Today’s sermon for all

Romans 15 & 16

Taking up where we left off last week, at Romans 15: 17 and following through chapter sixteen, Paul is writing his message to those in the Roman church but he is also writing to us as well. The Roman church was soon to undergo some terrible persecution as were many Christians in the Roman empire. Paul’s words of encouragement and hope helped those who were weak or new in their faith to bear up under the horrible ways which Emperor Nero would kill those who would not worship him.

17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.

Paul’s Plan to Visit Spain and Rome
(1 Corinthians 16:5-9)

23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. 25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. 28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul is writing here as an evangelist with a purpose and it was Jesus Who gave him that purpose. The same Savior who saved us all, if we will only believe, saved the chief persecutor of “the Way” as it was called to begin with. Jesus uses some of the most unlikely ministers at times, God has used a donkey in the past to bring a word to a stubborn prophet as well, so nothing is impossible for God. Even when we try to limit Him with our own ideas about Him in this life, at some point God will show you Who He is and what He can do, if that is what it takes to get your attention.

Chapter 16 is the end of Romans as a book, but what a book it is. Written by a persecutor turned evangelist and one which wrote more than half of the New Testament which we all have today, most of it written from a prison cell.

In this final chapter of the book of Romans, Paul is giving credit to all of those in Christ who have helped him is his ministry. He salutes them with words like a brother or a proud father might, and in a way he is. Many of his helpers come from people or house-churches which  his preaching had started, or were members of those small congregations.

Paul ends his epistle with words of encouragement and love brought out in his soul by Christ:

Beginning with verse 17 we see this:

Avoid Divisions
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Greetings from Paul’s Companions
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36; Jude 1:24-25)

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. {Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.

So, you see in the ending of this epistle that Paul had many helpers who wrote for him when his hands could not. They carried the epistle to the churches which he could not go to in person due to chains or other restraints laid upon him. God used all of those around Paul who had been converted by his preaching very likely, God used them to further His Kingdom and these letters are still being used in the 21st century to bring others to Him. We are the fruit of much of Paul’s labors in Christ, the church today would not be what it is without God’s choosing of Paul to be His voice to the gentiles…us.

We are supposed to carry on this work in our lives, whether we are preaching to a congregation or to our families and friends with our life in Christ and the labor which we do in this life just by living out the ways taught in the Bible. This is the way of life, which so many early Christians who died for their faith, lived in front of those around them. It is also the life which we are called to live in Christ Jesus. Not living as if tomorrow is just a day, but that it may be the day that Jesus calls us home!

God uses even those of us who are weak in our faith, or believe ourselves to be, to carry out His purposes in our lives for Him and His Kingdom, not for our own gain in this life. We are to trade our life in Christ for bringing other lives into the Kingdom of God. How?

By living our Christian life as a reflection of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit one day at a time. People will notice, and whether they ask of you or not, if your walk with Christ is sincere then they will be drawn toward Him. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but when the Spirit touches their heart, they will because your witness for Christ doesn’t have to be in the sanctuary of a big church, but the sanctuary of life itself. Living our salvation and our walk with Jesus out one day at a time and one step at a time.

Which in truth is all that we can do.

Do you preach?

Actually, I do. I was called to be a preacher about seven years ago, and this unique part of the Christian religion is imperative for all of us who believe. Each of us was also given a command to go into the world and tell others about what Jesus has done for you. In this instance preaching and telling about your salvation sound very much alike, but they are different. In many ways they are very different.

Consider this: Jesus came to his disciples teaching and preaching the Word of God. Sometimes He did it with parables, then sometimes He used examples from Scripture. Then at other times, He healed people in ways which couldn’t be explained except by the acceptance that He was and is the Savior, our Messiah, the One Who was to come and save not only Israel but the whole world!

preach-the-wordTelling others about your salvation and what Jesus saved you from is a good thing and we are commanded to tell others when they ask us about our joy in Christ. Preaching is telling others about the good news of Jesus and why He came to save us from our sins and our sinful nature. To change us from the inside out and make us become more like Him in our nature and in our lives. To do the things which He would do if He was here. That is why He came, that is why I preach even when I am just writing it down like I am here!

God loves each of us in a way that we cannot understand because He has loved us from the beginning and even before. We are loved by our Creator even if we don’t return that love and that is what makes it hard for us to grasp. To our human mind, that kind of love doesn’t make sense. But, if you look at the first few days of Creation in Genesis, those days don’t make sense either. God said “Let there be Light!” and there was. He didn’t fashion a star, like our Sun, to make that Light on the first day but Light was there!

All of the other days in that first week of Creation, He commanded the fish in the sea and the birds of the air to come forth and they did! He called forth the plants and trees and all kinds of animals and creeping things and they were there! Then the only creature which God made with His hands was mankind. We were not called forth out of the mud, God fashioned Adam from the dirt and breathed the Breath of Life into him and he became a living soul! If God didn’t love us, why would He get His hands dirty while making us?

Because He is God! He could’ve called forth man from the mud and made male and female like He did everything else…but He did not! Man is special to God and in the grand scheme of things, His plans for us include being fruitful and being married. He also wants us to live to please Him and to worship Him. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us to need Him. God is a Triune being and He and the Son and the Holy Spirit are capable of being and doing anything necessary for the universe to keep going and to create whatever they wish.

Life is a gift from God and every good thing which we have is a gift from Him, even before we come to realize that we need Him. If you haven’t given your heart to Him and asked Him into your life I pray that you will do so soon. Our world is dangerously close to the edge of history which Jesus told John about almost two thousand years ago. Read the book of Revelation and see if some of its warnings don’t sound like the news today. Read Matthew 24 along with the news and see if that doesn’t sound eerily similar. It sounds that way because it is prophecy coming true in our time.