1 Timothy 1:18-20 Life in the Local Church: Continue in Faithfulness

1 Timothy 1:18-20
Life in the Local Church
Continue in Faithfulness

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy, chapter 1. We are going to pick back up in our series today, going through 1 & 2 Timothy, called Life in the Local Church. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or do not own a Bible, please grab on from the back table. We would love the Word of God to be our gift to you.
Now, its been a few weeks since we have been in this series and so we need to do a brief review before diving into todays text. Paul is writing to Timothy, who is the Pastor at the early church in Ephesus. Timothy is personally, very close to Paul, with Paul referring to him several times as a son to him.
Paul is writing to Timothy because there have been some issues and some teachers that have gained a foothold in the Ephesian church that need to be dealt with. The biggest issue we see that has been mentioned by Paul is that False teachers are False teaching a False Gospel. And there is no room for that in the church, of whom Christ is the head. Christ, who is revealed in Scripture, whose Gospel is revealed in Scriptures, not through the smooth words of people who look and sound good.
Paul is both encouraging Timothy and challenging him to do what needs to be done. And he is actually going to name names of two men who have been causing confusion and discord amongst the church.
So, with all that being said, lets go ahead and look at this morning’s text. Ill be reading 1 Timothy 1:18-20, and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please follow along in your preferred translation that you have in your hands. 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verses 18-20. Paul, inspired by God, writing the holy and inerrant scriptures, writes:
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

