of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to that which we ourselves have been called to within our own lives. As the saints of God and those who are and have been called to be disciples of Jesus we must needs recognize that above everything else—above everything we think and feel we have been called to and above everything we would hope to be called to we are called to be a servant of Jesus Christ. There is no greater honor than to be called a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ—and not only a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ but also one who pledges their allegiance to the person of Jesus within and throughout every day of their lives upon this earth. More important than race, more important than gender, more important than political affiliation, more important than denominational allegiance is the undeniable reality that we have indeed been called to be those whose lives are spent in service to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is with all of this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. What’s more is I would also call your attention to the words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In addition to this I would call your attention to the words presented in the second and third chapters of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints. I would also call your attention to the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by Paul unto the Ephesian saints as well as the words which are found in the tenth chapter of this same epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the following words found in each of these passages beginning with the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John:
“These things have I spoken I unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’ll. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other. Man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeded from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:11-27).
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant his lord. If they have called the master of the house of Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, abut are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his I life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul:” Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in loneliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the thigns of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I hav not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your father, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 2:1-18).
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall. Reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, where to we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:1-16).
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all loveliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoruring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelist; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body firmly joined together and compacted by that which every joint suppliers, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Who soever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:1-21).
I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words presented in this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the tremendous reality that we are first and foremost and above all called to be servants of Christ. There is a great and powerful need within our hearts and our lives to recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be servants of Jesus Christ and that our allegiance is first and foremost to Him. Our allegiance is first and foremost to Jesus Christ above any political party, above any denominational affiliation, and above any social or economic class we find ourselves in or think we are a part of. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something worth noting concerning our service first and foremost to the person of Jesus Christ for above anything we do and above anyone we think we are and/or will become we are in fact called to be servants of the eternal and only begotten person of Jesus Christ. What’s more is I am absolutely convinced we must recognize the words which John the Baptist declared unto those who came unto him speaking about Jesus baptizing more disciples than he. It was in response to this John the Baptist emphatically declared that he must decrease but that Jesus might increase. John the Baptist realized that he existed for one reason and one purpose alone and that was to point men to the manifestation of the person of Jesus the Christ. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he baptized men with water but there was one coming after him who baptized men with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John the Baptist recognized and understood that he was indeed called to allegiance to something and someone greater than himself. John the Baptist recognized that he was indeed called to point men and women unto the person of Jesus Christ who was indeed the eternal Son of the living God. John the Baptist recognized that he was not called to draw men and crowds unto himself but to point them directly unto the person and presence of Jesus who was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul emphatically declaring that he was first and foremost a servant of Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs recognize for his call to be an apostle not only could but never would rise above his willingness to live his life as a servant of Jesus Christ. This particular truth is something which warrants strong consideration within our hearts and lives for who we are and who we think we might called to be can and will never rise higher than our willingness to be a servant of Jesus Christ. There are those who think they can be an apostle absent first and foremost being a servant of Jesus Christ and the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. There are those who think they can be a preacher of the gospel without first and foremost being a servant of Jesus Christ and the truth of this monster is that it is simply false and incorrect. There are others who think they can be prophets, evangelists, missionaries and the like without and apart from first and foremost being a servant of Jesus Christ and the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and cannot be the case. What’s more is I would dare say there are many preachers, there are many pastors, there are many teachers, and there are many “bishops,” “elders,” “apostles,” “prophets” and the like who have never been servants of Jesus Christ. Not only this but if you are not first and foremost a servant of Christ you can and will make whatever ministry you think you are called to about yourself and transform it into something it was never created or intended on being. Oh there are countless men and women who have never devoted themselves to first and foremost being servants of Jesus Christ and have been placed—perhaps even thrust—into positions of leadership and power and yet they are entirely and altogether deceived within themselves.
The apostle Paul wrote about submission to those who are in authority and those who are in the government and positions of leadership and yet even as I’m writing these words I find myself coming face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding such individuals being in power and yet not being surrendered and submitted to the person and presence of Jesus Christ. It is possible to be in positions of authority, power and leadership and yet not be at the very core of one’s existence a servant of Jesus Christ. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to be servants of Jesus Christ and that anything we do and anything we say can never and will never rise above our willingness to be a servant of Jesus Christ. Who we are, what we do, what we say and the like must needs be filtered and funneled through our being servants of Jesus Christ for our lives must needs be entirely and altogether governed by the teaching and principles of the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God. In fact I would dare say that this is what is so significant behind Jesus’ words contained in the Sermon on the Mount for it is within the Sermon on the Mount we are indeed brought face to face with the absolutely incredible truth that we have been called to live as citizens of the kingdom of heaven within the earth. When Paul declared that he was a servant of Jesus Christ he was doing more than simply speaking of his allegiance to the Son of God but he was also professing and declaring his citizenship which was in heaven. The apostle Paul recognized that although we might be citizens of a particular nation and country in the earth there is a citizenship that is indeed higher and greater than that which we think we possess within this life.
