Ro 15:15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you,
After complimenting the Romans concerning their goodness, knowledge, and ability to admonish one another, Paul says.....”nevertheless” Don’t you just hate that word?
It’s like your annual review at work. The boss tells you all these good things that you have done, and you’re beginning to wonder what you are going to do with all that money that will be forthcoming in your raise, then he says, “nevertheless.” Oh Oh, forget the raise, now we’ll find out why we should be thankful that we’re still working here!
But Paul’s review of the Roman church isn’t like that. “His nevertheless” is to just serve as a bold reminder to the church about certain points of Christianity that are good to be reminded of. We have touched on these bold points as we have gone through the Book of Romans these past two years. (By the way, last Tuesday was the second anniversary of our starting date in the book of Romans. How the time flies!)
Just think of some of the “bold” reminders that have come your way in the past two years from this book.
A thankless people become a godless people.
Godlessness is what leads cultures to moral decline
You cannot be saved by your good works.
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Professing believers will be damned if they continue to serve sin and live after the flesh. (Something that was brought up in our OT reading this morning. “I will destroy those that are fat (read that content) and strong. (Read that self-sufficient)
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. (If we want to be the spiritual children of Abraham...be saved....we must do the same)
Marriage is forever, it truly is “till death do us part! Anything less is sin that needs to be confessed!
The unending battle between our sin nature and the new nature
The groanings of the Holy Spirit who prays for us when we can’t find the words due to duress and trial and that God’s way out of trial is to endure.
The truth about the Jews, the fact that in spite of their overall rejection of Christ....there will always be a remnant who come to the truth, but there is no promise of some sort of a national salvation.
The importance of daily offering yourself up to Christ for His service
The exercise of your spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ
Meeting the needs of the saints
Love your enemies and pray for them
Be subject to the higher authorities and pay your taxes.
Owe no debt but love
And don’t use your Christian liberty to lead another brother to damnation.
Pauls purpose in boldly reminding the Roman church was only to bring these items to their remembrance, lest they forget. How many of you know that it’s good for us to continually remind each other of these truths in God’s Word?
Christian truth runs contrary to our flesh and we need constant reminders, constant “reproving” as we talked about last week.
The proof of the truth is already in you in the Holy Spirit, but it constantly needs to be reproved and awakened by the Word of God, and that’s what Paul was doing for the Romans. It’s what I do up here, and it’s what we should be doing for each other in small group Bible Study.
Paul then says that the reason he has written these bold reminders is “because of the grace given to me by God,” 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Bold reminders from the Word of God are part of the work of the Holy Spirit. He uses His Word spoken through mere human instruments like Paul, and you and I to bring unbelievers to salvation and to aid in the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit. (Which is to make believers more like Jesus as we walk this earth.
Rick Warren author of the Purpose Driven Life says “life is preparation for eternity. This is the warm-up act- the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.” (He wants us to practice abiding in His perfect will. And His perfect will is found in this Book...the Bible.)
Warren says that the goal in life is to grow in character, to be more like Christ. Paul put it this way in Romans 8:29
Ro 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (NKJV)
Paul saw part of his ministry as leading the Gentiles along in the sanctification process. Though his letters certainly contained that which is necessary to lead us to Christ, for the most part, they were instructive, more of the “how shall we then live”now that we have received Christ.
He preached the gospel and won many converts, but he didn’t stop there. He followed up with these letters and he sought to instruct these new believers in the ways of Christian living. The Holy Spirit speaks through these letters even today, shaping us molding, boldly reminding us as we, “read, mark, and inwardly digest them.”
Please note that it was not Paul who originally preached the Gospel to the believers at Rome. Yet he claims them as an offering that he helped prepare for the Lord! That’s the way it is in the kingdom. Some plant, some water, some prune, some harvest, but God gives the increase, and all share in the reward.
1Co 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
I think I’m more of a pruner, and that explains in part our slow growth here at Living Word. I mean who wants to come for that painful process! Maybe we should put a sign out front with a pile of dead branches and invite people to stop in on Sundays for pruning.
Drive by an apple orchard and see the piles of dead branches. Look at the trees that look like they have been reduced to nothing, then stop in sometime in September and taste and see the results! Let us learn to submit to the bold reminders of God’s Word, and put them into practice for the ultimate outcome, is much fruit for our King.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit working in this Word and breaking down the resistant heart that people both come to salvation and are more closely conformed to the image of Christ, thereby becoming a sanctified, fruitful offering through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Learn to yield to the Holy Spirit. For it is in yielding that we yield much fruit for the kingdom. Yield to yield!
Mt 13:8 "But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty
17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.
18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient--
19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God,
Paul, rightly refuses to boast in any of this. He was only responding to the gracious call that God had placed on his life as the Apostle to the Gentiles, and if anything was accomplished through the words he spoke or through his actions that cause the Gentiles to be obedient, it was only because of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Just stop and consider this for a moment. It’s not your words, your deeds, or your miracles. It is Christ and the Holy Spirit working through them in you. Armed with this knowledge you can speak His Word boldly, you can live for Him boldly, and simply trust Him for the results.
The idea of boldly here is venturing out with confidence. It’s kind of ironic, as new believers we often go racing out boldly on a limb with the Word of God, but as time passes on we seem to get more and more timid. (Probably because we’ve had a few limbs give way underneath us and have come crashing to the ground because of misguided zeal)
If that’s happened to you, I encourage you as I encourage myself to try inching back out on the limb a little. Venture out with the Word of God, use it a s a gentle but confident reminder to others of God’s love for them and as a method of conforming yourself to the image of Christ, and challenging others to do the same.
Venture out in trust and obedience to this Word and see what the Holy Spirit will do.
This week in the men’s Bible Study we just cracked the first couple of verses of 1 Thessalonians and something said in verse 5 of chapter 1 really caught my eye.
1Th 1:5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
The gospel came in the word but not the Word alone! It also showed up in the evidence of the lives lived by Paul, Silas, and Timothy! The Thessalonians were able to observe the kind of men Paul, Silas, and Timothy were and this provided a deeper assurance for them concerning the reality of the existence of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Gospel.
What was the living proof to the people at Thessalonica? It was the kind of men that Paul, Silas, and Timothy were among the Thessalonians for the sake of the Thessalonians.
They were further assured of the truth of the gospel message because Paul, Silas, and Timothy lived it out in their presence as they lived for the sake of the Thessalonians. When you learn to live for the sake of others instead of yourself....you have learned to love. This kind of love was so evident that the Thessalonians were assured of the legitimacy of Paul’s message!
It was St Francis Assisi who said, “Preach at all times....when necessary use words.”
Peter wrote: 1Pe 3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel--
4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
Oh how well I know this method of evangelism, for I was won to Christ because Joanie became this kind of a woman for my sake. Please note verse 4. Such behavior is very precious in the sight of God. And I believe this preciousness unleashed the hounds of heaven after me and resulted in my coming back to faith.
2Ch 16:9 "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."
So let’s continue to boldly remind each other about salvation and sanctification. Let’s allow God the Holy Spirit access to those branches in our lives that need to be trimmed. It’s not enough to just hear the Word, all that does is put a nick in the branch. We need to be doers of the Word.
The minute we respond with trust and obedience....the unfruitful branch, that is hindering our production for the kingdom is lopped off.
Jas 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
It was in doing that Paul, Silas, and Timothy exhibited the power of the Holy Spirit. In responding to the Holy Spirit’s bold reminders, they were pruned and bore much fruit for the kingdom. Let us learn to do the same.