All right, so Paul here is returning to his train of thought from earlier in the letter, back in verses 3-7. Timothy, do what you have been called to do. Do what has been entrusted to you. We know that with great power comes great responsibilities. And with great responsibility can come great rewards.
Paul has shown Timothy that God has entrusted him with great responsibility. Timothy is responsible to and charged to protect the flock at Ephesus, to protect the truth from the attacks of the enemy. He is to refute false teachings and teachers with the plain, pure, simple truth of the true Gospel.
One of the things we see about Timothy, if we study his life as recorded in the Bible, is that Timothy has a timid streak. He is not the loudest, surest, most take charge kind of guy. In that, a lot of the encouragement and challenges that Paul gives to Timothy, hit very close to home for me. Timothy does not always seem to be entirely sure of his ability to do the things that he needs to do to fulfill his responsibility.
And so, Paul reminds Timothy that God has called him to do this job. When God calls you to do something, he will equip you to accomplish exactly what He has called you to accomplish. This does not always mean that we will be successful at the task laid before us. We are not always called to be successful. We are called to be faithful and to do what God has said. In that, He will equip us as we need it.
As an example, I am called to shepherd the flock here at Bangor Community Church. I am also called to be a missionary to the community in and around Bangor, Ca. I may or may not be called to grow this church numerically. I may or may not be called to do many baptisms or to see firsthand many people come to faith. The results of my faithfulness are in Gods hands. I’m not responsible for that. I am responsible to Preach the Word and Love the People.
And guess what? That’s what God has equipped me to do. And what he has called you to do, he will equip you for exactly that task and the outcome that he has determined. And with that faithfulness comes great reward.
In this I am reminded of the parable of the talents. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that he entrusts each of us with different things, different tasks, different amounts. We are not responsible for each other’s talents. Talent was a unit of money, or gold back then. It works for material goods, for talents as we know them today, for anything because the idea is our level of faithfulness transcends it all. I am not responsible for your talents and how you use them. I am, to a point responsible for Hopes and the kids and how they use them. But I am primarily responsible for my own talents.
You are not responsible for my talents and how I use them. You are not responsible for each other’s talents, with your kids and your spouses being partial exceptions. We are responsible for helping to encourage, exhort and equip each other, as a body of Christ, as Paul shares in Ephesians 4. But you will not stand before God and must give an answer or an account for why I did or did not use my talents faithfully. You will stand and give an account regarding how you used your own talents.
In the parable, three men were given different amounts of money to take care of while their master was gone. One of them, given the most, was very faithful and got a return on his good works, he bore much fruit because of his faithfulness. The second was given a middle amount and was faithful to what he was given and he bore some fruit from his faithfulness. The last man was given a small amount and he was not faithful, bearing zero fruit. The first two were rewarded because of their faithfulness and the third was rebuked because of his lack of faithfulness.
God called those men to be faithful with what they were given, and he gave them the ability to be carry that out. Did the second man bear as much fruit as the first? No, but he wasn’t called to. He was still successful in carrying out what God had called them to.
So, the leads us to looking at, what was Timothy called to by God here in Ephesus? First, Timothy knew what he was called to because Paul and many elders laid hands on him, prayed over him and for him and prophesied over him. We see an example of this happen at the beginning of Acts chapter 13, with Paul and Barnabas. We will get more into prayer over the next couple of weeks but that is something we are still called to do. To pray over each other and to pray for each other. And there is something that happens, something that makes it much more personal and meaningful to both the person doing the praying and the person being prayed over.
But we also know that the prophetic offices have been closed. Gods Word has been fully revealed and there is no more extra biblical, special revelation. We need to remember to discern and see when to read the scriptures as descriptive, relaying that this is what happened, and when to read prescriptive, saying this is what we are supposed to do.
But at this point, in part because of the prayer and prophecy put onto Timothy, he was clear in his mission and his call. He is to fight the good fight. He is to wage good warfare. He is to fight against what Paul has already been writing about in this letter.
Timothy is to wage war against False Teaching in the church. He is to wage war against the False Teachers who are doing the false teaching. He is to wage war against the enemy’s scheme to destroy the witness and the mission of the Church. He was to wage war against the lies and the corruption and the sin that come along with all those things.
And Timothy is to also go the other route as well. He is to fight for Gods Truth. That’s Truth with a capitol T. The only actual truth there is. The Truth that all other claims are to be tested against. Timothy is to fight for Gods holiness, something we, as a Christian community in 21 century America don’t fully understand or grasp. He is to fight for the purity and sufficiency of the Gospel. And he is to fight for Gods righteousness, because we have none of our own and can only receive Christs perfect righteousness trough the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is also what, in general terms, we are all called to do as well, in our lives, in our family, in our circle of friends and in our church. And it isn’t easy, and it takes an incredible amount of discernment.
Because this is one area where we must be careful. And we are going to use False Teaching as an example here. Not all False Teaching is heresy. One definition I like says this: “Heresy is a false teaching about the essential doctrines of our faith – the ones we must adhere to, regarding who God is, who Jesus is, salvation by grace, and Jesus’ resurrection.”
And so, False teaching about the non-essential issues is not heresy. It still needs to be confronted and dealt with, but we need to be careful about what words we throw around when we do indeed confront it.
Also, not all teaching that reads the text differently is false teaching. For example, we look at the various views on the end times. What did Jesus teach? Well, his speaking of the end times are summed up in be ready for it and nobody knows the time when it will come.
And yet the church today has three very different views about when Jesus will return and each of these three will influence how you read scriptures and are influenced by how you read scriptures. Now, in the end, two of those three will end up being wrong. But you can teach each one of them from a biblical standpoint and therefore, they are not, by definition, false teachings.
They are opinions and preferences that we believe. And we can hold them tightly even. But they are secondary issues that we should not divide over. I love Village Missions Statement of Faith on this subject. It reads, and I forget the exact wording, but it reads, We believe that Jesus Christ will one day, physically return. Done. That’s what we unite over in this subject. If we deny that part, that Jesus will physically return, then we get into heresy area. But if we disagree on whether we are pre, post or amillenial in Christs return, we simply read the text differently.
Some of these things that we differ on, they are differences of opinion. They are our interpretation. They are our preconceived notions and preconceived views, of which we all have. Some of these things, as I have said, we can still be united together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, despite those differing views. Some of these things you can see or think differently than I do and I can still that you have a genuine and pure faith. And it is that genuine and pure faith that Timothy and all of us are called to defend and to protect.
So we also look at what the Bible says is the faith that we hold in a good conscience. Of course there is John 3:16, maybe is, and definitely used to be the single most well know bible verse in the world. John writes: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. And I also like what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-8:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
That is what we cling to. This is what we hold tight to. And this is what, if we reject it, we make what Paul calls here, a shipwreck of our faith. Those who reject the faith, those who reject the Gospel, also those who claim to believe the Gospel but reject those closed handed Gospel issues, they are not just rejecting salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But they are also rejecting unity. They are rejecting the Gospel, despite what they claim. They are rejecting the true Biblical God and the true biblical Jesus.
And when you have rejected these things, you have rejected the faith. Paul names two men who have been in the church and have fallen into this category of False teachers, rejecting the core tenets of the faith and teaching heresy. Alexander and Hymanaeus are specifically named as having been dealt with and have been handed over to Satan.
Now, we can not just take that verse and start doing whatever we want with it. We need to be really careful with what we take from it and how we apply it to today.
When we separate from people, we do so after having tried everything we could do on our end for repentance and reconciliation. We see Matthew 18 as the go to text about how to treat issues like this. We separate only after much prayer. We separate only after much effort. We do so only after every other option has been exhausted.
And we do so for what purpose? As shown here and in 1 Corinthians 5:5, We separate from others, we remove them from the church only as a last resort, in order to bring them to repentance. We do so in order to, ideally bring them back into the fellowship of the saints and bring them back into the body of believers.
In this instance, if Alexander and/or Hymanaeus were to repent of their false teaching and they were to accept the full, clear, simple, true gospel, Paul would welcome them back into the church with open arms.
Now, we don’t know what exactly they were teaching that fell into the category of false teaching, though we could make fair guesses based on what Paul has already written in this letter. But we do know that Paul says they are guilty of blaspheming God.
Here is one definition of blasphemy: To blaspheme is to speak with contempt about God or to be defiantly irreverent. Blasphemy is verbal or written reproach of God’s name, character, work, or attributes.
Does that help any of you? Practically it was not very much help for me. So, I will describe blasphemy in this way and this is not specific or entirely complete, but it helps me practically. Blasphemy is giving Gods attributes and identity to someone or something else. Giving credit for Gods Works to someone or something who is not God. It is giving to God lesser attributes or taking away from Gods true identity.
Cause here’s the thing. God and God alone has the right to determine who he is. God and God alone has the right to what his identity is. He is God. He has revealed who he is in his revealed word, the Bible that you have right in front of you. God is the creator and the author of all things. He is the almighty and he is a jealous God. And all of creation was made to give glory to God. So, if we give the glory that is rightly due to God, to anything else, we are blaspheming God. Let’s not do that.
See what God himself says in his word. Believe in his Gospel, that Jesus his son, died for our sins and rose from the dead to full achieve the forgiveness of our sins. That forgiveness and eternal life with God, available by Grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
So, we continue to do what has been entrusted to us. Fight against the false teachings and sin that has corrupted this world. We stand up for and fight for the Truth and holiness of God and we trust both the results of our fight and our salvation to God and God alone.
Let’s 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 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.

