Tuesday, 21 January 2014
For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—Romans 15:18
In the preceding verse, Paul stated “Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.” In substantiation of this, he begins this verse with “for.” There was sufficient reason for him to glory in the matters related to his ministry for God and to demonstrate his apostolic authority based on Christ’s effective working in him. Because of this he says that he “will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me.”
And so when he notes his accomplishments, the words and the deeds were brought about not by his own power, but by the power of Christ. In Acts and in his epistles, there are evidences of miracles and signs being brought about through him and yet they aren’t the main focus of his ministry. If they were, one might think that they were either made up or that he was somehow endowed with these in his own right, but because they are noted incidentally, it is evident that they were the result of Christ working in him.
In fact, there are times when the miracles were lacking. In 2 Timothy 4:20, he said he “left Trophimus sick in Miletus.” In 1 Timothy 5:23, he told Timothy to “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” If Paul were the one to wield these powers, or if he had authority over the Spirit of Christ in him, he could have “claimed healing in Jesus’ name” and taken care of both of these. Even more to the point was his own affliction. He asked for it to be removed from him three times and yet the Lord left him with it saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 12 Corinthians 12:9.
By these things, it is manifest that what is noted and the healings that were wrought were solely by the work of Christ in Him. Because this is so, there was no boasting in Him, but rather glorying in Christ Jesus. And what is the purpose of these things? It is that “in word and deed” Christ was working through Paul “to make the Gentiles obedient.” Paul’s ministry was unique in that he was the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Christ worked through him to secure for Himself a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
What is apparent from this is that the church is dependent on the letters of Paul for its direction and edification. What he writes is our doctrine. At some point, the church age will end and Israel will again be the focus of God’s attention, but until that occurs, we are to rely on the directives given by Paul – not because they are from him personally, but because they are from Christ through him and specifically designed for this dispensation – the Church Age.
Life application: Paul never claimed anything as his right – healing, miracles, wonders, etc. Instead, he allowed the Lord to work through him. Let’s use this as an example in our own lives. By claiming something in the Lord’s name to which we are not entitled, we bring embarrassment on ourselves and discredit upon His name.
Heavenly Father, help me to understand the times when my prayers aren’t answered. I know that I ask from a state of not seeing the whole picture. But You see all and know what is best. Help me always to trust in this and to not question You in Your judgments. Thank You that even though my wants aren’t always met, my needs always are. Amen.