Romans 16:1-16 Pauls heart for his fellow workers

Romans 16:1-16

Paul’s Heart for His Fellow Workers

Good Morning! Grab your Bibles with me, if you will, and turn to Romans chapter 16. If you do not have a Bible, please help your self to one from the back table there.

Well, we have reach the very last chapter of Romans. How many of you, as we started this book, knew that there were 16 chapters? And how many of you have actually read purposely and focused through it? We have reached the end of Romans and Paul is closing up his letter. But he is not done yet. He has three things yet to say, the first of which we will look at this morning.

But before that, I want us to take a bigger look at these last two chapters of Romans. There is a mini theme in Romans 15 & 16 that we have been seeing. And that is that Paul has been pouring his heart out about the things that are important to him. We have seen over the last few weeks Paul speak his of his passion and love and heart for Christ, We have seen him express his heart for spreading the Gospel and growing disciples. We have seen him express his love for Rome and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Today we see him show his heart for his fellow workers in Christ. The next two weeks will show Paul show his heart for protecting the flock, protecting Gods Children, and his heart for worshipping the One True God.

Bu this week, as I said, we are looking at Pauls heart for his fellow workers in Christ. We are going to read this weeks passage and its a bit of a long one. There are a lot of names in the 16 verses we are going to read, 30 people named or referenced. Its not quite like reading a genealogy, but it can be very easy to just gloss or skim over. What I want to show you though, is that there is a depth and wealth of wisdom and information in this passage. Before we continue, lets read this mornings passage, Romans 16:1-16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along with your preferred version in your hands. Romans chapter 16, verses 1-16. The apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

Amen. All right, so as I said, thats a long list of names. We are going to look at a few of them real quick, not all of them of course, but highlight a few of them and see what we can learn from these names. We start, of course, at the beginning, with Phoebe. And there is actually quite a bit we can know about her based on these couple of verses. She served in the church of Cenchreae, which was essentially in Corinth. Paul was writing this letter to the romans from… Corinth. And so it is very likely that she was who carried the letter from Paul to the Roman churches. Paul obviously had a great amount of trust and respect for this lady.

We see Prisca and Aquila mentioned here as well, and we have seen them before. We arent going to dive into their whole story, but if you turn to Acts 18, you can read about some of their story. But again, worked alongside Paul, risked their lives for him, utmost trust by Paul.

We also see Rufus mentioned here. This is very likely the same Rufus that was mentioned in Mark’s Gospel. Mark writes in chapter 15, verse 21: And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Many scholars think that the entire reason why Simon was even mentioned in marks Gospel is because his son, Rufus was well known at the time of the writing. Its very possible that Rufus and his family, notice that his mom is mentioned here as well, that they were one of the first to bring the news and Gospel of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem to Rome.

And so, we see some familiar names here in this last and many unfamiliar names as well. Jewish names, and Gentile names, both Roman and Greek names. And its interesting that a full third of these names are women. This during a time when women have little to no rights. When a woman’s testimony was not admissible in court. When women were not regarded as equal to the men of the day.

And we hear today that people call Paul sexist, they call him a misogynist and a woman hater. Yet we see form scripture this is not the case. We hear people say that the Bible, that Christianity, goes against women. And yet we see throughout scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, that women are shown to serve God with strength, honor, faithfulness, trustworthiness and they are quite literally, irreplaceable.

But because the Bible affirms that men and women are different, because they are created for different roles and purposes, yet equal in worth and value and in spiritual standing in the sight of God, both created in his image and likeness, but created for different roles, many thing that the Bible and Christianity discriminates or holds down women.

Scripture could not be more clear on this issue. Yes, men and women are in fact different. Men can do things women cant and/or shouldn’t do. And the other way around as well. Women can do things men cant and/or shouldn’t do. Scripture makes clear that the roles of elders and pastors are to be fulfilled by men. This is especially clear in 1 Timothy 2:12 & 13.

Its just like God made men and women different in regards to childbirth. The function and role of Mom & Wife is reserved for and designed for and to be fulfilled by women. The function and role of Father & Husband is reserved for and designed for and to be fulfilled by men. Is a mom better than a dad or a dad better than a mom? No, but they have different functions and roles. Both need to rightly raise up children the way that God designed it.

Are the men in this church, or any other church for that matter, including the churches that Paul wrote to and visited, are the men better than the women? No. Are the women better than the men? No. But they had different roles and functions. And anyone who things that because God called men to be elders and pastors means that women are not vital or capable to the ministry of the church simply has not read what Paul is saying here.

The New Testaments churches would have fallen apart if not for the women and the roles that they played. God made sure that women were used in wonderous and incredible ways. I said earlier that in that day and age, a woman’s testimony was inadmissible in court. Yet, who did God first have discovering the empty tomb and tell the apostles? Mary. And did the Bible conveniently omit that so that the story was more acceptable and believable? No. She played a vital and incredible role in the early church.

We see in churches today and specifically in our church right here. This church would fall apart and be a shell of itself with out the work and ministry of the ladies right here in this room. All of you do so much, and different stuff, things that often no body sees, sometimes things that people do see. For all those times you work and nobody sees it, Thank you, from all of us.

And that leads to another thing that we can take away from this list of greetings, encouragements, and exhortations. Sometimes we do a lot of work for God. We do a lot of work for the church. And often times when we do, we don’t think anyone is noticing. No one says thank you or Good Job. We don’t feel appreciated. Some people don’t notice. We often don’t notice when others do certain things at certain times. We should, but we sometimes don’t. Even when Paul here does acknowledge theses, they aren’t immediate recognitions, but things that have happened over time. Sometimes recognition and thanks is more of a long game than an immediate play.

But regardless, when we feel like no one sees what we are doing, like maybe we are not making a difference, or affecting anything. Take heed. God notices. God sees. And we need to be careful of our own hearts and attitudes. The reason we do the work that we do is not to be seen and recognized by each other, or by man, as the Bible puts it. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6, verses 1-4:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And with that warning we need to make sure that we are looking for our reward from our Father who is in Heaven, rather than looking for our rewards from man here and now. And so, we lift our heads high, we do what God has called us to do and we let God worry about the rest. Easier said than done, I know, but that’s our call.

As clarification, this does not mean that you don’t have to recognize when people do things. This does not mean that you don’t have to say Thank you or appreciate when you see people doing things. Again, we see that Paul is recognizing and showing appreciation and making sure that others also knew and appreciated what these fellow workers were doing. But what it means is that the LORD is our provider, it is he who will deal with all things A ND we know that he sees all and is fair and just.

So, we do what God has called us to. We become, as Paul describes here, “workers in Christ,” “servants of the Church,” “working hard for you,” “in Christ,” Gods beloved, fellow workers in Christ, those of us who are in the LORD, and who worked hard for the LORD.

Our work, what we do, we do to the Glory of God. We do it to serve God. We do it for Him and that is its own reward. And God sees. We see here names written in Paul’s letter to Rome. He thanks and greets and acknowledges and recognizes and I’m sure they felt good about that. I’m sure they felt loved from Paul and felt love for Paul. They didn’t know it at the time but their names ended up being written in the Bible, Gods Word for us to all see and read about. But ultimately, we know that we would rather have our names written in Gods Book of Life than in this book to be read by men.

The grass withers, the flowers fade, the Word of God endures forever.

Maybe the last thing I want pull out of this text this morning is I want you to see that we are supposed to greet fellow workers in Christ, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow believers.

We greet these brothers and sisters. We greet those who work in Christ.. We recognize those who work hard for the LORD. We welcome fellow workers in Christ. Paul exhorts them, greet one another with a Holy Kiss. And all the churches in Christ greet you.

Now, the Holy kiss is one of those situations, where we separate the principal from the literal. Do we have to all greet each other with a kiss? No. First, that’s not our culture. That wouldn’t work, nor should it If I were to greet each of you that walk through the door with a kiss. But there are cultures and times where this was a normal greeting custom.

The principal of what is being said here is that we greet each other genuinely. We are to greet each other warmly, with love. We are to greet each other openly.

Heres the thing, we walk through that door back there, what are you here for? You are here to worship and serve the one true God, our king, our savior Jesus Christ. WE give all we have to him. We bask in his holiness, lifting our lives up to him. We focus on him, and the Holy Spirit working in us, sanctifying us, changing us, starting with out hearts, changing them from hearts of stone to a heart of flesh, becoming a new creation, working all things in us for his good and his glory.

We are not here for ourselves. So we walk through that door, we greet each other openly, genuinely, warmly. We are not to avoid each other. We are not to ignore each other. We are not to hold grudges. We are not to be fake with each other. And are most certainly not to cause division in the house of the LORD.

If there is an issue, Paul has said multiple times, as much as it is possible, as much as it is up to us, live at peace with one another. Forgive each other. Worship together. I have found in my experiences that if there is an issue between two people and they are able to truly worship their God together. That issue becomes so little, so unimportant, that it falls away.

So once again, Paul is, in this list of greetings, encouragements, recognition, in these list of names that we normally would just gloss right over, Paul is calling for unity. He is calling for us to put aside our differences, put aside our disagreements. He is calling us to come together and unite under the one thing that can change people. The one thing that can change situations and scenarios. The one thing that can change hearts and offer forgiveness and that s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the grace of God alone, poured out through our faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. This we see reveal through the pages of scripture alone. And all of it, all things, all everything, to be done for the Glory of God alone.

We see next week that those who do not come together in unity, or more specifically who call for unity outside the Gospel, or without the Gospel or worst of all, through compromise of the Gospel, those we do not greet warmly. Those we do not unite with. Those we do not worship together with. Those are wolves, they are enemies of God and they are false teachers and false disciples. But we will get to that next week.

Right now, after I pray, I ask that we all come together. We all stand, as we are able. WE lift our voices together and we worship together. We worship our King. We worship the all powerful creator of the universe. We worship our all knowing supreme being, who called us for his glory before he created time. We worship the all loving God who came up with a plan of redemption, a way to reconcile our sinful and unholy selves back to the only one who is good, the only one who is worthy, the only one who is Holy, Holy, Holy. Lets come together and worship God.

Lets Pray

Romans 15:22-33 Pauls heart for Rome

Romans 15:22-33

Paul’s hearts for Gods Plans

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not have one of your own or do not own a Bible, please grab one off the back table as our gift to you.

Well, we will finish up Romans chapter 15 this morning. Which means that there is just one more chapter left before we have completed this long journey to Rome. And one of the other things we will see this morning is the Paul harkens back to the very beginning of his letter here.

Again, we see Paul’s heart on display here. We see from him, complete transparency in his heart, his intended actions and more importantly, his submission of all of those to Gods plans and intentions.

Last week, we saw what Pauls calling was, he was both missionary and pastor. He was a missionary, going and spreading the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people who had not yet heard of them. He planted churches in those areas, built them up, pastored the people, raised up elders to be heads over the church and then continue on to the next place to share the Gospel.

And thats important, because Paul is going to talk about that here. His submissiona nd heart for Gods plans for him and how that both fits and differes from Pauls own wants and desires and plans.

Lets go ahead and read this mornings text. We will be reading Romans chapter 15, verses 22 through the end of the chapter, verse 33. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your perferred translation. Romans 15:22-33, Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected,[b] I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing[c] of Christ.

30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul had shared in the section we looked at last week that he was called bring and preach the Gospel to those who who were in the Eastern Meditaranian region, from Jerusalem to Illyricum. That was what God had set out to him. Just like you and I are called to the Bangor, California area, Paul was called to that Eastern Meditaranian area.

He knew that, and he had a heart for it as we saw last week. But we also know that his calling, what God called him to do, prevented him from coming to Rome until now, something he truly and deeply wanted to do. He had a passion and a desire to go see the churches, the believers, his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that were in Rome.

Lets look back for a moment at what Paul wrote as he opened this letter. He started his letter to the Romans, in chapter 1, starting in verse 8:

 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[c] that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,[d] both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

We see here that Paul was longing to go spend time with the churches in Rome. Fellowship is so vital to our walk and life in Christ. He says that they would be mutually encouraged by each other. When believers spend time together, in any form, we should all leave each others company being encouraged and uplifted.

Think about this, I know some of you have shared stories in this vein with me and with the congregation before. You are on vacation. You are on a trip somewhere. Hours or days from home. Hundreds or thousands of miles. You just happen to strike up a conversation with someone and Lo! And Behold! They are Christians too! When that happens, how do you feel afterwards? From my experience, thats a great time and you walk away marveling at God, his timing, his providence.

We need companionship and fellowship. We were made to be in community with each other. We are that way because we were made in the image of God. God who himself is trinity. Eternal fellowship, never alone. We were created to reflect the image and nature of God and one of his natures is fellowship.

Paul is excited that he finally gets to come to Rome and fellowship with his fellow believers there. And for good reasons! But we continue to see that Paul gladly and willingly submits his plans and his wants to Gods plans for him. Before Paul can go to Rome, he must make a detour. And when he does think he will be going to Rome, he will be going there on his way to another missionary journey, another job that he is being given by God.

And this is important to see. Gods call on your life, your obedience to him will require you to do things you dont want to do. It will cause to you to speak up when you would rather stay silent. It will require you to stay silent when you would rather speak up. Im not saying who is on which side there, but we each have work to do in one of those areas, I garauntee that. Gods call and our obedience to it will make us step out of our comfort zone. It will make you go places yu dont want to go. Or, in Pauls case, to go somewhere that you may want to go, but want to go less than many other places.

The flip side of all that, Gods call on your life and your obedience to it will delay an/or cancel plans that you have for yourself and things you really want to do. Sacrifices will be made. Plans will change. Other things will come up. Paul can not high tail it straight to Rome.

Paul needs to go back to Jerusalem, personally go back to Jerusalem, to deliver offerings taken up by the mostly Gentile churches that Paul had established, back to the mostly Jewish church in Jerusalem that was poor and struggling.

This is most likely mentioned by Luke in Acts 24:17, where Paul says that after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings.” And one of the things we see here is there is a two fold reason for why this offering is so important to be brought to Jerusalem.

The first of course is because of the needs of the poor in the churches in Jerusalem. There are people there who had real needs and those needs had to be met. It is the responsibility of the church body to meet the needs of those within the body. Thats starts local. If we in this room have needs that need to be met, not wants mind you, but needs, than it is the responsibility of those of us in this room to help as we are able.

Scripture makes it clear the order these things are to go. We take care of our own household first. We make sur that our spouse and kids, if they are still at home, we make sure they are taken care of first. Our household is our fisrt priority when it comes to meeting peoples needs.

Second would be our local chhurch family. Again, thats when we look around this room, we share our prayer needs every week, we share life together in fellowship, and we carry each others burdens. When someof us are incapacitated for whatever reason, surgery, sickness, car accident, when one of us gives birth, whatever the reason, we come together and we meet each others needs.

Further out from that, still no less our responsibility is to help the universal church body. This is other churches that are not ours. This is parachurch and missions orginizations. This is believers in other parts of the country, maybe ones that have been hit with natural disasters. This is believers in other countries, maybe ones that are undergoing incredible persecution, or ones that are in incredibley poor regions. This could be local orginizations and ministries like Mt Hope or Caring for Women, the local pregnancy resource center. It could national orginizations like Village Missions, as one example. It could be international missions orginizations as well.

We give when and where we can. We give first to our local home church. Thats what we call our tithe. Above that, as you are able, you give your offerings. The causes and the ministries that God has put on your hearts and when we see needs that need to be met.

Paul saw needs in Jerusalem and as he was on his journies, he was raising money to send back to help meet those needs. And Paul shows that there is a direct connection between our giving and what the Gospel does to us.

John Piper makes this point, writing:

when we go to 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 where Paul gives his fullest explanation of this offering for Jerusalem he explicitly connects the offering with the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 9:13, he says this, “By their approval of this service, they [the poor saints in Jerusalem] will glorify God because of your [the Gentiles’] submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ.”

Piper continues, saying:

In other words, one of the things at stake in this collection for the poor is the demonstration of what the gospel does to people—it makes them generous. It frees them from the love of money.

Paul also tells us that we are to give cheerfully and generously and in 2 Corinthians 8:13 & 14:

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.

So that is the first reason why it was so important that the churches that Paul had been visiting gave and sent their offerings back to Jerusalem. The second reason why it was so important to Paul that this happened was to bring the church in the 1st century together

Church Unity. This has obviously been a theme of Pauls all throughout the letter to Rome. And most specificallyto what we see here, unity in the church between the Jews and the Gentiles. Starting from back in chapter 1, through out the rest of the book, culminating in chapter 11 and continuing through what we see here, Paul makes the point time and time again that there is no difference, no two people of God, in the church of God, in the Kingdom of God, in Jesus Christ, there are no distinction between Jews and Gentiles.

Now, one thing we do know, is that God did choose to reveal himself and his Son, through whom we can obtain salvation, through the Jewish people and offered it equally to the Gentiles as well. Paul writes in Romans 1:16&17:

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”[f]

But Paul is just as clear that, in Christ, there is no difference. We are all one in Gods eyes and in status before him. And we see here, that it wasnt always easy and it didnt match their preconcivied notions but Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians were showing love and unity to each other.

Dr Kim Riddlebarger writes:

Those whom the gospel sets free, will find themselves filled with gratitude and desiring to help out their brothers and sisters whenever necessary. Since the blessings of that gospel were first preached to the Jews, and then spilled over on to the Gentiles, the Gentiles are able to show their gratitude by collecting an offering for the relief of the Jewish poor. Having been given spiritual blessings from the Jews, the Gentiles can now share their material blessings with them.

With the gospel, everything changes. Our heart, our attitudes, our actions, even our perceptions of other groups of people. Outside of Christ, Jews & Gentiles were essentially enemies. In Christ, they were brothers and sisters.

Piper again writes:

The spiritual blessings we enjoy—forgiveness of sins, and justification by faith, and reconciliation with God, and escape from hell, and all things working together for our eternal good, and the hope of enjoying the glory of God—all of these are owing to our being connected to the seed of Abraham, namely, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). Jesus said in John 4:22, “Salvation is from the Jews.” Our savior is the Jewish Messiah.

