"Living a Called Life."Romans 1:1-17

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Well it’s the new year for me in preaching, as I have been out of the pulpit for three weeks. It has been refreshing to listen to others speak God’s Word and for me to see both the written Word being spoken, shown and the people responding.
Thank you for the folks who have been speaking while I began to prepare our next sermon series into the book of Romans.
Last Fall, I asked Josh to ponder a bit and we looked at books that have not been discussed recently and we seemed to land on the book of Romans.
I do recall, the days of my first year graduating from College, I was approached by a church to come and candidate for an associate position in their church.
Although God has taught me many things throughout the years, back then as we were a newly engaged couple, traveling to our first candidating session, the pastor asked if I would love to step into teaching the Morning’s series that this seasoned Pastor was walking through.
You guess it, Romans.
The Heavy Hitters of the Bible.
The strong Doctrinal Book with deep messages for the believers.
As a newly graduated pastor, eager to teach, my first response was,
No Way.....
There is so much content in this book, how could I possible speak with a confidence of what I am saying.
Now I find myself a few years later, looking upon this book with the same reservation I have as I did then, but with a greater understanding of God’s call to walk through this book with you folks.
Romans, is more than the Romans Road map to lead someone to the Gospel
It is a foundational for our understanding of God’s Truth for our lives.
Folks, I have a roadmap that I have set out as we journey through this book, but we will see how the weeks progress as to how far we will make it through.
I may not necessarily go verse by verse or chapter by chapter for if I did,
we will be in this book for several years. My hope is that when we are through these sermons you will have a great understanding of the book and what it entails, but it will lead you through a greater desire to work through the book yourselves.
Before we get into the book, let’s pray.
Turn with me as we open the book of Romans and begin at the start.
Romans 1:1–17 ESV
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul’s Purpose for the introduction

Paul’s Purpose for the introduction
Skip reading this quote, for reference only

The letter falls into the three self-evident sections of almost all communications: beginning (1:1–17), middle (1:18–15:13) and end (15:14–16:27). The introduction consists of three paragraphs: 1:1–7, where Paul introduces himself with an unusual degree of elaboration and greets his readers in typical fashion; 1:8–15, where Paul makes a preliminary statement of his hopes to visit the Christians in Rome; and 1:16–17, where Paul sets out the main theme of the unusually lengthy exposition following thereafter.

As I was researching and preparing for preaching through Romans, one person stated that the book is easily divided into three sections.
Beginning, middle, and end
Seems simple enough until you realize that the middle covers from Chapter 1 through to 15
and finishes with a one chapter wrap up.
But for some reason, the beginning of this book by Paul to the people found in Rome takes up a large 17 verses.
You see He wrote to Jewish and Gentile Believers found in Rome. It was written to people whom he had never met.
Paul’s other scriptures were often written to those folks who for one reason or another he had a significant impact in their lives.
But Rome comes from a different perspective.
They were believers that may have heard about this man call Paul, but may not have seen him in person.
Researchers have dated this writing to be around A.D. 57 and written while he was in the City of Corinth on his third missionary journey found in the book of Acts.
Acts 20:2–3 ESV
2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
Paul, in writing to these believers, felt it necessary to speak these words of truth. Hopefully as we journey through this text over the next few months we will discover the very things he had for the people.
Some of the themes we will cover throughout the book can be described as Key Doctrines .
Themes like
God and His Gospel
Humanity and our need
Christ’s work on the Cross
The Topic of the Holy Spirit
God’s Word and the Truth in it
God’s People and their mission
and finally God’s Love and the power that is found in that love.
With all that in mind, let’s dive into the basic introduction Paul Gives to the people in His letter to them and ultimately to us.
Take a look at verse one again
Romans 1:1 ESV
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

Three Elements of identification

Because the believers in this letter didn’t fully know Paul, he set out right from the beginning why it is that he was writing and under what authority it was that he could write.
In the opening verse, we can identify three elements of how he identifies himself.
A Slave, A called man, and finally one who is set apart.
To be honest church, this should be a standard by which all of us should be heading towards as we continue to grow as followers of Christ.


