Romans 1:5 – 12 Serving with the Spirit in the Gospel – Driven by Thirst for Fellowship

Rom 1:5-12  By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:  (6)  Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:  (7)  To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, 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 you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.  (9)  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;  (10)  Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.  (11)  For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  (12)  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Designated the Son of God

Remember we are talking about the Seed of David.  He is the One with all authority, as the Seed of the Woman, the Seed of Abraham and the Seed of David, the heir of all the promises and the representative of the Human Race before God.  As the Last Adam, He is the “federal Head” of the Human Race, the representative of the Human race, the rightful Heir to every covenant God ever made with man, which means that He has the right to the dominion.  He had the right to the dominion that Adam had.

Before Christ died, He was the rightful heir of God’s creation as a man. Then He offered Himself up in death.  No one took His life, but He gave it for us. Then He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God, enthroned as a Man, and declared to be the Son of God with power.  The Greek word for declaration there means “to designate.” 

I remember reading this from a commentary years ago.  Designation – “desginated the son of God” is like having a seed and putting it in a bag and labelling it “rose bush”.   You would say, “that’s not a rose bush, that’s a seed!”  However that designation means that when it blossoms it’s going to be manifested to be a rose bush.  Even though you see it as a little seed, when you plant it, and it goes into the ground and the shell breaks open, and the life comes out and grows, that is its “resurrection”.  That is when it will be manifested what it truly is.

 That’s what Christ’s humanity was. He was a seed, containing the the Divine Life, the Triune God.  He was the embodiment of the Triune God. The Fullness of the Godhead dwelled in Him bodily.  He was God in the flesh.  It wasn’t just that the Father was on the Throne and Jesus was on the earth and the Holy Spirit was somewhere in between.  No, Jesus said “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me”  and “The words I speak I don’t speak of myself, but the Father in ME does His work.”  Everything He did was an expression of the Father moving within Him. 

His Eternal Sonship was contained in the Seed form in the shell of His humanity.  He was planted into the earth and “Designated” the Son of God.  That seed was the Son of God.  The demons knew it; they would say “You are the Holy One, the Son of God.”  He told them to be quiet.  But this is what He was, and when He died and resurrected,  He was manifested as what He was declared to be, or “Designated.”  Now He is manifested as the Son of God.  He is seated at the right hand of God, and He is God in Man.  There is a Human Being on the throne of the Universe in the Heavens, having all authority.

“Receiving Grace and Apostleship” from the One with All Authority

Rom 1:5-12  By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:  

By that authority, not only as the Son of Man but as the Son of God who has passed through everything and is sat down at the right hand of God, He gives grace. That’s why Paul says “by whom we have received grace and apostleship.”  Grace comes from the throne; from His authority.  We receive grace from the Seed of David who was designated the Son of God with power according to the resurrection from the dead.  Our grace is backed up by the enthroned, Heavenly Christ.  That is our authority to be the sons of God.  That is the source of Grace.  For every believer, the Grace that we enjoy is backed by the authority of the Son of God!  It’s a gift, and it’s free. It’s freely and abundantly available, and there’s nothing to keep you from it, because He who has the authority to give it to you purged your sins by Himself and sat down at the right hand of God.

So all of us have received a grace that has made us members of the Body of Christ and given us the life of God Himself so that the life that was in Him and blossomed in Him is now in us.  One day we’re going to “blossom” as well, as the many sons of God, and that is the end result of Grace.

Also, they received “apostleship” by this authority.  We receive grace sovereignly in a way to be believers and to know the Lord.  That is all by grace.  “By grace you are saved through faith, not of yourselves, it is a gift from God.”  What is the gift of God?  Actually, the faith itself is a gift.  Many believed on Jesus because of the miracles He did but He didn’t entrust Himself to any men because He knew what was in man. The flesh is fickle, and it’s ability to believe is not what God is looking at. He is looking at the faith of the Son of God.  “I was crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives me and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Peter says we have all obtained “like precious faith” which is more precious than gold that perishes, meaning it is incorruptible. It is something from God.  Was there a human element in our believing? Yes, we could have hardened ourselves and not believed.  We are accountable to believe, and yet when we believe, the real faith is furnished by God’s gift as the son of God believing from within us!  He says that in Hebrews: “I will put my trust in Him in the midst of the congregeation.” This is how grace comes to us to make us believers.

