Summary: We must get the simple things right. The elementary principles of church life are among the most important principles of church life.
The Simple Facts of Church Life
1. What an experience I had last Sunday at the home of Ted and Janie Martin (explain story of flat tire and “lobster” cable clamp
2. Ted Martin and Neil tried not to laugh, but Brett lost it. The rest of the gusy should have, too. It was FUNNY. But it was great to be with those guys because we have a warm church.
3. In 2005, we try to build churches that are adapted to our culture but that are anchored to the timeless principles of Scripture. And Romans 16 addresses some of these.
Main Idea: We must get the simple things right. The elementary principles of church life are among the most important principles of church life.
Incidentally, these same principles apply to the family!!!!
I. Strong Personal RELATIONSHIPS Make A Strong Congregation (1-16, 21-23)
26 individuals mentioned, 24 by name
A. Paul had never visited the Roman church, but he had met many ELSEWHERE
1. The early church’s strategy for outreach emphasized winning extended family GROUPS, as evidenced by Paul’s relatives Andronicus and Junias (7) and Herodian (11).
2. He had built strong BONDS with a number of the Roman Christians, some of whom he met when they were in temporary EXILE from Rome
3. Some were GOVERNMENT servants, others unusually HARD WORKERS in God’s Kingdom, while others are mentioned as BELOVED.
· Epaenetus was Paul’s first convert in Asia
· Rufus (13) was the son of Simon the Cyrene (he helped carry the cross) –see Mark 15:21
B. Notice the importance of WOMEN in the early church (9 out of 26)
Although the Apostles were all men, and although the office of elder is restricted to MALES (I Timothy 2:9-3:7), women played a GREAT role in the early church
· Phoebe is called a deaconess in the Greek; she was visiting Rome, so Paul sent a letter to vouch for her; Christians are always wise to protect themselves from charlatans, addicts, etc.; there is nothing spiritual about being gullible
· Priscilla and Aquila worked as a team, risking their lives, host the church in their house (3-5); in Acts 18, they were instrumental in leading Apollos to a deeper faith in the Lord
· many women mentioned in this passage
C. The Kiss of verse 16 --- not a ritual, but an ancient form of greeting and affection; perhaps equivalent to the modern hug
D. Families too: control young children with authority, influence teens by relationship
We must get the simple things right. The elementary principles of church life are among the most important principles of church life. The first principle is:
Strong Personal RELATIONSHIPS Make A Strong Congregation
There is a second elementary principle:
II. Even Strong Congregations Are in DANGER (17-18)
1. The Danger of DIVISION
· division over important truths is a good thing
· division over trivia or preferences is not so good
2. The Danger of DECEPTION
· A lot of false teachings have seemingly good arguments behind them
3. Their motivation is grounded in EGO
· people with low self-esteem can have a field day in church
· in sports, if you are unathletic, you don’t make the team; in scholastics, if you are not smart or do not study, you do not make the grade; at work, if you don’t produce well, you do not rise; but, because churches are accepting and because everyone matters, sometimes people exploit that to build their egos