The Gospel Sets Us Apart to Go
The Apostle Paul knew what it was to be “sent.” Romans 1:1-5 describes this for us: “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.”
In verse one, it told us that Paul was “set apart.” In most contexts, the term “set apart” refers to holiness. However, the original Greek used in this text is aphorizo. This means “to separate or cast out of society as wicked and abominable.” The Pharisees, the group to which Paul belonged before he became a follower of Christ, got their name from the word aphorismenoi, or “separated ones.”
More than likely, this is what Paul is referencing in verse one. Before his conversion, he was separated unto the law as a Pharisee. Now, as a new believer, he is separated to the Gospel and for the work of the Lord.
When we invite Christ into our lives, we are empowered to be set apart for the work of the Gospel. Paul’s missionary journeys took him places (both literally and figuratively) he never imagined going.
Case in point: in Luke 9:59, Jesus asks a man to follow Him. The man replies, “Lord, permit me to go first and bury my father.” Socially speaking, this was a very reasonable request. In this culture, burial of dead relatives was considered a higher duty than studying the law.
With this in mind, Jesus’ reply in verse 60 was rather astounding: “Let the dead bury their own dead.” He swam against the current of social norms, essentially telling this man that Kingdom loyalties are more important than family loyalties.
This is what he asks of us today – to be socially unconventional, when it is necessary to shed light in a spiritually dark world. It’s time to go places (again, both literally and figuratively) that are not comfortable for us if we are to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Gospel Equips Us to Tell
Acts 1:8 tells us…“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus said this just before He ascended into heaven. His last proclamation to those standing (the apostles) was that He wants us to witness. Everything Jesus ever did or said was intentional. So, the fact that He wanted those words to be the very last heard from His mouth carries significant weight.
Also, notice what He tells them before he says they will be His witnesses. He tells them the Holy Spirit will come upon them. It is a work of the Holy Spirit for us to even begin to tell others of what He has done in our lives.
Often, we panic when we have an opportunity to tell someone else about the miracle He has worked in our hearts because these types of thoughts run through our minds: I’m not smart enough to articulate the Gospel. He’s going to think I am stupid. No one will believe what I have to say. Rejection is too hard for me.
Don’t let pride get the upper hand and interfere with obedience. Our consumption about others’ perception of us is very short-lived, especially in comparison with the eternal impact of our obedience. Bathe each opportunity in prayer, but act in God’s will – to proclaim the Truth “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
All Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible.