One illegal method of learning something about someone is to read their mail. Now I know that there are many times when we read Paul’s epistles that we suspect he has been reading our mail. But Romans 15 and 16 is one occasion in which the Spirit of God enables us to read Paul’s mail. “Hi!” “How’s it going?” or “Good to see you.” and we think this is not important but in this case it is important. We learn about as much about Paul from reading the personal part of his epistles as we do about the preacher from hearing his sermons. We also learn a lot about Paul’s plans.
We do know from the book of Acts that Paul did go to Jerusalem. We also learn that Paul went to Rome in chains but he went there. Most believe that Paul was released from his 2 year imprisonment and was able to be free for a time. However, we do not know if he went to Spain.
Thesis: Paul’s future plans concerning Rome and Spain
Paul final stop in his plans that he mentions here is to go to Spain. Vs. 23-24
Spain was one of the areas where the gospel had not been preached to this point.
We think of missions and missionaries as just one program of the church. However, that is not the case at all. We are all missionaries. “Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”” John 20:21, NIV. We are all to be active in the Great Commission. “Therefore go (as you are going) and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19, NIV.
Paul was motivated to live out the mission that God gave him, “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” Romans 1:5, NIV. What is our mission?
When Paul speaks of his mission to the Gentiles, he uses the language of worship. Paul says that he is a minister (vs. 16). Might misunderstand when people call me the minister. Really I am a minister, not the minister. Everyone is minister, everyone is a servant. Similar in that people call me the pastor. Really not the pastor, a pastor along with the elders. Don’t call me Reverend. Only God is to be revered. Getting away from the main point. Paul is simply saying that he was a servant of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Only a few get to preach to a local congregation behind a pulpit, but every child of God needs to be minister, a servant.
In vs. 16 Paul says that he is engaged in a priestly duty. Again this is not limited to the apostles or a select few. We are all priests in service to God. One duty of a priest is proclamation, another is intercession. The high priest would enter the Temple and place incense on the altar and as the smoke arose before the Lord, he would place the names of the people, which he wore across his chest, before the Lord in prayer. One of the reasons we are so ineffective in bringing men to Jesus is that we have not gotten them in our hearts! We are not broken by their needs and moved by their lost condition. We will never see souls saved in abundance until we learn to weep over them before the Lord, until we learn to carry them in our hearts, until we are consumed with a burden for their salvation. “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalms 126:6, NIV.
Every priest must have a sacrifice to offer to the Lord. What do we offer:
1. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1, NIV.
2. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Hebrews 13:15, NIV.
3. Paul says that his sacrifice is the Gentiles. The Lord placed them as a burden on Paul’s heart and Paul says that he will offer them up to God as a sacrifice for the glory of the Lord. God laid them on Paul’s heart, Paul interceded for them before the Lord and then he went and told them about Jesus. Those who responded, he was able to lay on the altar as a redeemed sacrifice.
Ray Boltz- Thank you for giving to the Lord I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord I am so glad you gave. One by one they came Far as the eye could see Each life somehow touched By your generosity. Little things that you had done Sacrifices made. Unnoticed on the earth In heaven now proclaimed. And I know up in heaven You're not supposed to cry. But I am almost sure There were tears in your eyes. As Jesus took your hand And you stood before the Lord. He said, "My child look around you. Great is your reward."
Will we have anything to offer to the Lord in this way when all is over and our work on earth is done? How many souls have been impacted? This is the mission of the church.
Notice now that Paul engages in his priestly duties with jeans on, working night and day tent making and being servant of gospel. George MacLeod wrote: “I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the market place as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on town garbage heap; on a cross roads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek; at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where he died and that is what he died about. And that is where Christians should be and what Christians should be about.”
Christian priesthood is not a matter of being religious and Mr. Goody two shoes but of serving God and God’s purposes in the nitty gritty everydayness of life in the world, not a matter of sacred times and sacred places but ordinary times and ordinary places, not a matter of ordained ministers but the whole people of God. Talking about God’s people folded into the world as seed and yeast and salt. Every church of 200 hundred members has two hundred missionaries penetrating neighborhoods, offices, factories, workshops and schools, into all the powers and places, seven days a week.
Spain symbolizes passion for mission of God. One cannot have “ full measure of the blessing of Christ” without sharing Christ’s determination to bless all nations and all peoples.
The book of Romans is Paul sharing the gospel with the Romans. After introducing himself he says in Romans 1:11: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong--” What is that spiritual gift? He shares the best thing he has and that is the gospel. “That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:15, 16, NIV.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” Similarly, the Greek word for “blessing” in vs. 29 simply means “good word.” We can say, therefore, that to have the blessing of Christ is to have Christ speak a good and gracious word to us.
Paul probably has several things in mind in writing this letter. But one thing we know: in writing this letter he has explained “the gospel of God,” especially as it relates to Jews and Gentiles in Christ together. We also know that for Paul the message of the gospel is not just intellectual. It is head, heart, and hand. Paul has been captured by Christ. He has been justified by the grace of Christ, and released to serve God voluntarily and passionately in a way he never did, nor could, as a law keeper. The full blessing of Christ is the working of this gospel of justification; it is the picture of a person undergoing transformation. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4, NIV.
Justification is that act of God whereby sinners who are deserving of God’s wrath, are offered full pardon, acceptance, adoption into God’s family, and power in the Holy Spirit to live a new life. We have this on the grounds of the death of Jesus and obtain this through faith in Jesus Christ and not on the grounds of our worth or achievement, our works. Through God’s gospel, Christians experience a double exchange; our sin is placed on Christ and dealt with by the cross of Christ; Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the baptized believer. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV. We are forgiven and also born again, raised up into a new life.
Justification gives freedom from guilt and self criticism, acceptance with God and power to live a new life. Where it is preached people are liberated, grow, and thrive; where it is not preached there is self doubt, depression, guilt, and the burden of religious obligation. The church in Rome had been there a while, but the church also needs the gospel of God. Paul never tired of preaching and expounding this gospel because it is “the blessing of Christ.”
Have we got beyond the gospel? No longer preach it? Hardly believe it? Have we been reduced to a religion of performance and workaholism in the church? “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 1:9, NIV.
Paul’s ambition was to share this message with as many as possible. His preferred way is told in vs. 20. Now in our day there are fewer places where Christ has not been preached. Some of the missionaries we support go to places where the gospel is scarce and this is what Paul is talking about. Here is this land the gospel is plentiful.
A little less that 50% of the church budget goes toward missions and missionaries that give the gospel in various ways and with various methods but the gospel is being proclaimed. We have been blessed to have these missionaries come and share their passion for the gospel.
We are like what Paul wanted from the Roman church. We support through funds and other ways the spreading of the gospel, a lot of this goes to foreign lands where the gospel is scarce.
If we want the full measure of the blessing of Christ, we need to support missions both here and abroad. Struggle in other churches to get them to give 10% to missions. Blessed here.