Helping Others Follow Jesus
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:
“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”[g]
22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul has been encouraging the Romans to accept each other and love through their differences. Here at the end of the letter he is encouraging them to be involved in ministry or to see themselves as ministers.
Christian ministry is helping people follow Jesus Christ. We have this as our church vision. How do we do this?
- Well, how do we encourage people to learn about what kind of life Jesus calls them to?
- This means we spend time around each other, we get to know one another.
- We share what we know about following Jesus with each other. We bear each other’s burdens.
- We serve one another and work toward what is best for each of our lives as best we know.
In this ending section I see things that are resident in the Romans, Paul’s focus in ministry and then a call to participate
And Paul begins this section of encouragement by saying that the folks in the church at Rome are competent to instruct each other. What is resident in the Romans that we can see and learn from to help us help others follow Jesus?
- The Romans are Competent to Instruct Others
Full does not mean perfect!!
- They are full of goodness v.14
Behavioral component before informational component.
Love in action before philosophy.
Goodness means like God. And it means you are a good actor, acting in the best interests of another person.
- Filled with knowledge v.14
It is difficult to teach what you do not know. Relative to how folks in Rome should live in the light of the gospel, there will be difficult issues. (Swearing loyalty to the Emperor. Declaring the divinity of the emperor. Christians were known as atheists!)
- Steady in humility (Able to be reminded again) v.15
Paul can be bold toward them in reminding them of the implications of the gospel because they are humble and recognize that even if they are already in agreement, everyone is not. So, the people need the character qualities stated in 12-14
Humility, appreciating other’s gifts, living peacefully: even with enemies, submission to the governing authorities, paying taxes, loving people without being done, accepting folks who think differently in the church without judgement or contempt.
Paul then shifts in the next section, the largest section of the passage, to talking about his focus and plans in ministry:
- Paul is a Competent Minister
Paul moves to talking about how he has functioned in ministry. Some of what he says is applicable to our lives and some of what he says will not be. But his approach to ministry is first that…
- He glories in Jesus Christ
Paul’s ministry is all about Jesus. Who Jesus is as the unique Son of God and the second person of the Trinity. And What Jesus did: He lived and taught as the example of how we should live. And He died as a sacrifice for our sins, reconciling us to God.
Jesus has begun a new covenant for people with God. In this covenant we have:
- forgiveness of sins, and an end to sacrifice
- an opportunity for direct fellowship with God and the end of genealogies.
- the personal experience with the Holy Spirit that empowers our lives for Godly living and ministry. A new temple inhabited by the Holy Spirit
- He demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit
This begins with reliance. From the beginning Paul was acquainted with the power of the Holy Spirit
- to heal him from blindness and
- empower him to minister in the lives of others in signs and wonders.
- to teach him about Jesus’ person and ministry (Who are you Lord?) Galatians 1:16ff
- He is directed by the Spirit in ministry
- He preaches where no one has before
Paul did not start the church at Rome.
Paul is an Apostle. He is one sent out by the church to bring the gospel where the gospel has not reached people yet. As such, He will be ministering primarily to Gentiles and Jews in the Gentile world.
There are folks who minister in different ways from this obviously. This is actually going to be a much more narrow focus of ministry than most will have.
III. Join the Effort to Help Others Follow Jesus
v.23-33 Especially 30-33
- Personal connection in ministry
23-29 Is the personal background where Paul speaks of personal things.
- Nowhere else new around here. I’m planning on going to Spain!
- I will visit you all when passing through.
- I can use your assistance. (Paul is asking for money)
- I’m currently on my way to Jerusalem
- Paul is taking a monetary gift to Jerusalem from churches he has visited on his third missionary journey. (This is a beautiful picture of God’s provision and folks participating in that as well.)
- Participating through prayer
Paul asks the folks to pray for him. He does this often with people. And those prayers allow them to participate from afar.
Prayer works because God desires for it to work
Paul asks them specifically to pray for:
Pray for protection and reception in Jerusalem!
We can see the reality of this need in Acts!
Acts 19:21-22 Paul’s plans stated while ministering in Ephesus.
Acts 20 Paul spends three months in Greece. (When he probably writes the letter to the Romans)
Acts 20:22-24 22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Acts 21: 10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
- How did their prayer efforts turn out?
Paul makes it to Jerusalem,
and gets the gift to the folks who will manage it.
He is arrested from the temple, falsely accused and folks plot to not eat until they kill him. The danger is real!!!
Acts 23: 12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.”
Paul is delivered because his nephew overhears the plot and the Romans responsible for him deliver him over to Felix
23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”
Almost 500 Roman soldiers protect Paul on his journey to Caesarea! He is protected by the Roman government from the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who want him dead.
Paul is in jail in Caesarea for two years! 24:27 Where he has had to defend his life from the accusations of those in Jerusalem.
Festus replaces Felix and the Jews plot to get Paul sent their way so that they might kill him. (Perhaps they realize that Paul is writing Scripture while he is in jail!!) Paul has a hearing before Festus where Festus tries to get Paul to go to Jerusalem to answer his accusers and Paul appeals to Caesar! He does this to keep from being ambushed!
Paul is able to testify before Felix, Festus and King Herod! He is finally sent to Rome! Where according to Philippians 1: 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
So, they send Paul on to Rome, but not before he is shipwrecked and spends some time on the Isle of Malta where Paul is bitten by a poisonous snake. This snake story demonstrates the way that God works. God is bigger than the snakes, bigger than the conspiracies (all three of them in Paul’s life) bigger than the storm or shipwreck. In each instance, the danger and trouble end up being a demonstration of God at work in their midst!!
Acts 28:16 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.
Reputation of the Christians:
Acts 28: 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
We don’t know if Paul made it further than Rome. Some feel he made it to Spain. Nero, who does not condemn him at first has him murdered in 64AD.