Romans 12:3-8 Gods Gifts of Grace

Romans 12:3-8

Gifts of God’s Grace

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and open them to Romans chapter 12. If you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to a Bible from the back table there as our gift to you. One of our convictions here at Bangor Community Church is to get the Bible , Gods Word in to as many hands as possible.

Romans chapter 12 marks a change in tone, a change in direction of what Paul is writing in this letter. He has focused, mostly, in the first 11 chapters on why we need saving, (All have sinned, Romans 3:23), who does the saving, (Christ alone, Romans 6:23) and how we are saved, (by grace through faith, through the hearing of the Word, Romans 10:17). Now Paul shifts a bit and focuses on what we do, how we act and how we live AFTER we are saved.

I was talking to a friend this week. He was struggling with something and he asked me for some scripture. I recommended a portion of this beginning section in Romans chapter 12. He read it and made me so proud when we wrote this back to me. He said: “But then, because context, I read all of Romans 12, and that is like a step action plan for being a good Christian.” Ahhh, context. And he is right of course.

For the most part, the rest of Paul’s letter to the Romans is the practical, everyday living, how to guide for living a Christian life. But its important to remember the context as well, both immediate and big picture. As we get ready to look at Romans 12:3-8, I’m going to read it with verses 1& 2 as well, because its important to remember the immediacy of what Paul is writing. No scripture exists in a vacuum.

So without further ado, lets read the text this morning. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version, Romans 12, and reading verses 1-8. Paul writes:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Paul lays out a lot here, but real quick, I want to emphasis that Paul doesn’t just put his letters into two parts; Theology and Application. Instead, He puts them in that order on purpose. Because one flows from another. Paul is saying that the Christian life is dependent on the great Christian doctrines.” (Morris) A changed heart, changed from stone to flesh by the Holy Spirit is the only way that we can do the things that Paul is telling us about.

John the Baptist told his followers in John 3:27, A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” Paul was quite clear earlier in Romans that this included our changed heart. This includes the renewal by the transforming of our mind mentioned in v 2. Paul is showing us in verse 3 that his entire ministry, but in and of itself, but also because of the change that had to occur in him, his entire ministry is due to Gods grace. And from that, all that he is going to be talking about going forward is due fully and solely to Gods grace.

Paul’s words to us in this letter and his others that we have collected in the Bible are given to us by the grace of God; inspired, inerrant and sufficient. And it its interesting to me that we start this section, by guidance from the Holy Spirit, where Paul, by guidance from the Holy Spirit, talks about the practical how to, he talks about things that we either should already be doing or need to start doing and we come upon this at the beginning of a new year when many people are trying to reset, where many people make resolutions, where we are focused on what we can do better in 2019 than we did in 2018.

And Paul starts that off with looking to God, his grace and his mercy. From that, he challenges us and the first one is pretty difficult. V 3, he writes to each of us, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

The focus here is that none of us are better than any of the others. Thats hard to admit sometimes. None of us are better than those sitting around us. None of us are better than those who are not here. Especially in the context of what Paul has established. We didnt and can’t do anything to merit, to warrant or to get Gods grace and mercy.

Paul established early on in chapter 1 (18-32) of Romans, what our natural sinful condition is without Christ. In chapter 2, (v 11) he says, God shows no partiality. Chapter 3 (v23) he makes it clear that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And as we have seen emphasized over the last couple of chapters, we also see that no matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter your sins, your previous lifestyle, your ethnicity, your race, your social and economic standing, that all who repent and believe the Gospel are welcomed and adopted into Gods Family.

We also see Paul writing to the Ephesians (2:1-10) that one of the points of grace and salvation being a free gift is so that no one may boast, or using the language here in Romans, the point is so that we may not think too highly of ourselves.

And so, don’t think too highly of your self. Look with sober judgment. Think with clear thought. You are no better than I. You are no better than the person sitting next to you. You are no better than the person sitting at a bar right now, or a strip club, or even one working in them. Neither am I. I’m not better than anyone. I don’t deserve anything that God has gifted me with and none of the rest of us do either. We have all sinned, all committed cosmic treason against the universal, all-knowing, all-powerful, Holy God. None of us deserve anything other than eternity of Gods wrath being poured out on us.

But that’s not the only side to this. But think with sober judgment. What else does the Bible say about you. You are an image bearer of God. (Gen 1:27) There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1) You are a forgiven sinner (1 John 1:9) You are an adopted son (or daughter) of God (Galatians 2:26). You are being conformed in to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). You are a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2) and God loved you enough that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16).

So we think with sober judgment. We are no better than each other. Do not think of yourself as higher than you ought. And to back this up and to give a practical example, Paul start talking about some of the gifts in the church. And remember, he is talking about these gifts and the body of Christ in the context of humility and thinking soberly.

There is one body of Christ. That is the Church. There are many members of that body. Each and every one of us individually who are in Christ. There is one body and many body parts, each with various and different gifts and purposes. We are different. We are not uniform. We are not Stepford. We are not all the same. Even in this room, how many different spiritual and religious backgrounds? How many different ethnicities within our blood? How many different careers and economic background and situations?

We are not all the same. God likes diversity. He is a creative God. But though we are all different in just about every way possible. We are all one under the cross of Jesus Christ. We are all different members of this one body. We are all vital to the cause of a mission of the body. None of us earned our spot, but we were all chosen, and all for different reasons and purposes.

And Paul says  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. We have a responsibility to each other. We have a responsibility to use the gifts we have. We have a responsibility to serve the church and each other. We have a responsibility not to do what someone else is gifted in and we are not. We have a responsibility to show grace to each other just as God showed grace to us.

John Wesley said that “Gifts are many, grace is one.” And the gifts that we are given and have a responsibility to use are given for the purpose of helping the body of Christ, the Church, helping it function the way God desires. And they are given and are to be used, not to promote ourselves, because again, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:3, Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Using whatever gifts we were given by God is one of the ways that we can show love to each other and how we can show love to God. AS I was preparing this sermon, it dawned on me that the 5 Love Languages might be a good analogy here. DO you know what those are?

It was from a gentleman named Gary Chapman and he wrote a book, appropriately named, The 5 Love Languages. And what it is, essentially is that each of us naturally show love to those around us in certain ways. We tend to do it in one of the 5 ways. These 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Service, Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Each of us is stronger at showing love to others in one of those ways. But that’s not always the same way that you receive love the best. If you, for example, receive love, if you feel loved if someone spends quality time with you, but someone else, shows love the best by giving words of affirmation, then you both need to work on that.

These things are extremely helpful if you are able to recognize which ways you show love and receive love. And it’s also helpful to get to know those around you enough to know how they show and receive love.

God has given us gifts to use to show love to each other and to God Himself. We show love to God by obeying his commands and following what he tells us. (1 John 5:3) And so, we show our love to God, in one way, by using our gifts that he gave and using them for the purposes that he gave them to us for.

And we use our gifts to love each other around us as well. And in so doing, we need to be sober-minded and clear thinking about not only our own gifts, but on what each others gifts both are and are not.

We have to be careful not to assign to much to certain people. We have to be careful not to assume that some have a certain gifting because they have another gifting. Our human brains like to catalog and categorize what we see as similar things and put them together. Lets use preaching and teaching as an example. In our human minds, those are tied together. If you have one, you will have the other. And often, if you have the gift of preaching, you will also have the gift of teaching. But not always, and not necessarily so. We have to be careful not to assume because one has one gift, that they automatically have another that is closely related. If we make those assumptions and we are wrong, we fail to love that person and we put them, not in a position to do good for God and the Body of Christ, but they will actually do harm. Be sober-minded about your own gifts and about the gifts of those around us as well.

But the other thing that we see Paul saying here, in some of his language, is that, while we are to be sober-minded about our gifts, we should grab hold of them and embrace them, dive in whole heartedly.

Generosity, Zeal, Cheerfulness. According to your faith. Now, I don’t think that term is in reference to the amount of faith that you have, as it can be read. It’s possible it could refer to the ever-growing, deepening of our faith, our continual growth whereby we grow from infants feeding on milk and we mature to feeding on meat. Thats possible, but I think it refers to just our faith. Use your gift according to you faith. If you have faith, then use the gift God gave you in his grace and mercy. If you believe, use your gifts. Thats how I read that phrase.

And we see too, that using our gifts is, in fact, one of the ways that we present ourselves as living sacrifices (12:2) We live out his will for us. This is his perfect will.

And that takes discerning, both figuring out our gifts and how to use them and figuring our Gods Will. But his will is that we figure it out and we use them.

I want you to notice that this list of gifts here are not an exhaustive list. There are numerous lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament and none of them are exhaustive. They, just like all the rest of scripture need to be looked at in context.

Paul is laying out how we work and live together in humility, in love and in unity. And he tells us to do it all the way. The principle he is laying out here is the same as he mentions in 2 Corinthians, that God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

How you discern your gifts, how you discern how to use them, what attitude and personality you use them with, these are marks of spiritual growth and of sanctification. The point of this passage here, what Paul is writing, is not to make you ask what your spiritual gift is, though that is something that you need to be considering.

The point of this passage, instead is to pursue love, humility and unity. The point of this passage is serve others and to serve the church. The point of this passage is to serve God, with all your soul strength and mind (Luke 10:27).

It is with those motivations, those desires, it is by doing that that God will reveal your gifts and that you will find what it is that God has given you. You may or may not consciously realize what they are. Sooner or later, growing in Christ and growing in sanctification, whether you realize it or not, you will be using your gifts.

