Romans16:17-27 “The God of victory”

Up until now we have been studying the book of Romans.  Today is the end of Romans. I would like talk about “the God of victory”, today’s message title, from this passage. 

              If we compare our life of faith to the methods of car maintenance, notice that there are two types.  One is the maintenance type, and one is the repairing type. The maintenance type of person services the car before it breaks down or something happens so the car rarely breaks down, and has a steady car life. The repairing type of person is the kind who doesn’t react until something happens.  For example, until the snow falls, he doesn’t change the tires. Until the care breaks down he doesn’t service it. He’ll think about it when it breaks down, so at an important time, his car doesn’t move, and it’s broken down so he has a lot of troubles. What kind of type are you? Are you the type that before something happens you are always by prayer and the Word firmly armed?  Or are you like the type that until something happens, you don’t do anything?  At a short glance, even among people who are earnestly living a life of faith, in reality there are many cases of the repairing type. This type of people are praying for God to help them, but in reality they aren’t living by following the Word of God, but put their own thoughts first, so when something happens, they fall into a panic. When a problem occurs they call out to God, but when the problem is solved, they just stop praying. Since they are always repeating this pattern of faith everything is like a tornado.  However, the maintenance type is different.  Before temptation comes he prays, and he is armed in the Word so wherever he goes he can have victory by the power of God. He is not perfect, but basically he follows this pattern so in the midst of many trials he can have a life of thankfulness.  How can we have such a maintenance type of Christian life? Today I would like to talk about three aspects of this.


  1. 1.   The warning “to watch for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way.” (17) We must “be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (19)
  2. 2.   Leave all in the hands of the God of victory.
  3. 3.   Live by the power of magnificent Gospel.



  1. I.            Being wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil (vs. 17-19)


First of all let’s look at verses 17 to 19.


Up to verse 16 Paul sent greetings to friends, and finished saying everything he had to say.  However, when you look at these greetings you can see that one more thought popped into Paul’s mind.  That is verse 17. That is in the Roman church there were some people that were spreading wrong teachings. In other words, a heretical flock had entered into the church.


              If we look at Galatians 1:6-8 we can see that Paul was in other areas very patient, but toward those who bent the Gospel, we can see that he took a very firm attitude.


Galatians 1:6-8


              Here Paul is calling this teaching “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6) Even though it is called “another gospel” that does not mean that there is a different gospel. It looks like the Gospel, but is a different teaching than the real Gospel.  When you listen well to what they are teaching it is a little different from what the Bible says, and there are people who plainly say things that deny the Gospel. Recently, someone said that they heard someone’s talk that in Japan there are 3 great shrines. One is Izumo Shrine which is God the father. Another is Hiyoshi shrine which is Jesus, the son of God, and the other is Kasuga Shrine which depicts the Holy Spirit and the person became confused. There are some people who advocate such things. Among those people who don’t know the Bible, when they hear such a story, they think that’s interesting, but it is clearly different than what the Bible says.  There are some people that          interpret the theory that Japanese Shinto was influenced by Judaism, but that is not the Gospel at all. Well, even if they don’t go that far as to denial the Gospel so plainly, and even if it’s like the contents of the Gospel, in reality there are cases when it is not the Gospel. Such a difference is a really small one, but in time it develops into a big difference so one needs to be careful. Paul is saying that if there are people that are preaching a different Gospel, then they should be “condemned”. (Galatians 1:8) Paul is this strict because of the Gospel being preached wrongly. Wrong teachings not only knock down one or two Christians, but the foundations of the entire church of God are shaken.  Therefore, the most fearful thing for the church is really not persecution from the outside, but heretical teaching within the church.  When there is persecution, it is amazing, but the church burns in enthusiasm. But when heretical teachings spread within the church, the church becomes sick and collapses. It is like a swarm of locusts that come at harvest time. Even though the farmers have worked on the crops for a whole year, the locust swarm comes at once and completely eats all of the harvest. In the same way the Word of God that was spread by sweat and tears is completely shaken, and God’s people are changed into servants of Satan.  That is what the Word that is bended and spread as heresies does.


              If we look at verse 18, their characteristics are recorded.


Verse 18


This type of person does not follow Jesus, “but their own appetites”. (18) They don’t follow the cross of Christ, but they are people who live following their own desires and own thinking. While they are saying this is the Gospel they are spreading a bent Gospel. Moreover, they use sleek and flattery words. It is difficult to distinguish whether it is a heresy or not. They are like Grimm’s fairy tale, “The wolf and the 7 kids”, where the wolf puts flour on his feet and then comes near the goat kids, so the kids carelessly open the door.


              The other day I heard this story from a Korean missionary that came to my house.  Recently in Korea there are a lot of these kinds of heretics. They look like sincere believers and enter the church. They study earnestly, help in the church, and even become officers in the church, but the moment they become an officer, they leave the church taking other believers with them. They use sleek and flattery words and deceive simple and honest people.


              In verse 17 Paul is advising to watch out for such people and to “keep away from them.” Paul definitely didn’t say, “fight with them” or “deal with them”, but advised “to watch out…keep away from them.” (17)This seems like such a passive way of dealing with them, but the Bible consistently teaches about heretics to “keep away from them.” (17) For example,


II John 1:10,11


Therefore, for us to stay away from people who teach heresies is wise. If not, people with wrong teaching will especially cleverly draw us into their side.  Often such people come to us.  They are out to get Christians.  Christians know the Bible somewhat so they think that to attack Christians is the quick way to find people to follow them. Also Christians are also nice so they think to flatly refuse to listen to their talking is bad.  Therefore, they listen to the heretics without thinking. However, such heretics are tools of Satan so they attack with exactly the same clever tricks as Satan.  While being in touch with each other the Christian begins to see how nice the other person is and all too soon the other person is setting the pace.  Towards such people, the best counter measure is to watch for them and to “keep away from them.”(17)


              Paul says in verse 19, “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” It is dangerous to be just obedient. In order to stand firm in this world as believers we must “be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.”(19) We must have wisdom to distinguish what is good and what is evil and also so that we don’t easily do wrong, we must carefully watch out for evil.




  1. II.          Leave all in the hands of the God of victory (vs. 20)


The second thing is to leave all in the hands of the God of victory.  Please look at verse 20.


In verses 17 to 19 Paul taught about what man should be careful about, but here he is stating that at the same time God’s help is necessary. Without God’s help, we cannot have victory over Satan. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (20) This expression is also in Genesis 3:15. This means that God’s                    victory over Satan who should be called the father of heresies will be fulfilled. Jesus by the cross and resurrection crushed the head of Satan, the enemy, and declared an absolute victory. However, in the end this will be completed at Jesus’ second coming. This will be “soon”.(20) Paul believed that the final victory of God would come “soon”.(20)


II Thess.1:8-10


Paul had hope in this.  Certainly the Lord will come.  That time is getting closer.  This is our real hope.  When we grasp onto this hope, we can rejoice in the Lord’s name, cry out to God, and praise Him. The contradictions and conflicts of this world cannot be solved by human resources and methods.  However, when our Lord Jesus comes again, then all absurdness and persecution by being righteously judged will become clear.  For Christians one of the most important things is to daily, keep awake and look forward to the coming of our Lord.  In our daily life if bad things happen or we are hurt, we don’t have to be discouraged or despaired, but can have faith and look forward to the fact that the Lord will righteously judge all things. This is a certain hope and the answer to our problems.  What is necessary is not working hard to solve the absurdities of this world, but to leave everything in the hands of the Lord who will victoriously “crush Satan under your feet.” (20)




  1. III.        Living by the Gospel (vs. 25-27)


The third point is to live by the Gospel.  Look at verses 25 to 27.  These are the last words by which Paul concludes this letter.


Verses 25 to 27


This is a benediction.  A benediction praises the glory of God. The benediction that closes the book of Romans has a lot of content, and is so long so the meaning isn’t so clear.  What Paul wanted to say is like what verse 27 says, “to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!” What “the only wise God” (27) is like is written in verse 25, He is “able to establish you”. How he is able to do so is by “the revelation of the mystery”.(25) In other words, it is “by my Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.” (25) Paul had assurance that the Gospel that was revealed to him and that he proclaimed was the real Gospel. It was by this Gospel that we are established. Therefore what Paul is saying is that by the Gospel that Paul is preaching, “to the only wise God” (27) “who is able to establish you” (25) “be glory forever through Jesus Christ!”(27)


The Gospel, indeed, is what establishes us in the faith.


Romans 1:16   


The Gospel is power. It isn’t just a notion.”It is the power of God for the salvation  of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) For example, even if all around us is full of idols, and there are people who bend the Gospel, and even if there are people who are teaching things that look like the Gospel, but in reality is completely different, or if by that the church or society is in a condition of dried bones, the Gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) This is not an old story that has been passed down from 2000 years ago, but is alive now working and is the power that changes our souls and our lives.


Bounty is the name of a ship that in 1787 the English government that sent out with 100 people to Tahiti to pick up breadfruit plants, and transport them to the West Indies in hopes that they would grow there and become a cheap source of food for slaves.  When they arrived at the island it was like paradise and they became very excited .Especially the native girls were all very appealing.  However, gradually they began ignoring commands from their county. The relationships between the crew deteriorated. Especially, the relationship between the captain and his men became very tense.  The captain frequently punished and flogged his men and tensions arose. On April 5,1789, after five months in Tahiti, the Bounty set sail with its breadfruit cargo. On April 28th a mutiny broke out. Several of the crew men entered the captain’s cabin, awakened him, and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt. The ship was taken bloodlessly and apparently without any struggle.  The mutineers ordered the captain into Bounty’s launch, and it was lowered into the sea. 


Immediately after setting sixteen men ashore in Tahiti in September 1789, nine mutineers, six Tahitian men, and 11 women, one with a baby, set sail in the Bounty hoping to elude the British Navy and avoid being caught.  The mutineers passed through the Fiji and Cook Islands, but feared that they would be found there.  Continuing their quest for a safe haven, on Jan. 15, 1790 they rediscovered the Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy’s charts. They settled there enjoying the native women. As a result there was continuous fighting among the men. They made a still and began brewing an alcoholic beverage from a native plant.  The mutineers began drinking excessively, and the fighting increased. They killed each other and they made life miserable for the women. Finally there was only one mutineer remaining, John Adams. All the other Westerners had died and there were a lot of children of mixed blood to be raised.


However, 30 years later when an American ship passing by there landed on the island, they saw a surprising sight. There a sanctuary had been built and John Adams was the pastor.


John Adams had found a Bible in the Bounty.  When he started to read it, he was drawn to the Words. He repented and became a man of God. After that by the leading of the Holy Spirit, he taught the children of the island how to read, and he taught God’s Word the Bible.  The natives respected him, made him King, and obeyed him.  Then the island became a paradise.  That is the power of the Gospel, the power of one Bible.


