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Romans 15




SCRIPTURE: Romans 15

When we get to this chapter, Paul begins his process of closing this letter he has written to the church at Rome.  But as with most preachers, he has a bit of a difficulty actually stopping.  It will actually take him two chapters to get to the end of it.  

This chapter has some natural divisions in it.  The first part of the chapter (verses 1-7) is actually a continuation of the previous chapter.  Remember that when the New Testament was written it was not divided into chapters and verses.  Those divisions were added later to facilitate the study of God’s Word in groups.  Most of the times those divisions are made in good places.  But this might be an example of an unfortunate chapter break because of the continuation of the topic from the previous chapter.

When you get to verse 8, Paul goes back to the topic of how the Jew’s refusal of Jesus opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles.  But in verses 9-12, he uses Old Testament quotes to prove that it was God’s intention all along that the Gospel be brought to the Gentiles.

I would call your attention to verse 16.  Here Paul says he was to be a minister to the Gentiles.  Generally speaking that was Paul’s ministry.  More often than not when he entered a community, he would go to the synagogue and reason with the Jewish people.  But his overall focus really was on reaching the Gentiles with the Gospel.  (By the way, Peter’s ministry was more directed toward the Jewish people.  God didn’t ignore them.)

If you would take another look at verse 20, I think you might see something most important about Paul.  His desire truly was to be a missionary.  It was his passion to go to the parts of the world where the Gospel had not been preached, where people didn’t know about Jesus.  In other words, he was more interested in planting churches than he was in growing churches.  

It is important that we remember that the Kingdom of God needs both.  For the Kingdom to expand, we have to have people who are committed to planting churches particularly in areas where there is no Gospel presence.  But we also desperately need other people who are committed to pastoring, discipling, and encouraging believers to grow in grace and truth.  This really is not an either/or scenario.  It has to be a both/and proposition.

We need to be thankful for men and women that God calls to go to the unreached people groups of our world.  Many of them live and work in harms way.  Many of them live in the face of grave danger.  But they are called and committed to take the Gospel to the darkest places on this planet.  The incredible news is that the Gospel is taking root and growing rapidly in some of those dark places.

We also need to be thankful for men and women that God calls to serve in existing churches.  In many instances, it is these existing churches that finance the mission efforts around the world.  It is from the existing churches that God often calls people to go to the most difficult areas of the world.  

As Paul finishes this chapter, he speaks of his desire to want to visit the church at Rome.  He speaks quite plainly in verse 24 of his desire to enjoy fellowship with them as well as to receive financial support from them for his continued missionary work.  He ends the chapter by asking the Christ followers in Rome to pray for the mission effort to continue even in the face of danger and difficulty.

Thank you God for missionaries.  Thank you God for pastors.  Thank you God churches that support both.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Romans 14




SCRIPTURE: Romans 14

Unity has always supposed to be a characteristic of God’s people.  In fact, in the Gospel of John, Jesus said that our unity as Christ followers is part of the evidence of His reality.  Unity has been and continues to be most important.

But the people of God have always seemed to struggle with unity.  In the Old Testament there were rebellions against Moses.  Later the nation of Israel would literally divide into the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom and the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom.  In the New Testament, almost every letter Paul wrote to individual churches had some mention of conflicts, divisions, and disunity that existed within that particular church.  Even the joyous letter to the Philippian church had hard words to two women who were at odds and, as a result, were splitting the church.

When we get to Romans 14, we shouldn’t be too surprised that Paul has to deal with some issues of disunity in the church at Rome.  Interestingly enough, Paul attacks this problem from a couple of different directions.

For example, it seems there were some folks who ate only vegetables and there were some other people who enjoyed some meat with their vegetables.  No big problem, right?  No, they were using their dietary decisions to judge others.  The vegetarians were convinced they were much better than the meat eaters.  And the meat eaters were judging the vegetarians.

But it didn’t stop there.  There were some folks who thought that one particular day of the week was better than all the other days of the week.  And there were others that thought all days were of equal value.

Before we giggle and shake our heads at these immature, misguided Romans, let’s remember that we are all capable of such comparisons and judgments.  In fact, most of us who have been in church for any length of time have probably chosen a side in a goofy argument that really didn’t matter.

So, Paul’s approach in the first half of this letter is to tell those folks to quit judging each other.  In other words, they should quit fussing and fighting about stuff that really didn’t matter.  God is the ultimate judge and judging is His business, not ours.

But then Paul takes a much different approach beginning in verse 13.  Basically, he makes this incredible statement.  If you are doing something that is causing someone else a problem in the church, you should stop doing that.  Let me stop and say this doesn’t apply to the non-negotiables of Scripture.  There are some most important things that we should never compromise on.  There are some most important thing that we should never change just because someone is offended.

But there are other things, the non-essentials if you will, that we should be glad to change if it makes it somehow better for someone else.  I know this sets us up to be taken advantage of.  But at the end of the day, the immature always take advantage of the mature.  On the other side of this issue, if we are not willing to acquiesce on the non-essentials, we probably will never have an opportunity to help the immature move toward maturity on any issue, non-essential or non-negotiable.


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