The more I write these words the more I am brought face to face with the truth that apostleship without servitude, submission and surrender to the person of Jesus Christ is incredibly shallow and can and will limit our devotion and commitment to the person and presence of Jesus Christ. I am absolutely convinced that ministry apart from and without first and foremost being a servant of Jesus Christ is incredibly shallow for it allows us to be in a position where we can be moved and swayed by the things and events which take place all around us. I firmly believe that those who attempt to enter into some form and type of ministry without first and foremost being a servant of Jesus Christ are those whom Jesus referred to in the parable of the sower who when trials and tribulation arises on account of and for the sake of the word of the kingdom they are offended. Moreover I would dare say that those who are not servants of Jesus Christ—those who are not such who deny themselves, take up their cross daily and walk with and follow Him—are those who can and will be offended when persecution, suffering and affliction rises because of the word and name of Jesus. These individuals can and will be those who like the Jews mentioned in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John turn back and walk no more with the person of Jesus Christ. In fact I would dare say that we must needs consider the words which are found in the thirteenth and twenty-fourth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with those which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had not deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:3-9).
“Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one hearth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of. This world, and the deceitful ness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hearth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 10:18-23).
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For Wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:21-28).
“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:66-71).
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the tremendous truth and reality surrounding the very heart of the apostle’s life as well as His doctrine and teaching. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the fact that at the very heart of everything the apostle Paul taught and preached was Jesus—and not only Jesus but Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of the living God. You cannot have a discussion much less talk about the apostle Paul and not encounter and come face to face with the very heart and center of his existence being the person of Jesus—and not only Jesus but Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of the living God. As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that the apostle Paul wrote of his being called to be an apostle and separated unto the gospel of God which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Upon reading the words found in this passage you can and will be brought face to face with the very foundation of who the apostle Paul was as a servant of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul first and foremost declared that he was a servant of Jesus Christ and would then go on to speak of himself as being called to be an apostle who was separated unto the gospel of God—separated while journeying on the road to Damascus when he was thrown from his horse, surrounded by a brilliant light and hearing the voice of the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God, Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul knew from the minute he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus that he was called and separated unto the gospel and very early on during his walk with Jesus he would preach the gospel concerning Jesus arguing and contending that He was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God.
Continuing to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul teaching and preaching Christ—something which he was unashamed of. In fact if you continue reading the words presented in this opening chapter you will find the apostle Paul declaring that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it was the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes—to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Moreover the apostle Paul would also declare that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith for it was written “The just shall live by faith.” It is absolutely necessary and important for us to recognize and pay attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for in the first seven verses we find the apostle Paul teaching, preaching and writing concerning Jesus. The apostle Paul would speak of the gospel of God which was promised aforetime by the prophets in the holy Scriptures. The gospel of God which the apostle Paul preached was concerning the Son of the living God—Jesus—who is Christ and our Lord. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to declare that this Jesus was made of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness and by the resurrection from the dead. The apostle Paul goes on to further declare that we have all received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name. This is then followed by the apostle Paul speaking of the believers which were at Rome and how they themselves were called to be saints.
I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize the language that is found here in this passage of Scripture for not only do we read of being a “servant” of Jesus Christ but we also read of being called to be “saints.” SAINTS AND SERVANTS! If there is one trying we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be both servants of Jesus Christ as well as saints. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for if you want to truly understand that which you and I have been called to. You and I have indeed and have in fact been called to be saints of God and servants of Jesus Christ as those who are the called according to His purpose. It is this reality which is best expressed in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the third chapter of the same gospel. In addition to our being called to be servants and saints I would also add that we have been called to be sons—sons of the living and eternal God. SERVANTS, SAINTS & SONS! I firmly believe with everything inside me that we as those who believe in Jesus and trust in and call upon His name are and have been called to be such individuals who are servants, saints and sons. With this being said please note and understand that in the beginning He made them both male and female and that as much as it is true that we have been called to be sons the same holds true of those who have been called to be daughters. It isn’t merely about men being called sons for it is also about women being called to be daughters. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made byt him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his won, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:1-18).
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goest: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than. Light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:1-21).
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the ear test expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:12-22).
