Summary: What we can learn from Paul’s future plans as he lays them out in Romans is what the nature of our focus should be. Our three-fold focus should involve our mission to save the loss, our devoted fellowship with each other, and prayer, which is a reflection
Introduction: Have you every noticed how things get so hectic as we approach the holiday season? You can’t even go to the store to get something simple like a gallon of milk without fighting the crowds. Yet, when we finally do arrive at the holidays, everything slows down. There is a peaceful excitement in the air. We take time to enjoy family and reflect on what God has done for us.
Then we come to January and we start all over again. The old year is over, and a new year begins. Many of us have various plans for the new year. Some plan to finish a project they have begun. Some plan to get in better shape. Some plan to spend more time with the ones they love. Some plan on having a better relationship with God.
This morning we are going to look at the closing verses of Romans. As Paul typically does in his letters, he includes some personal greetings and comments toward the end. Paul shares some of his future plans with the Romans. After an extended exposition of the Gospel, Paul has made practical application to the church, and now applies it to himself. He shares what his goals and aspirations are. We can learn something about what our three-fold focus from this text.
Rom 15:14-21 "And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; but as it is written, "They who had no news of Him shall see, And they who have not heard shall understand."
We should have a focus on being good preists
First of all, we see that Paul is concerned about taking the Gospel to those who were lost. Paul calls himself two things. First, he calls himself a "minister" of Christ Jesus. Now there are several words for "minister" or "servant" in Greek. The one Paul uses here is "leitourgos." Our English word, "liturgy" is related to this word. This type of servant wasn’t a common slave or household servant. This was a minister who served in sacred duties. A person who worked and served in temple services would be called a "leitourgos." As a sacred servant, Paul literally says his job was to be involved in the priestly service of the Gospel. Paul understood his role to be that of a priest. What does that mean? What is a priest? To put it simply, a priest is a person who mediates between God and his people. They teach of God, lead in worship, and offering up offerings on behalf of the worshippers.
But Paul is not talking about specifically about services related to worship. Notice what his offering consists of. As a priest of God, his offering to God are the Gentiles. He does so by preaching the Gospel. As a result of the preaching of the Gospel, Gentiles were laying themselves on the altar as living sacrifices.
We may not relate to the "priest" designation very well because it conjures up images of Old Testament men in special clothing serving in the temple. We understand that the priesthood was done away with. But was the priesthood done away with, or was it transformed?
1 Pet 2:9 - "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"
Part of this is a quotation from Exodus 19. There, God calls ALL his people a nation of priests. Even though Israel had a specialized priesthood, every Hebrew in one sense was a priest. They were to glorify the name of God among the nations.
Our Role as Christians is not much different. Since we are all part of the priesthood, we all are to proclaim the excellencies of God. That is why Jesus calls us the Salt of the Earth. That is why we are the "Light of the World." That is why Jesus used the phrase "fishers of men." The service we perform as priests is not confined to a place. Paul says that our bodies are a sanctuary of God. We perform the priestly duty of ministering the Gospel wherever we are.