So often . . . perhaps most often . . . we think of salvation in terms of how it benefits the recipient. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and you will be forgiven. Confess that Jesus is the Son of God, come to redeem men and women, and you will be born again. Receive the good news and you will be sealed with the Spirit of adoption, becoming heirs of the promise . . . and joint heirs with Christ. All true. The benefits of salvation are these and many, many more. But, as I was reading in Romans this morning, a phrase caught my attention that reminded me of another benefactor of the the gospel. Our God. He who delights in gospel offerings.
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:14-16 ESV)
“The priestly service of the gospel of God” . . . “that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable” . . . that’s what’s got me thinking.
Apparently Paul’s choice of words here is pretty unique . . . like only here. While he often refers to himself as a minister or a servant, here’s the only time he uses a word which alludes specifically to the work, or ministry, of the priesthood. The service of presenting offerings before the Lord . . . the work of bringing sacrifices to God that would ascend as a sweet smelling aroma. That, he says, is a dimension of his call to preach the gospel to the Gentiles . . . that they might be an acceptable offering to God.
Now, it may not make for the best gospel preaching to invite people to come “Just as I am” . . . so that they might be offered on the altar to God “just as they are” . . . maybe not a word picture best suited for those new to the faith. But to think that God is also a benefactor of salvation kind of triggers the awe-o-meter . . . to noodle on the idea that He delights in gospel offerings.
Our salvation, founded in the offering of Christ as the once for all atoning sacrifice of sin, results in the offering of the redeemed as the fruit of the gospel that they would be “presented” to God as His people . . . “a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Peter 2:9). Bought with a price, we are no longer our own . . . therefore we are to glorify God in our bodies (1Cor. 6:19-20). We were wooed to Christ through the Spirit of grace that we might be betrothed to the coming Bridegroom as His beautiful bride . . . given wholly to Him and to Him alone.
That those rescued from sin and death might be a gospel offering . . . acceptable to God.
Paul delighted to be part of presenting such offerings. Might we too present such offerings . . our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, as our spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1). And, according to His calling and grace, might we also engage in the priestly service of the gospel . . . knowing that our God delights in gospel offerings.
O’ the wonder of the multifaceted dimensions of the gospel of our salvation.
To Him be all glory . . .