August 15, 2021
Very often we look at each other with partiality. If I had my last sermon go over an hour, today you already have certain bias about today. But, when someone tells you that your son made some mess, you are with favoritism, and partiality deny all the accusations – since you know, that your child is an angel!
What happens in the middle of (Rom. 15), is that Paul speaks of his ministry. He wants us to look at his ministry without any bias. How?
You will be able to do so after 15 chapters of the Gospel! When a person understands the Gospel: we are not obeying God in order to be accepted, but we are accepted by God in order to be obedient. As result, we understand the ministry of others through these 15-chapter-thick lenses!
See the ministry of any person in the church through these lenses!
The Gospel is salvation by grace, not by works… free, but not cheap – Christ paid a dear price for that. The sanctifying Gospel is humility and transformation into the image of Christ!
How do you look at each other? When we start looking at each other in this way, we will immediately see 2 elements that make this ministry evangelical or Gospel-driven (Gospel at the center).
I. Ministry to people (vv. 14-15a) positive
A. In confidence (with trust, confidence in people, very positive)
It is interesting note that Paul had not been to Rome before writing this letter. He personally did not know these people. Yet, the fact that he knew about them from a distance gave him such confidence!
“I myself…” – in the original it is emphatic – I, personally I, Paul…
“You yourselves…” – good translation. Original speaks of now doubt about it! This confidence in people is expressed even in the words that Paul uses! Putting everything together – a very positive feeling from hearing this. I want to hear things like that more often.
Paul is Barnabas’ friend (Acts 11:19-23). What do we see?
A child-like look – “my father is the best” – there is no cynicism!
B. In completeness (goodness, and knowledge)
“full of goodness” – high morality, a righteous life, the visible manifestation of the Gospel (12:1-2a).
“filled with all knowledge” – is a deeper knowledge of the truth (12:2b)! A person knows what God likes and what he doesn’t. As a husband and a wife who have lived together for 30 years, know each other much better, than they knew each other on the first week of marriage. It came after years spend together, many conversations, questions, observations, joint work, rest, experiencing joys and sorrows together.
Both are present simultaneously and inseparably.
Unfortunately, our tendency to assess our own maturity and of those around us is often done based on the amount of knowledge. As a result, knowledge leads to a passion for ideas and not for the God who stands behind those ideas. How can we sense that it is so? Enthusiasm for all kinds of methods, and programs but not for the people to whom we serve.
C. In conduct (instructing one another)
The word “instruct” is nautheteo (Gr.), to encourage, warn, advice and instruct. From this word, comes the title “nauthetic counseling” – counseling that emphasizes the use of Scripture as a tool for a change.
Every believer should be able to counsel others!
What are we talking about? It’s very simple: if you are a believer for two days, there are people who are believers for one day, and they will be tremendously blessed by you leading them.
How? It is not a mistake that we talk about this in chapter 15 – all that was before is pastoral care, counseling that Paul provides to believers in Rome! He cares for them by the Gospel! He does not carry a list of things that they should do, but gives them the Gospel! Understanding this changes people!
This verse is especially valuable to ministers – this is the ultimate goal – the most successful pastoral ministry is to eliminate the need for pastoral ministry. In other words, this text says that if the members of the church, all of them and at all times, try to instruct one another, at that very moment, we as pastors are no longer needed ☺ This is the pastor’s call to the church, do all he can, to work himself out of his work. Would you try it.
But there is (v. 15) boldness in the reminder – we know and learn things, but we forget things! Oh, how we long to see that confidence in your knowledge, stability and maturity. Then, preaching won’t be needed!
So, look around and determine: Who is following you?
II. Ministry to God (vv. 15b-16)
A. In Calling (by grace)
(1:1, 5) – Paul’s ministry flows out of God’s grace!
In general, realizing your calling to ministry is a difficult but very important process! And now I will say something that will probably stun you.
This text says that the apostle Paul became a minister of Christ by grace as in salvation! How did we get saved? God opened our eyes to spiritual reality, we turned to him with faith. (Acts 2:36-38, 41) by grace! So, in the definition of ministry: 1) we see the need (this is the first sign of a call), 2) we understand that the spiritual gift – carries a spiritual influence (faith in people, glory to God), 3) we simply act in faith (we act, and do not simply stand in stupor), 4) We look back and understand that it was by God’s grace. Why is that? Only the person who personally experienced God’s grace himself can bring this grace to others! If a minister can easily cope with everything by himself, and he doesn’t see a need in God’s grace, then, in his self-righteousness will not be patient with people and will not understand their difficulties.
Minister – Gr. Litorgos – a person performing public worship – conduction the liturgy.
Performing a priestly service – how is it done? (1 Pet. 2:5) – in the dispensation or building up of the church, (v. 9) – in the preaching of the Gospel!
How does the result looks like?
Can you list or measure the grace that God has given you? Where and how do you observe it?
B. In Communion (to belong to Christ)
To be a servant of Jesus Christ means to belong to Christ! This is foundational. Unfortunately, those who minister in the church tend to either forget or ignore this element. Here are some of the problems that come up when a minister forgets this (taken from a book “Dangerous Calling, Tripp):
Belonging to Christ is a defense against such mistakes. If a person does not receive the meaning of life and satisfaction vertically, he will see it horizontally, which is always problematic. A person begins to perceive himself as a minister, or a preacher, or a choir member, or a leader of the small group, or Sunday school teacher, but not as a child of God, and this is threatening.
In other words, where do you put stress in the phrase “minister of Christ”? On the word “minister”, or on the word “of Christ”? If the words is “minister”, sooner or later you will experience burnout. This is a modern day problem – the root of which lays in the person seeking his identity in the ministry and not in Christ. At the end of the day, such person tries to get from ministry what only God can give!
C. In Commendation
The most valuable word in the entire paragraph – “acceptable” – something acceptable and pleasing or beautiful to God.
There is one word that’s imprinted on everything that Paul does – acceptable (pleasant and fitting). In other words, this word carries two ideas: fitting – it is in compliance with expectations, vision and the will of God, and pleasant – something that is pleasant, good, beautifu to God.
(1 Sam. 15:22) – the main word is delight! This is a sincere desire to please God! This is a desire to please God!
And now the most interesting: 1) Paul’s goal is to please God by offering the Gentiles (as they believe the Gospel), 2) How? (v. 15) – by the preaching the Word, but 3) The Word works in people (v. 14) in such a way that they do the work of offering, 4) But this is the work of the Holy Spirit (v. 16) – Everything for the Glory of God!!!!
Conclusion: if through the Gospel we serve people and God… there is no place for us and our glory! Then, this ministry is truly Gospel ministry!
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