The unity between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians was brought about by their submission to Jesus Christ and by the work of the Holy Spirit, but it took purposeful work on their part.

Unity takes work because we are all different peoiple, from different backgrounds with different experiences. But unity is both called for and worth it. It comes through the changed hearts of the Gospel. It comes through work on our end. It comes through loving each other, remembering love covers a multitude of sins. It comes through setting aside our own preferences for the sake of the good of the body of Christ. It comes through fellowship and serving together.

Paul finished this section with an appeal to prayer. Even in this, Paul is fostering fellowship and unity. He is asking the believers in Rome to pray for his situation. He is praying for his trip to Jerusalem and that he gets to Rome for their meeting up on his way to Spain.

Heres the thing, based on scripture, we never see Paul get to Spain. And we do see him get to Rome, but not for fellowship. He was arrested in Jerusalem in Acts 21. He then appeals his trial and sentence to Ceaser and is brought to Rome in order to be put before Ceaser himself. Pauls motivation was to preach the Gospel to the highest authority in the land. The book of Acts ends with him waiting for that chance, under house arrest in Rome.

Paul knew that there was trouble waiting for him in Jerusalem. He was asking for prayer that that trouble would bypass him. He was also asking for prayer that the gifts he was bringing for the Jewish Christians would be accepted as the gift it was intended to be and accepted with grace and humility. The good news, we see in Acts 21, is that it was indeeded accepted by James.

Paul finishes his prayer, praying a blessing over the believers in Rome. That the God of Peace would be with them all.

Dont miss this as a throw away few verses. Prayer is a vital part of coming together in fellowhsip. It is a vital part of unity within the body of Christ. We cannot come together and grow together if we do not pray together.

This is why our time here on Sunday morning, we have a time of prayer. We have our list in the bulleting that we pray for continually. We also open it up to hear your current requests. We have both our family of the week and we have the Village Missionaries of the week as well, and they list some prayer requests in there. We have prayer meeting Wednesday mornings and we pray for you all specifically and by name. Prayer is connec tive and brings us together in ways that would not happen otherwise. It opens us up to each other and helps us to know each other on deeper levels.

There is no throwaway lines in these 11 verses. Paul lays his heart out and models heartfelt and sacrificial submission to Gods plans and Gods will. And in that, I will leave you with John Pipers 4 takeaways from this passage.

He writes:

So I close with these summary exhortations:

1) Be vigilant for the reputation of the gospel.

2) Care for the poor. Ask God for that kind of heart.

3) Love the unity of the church and its ethnic diversity, and rejoice that there is one people of God, not two.

  1. Embrace the glorious truth that when you are born again by the Spirit of God and treasure Christ—who died for you—above all else, you begin to change. You delight to do what it is your duty to do, and want to do what you ought. This is holy joy. And it lasts forever.

Lets Pray

Romans 15:14-21 Pauls heart for the Gospel

Romans 15:14-21

Paul’s heart for the Gospel

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Romans chapter 15. If you do not have a Bible, please grab one from the back table and consider that our gift to you.

We here at Bangor Community Church believe that the Bible is Gods written Words. The Bible is his revelation to us, how He speaks to us today. And it is our passion, our calling and our commitment to get he Bible into the hands of as many people as possible.

In that, our method of preaching and teaching is to go through books of the Bible. Systematically, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, line by line. This is important in order to see the context in which these words were written. It is also important because there are chunks of scripture that most pastors, most teachers, most churches would just skip over, for a variety of reasons.

In all honesty, much of the end of Romans is easy to just skim over if you’re not paying attention and not focused on this being the very words of God. But when we slow down, look line by love, verse by verse, when we focus on what God has said, we see that this is a treasure trove of richness, wisdom and revelation.

One of the things that we see throughout Pauls letter to the churches in Rome, and especially in our passage here this morning is that he pours out his heart to these people. We see his heart here and we see whats important to him and what he wants to do through and for Christ and that is the Gospel, Christ and him crucified.

So let’s go ahead and read this mornings passage, Romans 15:14-21. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version, please follow along in which ever translation you are holding in your hands. Romans chapter 15, verses 14-21.

Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes:

 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers,[a] that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 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. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”

Paul’s heart is just absolutely poured out to the churches in Rome. His heart is for the LORD and it is for the teaching and the spreading of the Gospel. And we are going to see both of those here in this passage. Both Evangelism and discipleship. Both are so vital and one with out the other leaves half a church.

Paul starts in v 14 by encouraging the readers of this letter. RC Sproul, in his commentary on this verse writes:

Paul graciously assures the Romans that his lengthy exposition of the Gospel is not intended to raise doubts about their spiritual understanding. Their knowledge and ability to apply it practically in mutual admonition is not in question.

Its like this. How many people here have heard the Gospel, know the Gospel and know how to act, at least in most situations? If you spend anytime in the church regularly and especially if you are a Christian, every one of you should be raising your hand.

So, if all Christians, or regular church attenders already know these things, why does Paul say them? Why do pastors get up every week and preach the Gospel? Paul answers that question in verse 15. He says, on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder. We need to be reminded of what we already know. We forget easily.

All the scriptures, and especially in the New Testament, we see continually references to us forgetting and needing to be reminded.

A few examples of this, certainly not exhaustive, that go along woth what paul is saying here:

2 Peter 1:12, Therefore, I will always remind you of these…

1 Corinthians 15:1, I would remind you brothers and sisters

2 Timothy 1:16, Therefore I remind you…

Jude 1:5 I want to remind you about what you already know…

And one we will refer to at the end of the sermon, Luke 22:19, Jesus says about the LORDS Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We, as human beings, need to constantly be reminded. We are a forgetful people. From back in the times of ancient Israel, Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness and they immediately forgot the negatives about their slavery in Egypt. We see this as a pattern in the Old Testament. We are going through the book of Judges in the Wednesday morning prayer meeting.

And the book of Judges is an incredible example of the people of God forgetting his good works and his powers and his commands and they go on and do their own thing. They forget and God goes to great lengths to remind them.

We forget and we need to continuously be reminded. There is a great anecdote, that is commonly attributed to Martin Luther. A church member asked Luther “Why do you preach the Gospel to us week after week?” Luther replied, “Because week after week you forget it.” This is all of us.

Yes, we need to be reminded, often and clearly. But we also already know, back to verse 14 for a moment. Paul says that, you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. If you need to be reminded, then that means that you already knew. And it’s not a forget, as in you don’t have the knowledge anymore. It’s still in your head, you still have the knowledge. But instead, when we forget, we forget in the practical sense. We don’t live out our knowledge, we do not act full of goodness and we don’t instruct one another.

There is a challenge in there. Can you briefly share with someone else, can you articulate clearly your testimony or your salvation story? Specifically, can you share out not based on and focused on emotions, though your emotions can be in there, but focused on what the scriptures say. How did God change your life as we see written down in scriptures?

Maybe more pointedly, or what our testimonies should be focused on, can you clearly and scriptural present and explain the Gospel in a brief conversation with someone? You have the knowledge inside you. If you didn’t before, its been shared over and over again over the past year plus. You receive a book at Christmas that clearly and scriptually explains salvation and the Gospel. You own a Bible. It’s your responsibility to be able to walk through the scriptures with someone and show them the Gospel.

Now, you don’t have to be a bible scholar to do this, but you have the knowledge inside you and you have the leading of the Holy Spirit and many other tools at your disposal to guide you through the scriptures.

Just like anything else, if you don’t practice sharing or explaining the Gospel, you wont be any good at it. If you don’t constantly focus on remembering it, you will forget.

Paul says that he has written some things boldly. If you’ve read through the book of Romans, you know that’s a understatement. Or 1 & 2 Corinthians, Or 1 & 2 Timothy, or especially Galatians. Paul is not afraid to lay things out and say it like it is.

But, as we have seen over the last few chapters, he knows what to fight for. Sometimes it is right to fight for unity, to show love to each other in spite of our differences, to set aside our differences for the purpose of fighting for the things worth fighting for. That is the Gospel. That is Jesus Christ, who he is and what he has done. That is that Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation, for both Jews and Greeks, for everybody. These are the things worth fighting for, worth speaking boldly over and worth dividing over.

As Paul goes on, we see in verses 16-19 that the trinity is on clear display here. Listen to what Paul writes:

 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. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;

We see in this, that though some argue that the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible, that it ois clear throughout. IN these couple of verses, we see clearly, God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ & God the Holy Spirit of God. Not three gods. Not three personalities. But one God, Three Persons. Confusing and often a stumbling block to those who don’t know God, who have not had the truth of scripture reveal to them, but truth as reveal in scriptures nonetheless.

And in that, in all that Paul is saying, He says something here that we need to remember most of all. In verse 17 he writes,  In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.

Our motivation, our reason for doing everything that we do, is by, for and through Christ. It is too easy to do the right thing but do it for the wrong reasons. And anything we do, whether right or wrong, if it is done outside of Christ.

