The Gospel works!
Even the sceptics have to acknowledge that!
Charles Darwin, the author of the 'Origin of the Species,' visited the island of Tierra del Fuego, Darwin included the inhabitants in his 'Descent of Man' regarding them as part of the 'missing link.' Darwin considered them a little above animals and a little lower than man: uncivilised, naked, perhaps with suggestions of cannibalism.
Darwin: “for the reflection at once rushed into my mind – such were our ancestors,”
A second visit following the arrival and ministry of a Christian mission on the island, changed his perspective so much that he took out a subscription to the South American Missionary Society for the rest of his life!
The Gospel does change lives, don't just take Christian's word for it!
This book changes lives, not only the life of the unbeliever – conversion
This book changes the life of the believer – consecration
This book inspires me to do great things for God:
This book has the power to inspire men to die for God, not far into the New Testament and the spread of the gospel when we come across our first martyr: Stephen (Acts 7) and the martyrs pile up year upon year thereafter, even till today.
This book has the power too, to inspire men and women to do something even greater than dying for God, something beyond the enthusiasm of the moment, the excitement of a single event, the power and passion of a passing moment of time; this book has the power to inspire men and women to live for God!
There have even been some in the annals of biblical history who have reached the end of their enthusiasm for service, have given up and layen down ready to die and God in His grace has been sufficient even to inspire them to live for Him once again : cf. Elijah in 1 Kings 19.
There is in this book, and in these verses in particular the clear, close call of God to live for Him and to keep on living for Him!
How does God inspire a man to live for Him?
Message of God (12:1)
Mercies of God (12:1)
Ministry of God (12:1)
Mind of God (12:2)
Message of God (12:1)
Gods word comes “parakaleō” - a call but more than that “para” - beside – a close call, something near and something personal.
Here in Romans 12 it is the call of God through His apostle and by His Spirit
Ultimately it is Gods personal and intimate and close call to His people
It is the Shepherds call to the sheep, and we hear it!
“To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” (Joh 10:3-4)
This call comes close
Paul draws close in the Roman epistle (Rom 1:11; Rom 16:1ff).
As Paul drew close, Gods message drew close, still Gods pattern today.
A Call, A Close Call, A Clear Call – full of Gospel content: Romans chapter 1 to 11.
Mercies of God (12:1)
A Call that is Clear – for it is full of the mercies of God, that is it is full of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Gods call comes it will be full of Christ:
- Mans Sin (Roms 1-3)
- Gods Salvation (Roms 3-5): Justification, Propitiation, Redemption – the work of the Person of Christ.
- Sanctification (Roms 6-8) – the Work of the Spirit of Christ
- Selection / Election (Roms 9) – Chosen in Christ
All that God has done has been in Christ
All that God has for me is in Christ
Everything that a Christian has is due completely and solely to the grace of God in Christ!
Astoundingly however, all of these great gospel truths, are but an introduction to Romans 12:1!
What do I mean by that?
Well if I were to ask: 'What is the greatest word in the letter to the Romans?' I wonder what answers I would get?
Martin Luther: 'faith' – that's a great word: 'the just shall live by faith' – transformed the life of a desperate Roman Catholic monk from despair to deliverance and brought me to Christ, transformed the life of millions and changed the course of history in Europe and the world!'
John Calvin or some of the Theologians were here maybe tell us we need to think about this book doctrinally and logically: 'justification' – Gods way of making me righteous before Him, that's the great / the key doctrine of Romans!
Evangelists were here: Whiteford, Wesley, Billy Graham, - 'gospel' – there's a great word, the 'power of God unto salvation' a message with life changing power!
John Newton: you're all wrong, for there is nothing so amazing as Grace!
Plenty of important and great words to chose from!
I'm going to suggest another: “therefore” (Roms 12:1)
That word connects me to Gods purpose!
'When you see therefore, you should always ask, what is it therefore?'
For this word is a joining word, a conjunction.
This word is taking all of the great doctrines and teachings of Romans chapters 1 to 11 and bringing them to their purpose, namely that God has chosen me (chapter 9), saved me (chapters 3 to 5), justified me (chapter 4), redeemed me (chapter 4), sanctified me (chp 6 to 8), preserved me and molded me in trial (chp 5) that I might be transformed to be like Him (Rom 12:2) and to willingly serve Him for His Glory and my good.
This word “therefore” - takes all that I have read in my bible, heard in the meetings, listened to from the preachers, studied in my courses, enjoyed in my small groups and throws out this challenge: 'Has it changed you?' Well that's the purpose of it!
Romans 12:1 – God has given you your life back (chps 1 to 11), now go and live it!
Possible to treat the work of God like that!
Now I've got it, I'll just keep it clean and polished, make no real progress along the road of life! How many spiritual miles of progress have we clocked up?
Ministry of God (12:1)
In the OT men presented sacrifices
The whole OT system revolved around sacrifices
Some basic truths to understand from that system:
Separation: between me and God – God was inside the temple / tabernacle and I am outside
Sin: that separation was caused by my sin
Sacrifices were brought to ask Gods forgiveness for my sin
In the OT people brought something to God to ask that there sin might be forgiven
In the NT people bring something to God because their sins have been forgiven
“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God...”
More particularly, in the OT the sacrifices were a lot easier, a lot more straight forward: they were dead!
That was great!
You could pay your money, pick your animal, kill your sacrifice, and then put your feet up, because you had 'done your bit.'
The sacrifice of Romans 12:1 isn't as convenient as that – this sacrifice is living!
I have never 'done my bit'
I can never put my feet up
This is the gift that keeps in giving!
Not because I am trying to get saved but because I am enjoying and keep on enjoying something of Gods wonderful salvation.
This gift stays on the altar!
This service is “reasonable” (v1)
Some would call it “ridiculous” of course – giving all that I am and have for God.
This is sacrifice is “reasonable” to those who can think Gods thoughts
But only to those who can think!
God expects His people to think!
In order that we can think; God renews our mind (12:2)
Mind of God (12:2)
God desires to use you, willingly and voluntarily in His service and for His Glory
God desires to transform you into the image of His Son.
To do this God begins on the inside, with the believers “mind”
The battle for the mind:
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”(Php 4:7)
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Eph 6:17)
“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (2Th 2:2)
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:” (Mar 7:21-22)
The attack on the believers mind:
Phil 4:7 – Emotional dimension – attacks the “peace” of the mind
2 Thess 2:2 – Intellectual dimension – ideas and theories
Mark 7:21-22 – Moral dimension
Eph 6:11, 17 – Spiritual Dimension
The mind is critically important for the believer as he desires to serve God.
That mind must be free and clear.
The problem of drugs and alcohol.
The mind is to be “transformed” (12:2)
Just in case you doubt Gods ability to transform your mind, Paul uses a naturally miraculous word: “metamorphoō”
The caterpillar to the butterfly:
The caterpillars chewing mouth to the butterflies sucking tube, different stomachs and different feeding.
The caterpillars few simple eyes to the butterflies two compound eyes (often with thousands of lenses capable of seeing all colours and ultraviolet light in almost all directions)
The caterpillar with no true legs to the caterpillars six segmented legs
The caterpillar who can’t reproduce to the butterfly which reproduces
The caterpillar which crawls to the butterfly which has wings and flies
The caterpillar is literally dissolved and re-arranged, all but its heart dissolves into a collection of proteins and amino acids!
The God who is able to do that on an 'ordinary' day is able to renew your mind!