Hebrews 4:12


“For the word of God is living and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)  By the Word of God, the Gospel, we are saved, changed, and are established in the faith. Also we are able to be victorious over all kinds of attacks by Satan.  Now, what God desires of us is for us to live by the Gospel


Romans8:35, 37


If we give our lives to God, and depend on the power of the resurrection, no matter what happens we won’t get lost. No matter what, we will never be devoured by it or destroyed by it. “We are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37) That is the message of the Gospel.


What do you desire in your life? Is it your thinking or your effort? That is important. However, there are times when only those things will break us.  Only by depending upon Jesus Christ who died on the cross and three day later rose again can we overcome all kinds of troubles.


In 1968 a scientist discovered a necklace made of seeds at an Indian grave that was thought to be 600 years old. The scientist took each seed and planted, and it sprouted and began to grow!  For 600 years the seed was in torpor (sleeping), but the seeds had life in it. The important thing is to plant the seeds.  If you plant the seeds of the Gospel in your heart, no matter how much you are sleeping, you too will sprout, grow, and bear the fruits of an abundant life. This seed has the amazing magnificent power of God in it. Now, plant this seed in your heart and also in the society that we live in.  If we do so, the omnipotent God will work, and perform a great work.

Romans16:1-16 “Great fellow workers”

Finally all we have left of Romans is chapter 16. Today let’s study about the great fellow workers from the first half of the chapter.

              When we read the Bible sometimes there are passages that are full of only names.  Matthew chapter 1 is like this.  It is all about whose child is whose child.  There are some people who decide to read the Bible, but in the first chapter they think it is boring and quit reading.  Luke chapter 3 is another enumeration of names.  Especially Chronicles is difficult to read.  I Chronicles from chapter 1 to 9 is nothing but names. This type of passage is even difficult for pastors to read.  Such records seem like just unessential passages that have just been added on.  It seems like they serve no purpose. Therefore, we tend to skip over them and go on to the next chapter.  However, this Romans 16 passage isn’t a meaningless record.  Here is a record of the great workers that worked with Paul and helped his ministry.


              Today let’s study 3 aspects of the great fellow worker’s ministry. Let’s look at


1.    the woman Phoebe who helped many people


2.    Priscilla and Aquilla who were faithful fellow workers


3.    the great fellow workers in Rome




I.               The woman Phoebe who helped many people (vs.1,2)


First let’s look at verses 1 and 2.


Paul at the end of this letter is sending greetings to many people in the Roman church. Here 28 people’s names appear.  Paul had never been to Rome, not even one time, so it is surprising that he knew so many people and had so any friends.  More than that what is surprising is that Paul gave personal regards.                            .


First the woman Phoebe is introduced.  She was from the area of Corinth from the Cenchrea church. She was a deaconess. The meaning of deacon is “servant”.  I don’t know if this is the same as present day deacons or church officers, but she took care of many people.  By this meaning, it could be said that she grandly fulfilled her duties as a deaconess.


In verse 2 it says, “I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints…“ so she probably took the letter that Paul had written in Corinth to Rome. Romans, that we are reading, was probably carried by Phoebe.  If we look now at the number of pages, these 16 chapters are a very thin book.  In that age everything was recorded on scrolls so it would have been enough to fill about 2 furoshikis (a huge traditional scarf used in Japan to carry loads). When we entrust a letter we to someone, we choose someone we can trust.  Paul trusted Phoebe deeply enough to leave his precious letter up to Phoebe to deliver. In an age where the human rights of women were very vague, to have been trusted that much could be said to be a revolutionary thing.


One other way Phoebe is introduced is as “a great help to many people, including me“. These words show that she was a financial supporter. The apostle Paul in the beginning while preaching the Gospel supported himself for his living by being a tentmaker. However, gradually as time went on, he became busy with the work of the Lord, and he couldn’t work for his living. At times like that Phoebe filled his financial needs. Not only Paul, but with the money that was given to her, she helped many workers that served the Lord. 


When Jesus and his disciples evangelized how much do you think it cost?  There is an economist who figured that if one meal was 300 yen per person, then one meal for everyone would be 3,900 yen. Then one month would be more than 300,000 yen. Therefore, one year would be 3,600,000 yen.  Jesus was the son of God. However, when he was preaching the Gospel of the kingdom on this earth he didn’t go without eating, he had to eat.  How were his meals paid for?  If we look at Luke 8:3 there were sponsors that backed him up.  They were “Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others“. Many women paid for the expense of the work of Jesus and his disciples so the work of Jesus and his disciples was possible.

Phoebe was the same.  She financially supported Paul and many workers. Paul and the workers had this kind of support so Paul didn’t have any hindrances. Also they were able to concentrate on evangelism without worrying about anything.  Such contributions to the work by these women were huge. Today too by the dedication of people like these women the might works of God move forward.




II.             The faithful fellow workers, Priscilla and Aquila


Next, let’s look at verses 3 to 5. Here the beautiful work of the faithful fellow workers, the couple, Priscilla and Aquila are introduced.


In Acts 18:1-3 we can see that Paul already knew Priscilla and Aquila.  When he visited Corinth on his second missionary trip, they had already come there from Rome and Paul met them there. They also were tentmakers. They were such good friends that Paul lived in their house and worked together with them there. Then Priscilla is introduced as Aquila’s wife, but gradually they are introduced as not Aquila and Priscilla, but Priscilla and Aquila. Priscilla’s name is given before Aquila’s.   I don’t know why they were introduced that way, but I think it was perhaps because the wife Priscilla more than the husband, Aquila, had a better understanding of the Gospel that Paul explained or perhaps this shows that her work was assessed as better.  However, I think that even though her understanding of the Gospel was better, or that she was more zealous in the work, here it shows that it must be remembered that this work was as a couple.