Let’s look at the first descriptor.
Did you see my translation, Servant, not slave.
I can get on board with this translation.
You see a servant is someone with a choice. A choice to serve, a Choice to be under submission for someone.
For many of us, this comes easy.
When we started out in the workforce, we become someones servant. To do the bidding of that person who hired us.
It’s a mutual agreement between two people.
We often talk about serving in the church.
Serving implies also that there is some type of payment or reward.
I often joke with folks who serve around here at the church that when I thank them, I state, their paycheck can be cashed in Heaven.
Afterall, God’s bank account is much greater than mine.
There are many passages that talk about a servant.
diakonos (Di Ack o nos)
In fact we are asked to be that as a believer.
Matthew 20:26 ESV
26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
This greek word is a description of people as a servants of God.
Often used to point out people who serve in an official capacity within the church.
I am not denying the term servant as a good description of what Paul is saying here, but if we are to fully understand what Paul is saying we need to look at the original word used by Paul
Paul is not saying servant, and maybe your translation has a better description than mine.
The greek word is Doulos and not diakonos (Di Ack o nos)
The correct understanding that Paul felt he was to be called was
a slave.
This is how we define slave:
A person who is legally owned by someone else and whose entire livelihood and purpose was determined by their master.
Let me show you again in written form
A person who is legally owned by someone else and whose entire livelihood and purpose was determined by their master.
Paul begins to tell the believers that this message he is about to tell them comes from a slave, who is totally owned by His master, Christ.
Some translations state Bondservant. It gives us a better picture but not fully complete.
Paul was a slave, not to man, but to God.
His whole life was changed that moment on the road when God called out to him.
Acts 9:4–5 ESV
4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Acts 9:20 ESV
20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
That encounter Then Saul now turned Paul was a slave to God.
He recognized and communicated with those in this letter that his entire life was not for himself but for Christ.
In the concept of a slave, he was bought with a price, paid in full, and is owned by His master, God.
Folks, is that not what we are to be?
Christ went to the cross and paid in full the price God wanted for our lives, our eternal destiny.
It is nothing we have done or could do.
No matter what state you find yourself in today.
Christ has paid it all for your life.
Imagine how in the past, slaves were purchased. They would be standing on a podium, set up by their current owner and the person who would purchase would have a chance to examine their future slave.
With that in your mind think of it this way,
You were once a slave to sin. The way of the world owned you.
Bound to continue in your sin, your pattern of living, but Christ has bought you for His own.
Paul will state later in the book
Romans 3:23 ESV
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We were once slaves to the sin nature, but Christ bought us, came down, paid the price in full for our freedom from the ownership of sin.
We were bought with a price.
Have we adopted this for our lives today.
that we too should be slaves for Christ our master.
All that we do, say and live should be for Him.
You see when Saul was first converted, and his early ministry, he moved from Saul to Saul called Paul then to Paul.
One person wrote,
Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 38A: Romans 1–8 (Comment)
Since “Saul” was an unfamiliar name outside Jewish circles the transition to the more easily recognized name was a natural step. Yet, the completeness of the change strongly suggests a transition in Paul’s self-perception, at least in terms of the social context within which he had his identity, perhaps a certain freeing of himself from the person he had been perceived to be as “Saul,” or a willingness to engage in new relationships other than those enjoyed by “Saul.” That “Paul” thus reflects his increasing commitment as “apostle to the Gentiles” is therefore quite likely
I when Paul wrote this verse,
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
He was thinking in terms of slaves.
The shackles that were on you placed by the weight of sin, are now removed.
A new life for a slave not in a bad way, but a life of blessings.
Paul starts by letting the people know that he is a slave to Christ
He is legally owned by someone else, Christ, and his entire livelihood and purpose was determined by God.


If that wasn’t enough, Paul then adds a second element to his life.
Up until Paul, the Jewish people had been called:
to be a blessing to people,
Called the people of God
And Paul now is speaking to both the Jewish and Gentile believers alike that He was called to be the apostle for the Gentile believers.
The greek meaning in this calling is a special invitation similar to being invited to sit in a special meal.
Could you image if the King of England who is being crowned in the month of May, sent you a letter to invite you to come to his coronation?
Our Grandson’s 1st birthday party is on the same day as the coronation. What if two invitations arrived in the mail?
Both invitations would be a great honor, both hard to decline, but both are a great calling to come.
Paul’s calling was greater than this
One states,
Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 38A: Romans 1–8 (Comment)
Paul’s readers defined precisely as “the called,” those whose lives had been determined by God’s summons, who had been drawn into God’s ongoing purpose by the power of that call
God Called Paul..... and he wanted the people to know that this calling was from God.
Have you been called.
As you spend time listening to God has he called you on a mission for him?
Calling is not only for those who are considering going into ministry, like a Pastor or a missionary,
each one of us who have accepted Christ work on the Cross for their lives are called.
What is God’s Calling on your life? Have you taken the time to see what God has called you to do?
Paul was clear to the people, I’m a Slave, and called.

