A Bondservant

Saturday, September 13, 2014, 5:11 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Living Sacrifices.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 1:1-17 (NASB).

Set Apart

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

Paul was a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. I wanted to understand, thus, what it means to be a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, so I looked it up:

The word bondservant comes from the Greek word doulos, meaning “one who is subservient to, and entirely at the disposal of, his master; a slave.” In Roman times, the term bondservant or slave could refer to someone who voluntarily served others. Under Roman law, a bondservant was considered the owner’s personal property. Throughout the New Testament, the word bondservant, slave, or servant is applied metaphorically to someone absolutely devoted to Jesus. As bondservants, we renounce other masters (Matthew 6:24) and give ourselves totally to Him (Matthew 16:24). “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22). http://www.gotquestions.org/bondservant.html

Although this is not taught much in today’s modern church here in America, this is the true meaning of what it means to be in Christ and to be a follower of Jesus. Once we were slaves to sin and unrighteousness, but when we come to Christ Jesus, by faith, we are set free of slavery to sin, and now we become voluntary slaves of righteousness. Jesus bought us with a price. Therefore we are to honor God with our lives. Our lives are to no longer be our own, but they are owned by our Lord and Master, Jesus. We are to be entirely at the disposal of our Lord Jesus to do whatever he wants us to do. We ought to be absolutely devoted to Jesus and to his will for our lives. We should no longer follow the ways of our flesh, or do just what we want to do, but we should give ourselves completely to him for his service in obedience to his commands. For us to be able to do this, we must daily die to sin and self and follow our Lord in obedience – all in his power and strength within us.

Paul was also set apart for the gospel of God. As the Lord’s servants, we, too, are set apart for his service and for his gospel. We, who are in Christ, are growing into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21). We have been chosen by God, holy and beloved (Col. 3:12). Jesus “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). Like the Holy One who called us, we are to be holy in all our behavior (1 Pet. 1:15-16). “As living stones, (we) are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). And, we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Holy means: "likeness of nature with the Lord" because "different from the world;" "different from the world" because "like the Lord;" and it implies something "set apart" and therefore "different (distinguished/distinct)" – i.e. "other," because special to the Lord - http://biblehub.com/greek/40.htm. This is what it means for us to be holy, and it is what it means to be set apart from the world and to the Lord. We have to be unlike (different from) the world, and we have to be becoming like Jesus Christ in all that we do, think and say.

Encouraged Together

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.

There is just nothing quite like the encouragement and strengthening we receive from other believers in Jesus Christ who are also absolutely devoted to Jesus, set apart from the world, and set apart to God and to his service. Paul sets the example for us here in how we can encourage and strengthen one another in the Lord.

First of all, we should be thankful for the Body of Christ, and especially when we see believers in Jesus committed to the Lord in love, purity, and in service to him and to others. I know I need to do more to show my appreciation for my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world, so this convicts my heart.

Secondly, we should be devoted to praying for one another, especially since we are on a spiritual battlefield and Satan is attacking the church left and right. Reading this brings me under conviction. I know I need to pray more, and more effectively, and specifically for my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world. And, I need to be asking them more how I can pray for them, because we all need prayer. I know I do.

Thirdly, we should long for fellowship with other believers. When I say “fellowship,” though, I don’t mean just hanging out and watching a movie together, playing games, or eating pizza and chips, drinking sodas, and talking about all our worldly activities and toys. The early church met daily from house to house and in the temple courts for the teaching of the word, for prayer, for the breaking of bread and for fellowship. They were committed (devoted) to fellowship with one another. Yet, I think that in our modern-day churches we have altered the meaning of fellowship quite a bit, and that we have lost the idea of what the early believers experienced in genuine fellowship with one another. I found this good definition of “Christian fellowship”: http://www.gotquestions.org/koinonia.html.

Paul, as well, gave a very good definition of Christian fellowship in his letter to the Roman believers. He longed to see them so he could impart some spiritual gift to them. Now, we know that it is the Spirit who gives the gifts, as he determines, so I am not quite certain what Paul meant by this, other than perhaps to encourage them in their spiritual gifts or in helping them to discover what gifts they have in the Spirit, which is something we can all do with one another.

Another aspect of this fellowship was the encouragement they were to receive from one another by one another’s faith. Yet, how many times do believers in Jesus Christ get together for “fellowship,” and the name of Jesus is not even mentioned, much less is there any mutual encouragement of one another’s faith taking place? We need to encourage each other by sharing with one another what the Lord Jesus is doing in our lives.

Under Obligation

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

We read in Romans 8:12-13 (NASB): “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Paul said he was “under obligation” to everyone, implying that his obligation was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all. I believe all of us are under obligation, as followers of Christ, to no longer live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and that this involves daily putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh so that we can walk daily in the Spirit and under the Spirit’s control. This goes back to the subject of being bondservants of Jesus Christ – absolutely devoted to Jesus! As bondservants, we are obligated to renounce all other “gods” (idols) in our lives, and to give ourselves wholly unto Him. And, this includes being ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ in making disciples of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all Christ commands us.

Paul realized that the gospel of Jesus Christ was the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and that is why he was so committed to sharing the gospel, so that many could be saved, so they could be set free from sin, and so they could become slaves of righteousness, as well as have the hope of eternity with God in heaven. The same gospel that he preached, and that Jesus and the other apostles preached, is the gospel we are to live and to also preach (teach/witness) to the world around us.

Living Sacrifices / An Original Work / September 14, 2012
Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will.
Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin.
Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness.
Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Be alive to God in Christ.