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.