Living in the Power of God (4)

Signs and wonders of the gospel
Romans 15.13-22

1. A life overflowing with the power of God (v13)

  • Overflowing with joy and peace (Gal 5.22-23, Rms 5.1)
  • Overflowing with trust and faith (Rms 1.17)
  • Overflowing with hope
    Hope for today
    Hope for our future
    Hope for all creation
  • Overflowing with the Holy Spirit

A life able to gloriously serve others (v14-16)

  • Service which springs from maturity (v14)
    Goodness or kindness
    Knowledge
    Application and admonish

These verses come at the end of a long section of Romans devoted to how the strong relate to the weak in the faith. There are at least three themes which are central to the way we serve each other. Firstly, God has accepts those who are weak in their faith (14.3), Jesus accepts us (15.7), therefore we should accept one another. How could it be otherwise! Secondly, we all share a relationship with Christ based on his Lordship. Individually, we are accountable to him for our lives, strong and weak (14.6). No one is special! Or rather we are all equally special. Thirdly, it is Jesus who is our coming judge. It is therefore not our role to judge others.

Rather than pointing the finger, we can be much more positive in our service of others. Paul argues that we need to do everything by faith and be fully convinced about it (14.5). So to be competent to “instruct one another” has an important purpose. We can help each other to educate our thinking with the Word of God. Stott suggests that this will bring settled convictions and so build Christian liberty. We need to honour, serve and respect others.

But what happens when Christians simply disagree over what is right teaching. There are plenty of these issues. One of the old puritan expressions which can be helpful is:

In essentials unity
In non-essentials liberty
In all things charity.

But isn’t one person’s essential, another’s non-essential? Certainly we cannot be so unprincipled that we accept any view or opinion. We cannot simply adopt the mantra of 21st century liberal society, that the only intolerance allowed is towards intolerance. Christianity is in many respects an intolerant faith. Jesus said he was the way, truth and life and that no-one comes to God except by him. That’s pretty inclusive.

A safe guide is where Scripture speaks clearly then these are essentials. But when serious Bible believing Christians genuinely reach different views, then these ought to be considered non-essentials. That then clarifies how we relate to people hold these two kinds of view. Stott helpfully suggests that:

In [essentials] faith is primary and we not appeal to love as an excuse to deny essential faith.
In [non-essentials] love is primary and we may not appeal to zeal for faith as an excuse for failures in love.
Faith instructs our conscience; love respects the conscience of others.
Faith gives liberty; love limits its exercise.

  • Service which springs from clear vision (v15)
  • Service which springs from worship and witness (v16)

Paul uses a somewhat surprising expression: He has a priestly duty to proclaim the gospel. He definitely means this! In the NT, the term relates to both the Jewish priesthood and Jesus’ high priestly role. A priestly duty must mean something to do with sacrificial rites, and Paul links that to the Gentiles being an acceptable offering.

For Paul, and therefore us, mission is indeed a priestly activity. We bring converts as living sacrifices to God (12.1). Such people become of themselves an acceptable offering to God. No longer do they need to rely on the sacrifice of animals and the action of a priestly office. They can come to God without the intervention of others.

Christians engaged in mission are exercising a priestly ministry. It is this ministry which links the worship with witness. Too often churches and Christians elevate one over the other or see them a separate tasks. As priests we worship God, and as priests we reach out to others. No wonder Peter described the church as a royal priesthood.

A life that fully proclaims the gospel (v17-22)

  • In obeying God
  • In speaking only about Jesus (1 Cor 2.3-5)
    An afterthought: David Taylor rightly suggests that not only does Paul speak more and more about his weakness in presenting the gospel as he gets older in the faith, and is more acutely aware of the worthlessness of his own righteousness, but he even describes himself in increasingly humble terms; from being an “apostle of Christ Jesus”, to “a servant of God”, to “a prisoner of Christ”. A useful study on Christian maturity.
  • In actions and words
  • In signs and wonders (2 Cor 12.12)
  • In the power of the Spirit (Eph 6.17)
  • In pioneering mission (Is 52.15; 1 Cor 3:6,10)

Cell Outline

Why does Paul pray in v13 for God to fill us with belief so that we may abound in hope? Why is hope so important to the Christian?

What are the points that Paul has written about boldly in v15? Try and explain in what way is mission a priestly duty?

What does the passage from v14-21 reveal about Paul’s heart and what was important to him?