You may not know what your gifts are and still might be already using them. There was one lady I knew, she was constantly worried because she didn’t know what her gifting was. She was worried that she was not doing what God had for her. She was worried she wasnt obeying God. But she was. She was serving the church and she was decorating, she was crafting, she was making gifts, organizing the potlucks. She contributed in generosity and she served according to the faith God graced her with. You may not now what your gifts are, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t already serving in the way that God has called you.

Hers the bottom line in what Paul is writing here. Give your all to God. Serve him and his church in what ever way you can. It is your spiritual worship. Do it for the right reasons. Do it for God, giving yourself as a living sacrifice. Do it with humility and compassion, with a transformed mind. Try different methods of service, different areas. Not all will pan out, but it will help discern the will of God for you. And lastly, remember, always and foremost;

It’s all given by God, by the grace of God, by the mercies of God. It’s all from him. Not one of us, not one of our gifts are above another. And we do all that we do in pursuance of love and unity.

The thing that unites us together is the cross of Jesus Christ. Today we come together to celebrate that unity. To pursue 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 11 All Gods People are One

Editor’s Note: This week did not get a chance to get spell checked. WordPress changed some things in regards to how type up your post and I haven’t had time to fool around with it and find the spell check button. Please forgive the spelling errors. Thank you

Romans11:1-32

Good morning! Please turn with me in your bibles to
Romans chapter 11. And this week we return through our series going
through the book of Romans, Pauls letter to the churches in Rome. If
you do not have a Bible, please help yourself to one from our back
table as our gift to you.

As I have been reading through Romans as a whole and
chapter 11 specifically, one of the things that jumps out to me is
the reminder that It is not just the single verses or small passages
of scripture that need to be taken in context. But longer passages
including entire chapters, when we read them, we need to make sure
that we are looking at those passages in the context of what the
author, both human and divine, is writing.

Remember that Paul did not write this letter with verse
numbers or with Chapter breaks. He wrote this as a letter. It is a
flow of thought. Romans especially is systematic and organized and
there are parts where he changes the directions of his thought
process, but he wrote it as a letter and we have to remember that as
we read it.

So, we need to remember that, as we read Romans 11,
that it is not divoreced from what Paul was writing in chapters 9 &
10, and its also not divorced from the previous 8 chapters before
that. And especially the last few chapters, but a main theme
throughout this letter has to have an impact on how we read this
chapter.

Paul
starts off in Romans chapter 1, verse 16 talking about this main
theme, saying: 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.

The
Gospel and only the Gospel brings salvation. And the Gospel is
available to all, Jews first, but now to the Gentiles as well. Thats
you and me.

And
There is no distinction now between us. We see in Romans 3, verses
22-24:  the
righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who
believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his
grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

All
have sinned. None are worthy. All who come to Christ and bear His
righteousness thorough the grace of God, given through our faith in
Christ, All who do that are justified, or declare righteous. No
matter who, no matter what, no matter your background, ethnicity,
your sins. All.

Justlast chapter, chapter 10, Paul again, remphasises this, writing inverse 11-13:  Forthe Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be putto shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew andGreek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on allwho call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of theLord will be saved.” Andthen in verse 17, faithcomes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

And
so, it was with that contextual background that Paul dives in and
writes Chapter 11. I wanted to break this chapter chapter up a bit.
Its a long chapter. I even gave Dave the verses and was going to stop
with v 24, but the closer we got to Sunday morning, the more I felt
it needed to be read in its entirety, partly for the reasons I
already mentioned, the need for full context. So, we will see if we
teach through the whole chapter, but I am going to read Romans
Chapter 11, and I am writing out of the English Standard Version.
Please, if you have your Bible follow along in yours, whatever
version that may be.

Paul
writes:

I
ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am
an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,[
a]
a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his
people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of
Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they
have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I
alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God’s
reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have
not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time
there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it
is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer
be grace.

7 What
then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained
it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,

God
gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that
would not see
    and ears that would not
hear,
down to this very day.”

9 And
David says,

Let
their table become a snare and a trap,
    a
stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes
be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and
bend their backs forever.”

11 So
I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!
Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so
as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches
for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles,
how much more will their full inclusion[
b]
mean!

13 Now
I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to
the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make
my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if
their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will
their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough
offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root
is holy, so are the branches.

17 But
if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild
olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the
nourishing root[
c]
of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If
you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root
that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken
off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were
broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through
faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not
spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note
then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who
have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his
kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they,
if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for
God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut
from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to
nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the
natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

25 Lest
you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of
this mystery, brothers:[
d]
a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the
Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be
saved, as it is written,

The
Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will
banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my
covenant with them
    when I take away their
sins.”

28 As
regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards
election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For
the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as
you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy
because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been
disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may
now[
e]
receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience,
that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh,
the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For
who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who
has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to
him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For
from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory
forever. Amen.

So
there are a few things that Paul touches on in here but there is one
main, unifying theme in what Paul writes here, in language that lends
itself to confusion and is often misunderstood, he says in verse 26,
In
this way, All Israel will be saved.”

And
that right there is why we need to take things in the whole of
context. The context of the chapter, the context of the letter, the
context of the other letters of Paul, the entire Bible.

In
this way, All Israel will be saved. Which begs the question, who is
Israel that Paul is referring to here? And essentially, historically,
there have been three main opinions on this.

Before
sharing what these three options are, I want to reitterate something
I said at the beginning of us going through Romans chapter 9.

This
is a chapter that many people see different sides of various
theological fences and dont often see how the other sides can come to
their conclusion. In that regard, this is a worrisome chapter to
preach through. I may, as we go through this chapter, I may upset
some of you. I may teach or preach what I see as the plain meaning of
the text and it may go against what you see and believe as the plain
meaning to the text. Here’s the thing, that’s ok.

I’m
not going to not preach and teach what the Bible says in fear of
upsetting some of you. And I hope you aren’t going to just take what
I say from up here as Gospel without pouring over the scriptures
yourself. There are things in the Bible that we can disagree on.

Wherever
you end up after going through Romans11, the one thing I ask is that
you read in context. Remember the context and recognize your own
presuppositions, which we all have. Thats all I ask.

So,
Who is Israel that Paul refers to here? Who is Israel, whom all will
be saved? The three historic options boil down to this. First, Paul
is referring to all ethnic Jews, all the physical seed of Jacob, also
known as Israel. And yet, just a few chapters previously, in Romans
9:6-8: For
not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

7 and
not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but
“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

8 This
means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children
of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

This
shows that the term Israel can mean something other than the Ethnic,
physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Option Number 2 is
that Israel refers to the physical nation or country-state of Israel.
This is the nation of Israel of the Old Testament. This is Israel who
conquered and was conquered. This is the nation of Israel, made up of
the 12 tribes that fractured into Judah and Israel, both of whom were
conquered, captured and exiled. This is the current nation of Israel
that was created in the aftermath of World War 2.

However,
much of the nation of Israel is largely secular. They are not, as a
nation, observing the Jewish religion. They are not walking with God,
instead they are, if not functional atheists, then placing there
future on their ethnic identity, much like option number 1.

The
third option, the one that I see in the Bible is that in verse 26
here, All of Israel referes to All believers, both Jewish and
Gentiles. Again, starting from Pauls own writings, in Romans 9, that
the children of the promise are Abrahams offspring, to whom the
promises of Israel are made. Paul says it as well in Galatians 3,
verses 7-9: Know
then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

8 And
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[
c]
the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham,
saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

9 So
then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man
of faith.

The
Bible makes it clear that the Old Testament, that Jesus is the
fulfillment of the Old Testament, meaning that all of the Old
Testament is shadows, types and foreshadowings of Jesus. This
includes Israel. Galatians 6:16 refers to Jesus as the Israel of God.
The promises made to Israel in the Old Testament were fulfilled in
Christ and the punishment and curses on Israel were poured out on
Christ. As one Pastor explained, The Church has not replaced Israel,
the church is the expansion of Israel. Since Jesus is the true
Israel, all who belong to Christ, and ONLY those who belong to
Christ, belong to Israel.

Now,
lets stop for a moment and ask, why am I spending time on this? Why
is this important. Again, this is not something that you all may
agree on. For me, this gets at the very heart who God is. And it is
consistant with who God is and what he has revealed to us.

