Monday, January 09, 2012
Paul: "through the grace given to me"
I preached yesterday on Many Members One Body from Romans 12:3-8. In the opening exposition, I reflected on Paul's statement in v. 3 that he writes "through the grace given to me":
Paul is speaking to the church at Rome (1:7). He is addressing “every man that is among you.” These are the same “brethren” called out in v. 1. Paul is appealing to his authority as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). He speaks “through the grace given to me.” This is not only the grace of all salvation, but the grace of his apostleship. Cf.: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor 15:9). This is why Paul calls his apostleship a grace gift to him.
I recently heard a radio interview with a man named Tim Goeglein who worked on the staff of President George W. Bush. This man has recently written a book titled The Man in the Middle about his White House experiences. He told of a time when it was uncovered by a reporter that he had plagiarized some material in several newspaper articles. He went to President Bush, ready to hand in his resignation, and told him about the incident. Then Goeglin said: "Before I could get barely a few words out … he looked at me, and he said, 'Tim, grace and mercy are real. I have known grace and mercy in my life, and I'm extending it to you. You're forgiven.’”
That is a pretty powerful story of forgiveness, but Paul’s is even greater. A holy God took a man who had persecuted his people and he made that same man an apostle.
Having climbed to his perch of apostolic authority, what does Paul say to every man among the Romans? He says, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” He begins here with a call to humility.
John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion wrote, “…if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer ‘Humility’” (II.II; pp. 268-269).