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Sunday November 27th
A Walk Through Romans - Week 11

What a joy to be with all of you today.  I’m Pastor Paris of The Journey Church.

 

This is the big finale, the final chapters of one of the great writings ever to be penned.  Let’s look into how the Apostle wraps up this amazing instruction to this mixed group of believers.  Paul has just addressed the idea of judging others, including our neighbors and our civic leaders.  Some of us here see ourselves as strong believers.  Well these next words are directly pointed at you.

 

Romans 15:1–4 (NIV) We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

 

Our life as a believer is not our own.  Did you hear those words?  We are not living to please ourselves.  Christ didn’t and nor should we.  We are called to bear with those who are weaker in their faith not condemn them.  We are to strengthen our testimony with our actions not destroy it.  Even when life gets harder we are to reach down into our born again spirit and receive the courage to live like our savior.  Even when we are insulted we must remember Christ was also.  Christianity is not for wimps, it’s only for warriors.

 

Romans 15:5–6 (NIV) May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Do you need a little extra strength or capacity to survive your days?  Then seek for it from God not the world.  Start acting and thinking like Jesus as a maturing believer.  Stop giving yourself permission to act just like the world around you. 

 

Next he covers the huge problem people have with division, separation, and thinking better of themselves than others.  He tells them to compare themselves with Christ before comparing themselves with their neighbor.

 

Romans 15:7–12 (NIV) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”  10 Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”  11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”  12 And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” 

 

Paul is challenging his Jewish brothers to see value in modeling before and reaching their Gentile neighbors.  How we live our life matters.

 

Romans 15:13 (NIV)  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Take note of where we get the power from to live as Paul is instructing.  Next he raises the bar because they have missed the mark recently as he has heard.  He’s not condemning, but nor is he condoning.

 

Romans 15:14–16 (NIV) I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

 

Paul makes his calling clear to both Jew and Gentile.  I see words like boldly, duty, minister to make sure they comprehend their assignment.  Am I being bold enough?  He also states that a gentile coming to Christ is like an offering sent to the father.  Let’s live as a church in this way.

 

Romans 15:17–19 (NIV)  Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

 

Paul makes it clear that he gets no credit as it was all about Christ all along.  We must emulate this passion of proclaiming the gospel of Christ as Paul said and did.  It’s not ok to say one thing and live another.  People’s lives are at stake who are witnessing us as believers.

 

Romans 15:20–22 (NIV)  It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”  22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

 

I love the fact that Paul even reveals his personal ambitions.  He was a trail blazer not a maintainer.  This kind of view of ministry was keeping him from going to every church over and over, repeating the same words, that’s the pastor’s job.

 

Romans 15:27 (NIV) They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

 

Many people see no correlation between the spiritual world and the natural world, Paul corrects that thinking.  God gives us the power to get wealth for a reason, some of which is to feed our family and some is to further the gospel message.  Notice it’s not through a bake sale or church garage sale to raise a few bucks.  I’m so honored to be part of a church that responds so graciously to God’s word instead of using worldly tactics to keep a church alive.  I’ve always refused to become that church that begs for support.

 

Next comes a depiction of Paul’s realization that he is interdependent on the whole body of Christ.

 

Romans 15:30–33 (NIV)  I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

 

What humility and what a window into the mess that is often the church.  Today we have a growing resistance toward the gospel, but it is still a long way from Paul’s day.  We get a few bad words spoken to us, but they got beaten and stoned.  They say we can’t pray in church, but they were condemned to prison for telling their story.

 

Well 15 is over and we are rounding the home stretch.

 

Romans 16:1–2 (NIV) I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon, of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.

 

The term deacon means servant of the church.  Women played a role in the administration of the early church and we can see value in doing the same.  He continues with this long list of fellow servants of which we could be on the list.  Note the accolades given for serving well.

 

Romans 16:16 (NIV) Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

 

This gesture was normal in the early church as a means to signify fellowship and unity.  It had nothing to do with sensuality or inappropriate expressions.

 

Romans 16:17–19 (NIV)  I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

 

This set of verses makes me think of my dear friend Pastor Bzoskie; keep the main thing the main thing.  People who look to cause division and strife in the church should be kept away from.  He tells them to be well informed about good and innocent of evil.  That doesn’t mean be naive or blind.

 

Romans 16:20 (NIV) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

 

The outcome is sure according to this giant of faith and leadership about who wins in the end.  And speaking of the end here are his final words to these precious people.

 

Romans 16:25–27 (NIV)  Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

 

Paul concludes with a strong declaration as to who gets all the credit for the content of the letter. JESUS!

 

Next week we begin a series simply on the character traits of Jesus.