We
see here in chapter 11, the idea of the olive tree, representing the
Jewish people and the wild trees being grafted in, representing the
gentiles. We, you and I are here because God choose to unite Jews and
gentiles, to make us all one in Christ. Again, all those who are in
Christ and Only those who are in Christ. There is no difference in
our standing, in our rightousness, in our salvation. There is no Jew
nor greek.

This,
again, can be misubderstood. In this world, in our workd and our
society, there are jews and greeks, there are males and females,
there are rich and poor, there are distinctions. We are all
individuals and God has created us this way. He determined your
ethnicity. He determined your sex, whether you are male or female. He
determined where and when you were born and all those things. But
none of those things can affect our salvation. None of those things
can affect whether we are saved.

I
referenced Romans 1:16 earlier. 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.
Paul
has alternately spent his time writing both to the Jews that, Yes,
the Gentiles are included in the Kingdom of Heaven. He calls it the
mystery of the Gospel on numerous occasions, because to the Jewish
people at the time, it would not make any sense to them that God
would choose to include the gentiles, especially when there were
plenty of Jewish people still around. But Paul alternates that with
his words to the Gentiles that No, the church has not replaced
Israel. Both are called by God. There are the elect in both, there
are believers predestined and foreknown by God in both groups and
more accurately and to the point, there are not two groups. There is
only one, those who are in Christ.

To
me, this is a call, an appeal and an example of the kind of unity
that God wants from us. When one tree gets grafted in another, they
are not two trees, but they are now one tree. Yes, one was fisrt then
the other, but they are one tree. In a marriage, a husband and wife
come togethere and the bible says they are now One Flesh. If you are
married you are not two individuals living life along side each
other, you are united, you are one. When we are brought in the
Christ and receive from him our salvation, He is inseperable from us.

And
ths how he calls us to be. Insepperable. United. Not uniform, not
Stepford, but united. There is no super Christians. There are no
varsity or JV christians. There are only Christians, Christ
followers.

The
other part of this, for me, is that God knows all things, from before
he created time. There are no surprises. He didnt just happen to be
surprised that the Old Testament Nation of Israel rejected him over
and over. He didnt then come up with a plan B. There was no spite and
thought process that, If they are going to reject me then I have to
come up with a plan B. This was Gods plan from the beginning. God is
unchanging. The theological term is immutable.

His
plan from the beginning of time was to save you and I from our sins.
We are not replacing anyone, nor are we second best. We are a part of
Gods redemptive plan. That should be both an encouragment and a
comfort to us. And especially as we get close to Christmas, when Gods
redemptive plan got put into affect. Jesus, the Son of God, being
born, still God, but now, also, man, a little baby boy. Before this
plan was put into action, before the beginning of time, when this
plan was initially hatched, by God the Father, God the Son and God
the Holy Spirit, at that point in time. Gos picked you and I to be a
part of his people. He picked you and I to be a part of his
redemptive plan and he picked you and I to be with him in perfect
eternity future.

What
A God. What Love. What foreknowledge. What foreplanning,
predetination. What a blessing he is. What a gift he is.

And
this is all the sulmination of these first 11 chapters of Romans. I
said earlier that Pual didnt write these letters with chapter breaks,
and thats true. But there are points in his letters where there is a
clear and purposeful shift. This could be in theme, or in subject or
as some have broken up Pauls letters, first half is theology, second
half is application. And we see one of those shifts between Chapters
11 and 12. So the end of chapter 11 here really is the climax of what
Paul has been writing.

And
what that means is that these last few verses, verses 33-36, which we
are going to look at next week, instead of division or confusion or
anything along those lines, the first 11 chapters of Romans should
bring us to worship and awe of God. He is good, He is just. He is
Love. He is holy. And while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Worship, praise, glory and Honor to God.

And
unity and grace to each other. Again, we can disagree on what certain
parts of what Paul writes means, including who ALL Israel is as we
looked at today. We can disagree on that and still be fellow brithers
and sisters in Christ. We can disagree and still show each other love
and mercy and grace. We can disagree on this and still be united
under the cross and the death and resurrection of our saviour Jesus
Christ.

If
Pauls writings do not lead us to this, then we are reading them wrong
and we need to repent and search our hearts for the love and
forgiveness for each other that Christ first showed us.

Lets
Pray.

Sources:





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