Describe an occasion when you have seen God moving in signs and wonders (v19). What mission opportunities were created? How might mission based on experiencing the power of God be different from debating the gospel (Acts 17.22ff)

What prevented Paul from going to see the church at Rome (v22)? From 1 Thess 2:18 , how can we be aware of the times when Satan is actively trying to keep us from accomplishing something?

Going deeper:
Is it good to ask for prayers for yourself? How do you feel when the answer is no? What kinds of prayer focus are most likely to be answered?

Look on to the next section v23-33. Why was it important for Paul to go to Spain in v24? In Acts 23:11, Paul has a promise from God that he will go to Rome. but he also seems confident that he would go to Spain. What can we learn about making plans from this?

What can we learn about Paul from his prayer request in vv30-32? What can we learn about how God wants us to pray to Him?

How can we square the issue of planning ahead with the knowledge that nothing can happen apart from the will of God (Romans 1:10).

2 comments to Living in the Power of God (4)

  • John Smith

    Trish says: Have been reading Matthew Henry on Romans 15:13 -22. His contemplation of joy re verse 13 had the desired effect. A springing up within.

  • John Smith

    Matthew Henry on Romans 15:22: 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Here is another prayer directed to God, as the God of hope; and it is, as the former (Romans 15:5), for spiritual blessings: these are the blest blessings, and to be first and chiefly prayed for. I. Observe how he addresses himself to God, as the God of hope. It is good in prayer to fasten upon those names, titles, and attributes of God, which are most suitable to the errand we come upon, and will best serve to encourage our faith concerning it. Every word in the prayer should be a plea. Thus should the cause be skilfully ordered, and the mouth filled with arguments. God is the God of hope. He is the foundation on which our hope is built, and he is the builder that doth himself raise it: he is both the object of our hope, and the author of it. That hope is but fancy, and will deceive us, which is not fastened upon God (as the goodness hoped for, and the truth hoped in), and which is not of his working in us. We have both together, Psalms 119:49. Thy word–there is God the object; on which thou hast caused me to hope–there is God the author of our hope, 1 Peter 1:3. II. What he asks of God, not for himself, but for them. 1. That they might be filled with all joy and peace in believing. Joy and peace are two of those things in which the kingdom of God consists, Romans 14:17. Joy in God, peace of conscience, both arising from a sense of our justification; see Romans 5:1,2. Joy and peace in our own bosoms would promote a cheerful unity and unanimity with our brethren. Observe, (1.) How desirable this joy and peace are: they are filling. Carnal joy puffs up the soul, but cannot fill it; therefore in laughter the heart is sad. True, heavenly, spiritual joy is filling to the soul; it has a satisfaction in it, answerable to the soul's vast and just desires. Thus does God satiate and replenish the weary soul. Nothing more than this joy, only more of it, even the perfection of it in glory, is the desire of the soul that hath it, Psalms 4:6,7,36:8,63:5,65:4. (2.) How it is attainable. [1.] By prayer. We must go to God for it; he will for this be enquired of. Prayer fetches in spiritual joy and peace. [2.] By believing; that is the means to be used. It is vain, and flashy, and transient joy, that is the product of fancy; true substantial joy is the fruit of faith. Believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable, 1 Peter 1:8. It is owing to the weakness of our faith that we are so much wanting in joy and peace. Only believe; believe the goodness of Christ, the love of Christ, the promises of the covenant, and the joys and glories of heaven; let faith be the substance and evidence of these things, and the result must needs be joy and peace. Observe, It is all joy and peace–all sorts of true joy and peace. When we come to God by prayer we must enlarge our desires; we are not straitened in him, why should we be straitened in ourselves? Ask for all joy; open thy mouth wide, and he will fill it. 2. That they might abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. The joy and peace of believers arise chiefly from their hopes. What is laid out upon them is but little, compared with what is laid up for them; therefore the more hope they have the more joy and peace they have. We do then abound in hope when we hope for great things from God, and are greatly established and confirmed in these hopes. Christians should desire and labour after an abundance of hope, such hope as will not make ashamed. This is through the power of the Holy Ghost. The same almighty power that works grace begets and strengthens this hope. Our own power will never reach it; and therefore where this hope is, and is abounding, the blessed Spirit must have all the glory.For the full text see: http://www.studylight.org/com/mhc-com/view.cgi?book=ro&chapter=015

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