Paul is saying about Pricilla and Aquila are people that “risked their lives for me.” (3)  Paul is saying that they went so far as to for the sake of Paul’s life to put their own life on the line. Priscilla and Aquila were such faithful fellow workers that Paul felt this way. This is how beautifully dedicated the couple was before God.  The presence of such a couple is such a huge consolation and encouragement to a pastor.


There is one more important thing about the couple, Priscilla and Aquila.  That is in verse 5. “Greet also the church that meets at their house.” Their house was the church. It was a house church. Church buildings like today were not built until much later, in the second century. At that time there were hardly any churches that had a building.  Therefore, like this, believer’s homes were used as churches.  They were all house churches.  If in open homes people met in the name of Jesus Christ, then that was a church.  The couple, Priscilla and Aquila, wherever they went they opened up their home and it was a place of worship.


This teaches us that we must open our homes.  It is a huge blessing for Christians to open their homes for worship and fellowship. This in itself is a splendid work of God.  Especially in Japanese churches which are so small that the ministry is almost like doing church planting it is said that the presence of such home churches are extremely important.  By Christian homes being opened like this and the seeds of the Gospel being planted there, lots of fruit is produced. While remembering this, let’s like the couple, Priscilla and Aquila, while opening our homes for the work of the Lord, let’s desire to want to contribute to the evangelism of the Gospel.




III.           The great fellow workers (vs. 5-16)


Next, let’s look at the last half of verse 5 to verse 16.  Here in addition to Phoebe and Priscilla and Aquila, people that served Paul are enumerated. While remembering those fellow workers who were engraved in his heart and he could never forget, he says to the Christians in the Roman church to “Greet” them.


First Paul says to greet Epenetus. This was the first person that believed in Christ in Asia.  This is one person that Paul could never forget.


The next person that appears is Mary.  Here it says, “Mary, who worked very hard for you.” (6) Phoebe too, Mary too, also Junias, Tryphena, Persis, Rufus’ mother, Julia,and Nereus’ sister were all women.  Such women while having great hardships supported Paul’s ministry.  In that age the human rights of women were so low that a Roman philosopher caused a debate over whether women were human or not.  In such an age that women supported Paul’s work meant that they had hardships, but even in the midst of that the women supported Paul.


And then if you look at verse 7 Anronicus and Junias appear “Who have been in prison with” Paul. They were also well known among the Apostles. Paul probably remembered the good and bad times they shared preaching the Gospel.  Moreover, Paul said, “They were in Christ before I was”(7) showing his respect towards those  who were in the faith longer than him.


Also in verse 10 Apelles is introduced. He was “tested and approved”. No matter where he was sent, he was o.k. and everyone approved of him. He was a splendid Christian, a real Christian.


In the Roman church there were many people like this.  We also know that  among them there were people that Paul had probably never even met one time.  Even those whom Paul had never even met one time, he considered them as fellow workers in Christ.  In other words, he didn’t think about what kind of a relationship he had with them, but in the Lord, in Christ, he understood them as fellow workers.


All people have people they blend with and people they don’t blend with.  Probably Paul was the same.  However, he didn’t put his thinking first, but persistently looked at them through Christ. When he looked in Christ, in the Lord, even a person he didn’t blend with, that person is also a fellow worker in Christ. He was conscious that in the Lord the person was a chosen believer. Therefore, he used such people, and worked together with such people.


Here many believer’s names are enumerated to teach us this.  In other words, God’s work is definitely not something that one person can do.  The Apostle Paul was so.  You may have an image of Paul being someone who lived completely for Christ, who could overcome anything, a super star, a hero that did everything that God wanted, etc.


However, looking at this passage we can see that the reason he was able to accomplish all that he did was because he had the help of such people.  Here at least 28 people’s names appear. If in the Roman church that he sent the letter to there was this many people that he needed to record, then within his lifetime there must have been so many fellow workers that he had a relationship with. The ministry of Paul was not by the power of he himself.  In the shadows he was supported by the help of many fellow workers. In a way it could be said they were with him working in a team ministry.  In this way when the Church works functioning as one team, many times more work can be accomplished than what one person could do by himself.


If we look at Acts 6:4, when a problem arose over the distribution of food to the widows in the Jerusalem church, the apostles asked the church to “choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them, and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This does not mean that prayer and the Word of God is the only thing that is important, but that so the Apostles could give their strength to prayer and the Word of God, they gave all the rest of their jobs in the church to other people.  He used other people and worked together with other people.  This produced many times greater power.  In fact, by the church having everyone working together, not only did the number of disciples in the Jerusalem church greatly increase, but “a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7)

Eccles. 4:6, 12


The strongest string is not a thick one, but “a cord of three strands” (Eccles. 4:12) If the Pastor together with the laymen evangelize as a cord, then they will be really strong, and have huge power.


Everyone doesn’t have to become a pastor.  Not everyone has to go to seminary and study.  However, we all need to become fellow workers that help their neighbors. As a layman you can grandly do the work of the Lord.  God is seeking this type of dedicated people.  He desires that so called laymen leaders will rise up.  It is only natural that the pastor serve the Lord faithfully, but when laymen leaders as fellow workers serve the Lord faithfully, the church will be abundantly blessed, and will move powerfully ahead.

