Where We Go From Here
August 15, 2021
What verse or passage of Scripture is most meaningful in your life? What verse has changed your life? There have been multiple verses that I have repeatedly referenced and found helpful: Jn. 14:27; Ps. 19:14; Eph. 5:25ff; 1 Pt. 3:7. And more. What are your “influential verses?”
Among verses that have changed us, there are a few verses that have also changed the course of Christian history and the church. Romans 1:16-17 is one of those; consider how it changed Martin Luther’s life:
“I hated that word ‘righteousness of God,’ which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically of the formal or active justice, as they called it, by which God is righteous and punishes sinners and the unrighteous. Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt I was a sinner before God with a most disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, indeed, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners. Secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.…
“I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith.…Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of all Scripture showed itself to me. And whereas before ‘the righteousness of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven.” [Martin Luther]
The verse in front of us this morning is one of those as well; the Lord saw fit to use Romans 15:14 to change one man’s life and perspective of ministry and thus change the trajectory of thousands of people and hundreds of churches, of which we are one. Romans 15:14 transformed the life of Jay Adams and has subsequently transformed the way we at GBC think about and do ministry.
In Romans 15:14, Paul begins the conclusion of his letter. This is the most intimate and private part of the letter; in this section he begins to speak much more personally — we hear his personal heart and desires for ministry/missions and his love for the Romans (even though he hasn’t met them yet).
This section is primarily about his upcoming travel plans, especially starting in v. 22, while chapter 16 contains his personal greetings and final benediction. As he transitions to his ministry plans, it gets him thinking about what constitutes effective ministry and he wants to provide the Romans with an exhortation to be active in engaging in ministry for the Lord — and to provide an encouragement for what he already sees in their ministry in Rome. We can summarize these three verses this way:
Be confident in God’s provision to use you to serve His people.
In this passage, Paul essentially is providing an answer to a question something like, “Ok — we understand these theological truths (chs. 1-11) and how those truths work in the church and relationships (chs. 12-15), but what do we do with those truths? Where do we go from here?”
Where we go is to service. Where we go is the spiritual care of souls. Where we go is being poured out in guiding and shepherding each other — to help each other live more faithfully for Christ. In these verses, Paul provides both an exhortation to serve and an example of service.
- The Exhortation to Serve Christ’s People (vv. 14-15a)
- To serve Christ’s people, be filled with His goodness (v. 14a)
- To serve Christ’s people, be filled with His knowledge (v. 14b)
- To serve Christ’s people, admonish with His wisdom (v. 14c)
- Paul, an Example of Serving Christ’s People (vv. 15-16)
- His work for Christ was a gift from Christ (v. 15)
- His work for Christ was an act of worship (v. 16a)
- His work for Christ was by the Holy Spirit’s power (v. 16b)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 15:14-16.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.