A person that intends to work for the gospel of God must first be set apart for it. Whether it is for teaching, preaching, benevolence works or any other ministry that serves the gospel of God he or she must of necessity be set apart. The term ‘set apart’ is well known and often used in the Christian world. For everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ is said to be the called of God, but the one who works for the gospel of God is the set apart. Two aspects are fulfilled when a person is set apart for the gospel. First, the reason for him to be set apart and second, the separation from the things that restrict him to fulfill the purpose of God. If either one are missing, he has never been separated or set apart. Wisdom from the word indicates the reason one is set apart for the gospel is to glorify God through the work he performs. When a person is set apart to glorify God, he does it only through the gospel. To that person everything else is trivial. He lives in the gospel and by the gospel. He works in the guidance of the gospel. On the other hand, a person is not set apart from the things that restrict him to fulfill the purpose of God when everything else became essential to him. No man can set himself apart for the gospel, since he neither has the power to overcome sin nor the desires of his heart. Furthermore, is it not always in the hands of a master to call, set apart and assign to his servant? The setting apart is done by God, who does it according to His will and wisdom. He only sets apart those whom He knows as believing in Him just as His Son, Jesus. For this reason also, He sent His only begotten Son that those who are set apart for the gospel believe in Him like Christ.
To be set apart by God is magnanimous. No man or doctrine can take away such magnanimity. If in anything you have become or must become for the gospel of God, it is by first being set apart by Him for His gospel. God must set you apart by calling you through His word. You must first be separated from whatever it is that you are doing in order to bring glory to God. This setting apart of God brings in you the conviction that you are called for His purpose. For this reason, Paul in the Spirit was able to introduce himself as, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1). In his case, Paul did not become a bond-servant of Christ and an apostle without first being set apart by God. The life of Paul in the days when he did not believe in Jesus is well known. He severely persecuted Jesus and the church of God. But when Christ called him through His word and set him apart for the gospel, he began ministering to Christ just as God intended. His setting apart was fulfilled when the things that restricted him to fulfill the purpose of God were removed from him; and Paul obliged. That which he believed to be the truth was accepted as false and removed when he was confronted with the word of Christ. If Paul was not set apart by God, he would never have known the worth of a bond-servant and an apostle. When those who teach and preach Christ in the churches of Christ and of God are not set apart by God, they cannot grasp the work that God intended for his bond-servants and apostles. Hence, they could not consider themselves as bond-servants of Christ. For if they do consider, they too are set apart by God for the kind of work done by Paul toward the gospel. Then, the churches too are indeed the called out of God.
It is a regulation that each one proclaiming the gospel ought to be set apart by God. “Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary” (Heb. 9:1). The first covenant too had guidelines as to who must serve God and how. Though the entire nation of Israel was called and chosen by God, it was only the Levites that were set apart for the work of the sanctuary. The regulations for them were very different in comparison to rest of Israel. Their punishments too were severe. They were the ones that mediated between God and man in that they taught, in fact were required to teach, the Law to Israel besides performing other services. Again, it was given to the high priest alone, who was also one of them, to enter the most holy place once a year. Because they worked for God, God also allotted them the things necessary for their livelihood through the congregation of Israel. If the first covenant which is very inferior to the second required such regulations for an earthly sanctuary of God, will not the second require a regulation for the heavenly sanctuary? Our high priest has been forever determined as Jesus Christ by God, and He is now in heaven. Therefore, all who truly preach the gospel in His sanctuary are like the Levites that are set apart to fulfill the heavenly purpose of God. Just as Jesus was set apart by God for the salvation of men and because of whom the disciples were also set apart for the gospel, even so each one that proclaims the gospel must be set apart by God. If there is a mind present in any that persecutes Christ and the church of God or filled with the things that restrict them to fulfill the purpose of God, it must be removed. Of these things each one must be capable of judging themselves by the hearing of the word of God. “But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth’” (Acts 11:8).
These were the words that Peter spoke to God after the vision he saw regarding the eating of every kind of animal. Though by now Peter was an apostle of Christ and had done great works for the gospel, he still lacked the certain knowledge that was hidden from him. Through this vision he was able to understand the wisdom and the will of God to call all men alike to Himself through the gospel. Nevertheless, God gave him such understanding, since He set him apart for His purpose. What Peter essentially had to do was to remove from him the stumbling block established through the Law and the reputed people, the Jews. When God removed it through a vision and set apart Peter for His purpose, Peter gladly fulfilled it. As long as the stumbling block (the thing that restricts) was present Peter would never have gone to the house of Cornelius; he would have considered it unholy. The only reason Christ chose Him for this purpose is because He had already set him apart. People that are set apart of God will in His wisdom overcome the stumbling blocks for the fulfilling of His purpose. When at times they fear believing what they have seen and known to be the truth, God will enable them to overcome fear. For this reason also i.e. because of his inability to overcome fear by himself, a man cannot set himself apart for the gospel of God.
When God’s wisdom appeared to Peter through a vision, he received the ability to perform that which Christ taught. “But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you” (Luke 11:41). The teachings of Christ were always present in Peter, who is set apart by God. One of the true qualities of those that are set apart by God is their willingness to constantly give that which is within as charity. For this sake they are always willing to overcome any hurdle. They are willing to overcome, since they understand that the God who made the outside of man also made the inside. They grasped the truth that as much as it is necessary to keep the outside clean, it is equally necessary to keep the inside clean to fulfill the command of Christ. Hence, when the vision appeared to Peter and since, he was already clean, he gave that which was within as charity; he went to the house of a gentile. This was clean for him. As long as the preachers of the gospel do not understand this principle, they can never fulfill the purpose of God; they are not set apart for the gospel.
To have a clean inside and be able to give it as charity essentially indicates the lack of doctrines, restrictions and traditions of men. It indicates that there are no obligations other than that which belong to the gospel. Yet, the gospel is being tainted by the reasoning of men whose inside is full of robbery and wickedness. They have set aside the interest of God! Therefore, the churches have become the body with few parts. They are not fully functional. For if what the Spirit has indicated is accepted unconditionally, they shall grow to the measure God intended. “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that” (1 Cor. 7:7). Nonetheless, to abide by this Word takes a deeper knowledge of the purpose of the gospel. This knowledge is achieved only when their inside is as clean as they make their outside to be. Whatever the circumstances are whatever time or place, those who have a clean inside will have their own gift from God. These are the set apart by God and are willing to overcome any hurdle to fulfill His purpose.
When people that possess the gift of God proclaim the gospel, they will harvest abundantly for the Lord. The works that God performs through them will go hand in hand with the gospel they preach. The churches they lay will be full of wisdom and overcoming strength. Truly, the Lord will rejoice as He continues to see Satan falling from heaven like lightening. O, how precious is the work of a man set apart by God for the gospel! Though the world and unbelievers hate him, he will grow closer to God. For this is the blessing for the set apart when men hate them, they will realize the glory of God. “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE” (Heb. 3:7). If you have heard the voice of God, do not reject it. Do not exchange it for the glory you receive from men and their regulations. Where there is no suffering there can be no glory, and hearing His voice will produce suffering necessary for this life in order to enter the next. For even the seed planted in the ground has to die if it is to sprout. Hearing His voice means the seed planted in you has died and sprouted to produce results for God. You have been set apart!
Know that the gospel of God has been spoken and written for the purpose of bringing all who hear it into one faith and fellowship. When those who have been set apart by God spoke the gospel in the earlier times and many were called into the Lord’s kingdom, the principle and the manner in which the gospel must be preached should never change to reap the same success. Only then will we have fellowship with the Father and the Son with whom also the early Christians fellowshipped. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). As we proclaim the things they have seen and heard, we proclaim the same gospel in the same manner and with the same understanding as they. Or else, there can be no fellowship that leads to eternal life.