Set Apart

Finally, Paul then adds the final Element of identification.
Set Apart.
Maybe Paul in speaking in these terms was focusing on the Jewish listeners, as they keenly understood this term.
Leviticus 20:26 ESV
26 You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.
The idea of separation for the Gospel to the Gentiles is a theme you will see throughout his writings.
To Paul his whole life was set in motion to fulfil the calling on his life.
He was set apart even from birth.
From his upbringing, education, passion for that faith, direct calling from God and the Spirit work in his life, He felt with a strong conviction
this was the course for his life.
Have you felt set apart for something for God?
Do you look back and see the things that were put in place for your life that brought you to the place today?
I cannot speak these words, without thinking of God’s calling on my life.
You see from an early age, I had put things in motion that would equip me with the direction I had for my life. I had great plans..if fact, if I followed them, I wouldn’t be standing here today.
in fact it was far from it; however, as I look back I see that I too had God working in my life to bring about his calling on my life and a setting apart.
What about you?
Would you describe yourself as Paul does, A slave for Christ, Called to something for God, Set apart from the World’s standard of what is expected of you.
Paul stated his three elements but he wasn’t finished.
He takes the focus off of his calling and brought the message to his readers, to those believers in Rome, both those who followed God all of their lives and the recent converts, the gentiles.
He states,
Romans 1:5–6 ESV
5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
Folks if you are sitting here this morning and have made a decision to Follow God, these words from Scripture are for you.
You are Called.
You Belong
You are called and belong To Jesus.
You are a slave to Christ, bought with a price,
Your life, your eternal destiny is His to dictate.
You have been set apart from this world. The thoughts of this world and all its trapping are not for you.
The rights of this world are not yours, Christ speaks for you.
You have been set apart.


Not only have you been bought, called and redeemed. Paul calls us saints.
Loved by God, That which was once despised has now been restored.
Paul speaks a blessing to the folks and closes his initial call to the people to encourage them to preserver as saints.
Charles Surgeon once said.
Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts. It is with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon: he said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me.”
Morning And Evening, Page 295
Charles Spurgeon

Paul’s Longing for the Believers

Paul ends the beginning of this introduction to the letter by giving them a nudge of hope.
Hope that he would one day come to them that he may encourage them in person.
In fact he had such a strong passion for these people that he desired to
Romans 1:11 ESV
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—
Paul’s desire for the people, the Christians, is the same desire I have for you here today.
We have talked about discipleship here many times, but I will say again.
First that you Come to Know about God. Second that in accepting God gift of salvation that you grow in your knowledge of Christ.
And finally that you serve which is your spiritual practice.
I want to spend the last few minutes of today to give you a snapshot of what this serving is all about, this spiritual practice.
You see, as Paul points out, that when you serve from your giftedness, you grow in your knowledge and faith.
Some of you may be sitting here this morning, you have come to a saving knowledge of Christ and yet wonder how you can serve, how you can live a called life.
I simple use the acrostic S.H.A.P.E.
Can I be honest with you, the Christian walk is not a spectator sport.
It’s not like the sports team that your children join and you are being asked to pitch in, To coach, fund raise, be on the executive,
The Christian walk, our fellowship, is an organism made up of people who are using their shape to bring honor and Glory to God.
Those who call themselves slaves to Christ, Called to bring Him Glory, set apart
Paul also urged the believers in Ephesus with these words
Ephesians 4:1–4 ESV
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—

In Summary

As the time has run out to clearly define SHAPE, I urge you to come back next week as we explore the Passion Paul had for his calling and its challenge to us as we discover our SHAPE.
As the worship team makes their way up to lead us in a song of response, maybe this morning through worship, God has been tugging on your heart, or you just need to come forward to seek prayer for you, may I encourage you to come to the front for prayer.
Let’s respond in song as we strive to live a called life.


Ephesians 3:20–21 ESV
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
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