Summary: Paul begins chapter 12 by answering the question: “How should we respond to the mercies of God?”
A. One Sunday after worship services, as the worshipers filed out of the sanctuary they greeted the preacher who stood by the door.
1. As one member shook the minister’s hand, he thanked him for the sermon and said, “Preacher, I would have to say that you are smarter than Einstein.”
2. Beaming with pride, the minister said, “Why, thank you, brother!”
3. But as the week went by, the minister began to think about the man’s compliment.
4. The more he thought, the more he became baffled as to why anyone would deem him smarter than Einstein, so he decided to ask the man the following Sunday.
5. The next Sunday, the preacher asked the church member if he remembered his previous Sunday’s comment about the sermon and the man replied that he did.
6. Then minister asked him: “Exactly what did you mean that I must be smarter than Einstein?”
7. The man replied, “Well, Preacher, they say that Einstein was so smart that only ten people in the entire world could understand him. But you must be smarter than Einstein, because I’m not sure that anyone can understand you.”
8. I am hoping that I am not too difficult to understand, especially as we have plowed through some very deep and complicated theological points that Paul has been making in his letter to the Romans.
B. I am very excited that today’s sermon begins the fourth and final section of Romans.
1. Romans has the well-deserved reputation of being one of the most theological books in the Bible.
2. And as we have seen, the first three sections, comprising 11 chapters of the letter, are deeply theological.
3. In the first section, covering chapters 1-4, Paul revealed why everyone needs the gospel and what the gospel of Christ is.
4. In the second section, covering chapters 5-8, Paul explored some of the aspects of the new life in Christ that comes as the result of the gospel.
5. The third second, covering chapters 9-11, is the most theological of all as Paul explored God’s plan for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles, and how God had not broken His promises to the Jews.
C. As we begin our investigation of this fourth and final section, chapters 12-16, we will notice that it is the most practical of all the sections of the letter.
1. Some people over the years have wondered why Paul would bother with such practical stuff at the end of a letter that was so theological and doctrinal.
2. But such an attitude or question indicates a basic misunderstanding of Paul’s letter to the Romans, and a basic misunderstanding of one of the purposes of theology and doctrine.
3. W.H. Griffith-Thomas explained the importance of Romans 12-16 in this way: “After doctrine comes duty; after revelation, responsibility; after principles, practice.” (Romans, p. 318)
4. In many respects all theology is practical, and all practice, if it is truly Christian, is based in theology – the two go hand in hand.
5. But this is even more the case in the occasional letters of Paul, like the letter to the Romans.
6. Although the practical principles that Paul lays out in chapters 12-16 can apply to many things in our Christian lives, we must first read them and apply them to the challenging situation being faced between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the church at Rome.
D. So, let’s see how and where Paul began this practical section of his letter to the Romans.
1. Romans 12 is one of the best chapters in all of Paul’s letters.
a. You might recall that just 2 years ago, in the Fall of 2017, we spent an entire quarter in our Sunday adult class studying Romans 12.
b. The class was called “True Spirituality: Becoming a Romans 12 Christian.”
2. What we will notice, today, is that Paul begins this section answering the question: How, then, should we respond?
3. In response to all that God has done for our salvation in Christ, how should we react and how should we live?
E. Here is Paul’s initial answer: 1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
1. Paul wants the Romans, and all of us, to live life “in view of the mercies of God.”
2. Our perspective on God and on our own lives needs to be seen through the lens of God’s grace.
3. What do the mercies of God include?