This week’s lesson is the final lesson of the spring quarter.  In this quarter of lessons, we have been taking a look at Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.  That church was made up of both Gentile and Jewish followers of Christ – something that was truly unique at that time.  So, we have seen this letter be an address to both Gentiles and Jews.  In this week’s lesson we are going to dive into Paul’s purpose for writing this letter.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Romans 15:15-27.

Ministering by the Grace of God

Our lesson opens this week with Paul saying, “I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (vss.15-16).”  There are a couple of points that can be made about these two verses.  First thing I want to point out is the thanksgiving Paul has for simply being able to minister to others.

A blessing to minister

I believe that we often forget how much of a blessing it is to be able to minister the gospel with others.  When I say “minister” I want you to understand that I am talking about sharing the gospel.  All believers are capable of ministering the gospel to others.  Yes, Paul preached but ministering the gospel is not just meant for preachers.  Deacons are able to minister but so are mothers, ushers, choir members, and the rest of the congregation of true believers.  Both men and women are able to minister the good news of Christ and salvation.

Paul, I believe, was thankful for the Lord’s grace to minister to others because he was a man who persecuted the church and was nearly lost to sin when the Lord delivered him from going down the wrong path (Gal. 1:13).  In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15-16).

All believers, I believe, share this in common with Paul, though we often become forgetful of who we once were.  I believe we should always remember who and what we were when the Lord chose and called us.  We were all once “Gentiles in the flesh” and were without Christ, without hope, and without God (Eph. 2:11-13).  So, it truly is a blessing for us to be able to minister the gospel thanks to the grace of God.

Bold teaching

The second thing I want to point out about that verse is the bold teaching from Paul.  Some consider Romans to be the “Christian constitution”.  I will say this about this letter, it is definitely filled with some deep truth.  Paul did not hold back when he spoke to the Gentiles and when he spoke to the Jews.

Paul said plainly that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).”  He made it clear that all people are in need of Christ.  There’s quite a bit that we actually didn’t cover in this letter so I definitely suggest that you read and study all of Romans once you have completely this lesson.  I also suggest that we take Paul’s lead when it comes to sharing the gospel – there will be times where we have to speak the gospel boldly.

Ministering accordingly

Now, when we do minister, we must minister accordingly.  Paul says, “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 (v.18).”  Again, Paul is very clear in that his ministering was based solely on the things that Christ had accomplished through him in order to make the Gentiles obedient – he was not going to make anything up!

To me, this is a very important statement about ministering.  I actually touched on this thought last week because Paul questioned how anybody could preach if they had not been sent/called (Rom. 10:15).  When we minister, we should minister according to what Christ has accomplished in word and deed (sound doctrine) and through us personally.

When we minister, there is no need to make up fables when we already have the truth in the gospel.  When we minister, there’s no need to make up a story when we have the truth in our own testimony of what the Lord has done for us.  Sound doctrine and our testimony is the best way we can minister the Lord.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of “ministering” today that is based on what I would call conspiracy theory instead of sound doctrine.  There’s a lot of ministering today that has gotten away from the gospel and, I believe, we should return back to it.

Paul’s aim

Paul then says to us, “I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named (v.20).”  He then quotes Isaiah 52:15 when he says, “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.”  So, Paul’s aim was to minister the gospel of Christ where it had not been ministered.  He desired that the gospel be made known to all people regardless where they lived.

Paul went further than all in ministering the gospel and he did it without radio, tv, or the internet!  As he mentions here, he ministered the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum (a Roman province).  I imagine that if it was physically possible for him, Paul would have traveled the globe preaching the gospel.  He mentions, again, his desire to visit the church in Rome (vss.22-23) which was something we discussed at the start of this quarter .  

This is something we discussed in the first lesson of this quarter (Rom. 1:11).  You will recall that I referenced scripture from this chapter where Paul spoke of being hindered from going to Rome.  Paul was hindered by his work of ministering the gospel.  He said in his first letter to the Thessalonians that Satan was hindering him (1 Thess. 2:18) which was causing him to have to minister the gospel in that land instead of in Rome.

Now Paul says in this letter, “But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you (v.23).”  What is meant by Paul saying that he no longer had place where he was?  Again, Paul had a desire to continue to share the gospel where it had not yet been spoken.  So, I believe that Paul had completed his work where he currently was and still greatly desired to go to Rome.

Paul says, “Whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you (v.24).”  Paul did eventually get to Rome but it was definitely not as he expected.  He was violently beaten by a mob while at the temple in Jerusalem and then arrested (Acts 21:26-36).  After being arrested Paul would stand before people like King Agrippa where he would testify of the gospel.  Paul was then shipped off to Rome and while on the ship going to Rome, there was a shipwreck (Acts 27)!  He was imprisoned for two years in Rome where he did get to minister the gospel.

Delivering a gift to Jerusalem

Our lesson comes to a close with Paul speaking of a gift that he had received from the Greeks for the saints in Jerusalem.  Paul says, “I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.  For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem (vss.25-26).”  We have spoken of this gift in the past when talking about “giving” – it was an offering (collection) that the Greek churches had been taking up (2 Cor. 8:1-2, 16-20).

Judea had been hit hard by a famine and so those in Macedonia were moved in their spirit to provide materials (an offering) to help those in need.  Paul actually gave orders to the churches of Galatia, and also to the Corinthians, to move as the Macedonians had moved (1 Cor. 16:1).  Paul would go on to boast about the faith of the Macedonians to the Corinthians (and to all of us who read that passage of scripture).

What a lovely way to end this season of Sunday School – moving with genuine faith.  Genuine faith does not move out of selfishness.  When one has come to Christ, acknowledged Christ and accepts Christ, they put off that old man and his old ways for the way of Christ.  The way of Christ is a way of compassion and love!  God’s gospel is about His love towards us (mankind).  Therefore, if we are truly walking in His way, then we too should have love for one another.


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