The Apostleship works similarly, in the same way grace comes, it was something sovereign. It wasn’t something they “chose to do”.  If you look at Jesus in His earthly ministry walking past Matthew the tax collector sitting at His tables, for example, you see Jesus say “Follow me”. And matthew drops everything and goes and follows Him.  He did that with all of His disciples. He is literally able to just call them and there is something compelling so that they literally drop everything to follow Him for three and one half years they dropped their whole life.  That is something sovereign of God.  He prayed the night before He chose the twelve.  He knew who He was going to choose and that choosing of them to be His witnesses and ambassadors and to give their life for Him was not something of themselves.  There was a compelling factor in this.  The Calvinists call it “irresistible grace” and I do not believe the grace of God is irresistible.  I believe we can harden ourselves as it shows in the scripture.  There is this mystery and unresolved tension between the fact that I’m accountable to believe and on the other hand God gave me the faith.  With the Apostles there’s even more of a sovereign thing working.  Remember, Paul said he was separated from the womb to be an apostle.  You know the story, how the ascended Christ just struck Paul down on the way to Damascus.  He appeared to Him and shut Him down and basically “ended His life.”  That’s what the Apostles were. They were witnesses which was also translated martyrs. Every single one of them gave and lost their life for Christ’s sake, but considered Christ the treasure worth having and considered everything that they had prior to be “dung” in contrast to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. 

The Apostleship was received by them the same way we receive grace.  It was given for the obedience of faith among the nations.  Paul was sent to the Gentiles.  The obedience of faith is simply to “believe”.  We believe, and that is our obedience.  So when it talks about obeying the Gospel, our response of obedience is to believe it.  The Gospel is a message that we are to believe.  It is a revelation of Christ, in whom God is speaking.

(6)Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:  (7)  To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ 

Just as he talks about receiving grace and apostleship from the ascended Christ as a matter of God’s authority to make that happen, we are called of Jesus Christ.  Our calling to be members of the Body of Christ, to be Sons of God, is backed by the same kind of Authority. 

(8)  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.  

Again, remember how marvelous it was that Rome had a church!  That means the Gospel had reached the heart of the Empire. It was a big deal in Paul’s mind. Not only that, but they’re famous. You figure that eventually Peter was martyred in Rome, and that’s where the Colosseum was, and the stories of the Martyrs; they were famous in their witness for Christ and their suffering for Him eventually.

Serving with the spirit (the human spirit)

Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

When we serve Christ, it has to be with the spirit and in the spirit.  The human spirit is an organ.  The Bible says “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit”( 1 Cor 6:17). Paul talks about the human spirit quite a bit, in contrast to the Divine Spirit. The human spirit is the vessel in which God’s Spirit resides when we are regenerated.  It is His home.  The Spirit, when joined to our spirit, quickens our spirit and makes it alive, so Paul says in Romans 8:10 “If Christ is in you though the Body is dead because of sin, the spirit (your spirit) is life because of righteousness.”  He talks about how the Spirit of Sonship bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (8:16).  In Romans 8 as well as other places we clearly see that there are two spirits. 

Man has three parts, spirit, soul and body. We have our spirit which corresponds with what God is.  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).  This is the part that gets regenerated when we are born again.  “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).  When we are regenerated, we are born of God in our spirit, because that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and when Christ is in you, the spirit is life because of righteousness.

 Now because of regeneration our spirit is life.  Our spirit is the same as what God is.  That is called the “inner man” who is recreated in the image of Christ in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 3:16; Col 3:10).  This is the organ that we use to contact God.  His “sense” is faith.  Our natural senses, (touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell) allow us to contact the material world.  They allow our body to contact the material world.  However, our faith is the sense that the spirit uses to contact God Himself.

We are different than angels in this respect because our spirit is joined to the Lord who is the Spirit.  1 Corinthians 15:45 says that the Last Adam became a Life Giving Spirit, and 1 Cor 6:17 says that he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.  That’s why in resurrection Jesus can say “in that day you will know that I am in My Father and My Father is in Me, and I in you and you in Me” (John 14:20). Through regeneration we were brought into union with the Triune God.  And it is there that we serve. 

This spirit (a mingling of God’s spirit with our own human spirit to become one spirit) corresponds to the Holiest of all (in the tabernacle in the old testament). The priest could only go in once per year with blood and sprinkle it on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, and when he did the Spirit would come and fill that place, and the priest would stand there to minister.  No man could enter there except the High Priest.  Now, Christ as our High Priest has gone into the Holiest of All, the real one in heaven, and He has brought the reality of the Holiest of all into our spirit.  So, there we can meet with God and have access to Him directly, and enjoy Him. 

The way we do this is by faith.  We believe the Gospel. We believe the description of what we have in Christ. By an exercise of faith we can sense God and even “taste” God.  You can taste God with your spirit!  That’s why Peter says “if you have tasted that God is good” (1 Peter 2:3).  Hebrews talks about tasting the good word of God (Heb 6:5).   We have the capacity to “taste” Him with our spirit. We do that by exercising our faith in the Word.  Faith is our sense of God and the Things of God, the riches of Christ, the contents of the Gospel.  Through faith we can know God directly and taste Him in our spirit, which is the organ to contact God and which was made alive with the resurrected Christ when we were regenerated!

Paul says “I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son.”  A lot of people think they serve God but they don’t know about the human spirit. I would say that if you don’t know your spirit and haven’t tasted God in the word, your service is fairly limited. When Hebrews talks about “how much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God”(Heb 9:14), that means the blood brings you into the Holiest.  Serving God in the Holiest was in contrast to the outer tabernacle (the Holy place) and the outer court with the ordinances and with the priests and their continual work.  As long as all that is going on, it shows that the way to the Holiest had not yet been manifested (Heb 9:8).  Now, by the blood of Jesus we have been brought into the Holiest of all, which is in our spirit. 

Romans 8:9 says “you are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ He is none of His, but if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit (your spirit) is life because of righteousness.”  So the real location of us is in our human spirit, in the Spirit.  From here we serve the Living God. In the Holiest of all there is nothing left to do.  There is nothing to clean, nothing to wash, you’re “in” and you sit there, and the presence of God is yours.  We need to have that kind of enjoyment of the presence of God if we are going to serve Him with our spirit. 

We are complicated!  We have the body, soul and Spirit. The soul and the spirit eventually have to be discerned by the Word (Heb 4:12).  This is something the Lord does over time of tasting Him in the word and learning to rely on and what the word says we have from Him.  Your soul is the mind, will and emotions.  That, plus your conscience, makes up what the Bible calls your heart. The bridge to your spirit between the heart and the spirit is the conscience.  Ideally the spirit would flow into the heart through your conscience by the exercise of faith.  This is complex for this study, so all I’ll say is that we are made in a complicated and beautiful way to know God and experience Him.  For this we need to use our spirit. 

Where is our spirit?  It is in our innermost being, also called the “belly”.  Proverbs says that the spirit of man is the lamp of the lord, illuminating the inward parts of the belly (Pro 20:27).  Jesus said anyone who comes to me, as the scripture says, out of His innermost being (belly) shall flow rivers of living water (Joh 7:37).  The Spirit is likened to water that is in our innermost being and can spring up and flow out as satisfiaction.  It’s in that satisfaction that we learn to serve with our spirit.  Serving is a matter of enjoyment not work!  What is serving?  You’re ministering to the Lord and enjoying Him and tasting Him, and you’re serving the Body of Christ by ministering food, (“meat in season”).  What is food?  Food is nourishment and satisfifaction.  It is for enjoying Christ, and as you enjoy Him, you are filled with Him and His purpose is accomplished.  What is His purpose?  It is to work Himself into you as life.  How does that happen?  By your enjoyment of Him.  That is the true service.  It is to share in this enjoyment. 

The next section will make this more practical. For years when I thought about the human spirit it seemed mystical, but I received a real breakthrough in this pass through Romans, seeing that the Gospel is the realm of the spirit and the spirit is just the way we sense what is ours in Christ through faith.   This produces an overflow into our hearts and we can be filled with joy and satisfaction and that “Taste” but the root of this is faith in the gospel.

The Realm of the Spirit (the Gospel)

Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

The gospel is not just a thing, it’s a realm.  It is a realm in which all of the truths of what we have in Christ are true and real.  When you’re in the gospel and filled with the Spirit through the faith of the gospel, you have a sense that Christ is so real, and that He really did accomplish redemption for me, and He really did spoil the principalities and powers, and He really did blot out of the handwriting of ordinances that was contrary to me and against me. He really did forgive my sins, and really He has given me the Spirit of Sonship and bears witness with my spirit that I’m a child of God, and I can sense Him!  There is a realm called the Gospel which provides us with a description of everything that we have inherited because of Christ’s finished work.  Those facts when mixed with our faith become a realm that we can “Sense” because remember, faith is the sense of the spirit.  In those times He is so real to us when we are in that realm in the Gospel.  We need to learn to live with our spirit in the gospel!  That’s what Paul is saying, that he served God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. Some people think the Gospel is “Repent of your sins and go down to the altar to be baptized.”  No, the Gospel is of His Son.  The Gospel is a realm in which all the things that Christ is and has accomplished are now available to be your inheritance by faith.  The way it becomes real to you and becomes a realm that envelops you is through faith in the gospel.  On the one hand it’s a message with facts, and on the other hand those facts when mixed with your faith describe a situation that you’ve been brought into. The evidence that you’ve been brought into that situation is your faith.  That’s why faith is the assurance of things unseen. It’s the “substance,” according to Hebrews 11:1 of those things which we have not seen.  It’s real!  This realm is real, and the Gospel is real, and it’s concerning His Son.

The realm is Christ Himself, and the Gospel is the map of the terrain in Him.  We don’t see Him with our physical senses, but when we exercise our faith to perceive the gospel, the eyes of our heart are enlightened, and life and light flood into us and we are filled with satisfaction.  We are filled with that “taste”.  This shows us that our spirit is engaged.  Again, without this engagement of our spirit in faith to bring out the riches of the Gospel, we don’t have a realm to serve in, and our service is not going to be of any benefit.  The real service is to bring out the food from that realm and give it to people as satisfiaction so that they can enjoy this realm with their own sense of faith.

Service driven by Thirst for Fellowship

Rom 1:9-12  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;  (10)  Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.  (11)  For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;  (12)  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Look at Paul’s thirst for fellowship.  That is the motivator for his ministry. In 1 John it says “these things we write to you that you may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son.”  Their motivation for service was thirst.  That reminds me of John 4 when Jesus goes to the well and talks to the woman.  He says he is “thirsty” and makes her serve him a drink from the well, but then the real meaning is in the living water that he tells her about which, if she drinks of it, she’ll never thirst again.  This is His thirst for fellowship.  On the one hand we’ll never thirst again, and yet on the other hand it produces a thirst so that we’re always thirsting for more.  God is thirsty for fellowship.  Jesus was thirsty for fellowship. 

Then, the apostles participated in this thirst and served from it, because they had received His life as a satisfying drink.  Now the apostles, motivated by the thirst for fellowship, preached the Gospel so that they could bring people into a realm where they could taste God and sense Him. In that realm Christ is so real.  That realm becomes a fellowship.  “These things we write to you that you may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:3).  That’s what motivated them. 

Paul says the same thing here.   “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;    That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Remember, the faith is what enables you to perceive the realm of the gospel.  And so when its “you and me” having a mutual faith, that means we both get to be in that “Realm” together to perceive and enjoy it with our spirit. 

That is the most satisfying item in the Christian life!  It’s the fellowship with believers that are rejoicing in the faith.  Sadly, this rarely happens.  We’ll have it all the time in eternity.  Fellowship is what the enemy wants to attack.  This thirst that motivated the apostles is the exact opposite of the motivation for ministry in Christianity today.  I have yet to find a “pastor” who is genuinely thirsty for fellowship.  I’ve gone into every church thirsty for fellowship.  I’ve reached out.  At first, they might talk, but eventually the door would shut.  They aren’t interested, and don’t have time. I wasn’t come to them with need, I was coming to them with Christ hoping that they could understand and enjoy spiritual things, and they couldn’t and weren’t interested.  They had their programs and their work.  Their work was not a matter of serving God in the spirit in the gospel of His Son, it was a matter of works.  IT was a “Holy Place” situation of carnal ordinances, basically, traditions of men, philosophies of the world, and everything but Christ.  I see this as really vital, this thirst for fellowship.  The serving with my spirit in the gospel. 

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