Romans: Global Mission, United Community (Part 4)

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) 

 

Bono on Jesus

C.S.Lewis when talking about Jesus Christ said: ‘A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunitic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.’

It seems through reading the reliable historical accounts of the Gospels, Bono has come to the conclusion that Jesus is nothing less than Lord and God. Look at the short clip below. What’s your choice about Jesus?

 

Romans: Global Mission, United Community (Part 3)

The Gospel Announced 9-11

Knowing the Gospel and Experiencing the Gospel is a wonderful privilege, but with it comes a great responsibility. In fact the sign that we have experienced the gospel is seen in a deep love for others that they too are saved (9v2, 10v1, 11v14).

We should be confident that the gospel will not fail but that *’All Israel’ will be saved (9v6, 11v26). We can be confident because it is God who makes Christians and he does that through his gracious promise (9v6-9) and his gracious choice (9v10-13). In fact salvation does not depend on our desire but God’s mercy (9v16). If it were not for God’s persistence and patience we would never be saved (9v22, 25) and the only right response is faith (9v30-32).

The gospel is for ‘everyone’ ‘anyone’ ‘all’ (10v4, 11, 12, 13), it is a universal offer to Jews and Gentiles but conditional to Faith. Therefore we must pray that people are saved (10v1) and preach until they are saved (10v14b). This Gospel must be announced, by all who believe, to all who do not yet believe (10v14-15). Sadly, however, not everyone who hears, like some of Israel, will believe (10v18) but we must go on patiently praying and preaching as God has been patient with us (10v21). Unless we preach people will not hear, and unless people hear they will not believe. This is the responsibility of all who have experienced the salvation of God.

Although there will be those who do not believe and reject the gospel, God has not given up on those he will save by his grace (11v2). God’s promise remains true he never fails to save those he has called to himself. While we may think it impossible for some to be saved God can save anyone (Paul 11v1) and he can save more than we could ever think or imagine (7000 in Elijah’s time 11v4). However while God’s grace extends to many people we should not miss the seriousness of turning our backs on God’s grace – God will harden their hearts (11v7) so that they can’t see or hear the truth of the gospel.

But we must never seek to limit or control God’s grace. His grace flows to those who have never heard and it continues to flow to those who have heard many times but have still not trusted in Jesus. Just because people stumble (11v11) at God’s offer of grace does not mean He gives up on them. God will pursue them through those who have accepted his grace even if they were irreligious outsiders (11v11-12). God’s design is to make unbelievers envious of those who have come to experience the blessings of the gospel (11v12) so that they in turn will believe and share the same gospel with others (11v15).

If we have experienced the gospel we must never become boastful (11v18) or arrogant (11v20) of our position. Instead we must be humble and continue trusting in God’s kindness towards us (11v22). Rather than use our position to gloat, we now use our position to share the good news of Jesus Christ, with those who have not yet heard, and with those who have heard but have not yet believed. If God can accept those who never went to church or read their bible (irreligious gentiles) can he not also accept those who do go to church and read the bible (religious Jew) but are not yet saved (11v24)? Our great comfort and encouragement is that ‘all Israel will be saved’ (11v25). We may know those who have a hard heart but God is merciful and gracious and he will save all those who he has chosen (11v29), God’s grace is always greater than our disobedience (11v30-31).

We do not make Christians – God does. He does it by his own gracious choice and our response is to pray that those who are not saved will be saved and that those who have not heard will hear as the gospel is preached. This is God’s plan (11v33) we might find it hard (11v34) we may even think God should listen to us (11v35) – but we let God be God ‘for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen. (11v36)

*The true Israel are not defined by nationality and race but by those who have faith in the promises of God (9v8, 9v30-32)  

Romans: Global Mission, United Community (Part 2)

The Gospel Experienced 5-8

The Gospel is not just news to tell it is to be experienced in our lives. The gospel brings about a brand new life, peace with God, access to his grace and the hope of eternal glory (5v1-2). As we journey through this life we will also experience suffering (5v3) but the love of God demonstrated in the cross assures us of our final and complete salvation (5v10).

This is all possible because of our unity with Christ. In our birth we were untied to Adam, full of sin and awaiting death. Through our new birth we are united to Christ, forgiven our sin and awaiting glory (5v17-18). Not only have we a new life we are now part of a new righteous family (5v19).

However our new life does not mean an end with sin and the struggle with sin (6v1-23).

Through our unity with Christ the penalty of sin is destroyed (6v4), we are no longer slaves to sin we have been set free (6v6b-7) which makes it possible for us to now live a new way (6v10). This new life means we have a new master, God, (6v11) who helps us to deal with the ongoing presence of sin (6v13). The sentence of sin is gone but the struggle is still there.

Through the gospel we have been set free to live a new way and serve a new master (6v18). When we were born we were slaves to sin unable to do right (6v20), but now through faith we are slaves to God able to choose what is right (6v22). We no longer have to sin. This life will lead to ongoing holiness and eternal life to come (6v22b).

The issue of sin is serious it spoils our life, it spreads to others and it separates our relationships with others and God. So how do we deal with it? Chapter six shows us how we deal with the ongoing struggle with sin chapter 7 warns against trying to beat it by being more religious (following the law). The law is powerless to change us or save us (3v20), in fact all it does is reveal our sin (7v7) and show us our desire to disobey (7v8).

