Category Archives: Spiritual Formations

Romans 8.18-23

Title: The Temporary State of Suffering

Text: Romans 8.18-22

Introduction: We’re in Romans 8 (pg. 888 in the Pew Bible). The Subject this morning is Suffering. And my sermon doesn’t come from the tremendous depth of experience, but rather, it simply comes from God’s Word. The sermon this morning won’t have all of the answers on suffering. I’ll only cover what’s listed here in Romans.

I make no apologies in this regard, but rather count it a blessing and thank God that I have not had to suffer as so many in the world do. I’ve never been to prison for my faith. And I have been relatively healthy – able to do the things in life I want to do. I enjoy the physicality and thought that goes into reaching summits in Colorado. I ride my bike, jog, walk as much as I want and not as much as I should. I take one pill a day – and that is for my thyroid. My doctor says that dosage will increase with age, but for now, I feel blessed.

So, as I think about suffering, I have to ask myself… and I think, we should ask ourselves as we look at this text: what is the context of suffering here? Is it cancer? Is it sickness, illness? Or, is it imprisonment, mistreatment, and punishment for being a believer? Well, contextually, I think it has to do with suffering for being a Christian. As for application, I think this applies to both: You can trust God in your sickness and in your illness, too.

I don’t say this lightly. I’m very aware that many of you are suffering now. Some of you may suffer for being a believer – you’re passed over for work or promotions; you’re placed in an awkward position; moved to a different location.

On a side note: It was good to hear the State of Colorado dropped their case against the Christian Baker, who refused to create a transgender anniversary cake. The same baker, by the way, that won a Supreme Court decision last year. But, I think more persecution is coming.

Added to these types of persecution and suffering, I know that many of you are suffering health wise – you or a family member.

I don’t enter into this subject lightly because it is something my family is experiencing. It is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul hasn’t mentioned suffering up to this point. As a matter of fact, he won’t mention it again. You’ll only see it here in v. 17 & 18; Verse 17 is what gives us our context. Rd v 17: 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Flow: There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Why? Because the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death. How? Through Jesus; who died on the cross to pay that penalty on our behalf. V4 says that Jesus satisfied the righteous requirement of the law. The Benefits are tremendous: freedom in the Spirit, Focus for life, The Spirit-filled believer is now alive in Christ – and, as we talked about last week – The Spirit-filled believer is adopted into the family of God!

But then Paul ends with this odd statement: provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Paul is definitive on this topic of suffering: in this life, we will suffer as believers. Period. We don’t all suffer the same way and we don’t all suffer the same thing – but, understand this: if you’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will suffer in some fashion.

Why is that? And where does it come from? And, what is its purpose?

Well, that is a topic that is rather large and most definitely something we cannot possibly accomplish completely today. And we shouldn’t try. Paul doesn’t. Paul has good reason to do so, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t make his focus about suffering. Instead, he acknowledges it but then turns his focus elsewhere. And so should we. He mentions suffering and then gives us a history lesson.

Let me repeat: he mentions suffering and then, doesn’t talk about it, but rather gives us a history lesson. He comes back to this idea of how we suffer now when he talks about the Spirit and the Spirit’s intercession in our lives – who helps us in our weaknesses (v26).

Read with me v 18-23 (pg. 888): 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

What is Paul saying? He’s letting us in on something absolutely incredible. I’ve been taught, as have many of you, that when you’re looking for the theme of a book you’re studying, you read the beginning and the end. Usually, there at the beginning of the book or letter, and repeated in the end, you will find the melodic line that flows through the book. A great example is Mark, a book we studied a few years ago. Mark begins with: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The introduction climaxes with God proclaiming in v 11: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” – So with the introduction, you have this claim that Jesus is the Son of God. Throughout the book, demons and spirits call him the Son of God. Before he is crucified the High priest asks him if he is the Son of the Blessed. And Jesus says, yep. And at the book’s climax, as Jesus dies on the cross, the Centurion witnesses the entire events and says: truly this was the Son of God.

So Mark’s theme is Jesus is the Son of God. Is this true for our book, Romans? Let me show you: read the introduction. Observe 1.5: Paul is declaring the Gospel is preached to the nations to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name. Now look at Romans 16.25: 25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—

There you have it. You do a little research on our book and you’ll see that this is exactly what the Letter is all about: The preaching of the Gospel to all the nations in order to bring about the obedience of faith.

I mention these because I think that is what Paul is doing. I mention these to raise one last question about beginnings and endings: is this book (the Bible) like these others – does it have bookends which identify for us a theme? And, does that theme flow through the whole of the Bible in such a way that it acts as a melodic line of sorts? Well, let’s look.

  • When you read v 19-23, what stands out? The Creation. Where is The Creation Story in the Bible?
  • We see in chapters 1-2 of Genesis that the world is created and everything is perfect. The Creation the way it should be. Or, the world as it was designed to be.
  • In chapter 3, we see the fall. Sin enters into the world and everything is marred. Everything. Sin now brings death, disease, and dysfunction. Cain murders his brother, Abel. Weeds, thorns, storms, sickness, struggle all enter the picture. Animals are no longer friends with man, but rather, animals fear man.

What we see in the introduction is Creation, and then, creation falling apart, or de-creation. So, what do we see at the end of the book, in Revelation? We see Eden restored. We see re-creation. So, do we see some of the same elements in the beginning and in the ending? God is in the beginning doing his work and he is in the end doing his work. There is a garden in the beginning. There is a garden in the end. A tree – a tree; a river – a river; Ezekiel 25 tells us of the garden of God, Eden. It tells us of the precious stones and gems and colors. We see the same thing in Revelation in Heaven, Eden restored. So is that the melodic line of this book? That God creates, Sin destroys and God will recreate in the end? All we have to do is look throughout the book at the stories that are told.

  • Adam and Eve are in the garden; they sin and are banished into exile from the garden. Do you see times in Scripture where there is a desire to get back to the garden? Absolutely.
  • God creates for himself a people, through Abraham. He promises them a land. A land flowing with Milk and Honey. It is a picture of the return to the garden. But do his people obey – do they live out the obedience of faith (as it says in Romans)? No, So look what happens to Israel. It becomes a desert wasteland.
  • But there hope is that it will be restored. For you and me, we know that restoration isn’t a “Mighty Israel” here. It is a new heaven and a new earth.

This is what I think Paul is doing: I think he is visiting the melodic line of the Bible for us: There was perfection with God. Sin entered into the picture and destroyed that beauty. It continues to wreak havoc, but one day, Eden will be restored. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. And that – out there in our future – is what Paul wants us to focus on!

  1. Creation Present: Read v 19; we longingly, actively wait with eager expectation for glory.
  2. Creation Past: read v 20; creation waits now in the present because it was subjected to futility in the past. That verse is talking about the fall of man – the story of Adam and Eve.
  3. Creation Future: read v 21; it was subjected in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption (that’s sin and the effect it has on us now) and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God (that’s heaven, where there will be no more sickness nor sorrow, no more pain and tears, there will be no more thorns, no more tornados, no more earthquakes, no more hurricanes, no more cancer, no need for glasses.

Why is that? Because creation will be restored. Paul is reminding us of the big picture. Suffering in this present time is temporary. Heaven, where there is no suffering, will be eternal.

So, here is the problem: we’re stuck between the now and the not yet. With this bit of information, how then shall we now live?

A few comments about these verses:

  1. In v18, the verse reads: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 1st, this word consider – it is the Greek word for which we get our word logistics. Paul is being logical about suffering and he’s working through the problem. 2nd, There is a word in the original language that isn’t in the English and it’s the word ‘about’. Lit.: the about to be glory. The idea is that it is just right out there beyond us. I believe when we’re there, we’ll look back at this time and think about how brief it really was. We worried about a lot of stuff that didn’t really matter that much.
  2. In v19, we read: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. I already told you that I’d translate this: actively waits with eager expectation. The word wait here means a deep sense of waiting with passion and longing. Also, the word in here revealing, is the Gk word from which we get our word Apocolypse. And, normally, that word is scary, but, not for the believer! Because what will be revealed for us is a wonderful thing!
  3. In v20, it says that the creation was subjected to futility… The idea is that this isn’t so much a result of what Adam and Eve did, but more about the plan of God. See, if you keep reading you’ll read: not willingly, but because of him who subjected it… Who is this ‘him’?
    1. Some folks say Adam. He was the one who sinned and by which all sin has been passed on to us. The read the verse this way: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Adam who subjected it…
    2. Others say no, it is Satan. Satan was the one who wreaked havoc on the world by leading Adam and Eve astray. These people read the verse this way: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Satan who subjected it…
    3. But there is a third option and I believe this is the correct understanding: 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of God who subjected it… And I say this because of the next couple of words: in hope.
      1. Satan would never offer hope, so that knocks him out of the running.
      2. I don’t think Adam actually thought to himself: I’ll eat this fruit in disobedience to God’s command in order that those who follow after me will have hope in God. That’s ludicrous.
  • It can only be God. God did this, subjected creation to futility in hope of our future glory.

Now that’s a pretty powerful statement. God did this because he had a plan.

