Extraordinary Calling: Romans 15:17-20
“17) Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18) For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19) in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20) And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;” Romans‬ ‭15:17-20‬
Though not yet a Christian during the public ministry of Jesus, Saul quickly moved from being an opponent of the gospel to becoming the greatest proponent of the gospel. His identity and name was changed to The Apostle Paul. He carried the gospel into the Gentle regions west of Palestine.
His ministry was accompanied with a mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit. God performed extraordinary miracles through him to confirm the gospel message much as He did through Peter, John and the other Apostles. There was no doubting his calling.
I personally look at the Ephesians 4:11 gifts of “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” as post Pentecost gifts given for the church age. I look at the “apostles” in this verse as the “missionaries” called, gifted and sent out by the Holy Spirit to start new works. They were not appointed by Jesus during His public ministry, but rather anointed and sent out by the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. (See Acts 11:23-26; Acts 13:1-4)
The word “Apostle” literally means “sent out”. Though the word missionary does not appear in Bible, Paul and others filled this role. They were called, anointed and sent out to start new works. Many times they were multi-gifted people and willing to carry a heavy load and do whatever was necessary to plant a new church.
In Romans 15:20 Paul expressed his missionary heart, he wanted to go to the unreached. He was a visionary. He wanted to be a pioneer and preach the gospel to the unreached. He was constantly reaching new people and making disciples. He was raising up gifted leaders around him and placing them as pastors and elders in the church God was planting through him. Jesus Christ and spreading the gospel was his passion in life.
Some wonder why the Holy Spirit worked so mightily through Paul. I believe Hebrews 2:3-4 provides the answer. God always shows up on the front lines of spreading the gospel to bear witness of Himself. He confirms the gospel message with signs that follow. When you look at most of the miracles in the book of Acts, they happened on the front lines of spreading the gospel. God used them to open doors and confirm the message.
The same often happens today. The Holy Spirit unusually works mightily on the front lines of sharing the gospel. If you want to see God work in greater ways, make sharing the gospel a priority again. Note, you will also encounter greater opposition and spiritual warfare on the front lines.
I often refer to it as “Surfing on the wake of the supernatural.” Catch a wave for the glory of God and join the Holy Spirit where He is working. Don’t quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit or seek to control the Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus is Lord. Our calling is to follow Him, just as Paul and the early believers did.
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. The power of the Holy Spirit is no different today than in the early church. What has changed is prayer and our focus on spreading the gospel. We have pulled back from a radical commitment to the Great Commission. When we move back to the front lines of reaching the lost with the gospel, we encounter God again in amazing ways. He was there all the time.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global