Thursday, 23 January 2014
And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation,… Romans 15:20
In his previous thoughts, Paul has said that it is Christ working through him in the things which pertain to God. Endowed with this ability and with the gift of this ministry he went “from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum” fully preaching the gospel of Christ.
In this capacity (and so he states here), he lets the Romans know that “I have made it my aim to preach the gospel…” The Greek word translated as “made it my aim” reflects and earnest desire or ambition. It has been his heart’s goal to preach “not where Christ was named.” Paul saw his ministry as a foundational one. He set out to establish churches rather than move into those areas where one was already established and thus “build on another man’s foundation.”
God has endowed all people with certain desires and abilities. There are those who are missionaries, telling the gospel for the very first time. There are others who will establish churches, thus bringing together those who may already know Christ but not have a place of worship. There are preachers, teachers, and congregants. Everyone has a place within the body and at times the duties or missions overlap.
Paul’s goal was preaching and teaching to new converts. He didn’t just give the gospel and move on, but after receiving converts, he would disciple them. This is seen, for example, in Acts 19:9, 10 –
“But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
He was there to evangelize and he stayed and taught daily for two years. But he also wrote letters of instruction and encouragement such as the epistle to the Romans. There in Rome was a group of believers who had already come together, probably without any apostolic leadership. These converts might have been from the group who came to Christ in Jerusalem, such as those recorded in Acts 2 at the first Pentecost of the Church Age. However they were established, Paul was writing to them for the sake of both exhortation and doctrine.
He hoped to eventually go to Rome and meet with them, but without violating his precept of preaching “not where Christ was named” but rather as a stop for fellowship on his way to Spain (Romans 15:24).
Life application: In order to be an effective member of the church, one needs to decide what it is they can do to benefit the body. If sitting in church listening to instruction is all you wish to do, make sure to leave a gift or offering. If you wish to go overseas and be a missionary, it takes planning and funding. First think about what you wish to do and then determine to do it through reasonable planning and in a way which will benefit the church.
Lord, thank You for the church where I attend. Thank You for a place of fellowship where we can worship You and edify each other. Thank You for each person who comes, for the services, studies, and special gatherings that make it a home. Thank You for the abilities You have given each person and for those who use their abilities to benefit all within the church. Amen.