Paul remembered such fellow workers individually and said “greet” them.  This “greet” was not just saying “hi!”  This is to recognize their hardships, and respect them from their hearts. To follow the Lord there are many hardships, but such rewards are also promised.  May we each accomplish the commission that God has given us, and be a great fellow worker used of the Lord.  May you be a person that won’t be forgotten because of the grace you have given and be carved in other’s hearts.  Rather, let’s pray that we will be a person whose name is not forgotten, but is engraved in the Lord’s heart.

Romans15:22-33 “Living for God’s commission”

Today I would like to talk about living for God’s commission.  We all have been commissioned by God.  We have been commissioned to preach the Gospel.   If we forget this commission, then we loose our purpose of living and lack a feeling of joy in living.  On the other hand, those who on fire for this commission, and respond by using  what they have been given to fulfill the commission, are overflowing with joy.

              Today I would like to talk about three things that we can learn from Paul who lived for God’s commission. 


1.              The church has been given a commission to preach the Gospel of Christ.


2.              In order to accomplish this commission, Christians must be united in love.


3.              However more than anything what is important for this is prayer.




I.               The commission of the church (vs. 22-24)


First please look at verses 22 to 24. 


Paul wanted to go to the Roman church many times, but he was never able to do so. That was because the circumstances of evangelism on the Mediterranean Coast at that time didn’t allow it.  Until then the churches that were established by the evangelism of Paul had various problems occur.  He had to deal with solving the problems.


II Cor. 11:28, 29


Paul had had troubles and struggles, pain and sorrows concerning the church that he couldn’t tell anyone about. He was so busy dealing with such issues, that he was never able to get to Rome. 


However, when things settled for the time being, the Gospel mission progressed a lot to the point that Paul could say, “But now that there is no place for me to work in these regions.” (23) Paul is writing this letter from Corinth so “these regions“ are the Mediterranean Coast, the area of Achaia, Macedonia, and Asia.  He had evangelized enough to say he had evangelized enough there so next he was going to leave for Rome planning to make it the base for the mission, and go as far West as Spain.


These words are really surprising:


1.          that he could say positively that “there is no place for me to work in these regions“. (23) It was because he had zealously preached the Gospel that he could say that.  Of course Paul could not have done that all by himself. We must not overlook              the fact that he was backed by the whole Gentile church of that time which was aware of the commission of world missions and worked together for its realization.  In this way, he was able to spread the Gospel to the whole area without leaving anyplace out.


2.           that he was going to leave for Spain and spread the Gospel there.  According to the maps of that time, that was the most Western area.  In other words, he is saying that he is going to ends of the earth to evangelize.  Even though this was the ends of the Roman Empire, Spain, when you think of the transportation system of that age, it would not be exaggerating to say that in the present day world this would be further than the whole world.  We respect him for his passion to go that far to spread the Gospel.


He held such a thought because he lived for the commission that God had given him.  Jesus’ words of Acts 1:8 captured his heart.


Acts 1:8


This was the command that Jesus gave his disciples before he ascended into heaven.  The Apostle Paul holding on tight to these words went to Jerusalem and spread the Gospel. Later he went to Asia and went around as far as Illyricum, present day Yugoslavia. He went that far to spread the Gospel. And that wasn’t the end.  Next he thought he would go to where the people of his day imagined was the ends of the earth, in other words, Spain.


Habakkuk 2:14


Paul gave his whole life so that the vision that the whole world would know the Lord’s glory would be realized. He lived for this vision and died for this vision. 


However, this commission is not just for Paul.  This commission has been given to the whole church. The commission of the church from the moment the church was born on this earth, has been to preach the Gospel to the whole earth.  Therefore, if we loose sight of the commission and do not fulfill this commission, then the church is a useless, and is looses it meaning for existence.


Recently it is said that a lot of people are suffering. This is the result of not knowing their purpose of living. They don’t know for what purpose they exist.  Those who have no purpose most live for themselves.  They are interested in themselves. Therefore, when things don’t go the way they want them to go, then they are troubled. However, there are more things that don’t go the way you want them to go.  In fact, most things are that way. Therefore, instead of living for ourselves, we need to live for the Lord who made us, loves us, and gave his life for us. The Lord wants us to think about what we need to do so we can live for Him.  We have been crucified with Christ and died with him. Now we live for God who loved us and gave his life for us. We need to do away with our self that tries to do this and that, and live by the will of God.  We shouldn’t live by our own thinking and feelings, but leave all to the will of God, and live by His leading. By this our reason for living is born.


As Christians who have been saved by God, it is necessary to live searching for what we can do. That’s because that’s the reason that we are living.  If we know God’s commission and live for it, God’s huge blessings will be overflowing.




II.           The unity of love (vs.25-29)


Please look at verses 25 to 29.


Paul who thought of going to Spain to evangelize had one thing that he had to do first. Before going West, he had to East one time.  He had to bring                the offerings from the Gentile churches to the Jerusalem church.  At that time the Jerusalem church was a gathering mainly of Jews that had become                  Christians. When they became Christians they were persecuted and there were many that lost their jobs so they were forced to have very difficult lives. On top of that the area was hit by a famine so the Christians in the Jerusalem church were very                    poverty stricken. Therefore Paul appealed to the Gentile churches who were comparatively rich to collect offerings. Then the Christians in Macedonia and Achaia joyfully answered Paul’s appeal.  That was because they felt a natural obligation that they should do so. They received a share of spiritual things from the Christians in Jerusalem so they thought it only reasonable that that they bring material goods and look after the Christians in Jerusalem. The principle of sharing our possessions is a principle that the Bible teaches.   