The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding saints, servants and sons. What’s more is that in addition to this there is a strong contrast between those who have been called to be servants of Jesus Christ, saints of the most High God and sons of redemption and righteousness. When you continue reading the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul writing how he thanked God through Jesus Christ for them all that their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. Moreover the apostle Paul writes how God was his witness whom he served with his spirit in the gospel of His Son that without ceasing he made mention of them always in his prayers. The apostle longed to see them that he might impart unto them some spiritual gift to the end that they might be established. The apostle Paul went on to declare that he oftentimes purposed to come unto them that he might have some fruit among them as he had among other Gentiles. For the apostle Paul he was a debtor both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise. Not only this but he was ready to preach the gospel to those who were in Rome for he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ as he knew that it was the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth—to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Not only this but the apostle Paul would also declare that in the gospel of God the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for the apostle Paul would conclude the first and opening chapter of the revelation of heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. While the apostle would write about the gospel of God and of being a servant of Jesus Christ and those who were called to be saints he would conclude this chapter with a powerful declaration concerning the unrighteousness and ungodliness which was present in the midst of the world.
I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul goes on to contrast the righteousness of God with the wrath of God—the wrath of God which was revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. This is something which warrants strong consideration as it calls and draws our attention to the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the first epistle written unto Timothy, the words which are found in the third chapter of the second epistle written unto Timothy, the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Peter and those which are found in the epistle written by Jude. If you read and study the words presented in this passage of Scripture you will find that the apostle Paul who was himself an apostle and servant of Jesus Christ as well as those who were called to be saints were indeed called to live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. This was something the apostle Paul would indeed write in the epistle written unto the Philippian saints when he wrote of those who were called to live as holy and righteous in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. If we are being honest with ourselves we must needs admit that what we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful and profound description of that which we find within our generation—and not only within our generation but also within this nation. You cannot look at this nation during the days in which we are living and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous wickedness that is present in the midst of it. It is virtually impossible to live in the culture and society in which we are living and not come face to face with men and women who hold the truth in unrighteousness because that which might be known of God is manifest in them for God has in fact showed it unto them. There is a great need for us to recognize that the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things which are made—even his eternal power and Godhead so that men are without excuse.
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in this passage and how absolutely incredible it is to think about men and women who are present within this generation which is centuries and generations removed from the apostle Paul and yet the words which he wrote are just as true today as they were then—if not more so. There is something truly captivating about the words which we read in this passage of Scripture as it brings us face to face with the reality of the apostle Paul writing and speaking of that generation and how men and women held the truth of God in unrighteousness. Men and women knew of God, they knew who He was, and they knew about Him and yet they deliberately and intentionally chose to live their lives without, apart from and as though He was absent from them. If there is one picture of the nation in which we are presently living it’s that we are living during days of tremendous wickedness and evil. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable that we are indeed and are in fact living during days of such rampant wickedness and unrighteousness—and not only this but we must also recognize that the days and darkness will only grow darker and more treacherous and dangerous. There can be absolutely no mistake about this for if you want to truly recognize and understand the words presented in this passage of Scripture you must needs understand that the days are incredibly evil and wicked throughout and among us. What’s more is I am firmly convinced that men will grow from worse to worse and wickedness and evil can and will become more dangerous and treacherous in the days ahead. All you need to do is look at everything that is taking place among us and you will see a generation of men and women who—although they knew God they glorified him not as God nor were thankful but instead became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Moreover these individuals professed themselves to be wise and instead became fools as they changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the aforementioned passages of Scripture here in the New Testament concerning the last days:
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to securing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to a abstain from meats, which God hath created to be receive with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” (1 Timothy 4:1-6).
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privilege shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetouensss shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with t heir unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasties, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with t heir own deceiving while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb as speaking with man’s voice forbid the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wanton ness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, thy themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-22).
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lascivious ness, and ending the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to for action, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward and perished in the gainsaying of Core” (Jude 3-11).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words presented int his passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the days in which we are presently living. It is absolutely unmistakable that we have indeed been called to be servants of Jesus Christ, sons of God and saints who are the called according to His purpose, however, we must needs recognize that we have been called to such in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. There is a great need for us as the people of God to recognize and acknowledge that we are indeed living during days of tremendous evil and wickedness—days which are absolutely saturated with evil and darkness. There is absolutely no denying the truth that we are indeed living in are marked and marred by gross darkness and wickedness as we are in fact living in the midst of a culture and society that is inundated with those who not only deny the existence of the living God but are changing and have changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image of our own choosing and liking. There are countless men and women who hare worshipped and continue to worship God in the images they have made and thus have given themselves wholly to idolatry. There are countless men and women who have changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator who is blessed for ever. Not only this but men and women have chosen not to retain God in their knowledge and have been given over to a reprobate mind. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s there are countless men and women among us today whose minds have indeed been darkened and who God has given over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient—those who are filled with all unrighteousness. We as the saints of God, we as the servants of Jesus Christ must needs pursue righteousness and holiness with everything that is within is that we might be lights which shine in the midst of the darkness in a crooked and perverse generation.