We see the Bible talk about the world’s moral, good deeds. We see good, upstanding people, living moral lives. We saw our own country used to be a moral country. Lives based off of the outward behavior prescribed in the scriptures. Lives that Jesus called “Whitewashed tombs.” (Matthew 23:27) They look good and right on the outside, but are dead on the inside.

And we see throughout the Bible what God has to say about these so-called good deeds. Isaiah 64:6 says that our good deeds are like filthy rags to God. I’m not going to go into detail, but whatever you picture as dirty rags, the meaning behind this is worse. Earlier in Romans, Paul writes, quoting the Old Testament that none of us do good, not even one. (Romans 3…)

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that we could do many signs and wonders, performing many good works in his name and he could still say to us, “Go away, I never knew you…”

Outside of Christ and outside the purpose of Christ, anything we do that might be seen as good means nothing in the cosmic, eternal view of the only one who is good, God the Father.

But when we don’t do good deeds for ourselves, when we don’t do them to be seen be the world as a success, when we don’t do them to earn karma points or to look good to God, then we do them for another reason. We do them for and in Christ. Watch the order of this. We don’t do good deeds in order to be saved. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ by God and then we do the good deeds that God told us to.

And when we do those good things that God told us to and for the reasons he told us to, our success is for the kingdom of heaven and for God rather than worldly success. We do these things and we don’t do them for ourselves and to look good but we do them so that God gets all the glory. Jesus says on Matthew 5:16, , let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Paul also writes in 2 Corinthians 10, verse 17, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” And then again, he writes in Galatians 6:14,  But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which[b] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world

Our testimonies, our motivations, our goals and our actions are not our emotions, they are not our experiences, but they are completely and solely Christ and him crucified. Paul is here to boldly proclaim and remind us of Christ and him crucified. Within the church, to believers, to the early churches in Rome and to Bangor Community Church today, that is what he is saying. We know that’s what he is saying to us because that’s what he was saying to them. John MacArthur reminds us “Whatever the Bible meant in its original context is what it means now.”

So, preaching and reminding the church of Christ and him crucified, Paul also has another mission, finishing up in verses 20 & 21:

thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.

Paul is not just a Shepard, feeding the sheep, as Jesus commands us in John 21. But he is also going out and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded of us. (Matthew 28)

Paul is modeling the idea of being both a pastor and a missionary. The things that Paul is modeling and teaching here are a part of why I am a Missionary Pastor with Village Missions.

Not one or the other, but both. Paul shows the pastoral role in v 14 & 15 here and the missionary role in v 20 & 21. We see through Paul in his letters especially the things that he does that fall under the pastoral role. The sheep need to be fed (John 21), we need to boldly be reminded of the Gospel (Romans 15), Christ and him crucified (2 Cor, 2), the saints need to be equipped (Ephesians 4), he contends for the faith (Jude 2) and disciples need to be made (Matthew 28).

And then we also see in Paul’s writings what being a missionary looks like. He travels and shares the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ. He wrote earlier in Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10). We see that the scriptures are able to make one wise to salvation (2 Timothy 3)

Not all of us are called to be Pastors of course, first of all, we see especially in 1 Timothy 2 & 3 and in other areas, that God has set some very specific criteria for who he may call as a pastor. But even if you are qualified, not every one is called to that role. Ephesians 4 is one of the best scriptures to see the large variety of roles that you may be called to.

But we are all called to be missionaries, the sharing of Christ to those who have never heard. And to share it accurately, succinctly and lovingly, we need to constantly be reminded of that very Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We meet together every sunday, partly to remind each other, and to hear the bold proclamation of the Gospel. We meet during the weeks to learn more about and to be reminded of what the Bible, which is Gods actual words to us. To be reminded of what he says to us.

And the first Sunday of every month, we follow the commands of Jesus and we celebrate communion in remembrance of him. We remember and we celebrate what unites us and brings us together. The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we come together to celebrate that unity. To pursue that unity by remembering. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Romans 15:7-13 Our Unchanging God

Romans 15:7-13

God has no plan B

Good Morning! Go ahead and grab you Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back table and consider that our gift to you.

As we continue through Romans, as we start to see the end of this year-long journey come in to view, what we see is that Paul is not taking his foot off the gas. He is not letting up on the intensity, the importance and the depth of what he is writing to the early churches in Rome.

The last few weeks, as we have started chapter 15, we have look at such heavy and important, weighty issues such as who Jesus is and why he did what he did while he was here on Earth. We look at the importance of the Scriptures, ALL the Scriptures, what we call both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We looked at the example that Christ set for us. We looked at how important it is that we look only to the Words of God when trying to hear the voice of God, not to the words of men, and that God has chosen the Bible, His Written word, as his method of revelation to us.

And this week, as we continue through chapter 15, we will see that Paul is going to deal with Gods perfect and unchanging character, our hope, our Only hope. And how God has brought all things together in one plan for one people, for one purpose. Not merely light reading that we are dealing with in this scriptures.

So, before we go any further, lets go ahead and read our text for this week, Romans 15:7-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and Ill encourage you to read along, to follow along and see these words for yourself in whatever translation you are using. Romans 15:7-13.

The Word of God says:

 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”

10 And again it is said,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again Isaiah says,

The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul here, writing inspired by the Holy Spirit, brings together all of redemptive history and shows that there are not reactionary plans by God. God does not have a Plan A, and Plan B and a Plan C. God doesn’t change his plans because we thwart his original plans. He doesn’t treat some of us with one plan and some of us with another plan. There is one plan.

This plan has been in place for thousands of years. We see the first hints and revelations of it in Genesis 3, we see it throughout the first chunk of chapters of Genesis and then in Genesis 12, we really see it spelled it when God speaks to Abraham. Genesis 12, verses 1-3 and especially pay attention to the last line.

Now the Lord said[a] to Abram, “Go from your country[b] and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[c]

Many see this as Christians needing to have unwavering and blinding support of Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham. But the point of this passage is rather the last line of the passage, In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Through the line of Abraham, as a Physical descendant, comes Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ, we see in the New Testament, that those who have faith in Christ are the spiritual descendants of Abraham and it is those spiritual descendants who bless Abraham by believing God, being credited as righteousness, just as abraham did and it is the spiritual descendants of Abraham who are from all families of the world who are blessed by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

This was Gods plan from the beginning. If you look at the original texts, the word for families in verse 3, is the same as the word translated as “kinds” in Genesis 8 when referring to the various animals coming off the ark. So, God is saying the Abrahams blessing, the spiritual seed of Abraham will bless all kinds of people. Not certain people, not certain groups, but as John writes in Revelation 7:9 & 10:

 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

There is no some included in Gods plan that is part of Plan A and then some who are part of plan B. There are no first class or second class groups of people in heaven. The New Testament shows us that there is no difference, no distinction between what it refers to as Israel and what it refers to as the Church. The New Testament shows that they are one and the same. This means that Israel was not plan A and Gentiles were plan B. Both were in Gods plans from the beginning and there is no difference. Paul makes that quite clear with the Old Testament passages that he quotes here.

The word for nations in the Old Testament and the word Paul uses for Gentiles as he quotes these passages in the New Testament have the same meaning; essentially all of humanity, all nations and races. Ethnos is the greek word that Paul uses here translating the hebrew to greek, where we get our English word ethnicity.

Look especially at these middle passages he quotes, Deuteronomy 32:43 & Psalm 117:1,

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

&

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him.”

Thats very inclusive language. That us Gods plan being inclusive from the beginning. Inclusive as in ALL people have the chance, opportunity and invitation to come in to the love of God and be his people.

And what we seed of Gods plan too is that, not only has it not change and never failed, but his plan has been to choose us from the beginning. We seer throughout scriptures, and especially as we have journeyed through Pauls letter to the Romans that God is the one who chooses us. Without him reaching out to us and changing our heart and mind, we wont reach out to him.

Some people see this as  negative. They sit as hopeless if we are not the ones to reach out to God, but this should be a supreme comfort to us. First of all, we know that God doesn’t change his mind. And so, if God chose us, if he is the one that reached out to us, than we will never unchose us. He will never take back from us what he has assured us that we have. He does not change his mind.

We, however, change our minds like we blink our eyes. We change our minds about little things. We change our minds about big things. Things like our hair color, our job, our homes, our tastes, our favorite anything. In this society, we often change our minds even on our spouses and our gender.

So if we choose God, and we could change our minds on him, doesn’t it recon that we would turn our backs and walk away at some point. John MacArthur famously said that “If we could lose our salvation, we would.”

And so, then we ask, how often does Jesus change his mind? He doesn’t, and he wont. And he has pursued us, he has reached out to us, a rebellious and sinful people. Paul writes in Romans 5:8 that it was “while we were yet sinners, that Christ died for us.” And on that cross, he looked up at said, “It Is Finished.” Once the deed was done, it can’t be undone, and once his mind was made, it wont be changed.

Thats one of the attributes about God that makes him God; his unchangingness. It’s also called his immutability. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, all God, one God. God is unchanging. He is eternal. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Nothing about him, his attributes, his character, his plans or his purposes, none of them change. All of God & all everything about him is perfect and unchanging. Psalm 102, verses 26 & 27 says:

They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.