Galatians 6:6


This is the meaning of this verse.  There is a deep meaning to why Paul who was so on fire to evangelize in Spain would take the time to take the offerings from the Gentile churches to Jerusalem.  That was the importance of fellowship with the other Christians.  Paul believed that to bring the offerings to the poor Jerusalem brothers and sisters and support them was to partake in the grace of Christian fellowship. He says this in II Cor. chapters 8 and 9. Indeed, their offering was work of the ministry of supplying what was needed, and by doing that the church was able to remain unified.  As I mentioned earlier, Paul’s work of missions was not accomplished just by himself. He was certainly backed up by many prayers and the help of the bothers and sisters.  Certainly it was because of the unity of the brothers and sisters that the preaching of the Gospel moved forward.  For the evangelism of the Gospel the unity of love is always needed.


Therefore, please notice that the Apostle Paul’s evangelism wasn’t just striving to preach the Gospel, but he always kept a close relationship with the center, the Jerusalem church. When his first evangelical trip was over he returned and reported to the Antioch and Jerusalem churches. And while sharing everything that God had done through them, they praised the Lord.  The second evangelism trip they did the same.  When Paul finished the second evangelical trip also he went to the Jerusalem and Antioch churches and reported. Again when the third evangelical trip was finished in the same way, he returned to the Antioch and Jerusalem churches and reported.  Paul’s plan was to go towards Spain, the ends of the world, but at the same time to help out the brothers and sisters in the Jerusalem church.  That was to help the Jerusalem church that was suffering from a terrible famine, but by doing so to receive the blessings of fellowship and so that he would be sent out in prayer to evangelize.




III.        Please pray (vs. 30-33)


One other thing that is necessary for fulfilling the commission of preaching the Gospel is prayer.  In verses 30 to 32 Paul is earnestly asking the Christians in the Roman Church for something.  That is to pray for him.  He asks them to pray that he would “be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea” (31) and that his “service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there” (31) and that as a result he would be able to go to Rome with joy and meet together with them. That was because Paul himself believed in the power of prayer, and lived by prayer. Therefore, Paul asked, “ join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (30)


Ephesians 6:12


To win this struggle, we must pray. That is because the struggle with Satan isn’t a battle that we can win by human knowledge or strength.  Without God’s help we definitely can’t win. Therefore, we must pray.  Prayer means that we don’t have confidence in our strength, but depend upon God.  Then when we pray, God hears our prayers, and works. The power of God that works through prayer is really strong.


Before in the age of Moses, Israel when the Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim, Joshua and the men fought the enemy at the bottom of the hill and Moses put his hands up and prayed at the top of the hill.  When Moses held up his hands and prayed the Israelites were winning, “but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.” (Exodus 17:11) Therefore, in order for Israel to win, Moses had to keep his hands up and pray. His hands grew tired and kept lowering so Aaron held up one hand and Hur held up the other. Because of this Joshua was able to have victory over the Amalekites.  God who answered Moses’ prayer had fought with the Amalekites. If we pray to God, God will work and bring victory.  If we pray to God, we can fulfill this difficult commission of preaching the Gospel.


Here Paul says, “Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (30) This is a difficult thing to say. If anything, pastors try not so show their weaknesses. However, here Paul says, “Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (30) He is asking for prayer.  This may have been because he was humble, but more than that it was because he fully aware that it was a spiritual battle.  He recognized the situation he was in and what was needed to fulfill the job. More than anything else he knew well that prayer is essential. He felt that as a pastor, and as a spiritual leader he was the most sought out by Satan and without prayer, he could not be victorious.


Satan is out to get the pastor. He knows that if he can knock down the pastor then the sheep will be driven asunder.  I think the pastor is under more daily temptation than anyone else. Therefore, we must pray for the pastor that he does not fall into Satan’s schemes.  Please pray for me.  Also let’s pray for God’s blessings on each one of us.  Then let’s pray that the church will fulfill completely the commission we have been given and answer God’s expectations.

Lastly I would like to share a story with you.  There were 2 wood cutters. One wood cutter worked earnestly 8 hours straight without even stopping for 1 minute.  The other wood cutter worked 8 hours, each hour working for 50min. and then taking a 10 minute break. Which wood cutter do you think cut the most trees?  The wood cutter who took the breaks.  The wood cutter who had worked earnestly all day with no breaks thought that was strange and asked the other wood cutter why he was able to cut so many trees.  The other wood cutter replied that when he took his breaks he sharpened his saw. This is an important answer. This is something that we can say of Christians too.  In our lives running hard is important, but we need time to sharpen the saw.  For Christians the sharpening the saw time is daily prayer. It is coming before the Lord in worship.  It is meeting together weekly in prayer.  No matter how busy we are, this time is important.  For soldiers of Christ who are demolishing the works of Satan, prayer is an essential spiritual armor. Let’s engrave in our mind that by  arming ourselves strongly we can do a huge work, not neglect prayer, and with a burning passion let’s fulfill the commission of preaching.

