The Gospel Applied 12-16
The Gospel must be announced and if we are to do that well we must be a church where the gospel is applied. In other words the church must look like the message that it preaches. So the Gospel we preach must be seen in action in the life of his people, as we love one another, grow in our unity and partner each other in mission.
Together the church is to live in response to the gospel ‘in view of God’s mercy’ (12v1). Because of all that we have received and experienced through God’s grace, (a righteousness from God through faith and adoption into his family with the hope of glory chapters 1-11) we are to live our lives in sacrifice to God (12v1) and in service to others (12v6ff).
The church soaked in the gospel will be a place of love. This love will be seen in a love for the church which has no limits (12v9-13), that crosses all barriers and reaches out to all people regardless of their background or race (12v14-16) and a love that will never give up, even if you think you have been wronged (12v17-21). But our love must go beyond our walls to those in authority. We lovingly submit to authorities as a sign of our loving submission to God (13v1-2). If the world is to see what living under God is like then they need to see his people relating rightly to those in government (13v6). The love of God also reaches out to our neighbour (13v9) and there is no restrictions to who our neighbour is. As we reflect on the blessings of the gospel, eternal life to come (13v11-12) then we will be encouraged to show that love more and more. Of course it is not easy to love others but as the spirit works in us clothing us with Christ (13v14) so we are enabled to love all those around us.
The church that has experienced the gospel and has a desire to reach out with the gospel must be united. A divided church will never reach a broken world. So we are not to be judgemental (14v1,13) because we have been accepted by God (14v3). Our aim is not to please ourselves or want people to fit in with our way of thinking, rather we are to live serving God and his purposes (14v8). We must remember that we will all have to face God’s judgement and give an account to him (14v12). Instead of being judgemental we should seek to build one another up (14v19, 15v2). Making every effort to remove any stumbling blocks or obstacles in peoples way (14v13) always watching out that use do not use your freedom to cause our brother or sister in Christ to fall (14v21). We must be careful to do what is right before God and what will be best for others (14v22). Therefore we learn to accept each other just as Christ accepted us (115v7). If the Gospel is all about God accepting us by grace we must display this attitude so that others will not only hear but see what grace is like.
A church that is united in love, is not only evidence that hey have experienced the gospel, it is a sign they are now equipped to share the gospel. Our message is always about Jesus Christ not ourselves (15v16,18) and our mission is always to those who have not yet heard (15v20). We are to be a church who is looking out to other nations and people (15v24) while not forgetting the needs of those close to home – especially the church family (15v26). This is not something we can do alone but requires the whole church in dependence on God through prayer (15v30-31) and in partnership with each other (16v1-16). God uses all the gifts of all of his people to reach all those who do not yet believe. This mission is always under threat so we are to be careful of those who are divisive (16v17) and live and teach what is contrary to the gospel (16v17-19). The church is created by the gospel and is used by God to announce the gospel (16v25) so that all nations might believe and obey this gospel (16v26). This is God’s design for the church: ‘to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen.’ (16v27)