How the Apostle Paul worked with Church People

I've seen a lot of interesting principles in a short passage from Romans 1 which is often skipped over because it is close to other verses of major importance. We can learn a lot about Paul's priorities through these verses.
 
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 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, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
 
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
Paul is addressing a group of Christians in Rome, a church that Paul did not personally found. There was already a church in Rome before Paul ever got to visit them. We know from the Book of Acts that Paul had a strong desire to visit Rome, to bear witness to Jesus Christ at the very nerve centre of the Empire of the day.
 
Its good to see that Paul was THANKFUL for these Christians and this church. He was thankful because these Christians were well known for their FAITH. Faith and love are the two qualities most important in the Kingdom of God. These are the qualities we need to develop in our lives if we want to be really pleasing to the Lord.
 
We see that Paul was constantly praying to God and thanking God – just as he exhorts believers to do in his letters to them. He wasn't instructing people to adopt a way of life that he himself was not willing to adopt. Even though Paul had a lot of responsibility and even worked his own business quite often, he was able to separate part of himself (his spirit) from the everyday concerns he had, in order to serve God "with his spirit". This meant he could pray, give thanks, and commune with God almost without interrruption.
 
Paul wanted to come to Rome and was hindered. There may be important purposes of God for your life that you are aware of – just because you cannot always implement your plans to do them does not mean that you missed God or that the process of planning was necessarily faulty or wrong in itself.
 
Satan is able to hinder us at times from getting to our desired destination. How he does this exactly is not stated – but suffice to say that Satan can and does influence many people in their decision making, and can cause certain events to make obstacles for us – details not working out, relationships not working out, and so on.
 
Paul did not take a passive, fatalistic approach to the will of God. He was trying to "find a way in the will of God" to come to them. He was also actively praying about it and requesting that God would make the way for him. Finally it did happen, through Paul's imprisonment and subsequent appealing to Caesar for justice in a matter in which he was falsely accused by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
 
Now it is very interesting to me to see what Paul says next.
 
verse11: For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
 
Paul had this intense longing to see the Christians at Rome. Do we have this kind of desire to visit believers and be a blessing to them?
 
Paul wanted to IMPART a SPIRITUAL GIFT to them. I don't know the exact nature of what that spiritual gift would have been – the Bible does not say. But it is interesting that some Christian leaders could have this ability to impart a spiritual gift to others.
 
It is good to have the desire to do this. I recently heard one young man saying that a pastor he had approached for mentoring in the use of gifts for doing healing and deliverance ministry told him, "Its never going to happen". I'm not aware of all the circumstances surrounding this statement, but at face value it doesn't seem to reflect the kind of desire that Paul had in wanting to impart a spiritual gift to people that were not even one of his own congregations, so to speak.
 
Today there is a need for Christian leaders who not only have and use spiritual gifts regularly themselves, but also have the capacity to impart these gifts to others. Whether this happens through teaching, the laying on of hands, or more likely, on the job training and modelling, we need the spiritual gifts in order to make the full salvation of Christ manifest in people's lives. What is the use of having a doctrine that Jesus heals if no one knows how to bring the reality of this healing to anyone. I don't see that Jesus always does it himself entirely independently of his Body. The Bible teaches that WE are the Body of Christ, and this means that for some reason if God is going to continue the ministry of Jesus on earth, He is going to do it through US – His people. So we need to get tuned in to the Lord and take action as the Spirit directs.
 
Paul's words here also imply that spiritual gifts are useful in ESTABLISHING people in God. The way some people talk, you would imagine that spiritual gifts are only some kind of light diversion for Christians who don't understand doctrine. But this is far from the case. Spiritual gifts deliver the REALITY of God to people. They come many times as answers to prayer. They help people know that God is faithful, that God knows them personally, that God is a loving Father who heals and provides, and so much more. Spiritual gifts can also help believer to deal effectively with demons, and overcome their plans. I don't think we can easily limit the application of the spiritual gifts of God to just these areas, but all of these things are important in people being established in the truth.
 
Another interesting thing about what Paul says here is that he is anticipating a kind of reciprocal benefit in terms of faith. He is expecting not only to build them up, but also to be built up by THEIR faith. How many spiritual leaders today come to people with the proposition that not only will their faith build up the people, but that the PEOPLE's faith and encouragement will build up the leader himself. Paul's words give us a picture of the kind of humility that God likes. It gives us a better appreciation also of how the Body of Christ is supposed to function.
 
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
 
There is always a danger amongst zealous Christians of becoming super-spiritual. An example of "super-spirituality" is refusing to plan, or to insist that one will always be guided by God on the spot with impromptu impulses which must be followed, with no prior thought given to how to do something. This was not the way the apostle Paul lived. He said he OFTEN PLANNED to come to the Romans. 
 
Another example of super-spirituality is to respond to setbacks by assuming that "God did not tell you to do that". The unspoken assumption many times is that if something doesn't work out the first time, it is because GOD didn't want it done. If that was the case the Apostle Paul should have given up his ambition to come to Rome many times. Again, this is just not the way things happen in practice. These kinds of verses in the Bible I believe were given as a caution to those with ears to hear concerning the dangers of super-spirituality. It is very easy to discourage people with super-spiritual sounding questions such as "Did God really tell you to do that?" Oftentimes these questioners have never taken a serious risk in serving God, and prefer now to live in the safe zone. This is not that way to have apostolic breakthroughs. Of course we should take time to wait before God and meditate on the Word, and pray, but when desires from the Lord come, sometimes we are going to have to request for doors to be opened, we are going to have to search for a way in the will of God to fulfil those desires (as Paul said he was doing in verse 10), we are going to have to plan.
 
Paul says he was hindered. In 1 Thessalonians 2:18 Paul says to the Thessalonians, "Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us." We see therefore that Satan does have enough power in the affairs of the earth to hinder even a mighty apostle from fulfilling his desire in God at times.
 
We may also experience being hindered in our plans. The temptation of course is to get frustrated and impatient. But what we really need to be doing at times like this is looking to the Lord Himself to be the satisfaction of our souls. Then we will be content and peaceful even when the desire we have to do certain important things is frustrated for a while. Let that desire be subordinate to the desire to enjoy God and fellowship with Him, and give Him thanks in all circumstances.
 
Paul wanted to have "fruit" among the Romans. Again, super-spiritual people think "fruit" is only about personal "fruit of the Spirit" – and this is a convenient dodge for those who are more concerned with their own spirituality than with anybody else's eternal wellbeing.
 
The kind of fruit that God is looking for is more people conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. You cannot be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ if you are not interested in the eternal well-being of others. Paul wanted to bring people in Rome to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He was seeking the profit of many, that they be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33).
 
 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
 
Do we realise that we have a debt to those who don't know the gospel? Or did only the apostle Paul have this debt? This would be a good area for study and contemplation. If indeed we have a debt to bring the gospel to people everywhere, what are we doing about it?
 
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. vs 15
 
To imitate the apostle Paul, we have to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we are READY to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul talked in Ephesians 6 about the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. To be an effective soul-winner, to be an effective ambassador for Christ, we need to be prayed up, we need to be conscious of our message, and we need to be intentional about spreading it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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