Romans15:14-21 “The surpassing grace”

We are finally nearing the end of the book of Romans.  In this final part Paul is explaining once more the reason why he wrote this letter. The reason we touched on in chapter 1 verses 8-15., but here the contents are explained a little more fully              and so that the plan will be fulfilled, he requested the people in the Roman Church to support him in prayer. The plan was that the Gospel would be preached to the Gentiles.  Paul as a person, who had received grace from the Lord, was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles and served the Lord fervently.  By the help of the Holy Spirit, he continued the work of preaching from Jerusalem to Illyricum. As a result he had fulfilled the duty he had to Eastern half of the Roman world. Next he wanted to go to Spain to preach the Gospel to the rest of the Western half of the Roman world.  He told the Roman church about such an evangelistic plan, and he wanted them to pray for that. For Paul the greatest joy was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The surpassing grace was that God was using him for that.

              The same is true of us too. We were saved for the purpose that through us God’s work of salvation will be preached to other people, and they will be led to the salvation of Christ.  We are to live a life of being like a mirror reflecting God’s glory.  We were saved for the purpose.  If that is the case, like Paul we want to live preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a surpassing joy.


              Today let’s learn three things from Paul’s evangelical spirit.


1.              Paul’s commission that he was given was to be a priest of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.


2.              The power to accomplish the commission is the power of Christ’s signs and miracles, by the power of the Holy Spirit.


3.              Paul answered this commission by preaching the Gospel where the Gospel had never been preached which is a spirit of a church planter. Such a passion bore beautiful fruit.




I.               Fulfilling the duties of a priest (vs. 14-17)


First please look at verses 14 to 17.  Here it tells us that Paul’s commission that he was given was to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.


Here Paul is saying in verse 14, “”I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. “ As Paul says what he is going to say to the Romans, he doesn’t have a blaming attitude or tone of voice, but begins by recognizing them. The most important thing for a person to become stronger is for that person to be recognized.  When a person is recognized he splendidly accomplishes everything, and exhibits a spirit of loyalty                               and a sacrificial heart that goes as far as sacrificing his life. Paul used this principle and began recognizing them.  I think that is because Paul wanted them to understand what he is saying.  His desire was that the Gospel would be preached.  In verse 16 he says, “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.“ The grace that Paul received was being a priest of God and preaching the Good news to the Gentiles.  This was so that they “might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. “ (16)


We tend to think that grace is to receive some kind of material blessings, or that where ever you are going that doors will open, but the surpassing grace is to preach by your own lips the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of all the things that we experience in this life the most wonderful grace is to preach the Gospel of Christ.  There is no greater grace than to be used by God for this commission. 


I Timothy 1:12-16


Paul is thankful to Jesus Christ because Christ considered Paul faithful, appointing Paul to his service. Before he disgraced God, and persecuted the Christians, and lived as an enemy of God.  He was the sinner of sinners. He was by the mercy of God forgiven of his sins, and made a preacher of Christ’s Gospel.  This was a grace deeper than any words can express.  Paul with great emotion makes this confession.


It is a blessing to be used. When we are used by God, we must be thankful. More than being thankful for the many gifts that we are given, it is important that we have joy in the fact that we use what God has given us for God’s glory.


That is because we have been called for this.  Please look at verse 16.  Here it says, “with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God“. This tells us that the status of a Christian is that of a “priest”. 


I Peter 2:9


Here it says, “a royal priesthood”. (I Peter 2:9) God is calling us “a royal priesthood”. (I Peter 2:9) The most important duty of a priest is to offer the sacrifices.  The sacrifice to be offered is the Gentiles. If we apply this to ourselves it would be the people that are not saved yet, non Christians. When we worship to bring non Christians and to make them God’s people is to offer sacrifices.  To evangelize many souls and bring them before Jesus Christ is the supreme sacrifice, the thing that pleases God the most.  If you think about your family, it is easy to understand I think.  The family is the happiest when a new baby is born.  The church is the same. When a new life is born in the church and that person shares the same faith and the same vision, the church is overflowing in joy. Without this something is missing in the church.  No matter how often you meet together and even if you party together, there is no real joy.  A priest in this way brings non Christians, makes them the people of God, and offers sacrifices.  As a priest of God, we are each called to testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior. This is not just the pastor.  The pastor too, the laymen too, all Christians are to do so.  All Christians are priests of God, and must fulfill this duty.


When Satan attempts to overthrow the church, the first he aims at is getting only a few people to run around. Only some believers evangelize and he gets them to think that all they have to do is enthusiastically grind their faith.  Then he makes those people exhausted, discouraged, and depressed. He makes them think that no matter what they do it won’t do any good; that evangelism in Japan is too difficult. However, this is all wrong.  Evangelism isn’t a special work, but all Christians have been given this duty.  If a soldier fights all by himself, he won’t win the war. A war is an all-out war. By all who have believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior fighting together are we able to turn away Satan.  For the church what is important is not how many people are meeting in the church, but how many people are set on evangelism and are being sent out for that purpose.  And we are all God’s priests sent out for that purpose. This was for Paul the thing that he was the most interested in, and it was grace.


What are you interested in? Are you interested in preaching the Gospel? We don’t all live the same life as Paul.  However, our God is the same God that Paul believed in and led Paul and gave Paul purpose and vision in his life.  If so, we should have the same interest. We should not be unrelated to fulfilling our duties as God’s priest.




II.             By the power of the Holy Spirit (vs. 18-19)


Next let’s look at verses 18 and 19.