And in Isaiah 46: 10 & 11 The LORD says:

My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

&

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

God has decreed has plans from before the beginning of the world, and nothing can thwart them, nothing can change them, nothing can get in the way of them. Nothing will change his mind and nothing will remove us from his hands once we are in them.

God chose Abraham in Genesis to be the father of the group of people that he would use to bring His message and to bring his blessings to the world and to be a blessing to the nations around them. Through that physical line came Christ Jesus.

Through Christ Jesus all the families of the earth were blessed. Here in Romans 15, Paul shows us in verse 8, that the reason that Jesus came through the physical line of Abraham, why he was, as Paul puts it, that Christ became a servant to the circumcised, to show God’s truthfulness.

God said it, He promised it would happen this way, through these people, in these circumstances, and then he delivered. Against all odds. Jesus birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, him being God was the fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, the nearest of which were written over 400 years before his birth. Many of which were written 700-100 years before his birth.

He was born the way, in the place and in the manner that God had long said that he would be born. To show Gods truthfulness. To confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, the fathers of the faith in the Old Testament. And he did all this so that Gentiles would be brought in and made to glorify God. That his mercy would be poured out in all nations of the world. That the chosen people of God would be made up of people from every tribe, every tongue and every nation.
So, we know that God is unchanging. We see that he has proven what he says will happen and that what he has planned, has never changed. And as we see, his plan was to bring Jews and Gentiles both, people of all the world into his fold. There was only ever one redemption plan. There was only ever one plan that God made. No plan A, no plan B. No reacting to his plans going wrong. No trying to come with anything else, and no multiple groups of His people.

In that, there was no separate plan for Israel and for the Gentiles. The plan from God was the same for each. The plan was the same for both. The promises were the same for both. The fulfillment of those promises were the same for both. The method of carrying out that plan and fulfilling those promises was the same for both.

That fulfillment is what brings all people’s together, Jews, Gentiles, all brought together under the blood and at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. And, more importantly, it is ONLY through Jesus Christ that any of the promises that God made can be fulfilled. It is ONLY through jesus Christ that any of Gods plans can see fruition.

And it is Only through Jesus Christ that we can be reconciled to God the Father and receive the forgiveness of our sins. There simply is no other way but through Jesus Christ.

Jesus did what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus lived a sinless life, therefore not separated from God. Our sins separate us from God. But God had a plan, a redemption plan. He had a plan to reconcile us back with him. A plan hatched between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit before God created time.

That plan was the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His life was sinless, so no separation from God, no sins to have to pay for. His death was unwarranted. He was innocent and therefore was sufficient to pay the price for all of our sins, meaning that our slates could be wiped clean, we could be forgiven and our relationship with God could be restored. His resurrection meant that he not only paid for and therefore defeated sin, but now he paid the price and defeated the penalty for sin, the consequences of sin have now been negated. He beat death. Specifically he defeated and eliminated eternal death.

And through all that we receive something incredibly powerful. We receive hope. The Gospel in many ways is hope. When we share the Gospel with others, we are sharing hope. When we hear the Gospel, hear it with open ears, understanding it and its repercussions, we hear hope. Paul writes here in Romans 15, verse 13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

God gives us hope, he fills us with joy and peace while he gives us belief. It is through the Holy Spirit that we hear the Gospel with open ears and hear Hope. God grants us that belief. Because it is through that belief, through faith and faith alone that we receive the grace of God.

Ephesians 2:8 & 9, Paul writes:

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

By grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. As revealed by the scriptures alone. Done to the Glory of God alone.

And it’s not based off our works, our righteousness. It is not based on anything that we can do or earn. It is based on of Jesus righteousness, it is based on Gods grace. It is based on his “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” It is based on his character and his Word. And because it’s based on God, it’s based on Jesus and not ourselves, we can have hope and peace when we respond to the Gospel. Trying to do it ourselves is the most exhausting thing that we can attempt in this world. Jesus instead offers hope and rest.

He says in Matthew 11:28-30:

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I feel so humble, filled with humility that God chose me. So much gratefulness. That I have received his grace and his mercy. And so much assurance that it does not depend on me. Reading through this passage of Romans, I feel drawn back to earlier in Paul’s letter, to Romans chapter 5, verses 1 & 2.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God.

Lets Pray

Romans 15:1-7 pt 2 Easter 2019 That’s My King!

Romans 15:1-7 pt 2

Easter 2019

Who is Jesus?

Good Morning! If you have a Bible, please grab it and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. If you do not have or own a Bible, one of our missions here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Bible in to the hands of everyone who does not have one. We have some on the back table that your are welcome to grab and consider it our gift to you.

So, a little bit about me as Pastor here, I preach through books of the Bible. Lone by line, verse by verse. There are a few times where we will take a pause and preach on something topical, mostly Easter and Christmas, and how important they are to our life and faith. However, this year, the Holy Spirit saw fit for the scripture that we are naturally going through to match up with this morning, Easter Sunday.

So, that’s what we are going to look at this morning, Romans 15, verses 1-7. This passage in Romans points out one aspect of who Jesus is and why he came down from heave to have a ministry here on Earth. We are going to look at that, but also, look at the bigger picture of who Jesus is and why Easter especially is so important to the Christian faith.

As just a bit of context for Romans 15, Paul, who wrote this letter to the churches in Rome, as been talking, over the last few chapters of Romans, what it practically looks like to love our neighbors, what it looks like to set aside our liberties and right for the sake of unity and love within the church. He emphasizes that this does not mean we don’t stand for anything, True Truth will often divide, but that we set aside non primary issues, open-handed issues as we have referred to them, we set those aside in the name of love and unity and the Gospel.

So, all that being said, let’s go ahead and read from this weeks text. We will be reading Romans chapter 15, verses 1-7 and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along with whichever translation you have in your hands.

The Word of God says:

 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

And so, I want to ask a question of you all. Why are you here this morning? Why is this morning important? What does it all mean and who is this Jesus Guy?

Paul here is pointing out one of the many aspects of who Jesus is. Jesus is a perfect example for us. Paul is pointing this out in the context of the things he has been instructing the church at Rome. That is to put others, their needs and their stuff above ourselves. Jesus put our needs, our struggles, our good above his own benefit. The Biggest example, the biggest aspect of who he is is his sinless life, his perfect sacrifice, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, the greatest act of love ever committed.

Lets start at the beginning. Genesis chapter 1, verse 1, the first words in the Bible, it states, In the beginning,… In the beginning God created. As you go through Genesis 1 & 2, you see creation unfolding. You see Gods power, creativity, his authority and his love unfold in the created world. We see in Genesis 1:27:

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them

What this means is that human beings are created in Gods likeness. We are created to reflect Gods attributed and his nature. We were created without sin, designed to walk in perfect communion and relationship with the all-powerful, all holy and all loving God. We also get the first glimpse of the Trinity. One God, three persons. Not three gods, three persons. Not one God, three personalities. But One God, three persons; The Father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

Thats why and by who we are created. But that’s not who we are today. Can anybody, no matter what your thoughts, no matter what your political views, no matter what culture or ethnicity, no matter what your worldview, or religious view, none of us can truly say, that this world we see around us, this world we see on the news, the world we see when we walk down the street, none of us can say this world is supposed to be. Something went wrong, something is broken.

That something is us. We see, also in Genesis, starting in Ch 3, that Adam and Eve, the sinless human beings created by God, we see them sin. Sin has been summed up as Cosmic Treason against the creator of the universe. We see Adam get deceived and disobey the one command the perfect and loving God gave them. The Bible tells us that because of Adams sin, we are all born into sin. Paul writes in Romans 5:12:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned—

That sin fractured the perfect union and relationship with God. The end of Genesis 3 shows God removing Adam and Eve from his presence, expelling them from the Garden of Eden. He is not able to be in the presence of sin. And it’s also the first view that death is required for the penalty of sin.

That is a vital point. This is a point you truly need to realize. If you do not understand this, then you have no knowledge of your need for forgiveness or need of a saviour or how big of a deal your sin actually is. It’s too easy to just say, “I can just be better, or do better and sin less.” But you can’t do good enough or sin little enough. Only Jesus could do that and that’s why we need Him.

So we are broken. The term that is used among Christians is fallen. And we are unable to keep ourselves from being fallen. We are unable to keep ourselves sinless. We cannot maintain that perfect relationship with God. We never knew in our lives, because we were born with sin. We certainly cannot be good enough, sinless enough to bridge that gap between us and God. We certainly can’t reconcile a perfect, holy and just God with our sin. Romans 3:23 says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Thats the bad news. But God loves you, loves me, loves us too much to leave things with the bad news.

See, God uses the entire Old Testament to point towards something. We looked last week at the importance of ALL Scripture. That it is ALL inspired and breathed out by God. We are still hitched, if you will to the Words of God that came before Jesus earthly ministry. God spends the entire Old Testament promising a gift to his people, promising to redeem them, to bring them back into relationship with him. He promised to send them a savior, saving them from eternal separation from him.