  1. In v22 we read about this momentary affliction. Paul uses the terms of a pregnant woman giving birth. The idea is that the pain is very real, but a momma endures such pain for the joy that is before her. She knows that after she has endured, after she has given birth, she will get to hold this precious little one. There is pain and struggle in the moment, but joy comes in having given birth. To use what seems to be an oxymoron: this is a joyful pain. And so should our suffering in this current world be. Joyful in that it is temporary. Joyful in that it is preparing us for the glory that is yet to be revealed in us. It is hard now, but hang in there. There is joy coming! And that is what he says in v 23; rd v 23;
    1. Consider the disciples who declared it a joy and a privilege to suffer for Jesus!

Application: Paul tells us about suffering:

  • How we suffer: The Creation actively waits with eager longing as we suffer.
  • Why we suffer: The Creation was subjected to futility (to this suffering) unwillingly
    • God did so in hope
      • of freedom from bondage to corruption
      • of obtaining freedom of the glory that is to be revealed in us
  • Conclusion about suffering: The Creation groans with a pain that ends in joy – because joy is coming. You’ve just got to hang in there!

Conclusion:

  1. Suffering is temporary: this present time (kairos). The difference between Kairos and Chronos is like the difference between a minute and a moment.
  2. Suffering is an extreme opposite of what we’ll experience in the “about to be”: There is no comparison
  3. Here’s the incredible truth about suffering and sin: We can grasp the incredible grace of God because we know what sin and suffering is.
  4. I’d like to say a word about what suffering is not. Sometimes, I’m convinced that we think we’re suffering and we’re really not. Let me ‘splain.

In life you have expectations. You’ve had them already today. You come and you expect certain things to happen or not to happen. You have expectations. You expected to sing songs this morning. If we hadn’t sung any songs, you would have responded. Some of you: negative. Some of you: positive. But there are expectations and you respond to those expectations based upon your experience. Maybe you come to worship expecting a normal service, but we show a video. Your experience is different from what you expected and maybe you’re happy or maybe your sad. You respond to your experience based upon your expectations.

But here lies the problem. Sometimes, your expectations aren’t met and you become unhappy. You think you’re suffering. But are you really? You’ve come expecting there to be seats. What if you came in this morning and there were no seats in the worship center? How would you respond? Some folks would be like: Cool, we’re doing something different! Others would be like: this is so uncool! Honey, go find me a seat. If I said, we’re sitting on the floor this morning, some of you would feel like you had to suffer today. But, do think there are churches gathering today somewhere in the world where there are no chairs? Would you say they’re suffering?

Here is my point: sometimes you think you’re suffering, but you’re really not. You’re just selfish and you’re not getting your way.

Your expectations are about you. Hey, listen, I’m no different. I know it. I sometimes pray and act like I’m suffering until my eyes are opened and I realize that I’m just being selfish.

Suffering Requires:

  • Perspective: An vantage point of the whole, big picture – and you see what’s coming (18).
  • Patience: Wait eagerly for adoption to come to fruition (19).
  • Knowledge: we know that this was done in hope of freedom
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Filed under Christian Living, Creation, Eschatology, Faith, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, Spiritual Formations

Romans 8.5-8

Title: The Spirit-Filled Life brings Focus!

Text: Romans 8.4-9 (pg. 887)

Introduction: The Spirit-Filled Life brings Focus! Last week we began to dig into Romans chapter 8 as we took a look at The Spirit-Filled Life brings Freedom! This week: We look at the 2nd part of the Spirit-Filled life for the new believer: Focus. Romans 8. If you’re using a pew Bible, I’m on page 887-888. By the way, if you’re sitting near someone who doesn’t have a Bible, help them find one near you.

IN the 2018 News of the Year Edition of World Magazine, a lady in Duquesne, PA was reported as driving on the train tracks. It was last November 21st, and local police were summoned and when they tracked her down they did, in fact, find that she was driving on the train tracks. The police reported that she was sober. No alcohol or drugs in her system. She seemed perfectly fine. Why then was she on the train tracks? She was simply following her GPS, which had told her to go that way. And she did! She was so focused in on following the directions from her GPS that she followed directions down the wrong track… pardon the pun.

BTW: she got a ticket!

I think that’s a good way to describe the difference between living your life according to the flesh and according to the spirit. The Spirit of God will never steer you wrong!

But to be fair: this doctrine of the Holy Spirit living in us is a hard concept for us all. Isn’t it? Consider the man in John 3, Nicodemus – who comes to Jesus by night. John calls him a ruler of the Jews. Jesus calls him the teacher of Israel. And yet, when Jesus tries to explain spiritual matters to him, he still thinks in earthly terms.

Jesus told Nicodemus: flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit. Nicodemus struggles intellectually to grasp the concept that Jesus is laying out for him. He says: that which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. So consider: we are speaking of earthly, physical matters and heavenly, spiritual matters. The physical matters we get. The spiritual… they’re much more difficult to grasp. The difference can be like trusting your life to a human or a machine.

We pick up in v 5 of Romans 8, but I’d like to start in v1. That’s on Page 887-8 in your Pew Bible.

Let’s read that together. If you’re knees work well and you’re physically able, would you mind standing? Let’s begin in v.1 of Chapter 8:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Let’s pray.

The big idea behind Paul’s teaching is pretty simple: there is a contrast between those who are in Christ Jesus and those who are not. That contrast? It is their focus. You see, those who live their lives according to the flesh have their minds set on the flesh. Those who live their lives according to the Spirit have their minds set on the Spirit.

Let’s discuss this latter group first: For those who are in Christ Jesus, verse 1 tells us that we are no longer under condemnation. Why? Verse 2 tells us that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death. How is that even possible: see v 4 – because God sent his own Son to die for us in the likeness of sinful flesh. That means that God became a man in order to fulfill the requirement of the law. When sin was condemned the punishment was death. Jesus died in our place. He satisfied that requirement. But Paul doesn’t just stop there. Even though that is where we stopped last week. Let’s continue from here… rd v 4; in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, it is fulfilled in us – not by us. And then, who is us? Answer: Those who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

You might just be asking yourself at this moment if you are one of those people. How can you know? Paul is going to tell us in v 5&6; So, there are two types of people with two different results in their lives.

1st, to set the mind on the flesh is death. But, it isn’t that way for the believer. For that person, their mind is set on the Spirit – and that brings life. You have two opposites here: death and life. He gives us two others, as well: notice the end of that sentence – and peace. Keep reading and you see its opposite; rd v 7; For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. So, those in Christ have peace and live their lives with a sense of peace that lost people just can’t have and just don’t understand.

Philippians 4.7 says: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. How is that? How does that work? Well, the whole passage says:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.4-7

Does it say: Rejoice in the Lord sometimes? When times are good? When you have money? When you’re healthy! No. Always.

Reasonableness: or gentleness. The idea is when you respond to life and the hits you take from life – respond in a gentle – reasonable way that communicates to everyone your peace. Do you believe God’s got this? Then respond that way. We usually respond out of selfishness, don’t we?

The Lord is at hand. Instead of responding in selfish anger, TRUST the Lord – he knows what he’s doing. Pray about your situation. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything Pray. And then…rd v7.

Transition: You see that is how the person who lives their life with their mind set on the Spirit responds.

Those in the flesh live in hostility toward God. And, the reason is (rd v 7) that they cannot submit to the law.

Two interesting facts here I want you to note about v6-7.

1st, note the chiastic structure Paul is using in this passage. A chiasm is a form of writing used in Hebrew teaching. You have:

  • death
    • life
    • peace
  • hostility

The emphasis and point here is life and peace.

2nd, note that’s the 2nd time we’ve seen the law in this text. The first one was in v4 where Paul told us that Jesus died for our sins in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. Those who walk according to the flesh live a life hostile to God and (see v7) they cannot submit to God’s law. It isn’t in them to do so. Back up in v2 Paul told us the law was sin and death.

Verse 4 tells us that Jesus fulfilled that righteous requirement. Jesus is the only one who could ever fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. When he comes to live in you by his Spirit, he writes his law upon your heart. That was the promise of the OT. One day he would write his law upon our hearts. BTW: that comes from Jeremiah 31.33: 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This prophecy, of course, is fulfilled in Jesus. But, the one without the Spirit of Jesus coming into his life – he is filled with hostility toward God. And note these two results now: v7 he cannot submit to the law and v8, he cannot please God.

In reading this I’m reminded of another verse that mentions an inability to please God. It is found in Hebrews 11.6: And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

So let’s review these steps:

  1. We now stand no longer condemned.
  2. Why? Because the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death. That Spirit of life is what has come to live in us when we believe, and, he has set us free.
  3. How? Because God did for us what we could never do on our own. He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law through the sending of his Son. And so now we see two types of people:
    1. Those who live life according to the Spirit.
    2. Those who live life according to the flesh.
  4. These two types of people show themselves to be who they are by the way they live and think. The Gk uses the terms be and
    1. Those who find their being in the flesh will experience death and hostility. They cannot submit to God’s law and they cannot please God.
    2. Those who find their being in the Spirit will experience life and peace. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in them because of Christ’s work and his presence in their lives. God’s Spirit moves into our lives and God writes his law upon our hearts.

Conclusion: So, why don’t we always live like it?

I think that is because we confuse the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. Justification declares we’re saved. Sanctification is that process in which we must choose to what’s right. When the Spirit of God comes to live in you, you feel guilty when you do wrong. That’s called conviction.

I think Satan does a great job of deceiving us and he makes us think that because we’re justified we can live however we want. And through that deception, we make wrong decisions and suffer dire consequences. Aren’t you thankful for God’s grace?

This week I came across a video that is 18 years, almost 19 years old now. It is from Passion 2000 and the speaker is John Piper. His now famous speech is entitled: Don’t waste your life. That 7 minutes or so section from his Passion sermon spurred the book in 2003, Don’t waste your life and became a best seller.

I mention this video because I think you should YouTube it. Watch it. But, I also mention it because Satan wants you to do just that – Waste your life! He makes you think that you can never be the person God wanted you to be. You’ve messed up too bad, for too long. You’ve chased the wrong dream for too long. You’ve climbed the ladder up the wrong wall for too long. But it is never too late as long as we are here this side of Glory. The lie is: You’ve already messed up… why don’t you just keep doing what you’re doing!

While researching more information on this video, I came across a blog by a Scottish pastor. I couldn’t find his name anywhere on his site, but, he quoted a story by Octavius Winslow, who lived from 1808 to 1878. This story was used to add emphasis to the idea of Don’t waste your life. The story goes:

A young man, whom he had known as a boy, came to an aged professor of a distinguished continental university, with a face beaming with delight, and informed him that the long and fondly-cherished desire of his heart was at length fulfilled – his parents having given their consent to his studying the profession of the law. As the university presided over by his friend was a distinguished one, he had repaired to its law school, and was resolved to spare no labor or expense in getting through his studies as quickly and ably as possible. In this strain he continued for some time; and when he paused, the old man, who had been listening to him with great patience and kindness, gently said, “Well! And when you have finished your career of study, what do you mean to do then?” “Then I shall take my degree,” answered the young man. “And then?” asked his venerable friend. “And then,” continued the youth, “I shall have a number of difficult and knotty cases to manage: shall attract notice by my eloquence, and wit, and acuteness, and win a great reputation.” “And then?” repeated the holy man. “And then!” replied the youth, “why then there cannot be a question- I shall be promoted to some high office in the state, and I shall become rich.” “And then?” “And then,” pursued the young lawyer, “then I shall live comfortably and honorably in wealth and respect, and look forward to a quiet and happy old age.” “And then?” repeated the old man. “And then,” said the youth, “And then- and then- and then I shall die.” Here his venerable listener lifted up his voice, and again asked, with solemnity and emphasis- “And then?” Whereupon the aspiring student made no answer, but cast down his head, and in silence and thoughtfulness retired. This last “And then?” had pierced his heart like a sword- had darted like a flash of lightning into his soul and he could not dislodge the impression. The result was, the entire change of his mind and course of his life. Abandoning the study of law, he entered upon that of divinity, and expended the remainder of his days in the labors of a minister of Christ.

Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that you’re wasting your life if you don’t pursue the ministry. But, I am suggesting that you’re wasting your life if you’re not following Jesus. Truth is, you can pursue just about any vocation and be an ardent follower of Christ. How you ask? By living according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Too many people will live out their lives in fleshly pursuits and never find true peace and life. I hope and pray you’re not one of them.

Application: So, what would I like for you to take home with you today?

  1. Your walk is reflective of the way you think – i.e., your mindset. What you think comes out in the way you live. You cannot live according to the flesh and according to the Spirit at the same time. These two appear to me to be mutually exclusive. You are one or you are the other. But, you cannot have both. With that in mind, you know if you’re saved or not. If you aren’t, would you come to talk to me about it?
  2. I’d like to go back to verse 8: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. I am by nature a people pleaser. I’ve had to work hard to get to a place where I don’t do what I do to please people. I hope people are pleased because I’ve pleased God with my life. I’m hoping I find God’s pleasure in my life. These verses in Romans 8, about God being pleased or not pleased, strike a chord with me. I see the Father say of the Son, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I like that. When I hear verses quoted like, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I am moved. I think a wasted life would be a life lived that did not find the Master saying to that person, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” As you think about your life as it has been lived out to date, would you consider you’ve lived a good and faithful life? Would God declare his pleasure? Maybe there are some changes needed in your life, in your habits, in your routine. Let’s talk about that.
  3. Maybe there is another decision on your heart: joining the church, maybe you just need prayer. Maybe you’re considering a call to the ministry or the mission field.

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will lead us in a closing prayer. If you’ve never given your life to Christ, won’t you do that this morning? Maybe there is another decision on your heart: church membership, surrendering to ministry. Whatever it might be, I’d love to visit with you about that. Maybe you’re visiting with us this morning. Please, come introduce yourself. I’d love to visit with you some. We’ll have coffee, donuts, and cookies back in the back. Let’s fellowship together for a while.

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Filed under Christian Living, Philippians, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, Spiritual Formations

SIX QUALITIES OF A GODLY MAN

Title: Six Qualities of a Godly Man

Text: Romans 1.8-15

CIT: Paul’s Prayers for Rome Reveal Much About This Man

CIS: There are characteristics and traits to observe in an Apostle.

Introduction: It is quite typical to move from the Greetings and Salutations to a mentioning of Prayer and Thanksgiving in a 1st Century letter. That is exactly what Paul does in this next section.

Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Rome is outlined in verses 8-15. First of all, these prayers include thanksgiving for the fact that their faith is known and proclaimed by other believers throughout the Greco-Roman world (8).

Secondly, Paul offers the unceasing request to one day make his journey to Rome (9-10). His request is simply to preach the gospel among them and it is expressed in three separate statements:

1st, Paul’s desire is to impart some spiritual gift to them to encourage them and to be encouraged by them, as well (11-12).

2nd, Paul has intended for some time to get to them but has been prevented from ministering there (13). Now, it appears that whatever was hindering is no longer in the way.

3rd, Paul has a calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He says he is under obligation to all and so desires to come and preach the gospel in Rome.

These prayers reveal more of the man we know as The Apostle Paul and his desires as a godly man. I think there is more than just information sharing here. Paul is opening up his soul and giving us a glimpse inside.

Transition: This week I shared with the Venture group in Chapel about the old man and his elder wife who were sitting at the Table sharing a meal. The woman looked over at her husband of many, many decades and felt this overwhelming sense of pride. Herbert, I’m proud of you, She gushed. Without missing a beat, the old man replied: Well, I’m tired of you, too!

Sometimes it is easy to communicate what is in your heart and at other times… not so much. Sometimes you want to communicate what lies deep within but it gets misunderstood.

Well Paul doesn’t confuse us here and there is no miscommunication as he reveals his heart to the church at Rome – and to us. Paul tells them plainly what he feels and what his desires are. He does so by laying his prayer requests before God and he lets us all in on those prayers.

For us, we’re able to glean some qualities from a godly man. These qualities are Paul’s, but I think they can be true for any man or woman who has been called of God to serve. And yes, that means even you. Your first temptation might be to take them and measure them up against me. To be honest, that is fine. It really is something you should do. I would encourage you to do so. Furthermore, you can use them to measure up your spiritual leaders (i.e.: elders and deacons).

But don’t be so quick to just move in that direction. I want to encourage you to use these marks for your own life – to see how you measure up to Paul. And, I would not say these marks are exhaustive and complete. But I would say they are useful for us today in their current form to help in our service and ministry. So here we go…

Six Qualities Found in a Godly Leader:

I. He has a thankful heart for all God has done in fulfilling His promises. (8)

exp.: rd v8; God is fulfilling his promises to the Romans. The proof is in the pudding! They’re being discussed wherever there are other Christians gathering. It is interesting what Paul doesn’t note here. He thanks God, but not for…

  • It isn’t their leadership – pastors or elders.
  • It isn’t their worship.
  • It isn’t their facilities.
  • It isn’t their ministries or ministers.
  • It isn’t their mission work.
  • It isn’t the money they’ve raised for disaster relief or the people they’re sending to help the folks in Jerusalem.

Paul is grateful for their faith. Faith is expressed and their expression has been something to talk about. The word all appears 2x’s in v 8; two different words: all is the word pan; the 2nd all is the word from which we get whole. A most literal translation would be the whole world. And I think to myself: Really? The whole world? I think what he is saying is that brothers and sister across the Christian world are talking about the faith of this church. That is amazing… people talking about their congregation.

ill.: this past week Spring Creek Baptist Church was in the News. The County Commissioner who attends there, JoAnn Hampton was indicted on aggravated assault charges this past week. Back on April 2nd, Ms. Hampton came to church to find someone had already prepared the Lord’s Supper Table. It seems a 72-year-old member of the congregation and Ms. Hampton had already had words about the timeliness of setting up the table. The 72-year-old woman came in early and set everything up. Ms. Hampton was furious. She went to the pastor’s office where the woman was talking with the pastor and assaulted her. Basically, she pushed her back onto the couch and the woman injured her hand.

app.: That isn’t the kind of notoriety Paul is talking about! These folks in Rome are in the news because of their faith. Do you remember I told you Claudius Caesar kicked the Jews out of Rome in 49AD? Well, it appears this young Gentile congregation had to start living by faith. And the result was the testimony of those who were scattered abroad.

Philippians 1.6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul was so thankful to God for fulfilling his promises to this congregation.

t.s.: The 1st Quality we see here of this godly leader is: he has a grateful heart. 2ndly,

II. He recognizes His first and main audience is with God (9a)

exp.: The context, of course, is that God is his witness  – that he is telling the truth concerning his prayers. Rd v 9a; Yes, God is his witness, but more than that. It is God that he serves. When he says with or literally, in, my spirit… I think that is his way of saying with my whole heart.

You’ve probably felt this way about yourself when you’re singing: Bless the Lord, O’ my soul, and all that is within me… bless his holy name. All that is within me… that is, with my spirit. And his service: the gospel. This may be hard to grasp, but a pastor’s first calling is to the gospel. It is the spread of the Gospel that saves souls and it is the repetition of the gospel that disciples the believers. It’s the telling and retelling of that old, old story – over and over again.

ill.: I love to tell the story of unseen things above. Of Jesus and his glory… of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know tis true. It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story – tis pleasant to repeat. What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.

I love to tell the story. T’will be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

app.: Sing them over again to me… Wonderful words of life. That’s what discipleship is. And that is what the godly man loves to do – is to tell the story that changed his life. And to tell the story that sustains this congregation. Well, a godly man recognizes his first and main audience is with God. It is God he serves. That’s why God is a witness to the work and prayer.

t.s.: He has a grateful heart. He recognizes that he serves God by serving others with the Gospel. 3rd,

III. He incessantly remembers the church in his prayers (9b-10)

exp.: Paul’s prayers don’t just end with thanksgiving. Paul’s prayers are unceasing for this congregation, moving from gratitude to a very special request. Rd v 9b-10; Paul’s desire is to travel to Rome. Who wouldn’t, right? Anyone here ever been to Rome? We’re looking for missionaries to serve in Tahiti and Hawaii! We need Home Missionaries in Florida and Colorado!

ill.: I remember reading about some missionaries who on Sunday morning would go skiing and stop at a chapel up on the slopes. There, they would lead a service. I thought: where do I sign up? Well, my guess is that some of the hardest ministry is in the midst of those who think they don’t need it. But, those people need Jesus, too.

app.: Paul’s message is clear, but let me be very literal here: so that without coming to an end, remembrance of you I make my request or I do my asking; “Without ceasing, unrelenting”; It’s very wordy, but desperately points out the prayers of Paul for these people.

Do you know that your leadership prays for you? I can’t say for me it is without ceasing. I wish I were better at it. But I do pray for you daily. Sometimes I pray for individuals. Sometimes I pray for groups. And my requests for you vary according to our needs.

I like knowing how to pray and what to pray for. If you want me to be specific in my prayers for you, email me or drop it in the offering plate. That will allow me to pray specifically for you.

t.s.: Godly leaders have grateful hearts. They recognize their service to others is service to God. And they pray for their churches and their members. They keep them before the Lord. 4th… And we see this of Paul…

IV. He desires to encourage them through his service (and to be mutually encouraged by them in theirs) (11-12)

exp.: look at v 11; do you see the 1st word there: γὰρ. A marker of reason. Because; At this stage he’s telling them why he wants to come. Truth is, he finally gets to it in v 15; …so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. His purpose in going there is singular in focus (i.e.: to preach the Gospel, v 9, 15) but this focus of preaching the Gospel is expressed in three different ways; the 1st is in v 11: I like to translate this: For I long to behold you. I want to see you, to behold you with my own eyes. Continue reading v 11…

  1. By preaching the Gospel in their midst, he would be imparting a spiritual gift that will encourage them and strengthen them. Added to this, that he might be encouraged at the same time. Rd v 12; He’s heard about their faith (8) – really all over the Christian world. I’m supposing because of Paul’s popularity that they’ve heard of his faith, too. If not, they will from Phoebe and anyone else carrying this letter.

app.: I don’t know if you’ve thought this through or not, from a personal standpoint, but living out your faith in front of others strengthens and encourages them…just as you are when you see others living out their faith.

Last month Jamie Dean of World Magazine shared the story of a North Korean defector who talked about the punishment and persecution of Christians. One family kept their Bible in magpie nest… a bird’s nest. Late at night, someone would crawl up into the tree, into the nest and get the Bible. They would read what they could under the cloak of darkness. Then, get the Bible back in place before sun up. One day, a neighbor who was cutting a branch down, somehow caused the nest to fall and reveal the Bible. The family was busted. Can you imagine? How many of you have your Bible with you now? If we were in North Korea, we’d all be thrown in prison.

We’re so blessed to live out our faith in the eyes of others. We’re so blessed that we don’t have to hide our Bible in a tree outside. You, meeting in your community group… that’s mutually encouraging to each other.

Transition: Paul hopes to strengthen them and to be strengthen and encouraged by them in return. Also, he says in v 13; Rd v 13a; this is the 2nd way of he hopes to preach the Gospel to them but it is also our 5th quality that we find in Paul.

V. He surrenders his will to the Lord’s will in spite of what he himself wants (13)

exp.: he’s been hindered from going there to Rome. He has wanted to for some time, but for some reason, God hasn’t opened that door to him.

  1. Because, whatever was hindering him before, is no longer in the way. I suppose it was his mission work in the east. He has been preaching the Gospel everywhere he can between Jerusalem and Greece. Now, he’s finding others who’ve gone before him… like Rome for example. Having completed that task, and seeing the area evangelized, Paul’s desire now is to expand the mission work to Spain. We’ll see that in 15.24. He’ll mention also in chapter 15 the gift from the Asian churches to Jerusalem and his need to travel there to deliver that gift. But after that, he wants to come see them on his way to Spain.

app.: Man, we’re learning something very valuable here, in this quality Paul displays. Sometimes, and this has been my experience as a believer and as a pastor, God says no. Sometimes God says, yes. And sometimes God gives us a third answer and says – not yet. It doesn’t mean no, forever, just for a while. It usually means that God has some work to do in our hearts and in our lives to prepare us for what we’re asking.

ill.: When Lisa and I were in Cotulla we felt a call to go to the Rocky Mtns and work. We knew the call was on our hearts, but God wasn’t opening up the door. Instead, we went south to Harlingen. God made it clear to us that we were to go south. The criticism was pretty sharp by some. I thought God was calling you to go north? Well, we moved to Harlingen, 8 miles north of the Mexican border. And God used our experience there in so many ways, preparing us for the ministry in Wyoming.

I could stand here and begin telling you stories of what I learned in deep South Texas that God used in Wyoming, but we don’t have time… so I’ll save those for then.

God may have called you and is preparing you, but thus far has hindered your progress. Let me encourage you: Trust him. Whatever you want for this church or this mission or this ministry or your community group or… whatever it is of God… Let me tell you: He wants even better things than you do. So let this quality be found in you: surrender your will to his, in spite of what you might want. Let him finish preparing you for the task ahead.

t.s.: His 3rd expression is found in the rest of 13(b) and 14.

  1. His obligation to the Gentiles encompasses the believers in Rome. Do you see the last word in v 13? It is the word from which we get ethnic… ethnic groups or as we say today, people groups.

t.s.: and that my friends, is the 6th quality we find in Paul…

VI. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it (14-15)

exp.: He is eager to preach the Gospel to this unreached people group. I didn’t say unreached and unengaged, because I’m assuming they are engaging their own people. But as a whole, they remain unreached. That is his mission field. He’s been gifted to be successful among the ethnos… the unreached people groups.

t.s.:

  1. He has a thankful heart.
  2. He recognizes his 1st audience and service is to God.
  3. He keeps his people and ministry before the Lord in prayer…
  4. He desires to strengthen and encourage his people through his service and to be encouraged by them, too.
  5. He surrenders his wants and wishes to the Lord, in spite of what he desires. That’s because he trusts in What God is doing…
  6. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it.

Conclusion: Let’s land this plane. So what will you take home with you today? How can you make it personal?

Application: 1st, let me ask you some questions…

  1. What moves you to prayer?
    1. Gratitude? Or, are you taking God’s blessings for Granted?
    2. Is it opportunities for the Gospel? Do you get excited about what God might be doing in your life and in the life of your church?
    3. Or do you find you only pray when things are bad and you’re in need?

Maybe that is a commitment you need to make this morning: to pray regularly.

  1. Do you recognize that your service to people and for people is really to and for God? He is your first audience. I think of the ministries we have:
    1. CUB: it is easy to get tired of people who just use you.
    2. Bridgemark and Venture: for bridgemark, sometimes it feels like people just take advantage, just using the building; but then there are times when I see the good we’re doing in a child’s life. Do you realize that there are children who will grow up to be adults and know how to read because of your ministry? Some little girl down there will hold her granddaughter someday and read the Bible with her. Some man may read Scripture from the pulpit. Or even more – God may call one of them to missions or to the pastorate. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You’re serving God by serving people when you do his bidding.
    3. Maybe its teaching Bible Study or a Community Group. Trust that your service to God is being rewarded and used by Him for his glory.
  2. Do you know your calling and are you passionate about it? I hope so. If not, you’re missing out on so much. I believe God has every person here for a reason and it isn’t to keep the seat you’re sitting in warm. God began a good work in you and I am confident that he will carry it through to completion.

If you don’t know your calling, will you come visit with me about that? Or, maybe you’d feel comfortable with an elder. Please come talk to us. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer him to you today.

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Filed under Calling, Christian Living, Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Formations