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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Romans 14-16

Skip Heitzig - Romans 14-16

Skip Heitzig - Romans 14-16
Skip Heitzig - Romans 14-16
TOPICS: Expound, Book of Romans, Bible Study

Good evening, good folks. You know, you really are the exception to the rule. It says in the Scriptures, in the last days that people will not endure sound doctrine. So what I love is that you make it so easy to come to church and to teach the Word because you love God's Word and you love coming midweek. Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. Our nation needs prayer, our world needs prayer. So as the National Day of Prayer, historically we've always gotten involved in something in the community or something locally.

So tomorrow on Instagram or Facebook throughout the day, our pastoral team, all of us will be leading through specific prayer points for a few minutes at the top of each hour. You could grab a friend, or 10, and you could tune into that. Or you could just pray with them in your neighborhood, in your place of work, school, family, whatever it is. But tomorrow is a National Day of Prayer. Though we should pray every day, we make a concerted effort to specifically pray for a variety of things that we will be hosting on those two platforms, Instagram and Facebook. Also if you happen to be in the vicinity of downtown tomorrow at noon, some of us will be gathering there for a time of prayer outdoors at the Civic Plaza at 12:00 noon. So you are welcome to join that as well.

Let's turn in our Bibles to the book of Romans, chapter 14. Come on. We're getting close. Somebody once said that a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. There are millions of tiny packages out there, people all wrapped up in themselves, in their own world, in their own rights. What's in it for me? Don't you recognize who I am? All of that business. A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. When it comes to the Church, the body of Christ, a group of not perfect, but redeemed people, and when it comes to dealing with one another, we ought to be willing to give up our rights, give up our status to be able to provide unity in the Church.

I remember years ago, and I got a little clip of it for this evening, I remember reading a little piece by Karen Mains called "The Brawling Bride." It was a parable, "The Brawling Bride." And in this parable, it's at the most climactic part of the wedding ceremony. Everybody is in place, the families are all seated. The groom and the attendants are all waiting up in the front. The bridesmaids have come down the aisle. The minister's up front, Bible in hand. And then the song starts, dum, dum-da dum. And everybody stands. All the eyes look toward the back of the room where the bride is coming down the aisle. And when they see her, everyone lets out a gasp. Everyone in the crowd says. Because the bride is limping. Her gown is ripped, it's covered with mud. One of her eyes is purple and swollen. Her hair's all messed up.

And in this parable, the groom is Christ. The bride is the Church. And Karen Mains, who writes this parable, "The Brawling Bride," says toward the end of that, doesn't He deserve better than this? His bride, the Church has been fighting again. In chapter 14, the apostle Paul addresses how we get along with each other by preferring one another even though we have knowledge that it's OK for us to get involved in certain activities that we would call "gray areas." it's not black. It's not white. It's not you shall do this, or not do this. It has to do with days to worship. It has to do with dietary regulations. And somebody might say, well, I know better and I have knowledge. I'm more educated. That's not a big deal. But not everybody has that knowledge. Not everybody is as bright as you are.

So what you need to do, being so awesome and mature, and so far along in your faith, and so highly educated in spiritual things, knowing that you need to mix that, temper that with love. Because you're dealing with the Bride, the Bride of Christ. I found an alarming set of polls a while back said 61% of the American public, that's about 3 out of 5, says that the chief purpose of life is enjoyment and personal satisfaction. That's the chief end of life. That's why I'm here, that I might enjoy myself and find personal pleasure. Well, that didn't surprise me as much as the next part of the statistic. 50% of those who said they were born again Christians said the chief end of life is personal enjoyment and satisfaction.

Well, once again, a person wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. When you get that going in a church, it can be detrimental. So in chapter 14, Paul has said, none of us lives to himself or dies to himself. We live and die to the Lord for we are the Lord's. Now let's just pick it up in verse 12. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way. You and I, rather than putting stumbling stones in our brothers and sisters' way, we should be putting stepping stones in their way. Stepping stones so they can mature, not stumbling stones so that they will fall and get tripped up. But we should lead them toward maturity.

So how do we do that practically? Well, Paul will say, the law of love. It is love that balances out your liberty in Christ and your knowledge of what you can and cannot do. You say, well, I have the freedom to do this or that, or listen to that kind of music, or get involved in these activities. OK fine, he will say. I'm glad you have that knowledge. I'm glad you are persuaded. But keep in mind, people who do not share your value system. Keep in mind there are, what he calls, the weaker brother, the weaker sister. They have their own scruples, their own sensitivities toward things. We have to watch out for that.

So if you have the freedom to listen to a certain kind of music, you appreciate it. You love the chord changes. You love the complications and the intricacies. And yet somebody else is over at your house and doesn't share the same appreciation for it, but even thinks that it's wrong for them as a believer to listen to that certain type of music, whatever it could be, if you go to your stereo and say, really, well, listen to this. Turn it all the way up to 10. Well, is that love? No, that's love for yourself. That's a man wrapped up in himself, making himself a very small package.

If you have the freedom, he will say, to eat meat, have the diet you can eat anything you want to. But that person says, oh man, I have a problem. I'm a vegetarian. And not only that, but let's go back 2,000 years. The meat that you have on your table was sacrificed to an idol in the temple down the street. Well then, love would say, OK, I'll just put it away then. I won't do it.

So you could go through a number of these kinds of activities. And he will say that liberty and knowledge must be balanced with love. I know, verse 14, I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself, but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.

Now today, there are no ceremonial dictates as to what you can and can't eat. There's nothing in the New Testament that says you can't have certain types of food. There are no dietary restrictions for us New Testament believers as there were for the Jewish people in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, under the law of Moses. Eating or not eating won't make you closer to God. It can give you heartburn if you eat it. It can make you fatter if you eat it. It can make you unhealthy or healthy depending on what it is you eat. But it won't make you closer to God.

So though you have knowledge, and you are persuaded that certain things are OK, Paul again makes the case the law of love must prevail. And that's just not in Romans. That's also found in Corinthians, we will see. It's also found in Philippians. He will say, let nothing be done, Philippians chapter 2, let nothing be done with selfish ambition or conceit, but in loneliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. I'm going to esteem you more important than my liberty at this point. I'm going to place your sensitivities as a higher value than what I have the freedom, what my rights are as a citizen, to do. So this is a gray area.

Let's go on. I'll get to it. Therefore, do not, verse 16, let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It's about being right with God, doing the right thing for each other. It's bringing peace among brothers and sisters. It's spreading out the joy when we gather together. That's the kingdom of God. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure. But it is evil for the man who eats with offense.

Now look at the first part of verse 20. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. The Living Bible says, don't undo the work of God for a chunk of meat. And you could translate that out. You could extrapolate that out. Don't undo the work of God for a cigarette or a cigar. Don't undo the work of God for a beverage of your choice, an alcoholic beverage. If you know somebody there is going to take offense to it and be stumbled by it, oh, but they're weaker people. I'm stronger, I'm more mature. In your advanced maturity, add love to that. Why destroy the work of God for a chunk of meat?

Think of God working in a person's life. Think how amazing that is that the God of heaven and earth would work in a human being so that He might work through that human being. So He does a work. And the Bible says in Ephesians 4, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We're His workmanship. We're His pallet. We're His work of art, one translation says. We are His workmanship.

So no one would in their right mind would think of taking a Rembrandt and defiling it. No one would walk up to a Rembrandt painting go, you know, I'm going to put a little stick man right here. Watch this. Draw a little stick man right here in that Rembrandt picture. You'd be handcuffed, and taken to jail, and hauled before a court. Nobody would think about doing that to a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh.

Or what if you decided to take a Stradivarius violin and say, I'm going to put electric guitar pickup on it? To deface and defile something that is that valuable as a work of art is incomprehensible. How much more so than to take a human being, made in the image of God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, a brother or sister on their way to heaven, in whom God is working His work in? Don't destroy that just because you have rights and you have freedom.

Don't destroy the work of God. Don't undo the work of God for a chunk of meat or for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure. But it is evil for the man who eats with offense. it is good neither to eat meat, nor drink wine, nor do anything by which your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats because he does not eat from faith. For whatever is not from faith is sin.

In this case, the rule of thumb is let your conscience be your guide. Now be careful with that. I'm not saying that when it comes to all matters of faith, let your conscience be your guide. Because your conscience can be wrong. It can be warped. It can deceive you. But when it comes to gray areas, not black and white issue, you can't say, well, you know, when it comes to the deity of Christ, my conscience is, I don't care what your conscience is on that issue, frankly.

But when it comes to eating meat, or worshipping on certain days, or certain types of music, or your freedom to imbibe in certain drink with your wife at a meal, that's up to you. That's let your conscience be your guide, and have faith, and act in faith. But when there are other people observing you, that's where liberty and knowledge must be balanced with love.

So think of it this way. When a child is born into a home, everything in that home changes. Every one in that house changes. Maybe you had the habit of leaving the scissors on the coffee table in the living room in times past. Not anymore, you don't. You put that away. You cover up light sockets. You nail things on the wall so they don't move as that baby turns into a toddler. And you put things away for the sake of love.

Now as that child grows from toddlerhood to young childhood, to adolescence, et cetera, you will ease those restrictions and give that person more responsibility. But at first, you are considering the weakness of that tender child. And you're saying that life is vital. It's important. I can't exercise the same kind of freedoms I had in the past. That's because you love them.

Or imagine a child afraid of the dark. And mom says, sweetheart it's time for you to go to bed. And little Johnny goes, I can't go to bed, there's a monster in my room. Come on, there's no monster in your room. I have knowledge. I'm persuaded. I know better than you do. I'm an adult. There's no monsters in your room. There is. He's under the bed and in the closet.

Now would a mother drag her son into the room, say, go to bed? Well, only a dumb one would. Anyone smart would turn on the light, open the closet, look under the door, and say, the monster's gone, must be in my room tonight. I'll take care of him. OK, mom. You take care of him. I'll take care of him. Daddy will get him. Or she might say, daddy is him. I don't know. But she will consider the weakness of the child and act in love.

We then, verse 1 of chapter 15, we then, who are strong, ought to bear with the scruples, the sensitivities of the weak and not to please ourselves. It's not about you. It's not about your rights. It's not about what you can do. What about me? Let each of us please his neighbor for good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself. But as it is written, the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.

Here Paul is quoting the 69th Psalm, a Messianic Psalm, a Psalm that predicts the suffering of the coming Messiah, hundreds of years before Messiah was born. Psalm 69, a very notable Messianic song. So he is quoting that, "the reproaches of you fell on me." The point he is making is that even Jesus when he lived His life didn't live His life with His own rights in mind, with his own my own personal passion in life is, my own pursuit is. He lived knowing that there were others around Him, and he lived for others. In fact, He lived to please His Father. He said, I always do those things that please the Father. It was Jesus who said, the Son of Man did not come to be served. The Son of Man came to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.

Think of how Jesus pleased others, served others, how He would teach crowds long into the night, long into the evening. Sometimes He would be doing miracles and sometimes teaching. And when His family came to see Him, they realized, He's not even taking time to eat. He was serving others, He was thinking about others. How He saw people with an infirmity and healed them. How at the Last Supper, He washed His disciples' feet, taking the role of a servant.

And then not only taking the role of a servant at the Last Supper, but He knew within a few hours, He would be dying on a cross. So He was the one suffering, He was the one who would suffer. He was already feeling the brunt of that. He said, now my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, He said to His disciples. And yet, He is thinking of others at that Last Supper, washing their feet.

When they put Him on a cross, think of the things He said on the cross, Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing. To the thief, today you will be with Me in paradise. To His mother, mother, receive your son. And let John, thought of His own mother being taken care of in the future, which is noteworthy. Because anybody who has ever suffered physically knows that pain can be so all-consuming and turn your thoughts almost exclusively inward on yourself. It's hard for you to think about others when you're suffering, when you're in pain. So here is Jesus, who would have every right to be totally consumed with his own trial, his own execution. But He's thinking of others. The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.

Back in 1896, I don't expect any of you here to remember that, but back in 1896, an author wrote a book. It became very famous. Still is famous today, though under another name. The book was called In His Steps. The author was Charles Sheldon. And it was a story about a church, a group of believers who made a covenant with each other that for the next period of time, I think it may have been even a year, but it was at least six months, they decided that they would covenant together as God's people, that they wouldn't do anything, that they wouldn't make any decision, they wouldn't make any action without first filtering it through the thought, what would Jesus do. What would Jesus have me to do here? What would Jesus have me to do there? It's called In His Steps.

Now that spawned the What Would Jesus Do bracelet movement that were popular. Are they still around today? They still are? They're coming back. OK, so these things kind of recycle. But that whole idea of what would Jesus do came from that. And so Paul is thinking, think of what Jesus did, think of what Jesus did and what Jesus would do when you're dealing with your brother and sister, and some of these dicey situations, that you're not there to please yourself or exercise your own personal rights necessarily.

So verse 4, for whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another according to Jesus Christ, that you may with one mind and one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, receive one another just as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

I've always loved verse 4. I've referred to it often. That everything that was written in the past, and from this vantage point, is everything written in the Old Testament, that was the Scripture of Paul the apostle. Those were the Scriptures for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Old Testament. Everything that was written in the Old Testament was written for us. This is why I think churches should teach, not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament. Because the New Testament teaches us God wrote the Old Testament for our edification and our learning.

This is why I believe in teaching through all the books of the Bible. That's why after we're done with Romans, we'll be in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. And I told you how that I've gone through this 90 day excursion through the Scriptures where I have to read the Bible in 90 days, about 15 chapters a day. Kevin, you went through it. A few of you did. And I realized as I went through it, man, I had forgotten a lot. Even though I'd taught the Bible many times. There's a lot of parts I just keep forgetting. And so I'm going, I'm doing that 90 day plan again. And I kind of realize there's a few things that I had forgotten about or that I had never seen before.

Now I've read through the Scriptures for my whole adult life, and I'm still learning. And all those precious lessons written. And one of them is how patient God is. He's called here the God of patience. God puts up with a lot when it comes to people. That's one of the lessons I'm discovering this time through. Man, God is so patient. He's never in a hurry. We are. He wasn't in a hurry with Abraham. He didn't say, Abraham, you're going to have a baby, like tomorrow. He let him get to be over 100. God wasn't in a hurry.

In fact, the longer God waited, the more the odds were stacked against Abraham ever having a child, especially Sarah. She was getting up there too. So the odds were stacked so that when God finally came through with the promise, it was unmistakably from the Lord. And God got more glory. God was patient when it came to bringing Jesus on the scene. He predicted the Messiah would come. And it says, in the fullness of the time God sent forth his Son born of a virgin, born under the law, that we might be redeemed from the law, Galatians 4 tells us. God was patient. God is patient with you. I know that because God's patient with me. I have failed him so many times. I've fallen so many times. How many times I've said, Lord, I'll never do that again. Lord, help me, help me. For some of us, it's a daily prayer. He's the God of patience.

That we, through the comfort and patience, patience and comfort of the Scripture might have hope. He puts up with a lot. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded. So if God puts up with a lot with you, why can't you put up with some stuff, scruples, sensitivities, issues that other weaker people have around me? And then some of us are saying, no, I just really need to be around more mature Christians. Either that, or you just need to act more mature yourself by loving them.

That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, receive one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision. That is, to the Jewish people, the Jewish nation. He came as the fulfillment of Jewish Scripture. He came as the Jewish Messiah. He came to fulfill the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob Joseph, Jacob, the 12 tribes, David, et cetera, et cetera. He came fulfilling that, and when He came, He came in Judaism under Jewish law. He said, I didn't come to destroy the Law and the Prophets, I came to fulfill them. Not one jot, not one tittle will pass from the law 'til everything is fulfilled, He said. So He came to serve them. Came into line with the system of Judaism, servant to the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made to the fathers. And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.

Now he's going to pull out of the hat several Scriptures that God made to the Jewish nation. He came to serve them. Christ came to serve them. But also, he mentions the fact that God's plan always included outsiders, not just Jewish people. That he wasn't just the Jewish Messiah, he was the Savior of the world. And in God's mind and God's heart, Gentiles were always on the plate. They were always part of the plan. Now He has already covered that in 9, 10, and 11. Israel and the church, we've kind of covered that. But he's just sort of rehashing that, reinserting that now that He came to serve Jew and non-Jew.

For this reason, he quotes now Psalm 49, for this reason, I will confess You among the Gentiles and sing to Your name. And again, he says, now quoting Deuteronomy 32, rejoice Oh, Gentiles, with His people. So the nations, Gentiles, with His people Israel, together with them. That's the mystery of the Church. And again, now quoting Psalm 117, praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. Laud Him, all you peoples or nations. And again, Isaiah says, now quoting Isaiah 11, there shall be a root out of Jesse, and He shall rise to reign over the Gentiles. In Him, the Gentiles shall hope.

Here's what's interesting to me. There's a lot of things that are interesting to me, but one thing that interests me is that Paul the apostle, when he wrote this, he's, I believe, just pulling these out of his head, out of his heart. He didn't have a cell phone to Google, where is that Scripture? He didn't have a concordance at the back of his bound Bible that he could look up the verses. I don't think he pulled the scrolls of Isaiah and the scrolls of the Psalms out to find where those were. I think he knew those texts. They just came to him. It was a working knowledge of Scripture.

This is the value of reading through the Bible, and again, and again, and again. This is why we do what we do on Wednesday night. There is such value in combing through large swaths of Scripture over and over again, to just let it soak into you. Because you will find that when you're cut, you'll bleed "Bibline." When you go through a trial, it's just what comes out. It's often said, when you bump into somebody, whatever's inside comes out. It's like when you bump into a pail, whatever inside, comes out. So if lots of swearing and cursing come out, that's what's inside. If Scriptures come out and the will of God come out, that's what's inside.

So put that inside. Invest inside you. Put that in your heart. Your Word have I put in my heart, stored in my heart, that I might not sin against You. So I just love the fact that Paul just had that working knowledge. So the more we know the Scripture, when you're cut, that's why I say, you'll bleed "Bibline." I stole that from Spurgeon. It's not original. Really, nothing is. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able to admonish one another.

To me, this is one of the key verses in the book of Romans. Certainly, it is one of the key verses in this last fourth section of the Book of Romans, the practical section. He's writing to believers, the church. Average, run of the mill believer in Rome attending a fellowship. And he says, there's something I believe in about you, and that is you are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able to admonish one another. The word "admonish" is an important word. It means to instruct or to advise one another, or to even counsel one another would be a better translation, better idea. I believe, Paul says, you as the Body of Christ are able, competent, in fact, the Williams translation says, "you are competent to counsel one another."

The Greek word is... And we get the word, if you've ever heard of nouthetic counseling, it's something that Jay Adams wrote books on. He wrote a book called Competent to Counsel based on this verse, saying that instead of selling out to secular counselors and secular psychologists, he believes, according to Scripture, every gift necessary for the edification of the Body of Christ is present in every local expression of the Body of Christ, every church. And that we are competent to counsel one another.

Well, we don't deal with that here. You're going to have to go to a professional counselor. No, we have mature people who can disciple you and get you through this. You know, I truly believe that people can get through life, no matter what issues they have, for the most part, through a church, number one, that teaches through the Scriptures. If you have a Bible teaching church, and the Word of God is explained, expounded, unfolded, taught to people so they understand the principles over and over again, the whole counsel of God, number one.

Number two, you break that up into small groups. Because sometimes we all run into hang-ups and messes and complications, and it's hard to know how to apply the Scripture to our lives. So a small group really advances that. I would say 90% to 95% of anything you will encounter in life would be solved with that two-pronged approach, large group Bible study through the Bible, and then small group application, like our Connect Groups. I believe you'd be taken care of.

Now on occasion, it might get a little bit more complicated. You need one on one counseling, one on one discipleship to kind of work through the issues and unravel things. We understand that. But I believe you're competent to do that. You're competent to counsel. You can admonish one another. You can instruct one another and advise because of the maturity level that is here.

Nevertheless brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, reminding you because of the grace of God or the grace given to me by God, 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.

Isn't it interesting that a Jewish rabbi, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, Paul called himself, a Pharisee is the one God chose to be the apostle to the Gentiles? Paul had a very unique background. I'm not going to get into it tonight because of the lack of time. I want to get through this. But he says, ministering, I've been made a minister, verse 16, and I am ministering, same word, the Gospel of God an offering of the Gentiles that they might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Let me unlock that for you. When Paul uses the word "minister" here, or "ministering" here, he uses the Greek word, is where we get our English word "liturgy." Ever heard of the word "liturgy"? It's an ecclesiastical term, it's a church word. It means literally to perform a public act of service. It was used of the priests, the Jewish priests in the temple. They would publicly minister before the Lord for the people, by sacrifices. That was their liturgy, their...

In the temple, Gentiles were kept out of that sacrificial process. The priest did not offer the sacrifices for the nations, but for the people of Israel. Gentiles were kept in the court of the Gentiles. They didn't participate in the liturgy. It's interesting that Paul uses the term liturgy here. It says that, you Gentiles, who are excluded from God, are made a special offering to God. That really unravels the meaning of those verses, beautiful. Those who are excluded, God includes, and makes them a special offering. And Paul is the officiating priest that when he leads a Gentile to Christ, he's offering that Gentile as a liturgical sacrifice to God who accepts that sacrifice.

Isn't that beautiful? Think of that when you lead a person to Christ, when you witness for the Lord and you lead another person, an unbeliever to faith in Christ, and you are offering that person to God as a sacrifice, as part of the liturgy. I love that part of worship. Therefore, I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in things which pertain to God, 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, in mighty signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God. So that from Jerusalem and round about to illyricum, it sounds like a little poem here, like a little rap, he's rhyming, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, Sorry. My mind goes there when I see these things.

I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ. Now to me what's interesting about that is we have no record in the book of Acts that Paul ever went to Illyricum. Illyricum is the Albanian peninsula, Yugoslavia area, those Slavic states, we have no record of him ever doing that. But he says, yeah, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I've fully preached the gospel. So we ask the question, well, when did he go over to Albania?

And the answer is, we don't know, but we think it was at the end of his third missionary journey. He had made his way through Galatia, through Pamphylia, through Achaea, through to Macedonia. And when he was in Macedonia, in Thessalonica, in particular, and he was dealing with the Corinthian problem, writing letters to the Corinthians because they're a mess, that he probably from Thessalonica then went West. Because if you're in Thessalonica, you take the road, back then, due west, called the Via Ignacia, and it takes you right over to the Albanian peninsula. Probably after dealing with Corinth, he spent time, went over, dealt with those in Illyricum, preached the gospel there, and then he was done.

So from Jerusalem, all the way around about to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation. He really wanted to go into uncharted territory, really wanted to establish, and his ministry was going to be where there wasn't anything like what he was doing. So he was a true missionary, taking the Gospel to uncharted areas.

But as it is written, to whom he was not announced, they shall see. To those who have not heard, shall understand. So that's the Scriptural precedent from Isaiah 52 for his ministry. For this reason, I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now, no longer having place in these parts and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journeyed to Spain... See, he really wanted to go where nobody ever went. He wanted to go all the way to Spain. That was in his heart. We don't know if he ever made it to Spain. Probably did not, but he might have. I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey and be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.

So he'd never been to Rome, wanted to go to Rome. In fact, he said, heck, I'm going to go to Spain. And I'm just going to hang out with you on the way to Spain. Now when I say he might have gone to Spain, I don't know. Paul the apostle was arrested in Caesarea, taken before, spent two years there, went to Rome where he was imprisoned. He wrote the book of Philippians, a couple other books, from there. He was waiting to stand trial before Caesar Nero. He stood trial. He was released. And then later on, up to a year later, he was then rearrested, brought back to Rome, put in the Mamertine prison, and then eventually taken out on the Appian Way, and they beheaded him. That's how he died.

But if there was a year between those two arrests, some scholars think that's when he went to Spain. Of course, he's writing this never having gone to Rome, hoping that he's going to get to Rome. But watch this. But now, I'm going to Jerusalem to minister to the Saints.

Now remember what happens in Jerusalem, he gets arrested. He will never be a free man, except for that one little stint after he is released, and then rearrested. I'm going to Jerusalem to minister to the Saints, for it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaea to make a contribution for the poor among the Saints who are in Jerusalem. It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. If the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.

Remember, Paul took an offering from Gentile congregations for the poor Christian believers in Jerusalem who had fallen on hard times. Therefore, when I have performed this, that is, gone to Jerusalem, delivered the financial gift, this offering that I have collected, and have sealed them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.

Remember what James says in his little book, how he cautions us. He says, come now, you who say, we're going to go do this and do that, and go here and go there, and buy and sell and get gain. You should rather say, if the Lord wills. Now I'm sure that was in Paul's thinking, and he will understand God has a different plan. But I know, verse 29, that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the Saints. That I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

He says, pray for me. Pray that it goes well when I give the offering. Pray that I get delivered from those people who really want to do me harm in Judea. Pray that I can come just hang out with you in Rome. Did God answer their prayer? He sure did. He answers every prayer. Paul did go to Rome. Paul did see the church and was refreshed by the church. But part of this prayer was answered a little bit differently. He didn't get delivered from those in Judaea. He got delivered to those in Judaea. He was then delivered to the Roman government. They arrested Paul. They put Paul on a ship, took him to Rome. Paul always wanted to go to Rome, but Paul didn't want to go to Rome as a prisoner. That's not in his, he wanted to go to Rome as a preacher. But God let him go to Rome as a preacher and a prisoner. And the Roman government footed the bill. The government paid for it.

I love the economy of God. I'm going to get you to Rome, Paul, and I'm not going to even make the Gentile churches, you already kind of blood them dry so that you could give money to the folks in Jerusalem, and you can't take an offering from those in Jerusalem because they've had such a poor last few years. So I'm going to get you to Rome, and I'll have Cesar pay for it. And so the way he did that is Paul was in Caesarea and he goes, you know, I've gotten the runaround for a couple of years from you guys, so I appeal to Caesar. And he had the right to do that, and they put him on a ship and took him to Rome. So he went there by the will of God, but not as he thought.

Now the last chapter, which we're going to breeze through tonight, is a chapter most people don't really spend any time on because it's a list of names. Greet this person, greet this person. This guy says hi, this gal says hi. 26 people are named. 2 are unnamed. So we have 28 people altogether. And the great lesson this chapter shows us is that Paul was not a Lone Ranger in ministry. He always had a team, a large team. And if you want to look at the reason Paul was successful, look no further than the team that was around him. That's why he was so successful. People supported and prayed for him, performed all sorts of other ministerial functions. He had all sorts of workers.

Let's just look at a couple of them as we breeze through this. We don't have time to really go into depth. You'll meet them all in heaven, so. I commend to you, Phoebe, Phoebe's a female name. Now, get this, she's first on the list. A woman 2,000 years ago, written by a Jewish rabbi to a group in Rome, and first on the list is a woman. There are 9 out of 26 names are women in this chapter. First on the list is a woman. This stupidity that I've heard, Paul was chauvinistic and misogynistic, betrays a real idiocy, lack of knowledge, lack of familiarity with the apostle and the writings of the New Testament. Women were subservient in antiquity. When a woman got pregnant 2,000 years ago, people prayed for a boy. Because at least a boy would contribute to the economy of the family. That's how they saw it. Women were put down. Christianity is what elevated women. Jesus elevated women. And the nine of the 26 are mentioned here as hard workers in the Gospel.

So I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the Saints, and a sister in whatever business she has need of you. For indeed, she has been a helper of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved, Epenetus, who was of the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. Thumbnail sketch, Aquilla and Priscilla were from Rome. He's writing to Rome. They were familiar with them. They were from Rome, but the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from that region. They ended up in Corinth. Acts, chapter 18. Paul met them in the synagogue in Corinth.

Now here's a little trivia for you. In the synagogue, it was divided in the synagogue service. And on one side, sat who, and who sat on the other side. Men and women, they were divided, they were separate. Men sat on one side, women on the other. But what you may not know is that the men sat together according to their trade, according to their occupation. What was Paul by occupation? A tent maker. What was Priscilla and Aquila by occupation? Tent maker. So they were seated probably next to each other. Hi, I'm Aquilla. That's my wife over on the other side. Wave, Priscilla. I'm a tent maker. Oh, Paul, I'm a tent maker too. So they hit it off. The husband and wife came to faith in Christ, became colleagues of Paul the apostle, became very important to the ministry, and evidently started a church in their home. For the first 200 years of Christianity, churches met in homes. It was very convenient. There were no public church buildings like we have today. Then the persecution hit, they were all driven underground. And then after that, emerged more formal church buildings.

Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus, verse 7, and Junia, my kinsman, my fellow prisoners who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. Urbanus was a common name for slaves in those days. There were many Urbanuses as a common name. Urbanus means city-bred. So it was a generic name usually for a slave who was raised in the city, city slicker slave. But what's interesting is in the same verse, Stachys, that's an uncommon name, and in antiquity, the only Stachys we know of is somebody who is of the royal household of Caesar.

What I love is that Paul puts slave and royalty in the same line. I think he does it on purpose, to show the evenness that the cross provides. We're all the same at the foot of the cross. Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Aristobulus was, at least the one we know about, the grandson of Herod Agrippa I, which made him the great grandson of Herod the Great. Apparently, who was saved at this time. Then verse 11, greet Herodion, obviously somebody related to the household of Herod, my kinsmen. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. Narcissus was the name of a well-known, wealthy, influential, raspy, bad dude, who was the secretary to the Emperor Claudius, who obviously has repented, come to faith in Christ.

So do you remember when Paul writes to the Philippians, I'm trying to speed through this, when Paul writes to the Philippian church, and he says, hey, we greet you. And believers from the royal household also greet you. Probably referring to some of these guys. Greet, verse 12, Tryphena and Tryphosa, cute name for a couple, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. I'd love to unravel that, but time's up. So let's just keep going. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, the brethren who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus, his sister, Olumpas, all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Don't you miss greeting each other with a hug? The churches of Christ greet you. Now I urge you, brethren, note those who caused divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. This is how you handle divisive people. Just ignore them. Don't argue with them. Don't send a personal message back, a tweet back, an Instagram message back, a text back. Just ignore them. Because here's the thing about divisive people, they love the fact that their divisiveness has got them a voice and a platform. If you don't give them a voice and a platform, and just ignore them, it drives them nuts. And I love the fact that it drives them nuts. That's the fallen nature in me, knowing that they're bummed out makes me happy.

So pray for me. I have to work on that. Just avoid them. For those who are such do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, that is, their own appetites. Probably a reference to Epicureanism, very common in that era and that time. A philosophy from Greece, also in Rome. And by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore, I am glad on your behalf. But I want you to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The sooner, the better. Come soon. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Timothy, my fellow worker, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, my kinsman, greets you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord. Wait a minute! What do you mean, Tertius wrote this letter? I thought Paul wrote this letter. Paul did, through Tertius. "Ter-ti-us" or "Ter-shus", let's just call him "Ter-shus" so that we don't mess that name up or think weird thoughts, Tertius was the amanuensis. Paul dictated the letter. Tertius wrote it down. So now he's just sort of giving his own little PS, I'm the dude that wrote it. Gaius, my host, the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. So he says Amen here a couple of times, but he keeps going. I can relate to that.

Now to Him, I love this, now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, that's the mystery of Jew and Gentile in one group, called and love by God in a new covenant, but has now been made manifest and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God for obedience to the faith, to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. And now, he says Amen, and he means it.

OK, we've ended the book. Can I just give you one closing thought? Do you mind? One closing thought. Verse 25, now to Him who is able to establish you. That word, now to Him who is able is the Greek. It means now to Him who has the power to establish you. And why am I bringing that out? I want you to see this. The bookends of this book of Romans, that talk all about the wrath of God, the grace of God, the plan of God, the will of God, the bookends are the power of God. The book begins with power. The book ends with power. In chapter 1, verse 16, Paul says, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power, power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Power to save you. Now he ends with power. So the book of Romans, at the end, here is the encapsulated form.

God has the power to save you. God has the power to sanctify you. God has the power to stabilize you, to establish you. So what a book, what a treatise Paul has given to the Romans. Sorry, I, thank you for indulging me so I could get all the way through chapter 16. Didn't want to save 16 for one week. We've gone through it a number of times and hammered through all the different names. So I wanted to cover it all in one fell swoop. And you were awesome in putting up, enduring sound doctrine. Would you stand with me as we pray?

Thank you, Father, for this great brother of ours, Paul. We're going to meet him one day. We're going to meet the people that he wrote about at the end of this book one day. In Heaven, we can hear their story, their back story, how they came to faith. They'll hear ours. But how inspired we are by the words of Paul, that the greatest of these is love, that when it comes to dealing with one another, whether it's music, or food that we can eat, or days that we worship, or wearing masks, we make decisions based on our love for other people, not on our rights as citizens or rights as believers. But keeping in consideration for the weak among us. Thank you, Father, for this church and these servants of yours who love and endure sound doctrine. Reward them. May we all have such a good working knowledge of your Scripture, the more we add to our faith. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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