The Berean Expositor
Volume 24 - Page 176 of 211
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"What manner of persons ought ye to be."
#7.  Symbols of Service.
Debtors and Disciples.
pp. 13 - 15
The first symbol of service that we consider in this article is that of a debtor:--
"Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come
unto you (but was let hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as
among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the
wise, and to the unwise. So, much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that
are at Rome also" (Rom. 1: 13-15).
Paul's conception of his responsibility is expressed by the symbol of a debtor. It was
something he "owed", something that was not a matter of feeling or fancy, but a definite
debt to saved and unsaved. In the light of Rom. 13: 8 we can see moreover that this
debt was a debt of love: "Owe no man anything, but to love one another." Paul felt this
sense of obligation when he twice asked prayer for himself:--
"That I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Eph. 6: 20).
"That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak" (Col. 4: 4).
All true service is the discharging of a tremendous debt. A debt to preach the gospel
of Christ as the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, whether wise or
foolish, Jew or Gentile, Roman or Barbarian: And a debt to teach the truth in such terms
that neither through fear ("speaks boldly"), nor through lack of clearness and plainness of
speech ("make it manifest"), shall any miss the truth. Something of the same feeling of
responsibility is expressed by the apostle when he wrote:--
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon
me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Cor. 9: 16).
For the apostle to call himself a debtor in connection with the discharge of his ministry
indicates a lowliness of heart that we should emulate.
The second symbol of service before us (a disciple) also demands lowliness of heart
and meekness of spirit. In Matt. 16: we find one or two primary conditions that must be
fulfilled if one would be a disciple:--
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, if any man will come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16: 24).
"Come after Me . . . . . follow Me."--These two essential conditions are accompanied
by others that arise out of the nature of things. To follow Christ through a world of sin
and darkness must of necessity arouse hostility and opposition; consequently the Lord