More rules will never make us better people (7v18-19), it only condemns us it never changes us (7v23). Instead we remember Christ who rescued us from the law (7v24-25) so we can live a new way the way of the spirit (Chapter 8).

In Christ there is now no condemnation (8v1) the penalty of sin is gone but the presence of sin is still there. We now have been given the Holy Spirit who enables and equips us to live God’s new way (8v9-10). The spirit empowers us to actively deal with sin, putting to death the misdeeds in our bodies (8v13), and reminding us of our new relationship, adopted into God’s family (8v15). Even with the presence of sin and the struggle with sin the Spirit reminds us that we are still his children (8v16) and so we need not fear his condemnation (8v15).

Not only will we struggle with sin we will also face suffering (8v17). All creation suffers (8v20) and so does every person (8v23), this is a result of the wider effects of sin and God’s judgement on the world of sin. But those who are Christians look forward to a day of ‘release’ when creation will be set free (8v21) and we will be set free (8v23b). As we wait for that great day the spirit sides with us helping us to pray for what we need.(8v26).

The struggle of sin and suffering is very real and can cause us to loose sight and give up. But the gospel assures us that what God starts in us he will continue (8v29-30). If God gave us his son he will give us everything else that we need (8v32). In fact there is nothing in all creation, not sin not suffering, not even Satan will be able to separate us from God (8v35, 39).  

Romans: Global Mission, United Community (Part 1)

This week we start a new series on the book of Romans. Having covered chapters 1-8 periously we return to look at chapters 9-11 with the aim of completing the book, chapters 12-16, next year.                                                                                                                   It’s always difficult starting into the middle of a book, so to find out where we have got to you can follow the Roman Plot! in the following posts.

Global Mission, United Comunity

God’s desire is to see the Gospel he promised beforehand (1v2) go to all people (1v16). Paul who has been set apart for the gospel (1v1) to call people from the nations (1v5) is eager to preach the gospel (1v15) to other places without the gospel (15v23).                                                                                                                             This work can’t be done alone but only with a united community, Jew and Gentile who accept each other (15v7) and are in partnership with each other (15v24). By preaching the gospel to them through this letter Paul will cause the church to (a) look in on themselves and see that they are one in the gospel and (b) to look out on the world that desperately needs the gospel.

 The Gospel Explained 1-4

The Gospel is God’s and is all about his Son Jesus Christ (1v2-4). This gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (1v16). In the gospel we receive a righteousness from God that makes us acceptable with God (1v17). We all desperately need the gospel because we are all under God’s anger and wrath. It is what we deserve because of our wickedness and suppressing the truth (1v18). This is his fair, just and reasoned response to our sin (1v32). God’s anger is being revealed now giving us over to our hearts desire (1v24, 26) but it is also a sign of his final judgement to come (2v5).

God is fair in the way he deals with us seeking that we all come to repentance (2v4). He will judge us fairly, he has no favourites, (2v11) and he will judge each person according to what they know, either with the law (the religious Jew) or without the law (the irreligious gentile) (2v12). This will happen when Jesus comes again (2v16)

Of course many will try to get right with God through their own religious performance and observance (2v17) but the truth is they can’t even practise what they preach (2v21-24). Religion can’t save you or change you only the Spirit at work in our hearts can save us (2v29).

Whoever we are weather a church going person who knows their bible or a non church goer who knows nothing of the bible we are all the same deserving God’s just judgement (3v9). No one is righteous, no one is good enough for God (3v10,12), especially those who go to church and read their bibles! (3v20). What is needed is God’s gracious intervention.

God in his grace provides a solution to our problem (3v21-26). On the one side God’s justice demands that we are punished for our sin (2v5) but on the other side he makes salvation possible (1v16) creating a tension between justice and forgiveness. This tension is solved without conceding to either side by sending Jesus who is our propitiation/sacrifice of atonement, dealing with God’s wrath (3v25). God in Jesus stands in for us, paying the penalty for our unrighteousness so that through faith in Jesus we might be be made righteous (3v22). God did this as a demonstration of his justice (3v26). This is a universal offer but conditional to faith (…to all who believe…3v22)

Therefore no-one can boast (3v27) whether you are religious or irreligious, God saves all people Jew or Gentile in the same way – by faith (3v30). Faith is the way we receive our righteousness, it was the same for Abraham (4v2), David (4v6). The implication is we are all equal before God and are united together through our common faith in Jesus (4v11-12). This promise of salvation is dependant not on my obedience or disobedience but on God’s promise (4v16). What God says God will do despite what we feel or think (4v21). Our response is to believe completely on the perfect performance of Jesus Christ and not on my obedience (4v22-24).

God’s Good Design for Life

In response to our Governments proposal, at the end of last year, to hold a referendum to redefine marriage, we have started a series of talks: ‘God’s Good Design for Life’.

These talks look at the subject of Marriage, Family and Gender as God has designed it. We see this as what is best for us as individuals and as a society. You may like to listen to these talks under our Recent Audio section. Also are some helpful links and resources on the same topics and themes.

You may also like to check out these helpful websites: