While the Apostles were unique, that their ministry was singular, they had an authority which every preacher and pastor can learn from. God sets aside His servants and gives them authority to minister and lead His work. We should pray for men sent by God who will be endowed with the authority of the Holy Ghost.
Paul, The Apostle to the Gentiles
(c) Paul’s Authority
In this section which contains precious biographical details about the Apostle Paul, we come now to the subject of authority. The man of God, as he neared the end of his epistle, was emphasising to the Romans that he had a God given right to speak as he did. He was mindful that he had never visited Rome and that as a result there may have been a reticence on the part of some to accept what he had been teaching. Anticipating such a questioning spirit he emphasised that he was writing as God’s spokesman, with divine authority invested in him. This question of authority is a most important element in Church life. Those who minister and preach must possess authority for their service to be effective. It therefore follows that Church life is orderly and decent when there is an acceptance of the authority that has been given by God to those who minister. What right does the pastor, the preacher or the evangelist have to speak in a certain way and to make certain judgements as to the direction of the congregation or difficulties among the people. Paul had a certain conviction that the preacher needs, that he was a man sent by God with a message that must be presented. It was this characteristic that made the ministry of the apostles so unique and stirring (Acts 2:4,12, Acts 4:13). This authority, which the apostles possessed, was the manner in which the risen Saviour was ministering to the Church after His ascension. He too had an uncommon authority (Matthew 7:29) and he promised greater works to his followers (John 14:12) because His authority would continue through the ministry of the church. We must pray not for sermons but for preaching in the spirit of Haggai, “the Lord’s messanger in the Lord’s message” (Haggai 1:13).
1: The Authority of the Message v15
Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God
Paul uses two terms which characterised his message, whether presented verbally or in print. He wrote “the more boldly”. In a manner of speaking he presented a message that was more than bold, more bold than bold. He writes putting the Roman Christians “in mind”. This is the word otherwise translated “admonish”. There were truths which he had to remind these people of. Their memories had to be stirred so that the Gospel presented in this book would never be forgotten. He spoke in such a clear manner “because of the grace given” to him by God. The Gospel of grace, which drew Paul to Christ on the Damascus Road, had such a profound effect upon the man that he could not help but proclaim the message with without fear. It is the truth of the message bound up in the Living Word of God which gives the preacher boldness. It is a message which is true and cannot be shaken.
2: The Authority of the Messenger
Paul’s Calling v16
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
God’s grace called Paul to be a minister or a servant. He did not chose his path, it was chosen for him. His ministry was not chosen by him, nor was his field of service, the Gentiles. Preachers need to be called to preach and minister and they also need to be sent by God to congregations and mission fields. It is only when they have this calling that they can minister with true authority. Paul was called not only to win the Gentiles to Christ but he build them up in the faith. Here he describes himself as a priest offering up the Gentiles as an acceptable sacrifice sanctified by the Spirit. His desire is that those whom he serves would be sold out to God, filled with the Holy Ghost. Church work is not merely about numbers of people making decisions. It is is about God’s people being discipled, being offered to God as the result of a Spirit Filled ministry. This is what God calls his servants to achieve.
Paul’s Credentials v17-19 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
All that Paul achieved was accomplished through the power of God. He has nothing to boast of or glory in. If the Lord had not done the work then he would not have dared to make mention of it. Therefore, here is a man careful to give God the honour. In all of his travels and in all his preaching he was conscious of God’s vindication. He fully preached the Gospel but only because of the “power of the Spirit of God”. Preaching will only have true authority when the message is delivered in the demonstration of the Spirit. We must pray for God to vindicate the preaching of his servants.
Paul’s Commitment v20-22 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
The reason why Paul had not visited Rome was because he was committed to evangelising where the Gospel had never before been preached. As the assembly in Rome had been established by another, Paul had not felt the need to travel to the great city. Therefore he was constantly striving to preach where Christ had never before been named, in order that they that have not heard would understand. Although his ministry is closer to the end than the beginning we can sense the determination and enthusiasm of this great man of God. He was committed to pushing forward, moving the work on. The true mark of a man sent by God.