Then, on a day we celebrate with Christmas, one starry night, a little over 2000 years ago, God the Father sent his son, Jesus of Nazareth, down to be born of Mary, betrothed to Joseph, both of the kingly line of David. Jesus, fully God, one-third of the trinity, fully human, born of a woman, arrived here on earth.

The Gospels, the first four books of the New testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are stories, in content, if not fully in purpose, stories of Jesus life and ministry here on earth and then finally, his death and his resurrection.

Thats right, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect human life, therefore was never separated from God.

Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:21-25:

 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Jesus was sinless and therefore wasnt fallen, didn’t have that broken relationship with God. He didn’t have anything to be punished for, didn’t do anything wrong.

But his mission, his purpose, was to come down here to pay the penalty, to take the punishment for sin. And since he had none of his own, he was able to pay that penalty for us, on our behalf. He was punished and put to death without reason. He was innocent. We are not, The cross is a reminder of the pain and suffering that he went through on our behalf. That happened Friday. The wages of sin are death, started back in Genesis 3, and stated over and over, up through the New Testament. The first half of Romans 6:23 says For the wages of sin is death. Again, do you truly understand that because of your sins, you deserve death. That is the right and just penalty for sin. If you claim to want a fair and just God, the wages of sin is death. But God is not only fair and just, He is full of grace, mercy and love as well.

Jesus paid that penalty. But again, the story didn’t end there. Once the penalty was paid, that doesn’t mean the relationship is automatically reconciled. Death still exists, death and sin are still in and a part of this world. So Jesus had to show us that there was something beyond this world. That, though we would still die physically in this bodies, that through the death and resurrection of Christ, we would spend eternity with him in our new, heavenly bodies. The second part of Romans 6:23 reads but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And so, three legal days later, on Sunday Morning, When his followers opened the tomb, to take care of the dead body, the body was gone. In a historical event, that over the last 2000 years has been shown to carry the burden of proof, with eye witnesses, with transmission through the years, archaeologically, culturally, and so much more, carrying the burden of proof and having actually, literally, physically happening, Jesus rose from the dead.

He did this to show that he was God. He did this to show us that we could have life after death. He did this to show that there is forgiveness, to give us a reason to believe and to show that he has the ultimate authority. He did this to show that he is the messiah king that God was pointing to in the Old Testament. Charles Spurgeon once said, You only have to read the Gospels, and look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God.

As so, to those of you who don’t know Jesus Christ, who are not in a personal relationship with him, who have not received his forgiveness,who have not repented and trusted in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, now is the time. Because the Bible, and Jesus himself makes it quite clear that there is no other way to forgiveness, to salvation, to eternity in heaven than through Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. John records in his Gospel, in 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. He doesn’t say A way, he doesn’t say he is A truth. He doesn’t say there are all sorts of ways to get to the Father. One way, one door, open to all who would walk through it.

Now and here is the time, because there is no other way, there is no second chances in the afterlife, there is no knowing when your time is up, and there is no reason to think that this decision doesn’t matter. So please, accept this gift that God has laid out in front of you. Accept the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and accept his resurrection. Accept that Jesus Christ is LORD, that through him your sins are forgiven and that he has authority, that he is King over our life.

Timothy Keller writes: If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”

John MacArthur wrote, “It is only through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that you or I or anyone will ever enter the kingdom of God. We can’t enter through our religious emotion or our sanctified feelings. It is only through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”

And see, that’s the thing. In order to truly accept Jesus Christ, you have to acknowledge who he is. He is the perfect, Holy, and just God who created everything single thing in this universe. As the creator, he has the right and the responsibility to rule over it, to have authority over it. For us to acknowledge who he is, we have to submit to that authority.

Lets read what Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15-20:

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And so, Jesus Christ is not only our savior on the cross, the payment for our sin, but he is our God, he is our KING. And as such, he has authority and dominion over us. We believe that this book right here, the Bible, that it is Gods words to us. Again, we focused in on that last week. And we see through scripture, that His will is communicated to us through it. And so, our job, if we claim to know Christ is to read this and follow what it says.

Make no mistake…This is no trivial thing! This is everything! So, those of us that know Jesus Christ is our savior and have accepted that forgiveness and the eternal life in his Kingdom, my question to you, are you submitting to his will and are you following his example? Are you submitting to the King. Are you submitting to the one who has all authority over your life? Scripture says at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Thats hard for us, especially us as Americans to grasp. Our country was formed & created by rejecting and fighting against the authority of a king. So it is ingrained in us that that is a good way to rebel. And so we naturally and think rightfully reject the notion that Christ is our King and that any King would have any authority over us.

And yet he does. Paul especially writes quite a bit about this. He says in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. And in 2 Corinthians 5:17,  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

When we submit to him and his authority, it’s not just our eternal destination that is affected. Its our true self, we become a child of God, reconciled with him. We get to enjoy fellowship with him, the way we were intended to. When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us, helping us, teaching us, guiding us. We can’t submit to Christ the King with out the power of the Holy Spirit. Thats a product of the fall, of sin. And so the Holy Spirit helps change our wants, our desires, our thought process and whats important to us.

But, we have to make the choice daily to submit, to follow. It’s not easy, Jesus says in Matthew 7, Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. We need Gods help, we need the Holy Spirit, and we need the King himself, Jesus Christ in order to submit and follow his authority.

And that brings me back to the original question. What are we doing here this morning? What is Easter? Hers a clue, we are not here to dress up real nice, in our fanciest duds, though there is nothing wrong with that, that’s a good, fun thing. We are not here to see friends or family, or to gather for a family meal, though those are good fun things. We are not here to feel good about ourselves, though I hope you feel Gods love for you this morning and that does make you repent, but also feel loved and assured and good.

We are here to remember & celebrate what Jesus did for us, to buy us the opportunity to partake in salvation, in forgiveness, in his eternal Kingdom. And we are here to do what people do to Kings, and that’s to worship him. All of what we said earlier, submitting and following him, and accepting him and all that, they are part of worshiping him. Kings get worshiped, and when you are the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords, you deserve the worship of everyone.

So we are here, singing praises, hearing the Gospel, the Good News that we are loved, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Remembering that Christ defeated death and if we accept his love and his Kingship, we get live forever in his glorious eternal kingdom, walking in perfect, sinless communion and relationship p with God, just like Adam and Eve did, just like humanity were created to, just like we were intended to. We see a glimpse of what that looks like in Revelation 21:1-4:

 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be morning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Now, as we finish up, I want to encourage each and every one of you, know and accept Jesus Christ, he is our perfect example, he is our perfect substitute, he is very God and very Man, he is the Messiah, he is our Savior and he is King, who even has authority over death itself. And when you accept him, submit to his authority and worship him. He is all good. All powerful. All Holy, all just, all merciful, all loving and once again, all good. He deserves our submission and our worship.

Now, I want to leave you with an audio clip. It’s about 5 minutes, and its by an Southern Californian Baptist preacher named S.M. Lockridge, and the title of the Clip is “Thats my King!” This is, I believe from the early 70’s so that will explain the audio, but listen to what he says in describing Jesus Christ, His King, my King and your King!

 

Romans 15:1-7 Pt 1, Sola Scriptura

Romans 15:1-7 pt 1

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)

Good Morning! Please Go ahead and grab your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 15. As always, please help yourself to a Bible from the back table if you do not own, and that is our gift to you.

So, as we hit the homestretch here in Romans, we start looking at, not only Pauls words in the immediate context of what he is writing, but we remember to look at his written words in the larger context of the entirety of what he has written in this letter.

Remember that the letter Paul wrote to the churches in Rome was, for the majority of it, a systematic theology, a reminder to the churches of Rome about what they already knew, mostly, and what maybe needed some clarification. It also has been addressing how those things practically apply and how we are to live our that right theology.

As we enter in to chapter 15, Paul is going to bring the context of what he was saying in Chapter 14 about not quarreling over small differences, over secondary matters, and he is going to make two huge, fundamental, closed handed points.

We will look at one of those this week and one of them fits very well, Thank you Holy Spirit, with the Easter message and we will look at that next, hence the part 1 & part 2.

So, we will read this weeks passage, Romans 15:1-7, and today we will be especially focused on verse 4. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, but please follow along in which ever version you have in your hands. Romans 15:1-7, Paul writes:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Now, we do see that Paul connects the themes of Chapter 14 with what he is saying here in chapter 15. And what happens is that he makes two major points here and uses the themes we have looked at recently to make them. First, the biggest subject he is addressing here is actually what we will look at next week during our Easter Celebration and that is Who Jesus is; Very Man and Very God. Like I said, that’s what we are going to be looking at next week.

This week, I want to focus on what Paul says in verse 4, and that points that flow from that. He says about scriptures that, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The scriptures, in Paul’s specific context, meaning the Hebrew scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, but, as we are going to see here today, also including the New testament. The scriptures are inspired by God, they are inerrant, without error. They are complete. They are sufficient and they are unchanging, unbending, timeless, Truth.

