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Why Try?

 

Romans 15:14-24, 30-32
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, Dec. 18

 

“Everyone complains about the weather but no one ever does anything about it.”

I’m sure most of us have heard this saying before. The truth is that while many Christians complain that the moral and spiritual climate of the world is going from bad to worse, they often do nothing about it. Many do not believe they have the power to make a positive difference. Or, they simply do not know what to do. By helping to advance the Gospel throughout the world, all believers can make a difference. We have the unique opportunity to be an agent of positive change throughout this world by advancing the Gospel of Christ.

Paul’s thoughts and expressions in Romans chapter 15 correspond to those in Romans chapter 1. In chapter 1 Paul wrote of his plan to visit the church in Rome, thus beginning his case for asking their assistance in taking the Gospel to Spain. In chapter 15 Paul again wrote of his plan to visit the church in Rome on his way to Spain.

The apostle Paul is an example of someone who made a powerful difference in the world. This lesson will examine characteristics of Paul that contributed to his effectiveness. In Romans 15, we see many ways the apostle Paul made a difference by advancing the Gospel throughout the world. And we learn that we too can have a powerful impact on our culture by the life changing power of the Gospel of Christ.

 

Your Purpose (Romans 15:14-16)

In these verses Paul explains his reason for writing to the Roman believers. He describes his calling to the churches in Rome and then invites them to partner with him in ministry. He paints a powerful picture in verse 16 of a priest bringing an offering to God. He says that he is “ministering as a priest the Gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable.” His offering to God was the Gentile converts who had been “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

In the same way, followers of Christ can make a difference in the world by allowing God to use them for His purposes. We were created by God for a purpose and will never find contentment and joy in this life apart from that purpose.

 

Your Power (Romans 15:17-19)

Paul took no credit for his ministry. It was Christ’s mission, not his. Paul clearly understood that it was the power of Christ that was leading the Gentiles to obedience to God. Paul realized that any success he experienced in ministry was not based upon his abilities, skills or talents but it was granted by the power of God. He states, “In Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.” Paul’s life pointed not to himself but to Christ. As a result, he can say, “I will not presume to speak anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.”

Because the Gospel mission is based on God’s power and not human accomplishments, believers can be confident their participation in advancing the Gospel makes a difference. Thankfully, we do not depend on our talents or gifts, but we depend on God’s power and ability.

 

Your Plan (Romans 15:20-24)

Paul had a plan for reaching the nations; this plan included involving the church in Rome. His plan for reaching the nations, specifically Spain, involved partnering with the church in Rome. He employs a commonly used phrase to describe his request: “to be sent on my way there by you.” This phrase is used several other times in the New Testament (Acts 15:3; 1 Cor. 16:6, 11; 2 Cor. 1:16) and may have been an expression used frequently in early mission work. What we learn from Paul’s writing is that Paul employed a plan. His desire was to go to Spain and he asked that the Roman believers partner with him in that endeavor.

We can’t all be pioneers by taking the Gospel to places where it has never been heard, but we can partner with those who can. Through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, Southern Baptists come together to collectively reach the nations with the Gospel of Christ.

 

Your Prayers (Romans 15:30-32)

In verses 25-29, Paul asks the Roman believers to participate with him in another missions endeavor. Paul asked that the churches in Rome partner with the churches in Jerusalem to financially support those in need. Paul’s reasoning for this partnership is expressed in verse 27 where he says, “For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.” In other words, Paul explained that there is a strong connection between experiencing God’s saving grace and supporting God’s mission work.

In verse 30, Paul implores the Roman believers “to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me ...” The word “strive” or “agonize” literally means to fight or contend along with someone. It provides a picture of wrestling in prayer alongside someone. Paul’s request is that the followers of Christ in Rome labor with him in prayer for the furtherance of the Gospel.

Through prayer, the Romans could partner with Paul in his ministry. He asked the Roman believers to pray that (1) he would be rescued from unbelievers in Judea, (2) his mission to the saints in Jerusalem would be well received and (3) he would be able to visit the church in Rome.

It is through the power of prayer that believers across the world, across the nation and across the street are able to partner together to do God’s work.