Summary: There is always a common bond between those who faithfully serve Christ. Their sharing in grace-gifted service for the Gospel of Christ, gives mutual encouragement be it by distant learning or close fellowship.
ROMANS 1: 8-13
THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE FAITHFUL
[Ephesians 4: 1-16]
Having introduced himself, Paul now gives a general introduction common in his letters. He was writing to the Church at Rome because he had for a long time been touched -fortified- by their deep commitment to Jesus and high quality of their faithfulness to each other. So he continues his introduction with expressions of encouragement. It breathes the spirit of love toward his brethren, and of gratitude and devotion towards God.
There is always a common Christian bond between those who faithfully serve Christ. And their sharing in grace-gifted service for the Gospel of Christ, gives mutual encouragement, be it by distant learning or close fellowship.
[That encouragement and thankfulness is what I experience when I hear of the missionary labors of Mike & Dottie Clark, Ryan & Laura Barr. That encouragement and thankfulness is what I experience as I watch you labor for the Lord on a workday or at VBS, or during choir specials, FAITH, or other ministry projects.]
I. A Thanksgiving for Faithfulness, 1:8.
II. Faithful Praying, 1: 9-10.
III. A Longing to Impart, 1: 11-13.
a. A longing to share spiritual blessings
b. A longing to share in Gospel harvest.
[IV. The Gospel Debt, 1:14-15.]
Though there is much to say, Paul starts by expressing thanks to God for his readers in verse 8. "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ concerning you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world."
Paul begins his letter by complimenting them. Some tongues are tuned to praise and others are tuned to criticism. Some eyes are focused to find faults, other eyes are focused to discover virtues. When you talk of others what kind of words predominate? Do you find yourself praising them or criticizing them? When you look at other believers do you see their virtues or their faults?
Paul uses the term my God for although he belongs to God, he also possesses God as his own. He gives this thanksgiving "through Jesus Christ" for the only way to God is through Jesus Christ.
What was the reason for the Apostle's thankfulness to God; "because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world." His thankfulness for the believers was because of the demonstration of their faith in the world. Their faith was seen in the lives they lived and the deeds they did for Christ.
Rome was a city where, according to Roman historian Tacitus, "all vile and abominable things were encouraged." Not only did the saints live pure lives there, they were experiencing explosive growth because church members were leading others to Christ. Thus their faith was spoken of "throughout the world." My prayer is that our faith will be of this same quality that people through out the Bluegrass community and Knox County would speak of the deep and dynamic faith exhibit by the members of FBC.
II. FAITHFUL PRAYING 1:9-10.
Appreciation for their faithfulness to Christ is followed in verse 9 with the the deep and longing nature of his intercession for them. "For my witness is God, Whom I serve in my spirit in the Gospel of His Son, how unceasingly I always make mention of you in my prayers."
A witness is one who tells what he has seen or heard. God has seen and heard all. So that the believers in Rome may know how earnestly he prays for them and how deeply he yearns to see them, Paul appeals to the Omniscient (or All-knowing) God, who cannot lie and who judges human hearts and motives, for confirmation of what he writes. This reverent appeal to the searcher of hearts is often used by the Apostle (2 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 11:20; Phil. 1:8).
Serve [is from which] means hire, hireling, so to serve for hire (Mt. 4:10; Lk. 1:74; Heb. 9:9, 14; Rev. 7:15 & 22:3). He served God with his spirit. Paul's spirit was made alive when he accepted Christ and by it he now serves Him. The serving that Paul was doing in the Gospel, was not motivated by or in the flesh, but it was from his regenerated spirit.
Part of Paul's serving is mentioning the Roman believers in his prayers. Notice Paul mentions church members in his prayers not in gossip. Paul seems to have had a prayer list and the Romans were on his prayer list. They did not know of Paul's prayer support, but the Lord knew about it and honored it. You should let the people you are praying for know it. How encouraging it is to know someone is praying regularly for you.
Although Paul did not know the people at Rome personally, he nevertheless consistently upheld them before God in prayer. It is the disciple's privilege and duty to bear our loved ones, and Christian laborers before the Throne of Grace.