MONDAY, JUNE 12
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.