The doctrines of the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. One might ask why these things are important. The answer is that these are not just important, but they are vital to Christianity. I make the case that these are some of the closed handed issues that we have been talking about. To not believe in these two truths, essentially, any hope we can have in the truthfulness of what is says and takes a jack hammer to the foundation upon which our faith is built.

Paul wrote to Timothy and say this about the scriptures, in 2 Timothy 3:15-17:

from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

We see first, in verse 15 here, that the scriptures, again Paul is referring specifically to the Old Testament, as the New Testament was in the process of being written, but he says that the scriptures were able to make one wise to salvation. And Paul says previously in this letter, Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

And that’s what the scriptures are, the Word of Christ. John writes in the opening chapter of his Gospel, skipping a few asides about John the Baptist:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And then:

 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is God. He is the Word of God. He is the Word of God Incarnate. Every word of scripture is the Word of Christ. Knowing this helps guard the foundations of inerrancy and sufficiency of scriptures. inerrancy means without error. It is God breathed as we just read a moment ago. It is the Word of Christ, perfect in every way. There are no errors or contradictions or anything of the sort. It is unchanging, just as God, as Jesus is unchanging. It is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The author of Hebrews writes that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It is timeless, written in specific historical contexts, but written to all believers, in all times and all places. And that’s part of what makes the Bible sufficient as well. GotQuestions.org describes the sufficiency of scripture in this way:

To say the Scriptures are sufficient means that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service. It provides a clear demonstration of God’s intention to restore the broken relationship between Himself and humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the gift of faith. No other writings are necessary for this good news to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith.

The Bible is all that we need when it comes to hearing from God. It is sufficient. There is no other way that God reveals himself to us in these days. And we know that because the Bible says so. Hebrews 1:1&2:

 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

He has spoken to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. John Owen, historical theologian, makes the famous comment, If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree, they are false. And one Ive shared before as well, Justin Peters, Bible Teacher and Evangelist says, If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud.

God has made the scriptures complete and sufficient so that there is no reason for us to need to search outside the Bible to see God reveal. The Bible is able to makes us wise to salvation and Faith, saving faith, faith alone in Christ alone, comes by hearing the Word of Christ, which is the written word of God, the Bible.

Now, the doctrines pf inerrancy and sufficiency are under huge attacks today, from society without and from churches within.

The attack on the inerrancy of scripture is the easier one to see. It is people, again, both in and out of the church saying that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. It is them saying that the Bible really isn’t the Word of God. Its them saying that what the bible says is sin, really isn’t anymore, or never was. Its them saying that the Bible is a parable or a collection of moral teachings only.

There is even a mega church pastor, well-known son of another well know mega church pastor and tv personality that says that Christians need to “unhitch” from the Old Testament. He says that Christians shouldnt use the Old Testament when talking to non believers, that the Old Testament creates a stumbling block to those who dont yet know Christ.

This is actually a very old heresy. Back in the second century, Marcion was labeled a heretic for his views, namely that the Old Testament held no authority over a believer. He believed that the God of the Old Testament was an inferior god to the God of the New Testament and that jesus was not the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament but the revelation of the New Testament God.

Thats something we might hear often. God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. That directly flies in the face of the scriptures and what they say.

1 Peter 1:10-12:

 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time[a] the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

But we also see so-called Christians coming out and supporting sin, justifying sin and saying that it isn’t sin. Sometimes its individuals, sometimes its whole denominations. Blurring the lines and wholly erasing the distinctions between loving those who don’t know Christ and sharing Christ and his salvation, through what the Word of God says, sharing that he can cleanse us from our sins and relieve us from our unholy passions and instead, supports, affirms and celebrates the sins that the Bible so clearly speaks against.

And that brings us to the attacks on the sufficiency of scripture. That, again is happening both in and out of the church. Connecting what we were just talking about, people claim that the Bible has only a couple of verses that call specific behaviors or actions sin. But, if the Bible is inerrant and sufficient as we know it is, I only needs to be one verse for it to be enough.

Another common argument is that Jesus never said anything about these so-called sins, therefore it must not have been that important. There are numerous reasons to reject this. First and foremost to our point, if there is a verse in the Bible that does speak on it, then Jesus spoke on it. See, again, all the words of the bible are the Words of Jesus Christ, not just the Words written in Red. Dont get me wrong, if you have one of those Bibles, they can be a useful study tool, but don’t let that affect how you see the words that are not written in red, they are the Words of Jesus as well.

And those are the only words that have an authority in our lives as believers in Christ. There are no new revelations. God has given us everything we need, everything he wants us to know. Again, don’t misunderstand, we will progressively see more of what the Bible says and means the more we read it and the longer we are christians and following the Word of God. But there is nothing new being added to what has already been revealed.

Revelation 22:18&19, some of the last words in the bible, Jesus says to John:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Not a lot of vagueness or opportunity for misunderstanding there. And yet, despite that, there are churches today built on the claim by their “pastors” that they are receiving direct revelation from God. The pastors call themselves Apostles, putting them in the same category as Peter, Paul, James and John. They claim to hear directly from God, and of course that means that you can’t point out they are wrong because if you do, you are saying God is wrong, and it doesn’t matter if what they are saying goes against what the Bible says. One of the biggest churches in America that is doing this is just a few hours up the road from us in Reading. Its scary, harmful and umbilical.

So many major bible studies in America, the best sellers in Christian Book Stores, especially the ones geared towards women’s Bible studies, so many claim to hear extra biblical revelation from God. So many of the most popular teachers out there today, don’t rightly teach the Bible, its context or true meaning and instead depend on “God told me…”

Literally the only time you should ever say “God told me…” is if you are quoting the bible. God told me, in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “not to go beyond what is written.” Gods word is sufficient. Remember that it also tells us that we are to test all things against scripture, as the bereans did in Acts. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says that we are test all things. 1 John 4:1 tells us, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” Paul shows us in the first chapter if Galatians that anyone who teaches a false gospel is damned. Whatever word your translation uses, the meaning is damned. Paul also points out that even if an angel shares a false gospel, and we know there are such things as fallen angels, even if an angel shares a false gospel, goes against scripture, they will be damned.

There is a reason that the reformers fought so hard to get the Bible into the hands of the common people. Before that, before men like Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and so many more, risked there lives to translate the Bible and get them in the hands of the everyman, only the priests and certain professional clergy members were allowed to own a Bible or to even read it. The Catholic church at the time restricted who could own or read a Bible.

But Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone, was a vital part of what took place during the 1500s and brought Gospel and Salvation to everyone. Martin Luther was reading the Bible, studying the Word of God, realizing that the religious authorities of the day were not abiding by the Word of God, but instead were doing what they wanted to do.

The Word of God showed the wrong that they were doing. The Word of God shows the right way. We go back and see in our text this morning, reading Romans 15:4, that Paul tells us that the scriptures were written for our encouragement, for instruction and to give us hope.

It gives instruction on how to live, how to be holy and righteous, restoring a broken relationship with God. It gives us hope, showing us that God gave us his Son, sent Jesus to not only be an example, as we see here, but to be a sacrifice, an atoning sacrifice, atoning for our sins, forgiving our sins, taking the penalty for our sins, and in exchange, giving those who are believers in Christ alone, his very own righteousness, bringing us into right relationship with Christ.

And scripture gives us encouragement. To repent of our sins. To trust in Christ and his work in the cross. To live our lives for the glory of God. To follow the commands of Christ, loving God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and loving our neighbor as ourself.

These things we learn through studying scriptures. Do we have any historians here? When you study a figure in history, what are the best sources to learn about the figure? Biographies and the people who have study about and learned the figure? They are helpful and you can learn about them for sure, but even better? Read and study the actual words of the person you are studying.

That holds doubly true with God. Study the Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The King James Bibles says in 2 Timothy 2:15, Study to show thyself approved. There are so many false gospels, false teachers, false doctrines out there and inside churches as well, it is only by studying the we can truly know the Truth.

Again, from GotQuestions, But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is all we need to hear and the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.

