Through Jesus we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations. Romans 1:5
So I moved on from reading 1 John all the way through every day to studying in Romans. As Paul is introducing himself and the Gospel of God, promised long before it happened to the prophets, written about in the the Holy Scriptures about His Son Jesus…he quickly gets to grace.
Paul wrote that through Jesus we received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. That’s us!
In picking that apart, I was hit with the idea that grace isn’t just the gift that we get that is our entry point into salvation. That’s a great thing and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. But Paul links grace to apostleship and him being an apostle. It’s God’s grace that woke him up on the road to Damascus. Apostle means “sent one.” So, in a broader sense, he isn’t just talking about the grace or enabling power that God gives him to be an apostle, but through Christ we get the enabling power to be sent to do whatever it is that He sends us to do.
That’s the only way I can do what it is that God wants me to do. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. There are two parts to what I’ve been thinking about.
The first part of God’s enabling grace has to do with His actual grace in sending us out and how that works. Have you noticed that there is only a small percentage of Christians that are actually about the Father’s business? The rest seem to be busy with their own agendas, not really in tune with spiritual things. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 talks about how all Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for training, correction and training. Then verse 17 tells us that being in the Word makes us complete and equipped for every good work.
If you are not in the Bible on a consistent basis, you don’t get that equipping and then you don’t get that sending out. Or, as Paul put it in Romans 1:5 the apostleship part of grace, the “sent one” part. There is a woman in her early 40’s who has been in my Sunday School classes through the years. Last year she reflected back on how I called her out at one point (I don’t remember it) when she talked about not having time to get into the Bible. She said I pointed at her and said firmly, “That has to change. You must get into the Word. You need to make daily time for God.”
She told of she began to get up at 5:30 in the morning to meet with God, which is a commitment with three young children and a demanding job as a physician’s assistant. She said it is now a pattern. The interesting thing is her family now has made the commitment to be foster parents over the last year or two. What I see is that their hearts have changed because God has pressed that on their hearts as they have been in the Word as a pattern. They have become “sent ones.”
If you don’t have a real sense of a mission from God, stop and think about your time in the Word with Him. Are you sitting at His feet? Do you spend time soaking in the Bible and meditating on it, or are you whizzing through a five minute devotional written by someone else?
My second thought about God’s enabling grace is about his prevailing grace. It is His grace that enables us to continue to do what He calls us to do over the long haul…when the going gets tough…when there is no one to run with…when you walk by faith and not by sight…when you are broken and weary. It is God’s enabling grace that holds us by His right hand, that is our faithful Shepherd that makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and restores our soul. He does that.
I have been praying this Christmas season that He would appear with His enabling grace to me just like He appeared with the angels to the shepherds and to Mary and Joseph. It is a Titus 3:3-7 appearing with goodness, loving kindness and mercy poured out richly because that is the kind of God that He is.
Finally, He visits us with this grace not so we can be fat and happy, but as Romans 1:6 says “for the sake of HIs name among all the nations.” It drives us beyond ourselves to the nations. He puts that in our hearts when we get close to His heart.
Paul said it in Romans 15:20-21, We make it our ambition to preach the Gospel not where Christ has already been named, but so those who have never been told of Him will see and those who have never heard will understand.
What a joy I had my last two jail visits to tell a 50 something Native American woman the Christmas story. She had never heard it before and had never read the Bible before or been to a Bible study or church. This was the first she had heard the Gospel. I didn’t have to go far, just 18 miles to a place where Christ had not been named to find someone who had never been told of Him–because I had been sent–because I had spent time with Him in the Word. Don’t forget that!