I want to leave you with the words of Martin Luther. As we look at the importance, inerrancy, sufficiency and primacy of scripture, Martin Luther was called before the Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms in 1521, to essentially recant his Bible focused teaching in favor of the churches traditions and structures. To the council assembled he stands as says:

Since your most serene majesty and your lordships require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen

Romans 14:10-23 Persueing Christs Rightouessness above all

Romans 14:10-23
pursuing Christs Peace and Righteousness

Good Morning Everyone! Lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and, if you would, turn with me over to Romans chapter 14. As always, if you do not have or own a Bible, please grab one of our back table as our gift to you.
So, its been a few weeks since Ive been up here and since we have been in Romans. And so, as we jump into this weeks text, we will give a little review as well.The biggest thing in this weeks text is that it continues to make the same points we look at last time, in verses 1-9. But in that same message, the same thread and examples that run through verses 10-23, we see three big points come to the surface. Those three things are what we are going to be focusing on this morning.
But we need tor review what Paul talked about in the previous 9 verses because that is the thread that pulls these three points together. Paul addressed a few issues in the last passage we looked at. He made the point not to quarrel over disputed matters, of matters of opinions. We looked at the difference in open-handed and closed handed issues. Closed handed issues being the Gospel issues, the ones that are required and necessary for us to be saved, for us to be Christians. These are the issues the will move us from the goats on the left to the sheep on the right. And Paul talked about the differences in opinions that some have, the difference between God-given law and personal conviction.
The three examples Paul gave with these points, obviously three issues that were plaguing the early church, especially in Rome. These three issues were whether certain foods could be eaten or if all foods were clean, it was the Sabbath Day, and it was in regards to whether we were still supposed to be celebrating the Jewish Old testament Festivals.
Again, that them continues through the rest of the chapter, but it is used to make three bigger points that we will focus on this morning. Lets go ahead and read this morning’s text, reading romans 14:10-23. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in whichever translation you have in your hands. Romans 14:10-23, Paul writes:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
So, as we read that section of Romans 14, the three main points we are going to look at this morning are found in verses 10-12, verses 17-19 and then verse 23. Starting in the first section, verses 10-12, we see Paul appealing to a bigger view of God and judgment than just looking at these food and drink. We see him addressing why we should make sure not to get bogged down in these quarrels and disputes.
Essentially, if we are to go down the road of making these open-handed issues in to more important, close handed issues, than we are making a judgment of salvation on the souls of those who take part in the quarrels. If we make them close handed issues, then, using the examples Paul gave in this chapter, we say that if someone refrains from eating a certain food, or worships on a different day that we do or decides differently about celebrating the festivals, we end up saying that we are saved and righteousness and they are not.
Paul and the rest of scriptures are clear; We do not get to say that about others. We can make an assumption, we can even make judgments based on the fruit we do or do not see. But we do not get to say, specifically based on this context, the open-handed issues, you are not saved because you think differently than I do.
In most cases, we are not able to know or see someones eternal destination. There is of course, a spectrum on which some of these issues lie, and some open-handed issues are mighty close to being close handed issues, or can look like close handed issues, especially if we take grace out of the picture.
Think about sin for a moment. First, think of the worst behavioral sin you can think of. Most likely, it’s not a sin that you struggle with. That sin is very likely a close handed issue in your mind and you could make a biblical argument that it is a closed handed issue in Gods eyes as well. Now, think of the behavioral sin that you struggle with the most. In your eyes, “yeah, of course its sin, of course its bad, but it’s not as bad as the sin I can’t stand and God is good and just to forgive and he has poured out mercy on us through Jesus Christ.” Just not for that sin over there… we may not say that out loud, but that’s the thought process and the mindset that we often have.
Pauls point here is that, no matter our sins, no matter our opinions on these issues, we will all stand before the good and perfect, almighty, eternal judge at the appointed time. This is not to say that confronting sin and fighting against sin is not important and we are called to lovingly confront our fellow brothers and sisters when they are sinning. Instead the point is that I they do something different from us, its not necessarily sin.
And the point is that we should be focused on making sure that we are right before God before we turn and look at where other people are before God.
Jesus makes this same point numerous times in numerous ways, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 7, the first two words of which have probably exceed Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16 as the most well-known words in the Bible. Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus tells us:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye
As Paul is saying here, each and every one of us will stand before God in judgement for ourselves. We are not fully responsible for each others faith. We are responsible for our own faith. This is in the same way that one does not become a christian just by being born to a Christian family. Those kids grow up in a Christian home, they often believe the bible stories, they go to church and are often involved in church, but at some point their faith needs move from being their parents faith to becoming their own faith. At some point they are responsible for putting their faith in Christ and repenting of their sins. We cant make them. We are responsible for teaching, for setting examples, for a lot of the peripheral aspects of them coming to faith, but they have to come to faith on their own.
The same goes for each of us. We are not responsible for each others faith. Our faith is our own. And our actions are our own. No one else is responsible for our sins. We will all individually stand before God in the last judgment day and give an account for our actions. Paul and the rest of scriptures is clear that every knee shall bow before God and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as LORD.
The question is if we bow our knee and confess with our tongue before its too late. We only get one life and one chance. Every one will bow, but to great sadness, many will bow their knee after its too late. If we do not bow our knees know, God ensures and promises that all will acknowledge and know who God is and what his rightful place in the universe is.
But Paul points out that, despite us being only responsible for our own actions and sins, as a church family, as Christians called to be Holy, we need to be aware of how our words, our actions and our attitudes affect those around us.
And for us to be aware of our own sins, we need to know that how we affect those around us, if we are negatively impacted or affecting those around us, for us that is sin. James says in his letter, 4:17, So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
And the right thing to do is to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Love them by determining not to put a stumbling block or a hinderance in the way of a brother. Love them by remembering how our actions, thoughts and attitudes affect each other. We love each other by putting aside our liberties in order to build up others. R.L Whiteside says, “A man should never insist on exercising his rights or liberties if harm comes from doing so.”
Paul talks about the Kingdom of God, where our focus is supposed to be and how that applies to this all. Verses 17-19:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Those open-handed issues, those disputable matters, those things, they don’t matter in the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of God. Eating, drinking, days of the week, whatever else you put into these categories, they wont matter when we are in the presence of the LORD.
Instead, what will matter? What will be important in Gods Kingdom? Thinks like righteousness, Joy & Peace in the Holy Spirit. Serving Christ. pursuing peace and the mutual upbuilding. As Paul also mentions in Ephesians 4, the mutual edification, the building up of the body of Saints.
The focus in the Kingdom of God will be God himself. It will be praising and worshipping him, tongues from every tribe, people in nation singing together as we gather around the throne to lift a joyful noise to our true king.
I always love the last verse of Amazing Grace, When We’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing his praise, than when we first begun.
We have some description and some aspects told to us today, through Gods Word in the bible about what that time will look like, but the truth of the matter is, we cannot fathom what heaven will be like. What we can rest assure of is that it will be the fulfillment of all that we were created for. The Westminster Catechism asks, What is the chief end of Man? What is outr purpose? Why are we here? Those esoteric, philosophical questions that is in our nature to ask. The answer is quite simple. To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Paul continues in the next few verses, essentially saying, Dont throw all that away for these differences. Remember, Paul is not even saying “Dont have these differences.” But he is saying is that they are much less important that Christ, whom we should always keep our eyes squarely fixed on.
Christ is the thing to remember in all of this. He is the LORD of both the Living and the Dead. He is to whom every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. He is the one who is sitting at the right hand of God the father and he is the one whom we sing and give all praises to.
He is the one who ended the old covenant and ushered in the new covenant. He is the one who breaks us free from the chains of sins and sets us free indeed. It is only through him that we can know God the Father. And it is only through him, us knowing him in this life, before it’s too late that will make us declared righteous and acceptable to God, adopted into his family as children, co-heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
This, the work of Jesus Christ, his work on the cross. His death and his resurrection. The forgiveness of sins, given by the grace of God alone, accepted through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, as revealed in the scriptures, His Word, the Holy bible alone. And all of it done to the glory of God alone. It makes anything else seem secondary, which it is.
Now, again, that doesnt mean that they are unimportant. Live by your convictions. Every thing is indeed clean. But we all have our personal convictions in certain areas. Eat meat, don’t eat meat. Worship on Sundays, on Saturdays, on Wednesdays, on whenever. Read whatever Bible translation you want. Attend whatever church you want, within the confines that they preach and teach the bible. Serve how and where in the church you can and want. Be a blessing.
All those things are secondary to Christ and him crucified. But if you have a conviction, follow it. If you are convicted not to eat a certain food, dont eat it. No matter that is allowed in general or whoever else is eating it. If you are convicted to go to a certain church, go there, or to avoid a certain church, find another. And if you do not share that same conviction, who cares? Do not get in the way of those who do.
The last line in the chapter is Important, I think. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Basically, just because it’s allowed in scripture, if it feels wrong to you, if you have a conviction, then if you do it, its sin. It goes back to what I quoted from James earlier and it also reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:23, where Paul writes: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
But again, even in that section of 1 Corinthians, Paul brings it back around to whats important. Same book, same chapter, just a few verses later, verse 31, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
We live for God and we live to bring him glory. We bring him glory by obeying him. One of the ways we obey, every first Sunday of the month is we celebrate communion,
We remember and we celebrate what unites us and brings us together. The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we come together to celebrate that unity. To pursue that unity by remembering. We remember and celebrate Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.
We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.
Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Opening day

With baseball (FINALLY!!!!) back, I thought I would share some wonderful quotes and a video at the end that gives me goose bumps every time I watch it. Do you have any great quotes to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you.- Roy Campanella

 

 

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977

 

 

You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. ~Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970

 

“Character, Courage, Loyalty.”

Little League Motto

 

 

One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something- Nolan Ryan

 

Don’t tell me about the world. Not today. It’s springtime and they’re knocking baseball around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball. ~Pete Hamill

 

That’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. ~Bill Veeck, 1976

 

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~Rogers Hornsby

 

Baseball is beautiful….the supreme performing art. It combines in perfect harmony the magnificent features of ballet, drama, art, and ingenuity.-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn

 

 

Welcome Back Baseball

 

 

Throwback Sermon: Romans 1:8-15 Mutual Encouragment