Here it tells us how Paul was able to accomplish the evangelism of the Gentiles. “what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done-by the power of sign sand miracles through the power of the Spirit.” (18, 19) As a result he began from Jerusalem he was able to go “all the way around to Illyricum” (19) fully proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Illyricum was a Roman province north of Macedonia which is now present-day Albania and Yugoslavia.  It was 1,500 kilometers away from Jerusalem the way the bird flies.  He began from Jerusalem and went to such a place fully proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. If we look at verse 23, we see, “But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions”. Therefore, he made plans to go to Spain. At that time Spain was on the Western frontier. In an age where transportation was not developed, it’s amazing that the Gospel was preached that much! Where did that power come from?  This was the power of Christ. Christ accomplished this by the words and deeds, and by “signs and miracles through the power of the Spirit”. (19) It was not by the power of Paul.  Christ used Paul to accomplish his own works.


Acts 1:8


“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8) and you will be able to be the Lord’s powerful witness. Wherever you go, he will give signs and miracles. Where the Gospel is preached, such works occur. 


In Acts 13 it is recorded that when Paul and Barnabas were sent out from the Antioch church and crossed over to Cyprus, there was a confrontation with a sorcerer named Elymas. When the proconsul, Sergius Paulus was listening to Paul talk about the Word of God Elymas “opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.” (Acts 13:8) Then Paul full of the Spirit looked straight at Elymas saying, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery.  Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? …You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” (Acts 13:10, 11)  The proconsul who was surprised by this event was amazed and was amazed at the Lord’s powerful teaching so he entered the faith.


At Lystra there was a man who was lame from birth sitting there listening to Paul’s talk. Paul “saw that he had faith to be healed” (Acts 14:9) and said to him, “Stand up on your feet!” (Acts 14:10) and the man jumped up and started walking. The amazed crowds thought that Paul and Barnabas were the gods, Zeus and Hermes and “wanted to offer sacrifices to them”. (Acts 14:13) Paul and Barnabas rushed out and told them to stop doing such a stupid thing. Paul pleaded with them saying, “We are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth.” (Acts 14:15) and some people entered the faith.


On the second missionary trip in Philippi when Paul casted out the demon from the slave girl, her master who had lost all hope of making money brought charges against Paul and Silas and they were put in prison. Even so when Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises in the prison a miracle happened.  There was a huge earthquake and the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the doors of the prison flew open. The Jailor who saw this thought that the prisoners had escaped. If a prisoner escaped. the life of the guard was demanded. Therefore, he started to kill himself when Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:28) The jailor rushed to where Paul and Silas were, bowed down trembling and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)  They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) The jailor’s whole family was saved.


In the course of time the boat that Paul was in going to Rome in was shipwrecked, but miraculously they were saved. When they arrived on the Island of Malta, “Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.” (Acts 28:3) Then “Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.” (Acts 28:5)


If we look at the Book of Acts, there are lots of such miracles.  It is just like what Jesus said in Mark 16:17-18.


Mark 16:17-18


It is in places where evangelism is taking place that such powerful acts occur.  That is because evangelism is the work of Holy Spirit.  This was the power of Paul’s evangelism.




III.           The spirit of church planters.


Last let’s finish by looking at the motivational power of the Gentile evangelism.  Let’s look at verses 20 to 21.


“To preach the gospel where Christ was not known” (20) was in the Gentile world, but this is one and the same with world evangelism.  Also “so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (20) and “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand” (21) refers to church planting.  Paul was burning with a vision for world evangelism and church planting. In an age where transportation was undeveloped I am impressed with the huge vision that he had. More amazing is that he actually tried to accomplish it.  His spirit of church planting came from seeing things from God’s viewpoint, thinking about what was the will of God, and trying to live by that.  It is not a matter of whether he could do it or not. It depended upon what the will of God is. Then if that was the will of God, a passion sprung up that no matter what he needed to accomplish it.


I Timothy 2:4


The will of God is for “all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”. (I Timothy 2:4). Also God desires that those who still haven’t heard the Gospel will hear it, and that they will come to know God. Now what God desires of us is that we look at things from God’s eyes and then that we do it.


After the war many missionaries with sweat, tears, and sacrifices spread the Gospel in Japan.  When Japan was destroyed by the war, and feeling empty psychologically, many missionaries came to Japan and eagerly spread the Gospel.


The missionary F.B. Soley was a pioneer. He came to Japan in 1948.  He stood on the corner of Tokyo which had been burnt down and in English preached the Gospel. While playing the accordion he sang and preached using a translator. 


When his work of preaching was finished in Tokyo, he moved next to Wakayama and eagerly started tent evangelism. When questioned why he picked Wakayama, he answered that when he checked into it the two places with the fewest Christians were Tomiyama prefecture and Wakayama prefecture.  Missionaries from Canada were going to go to Tomiyama prefecture so he decided to go Wakayama prefecture.  What a spirit!  After the war evangelism in Japan was done by such missionaries who were overflowing with a spirit of church planting that proclaimed the Gospel


Now the present day has changed. However, no matter how much the age changes, there is a changeless principle.  That is the spirit of a church planter. That is a passion to spread the Gospel in a place that the Gospel has not been proclaimed in before. If you look at the situation in Japan it can not be said that it will certainly be easy.  However, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Lord, Christ, is with us. Being supported by the power of the Lord let’s accomplish the commission given to us. This passion for saved souls will be the motivational power so we will be able to overcome all difficulties, so that from the center of the world, Rome to the ends of the earth, the Gospel will be proclaimed.

Romans 15:7-13 “The God of Hope”

Paul who devoted a lengthy percentage of the letter to the Romans to talking about the unity of Christians finally talks about his conclusion.  That is to be careful not to have your eyes on the wrong things.  Look at God.  Depend upon God.  That is because God is the God of hope.  Look at verse 13.

              Human endeavor or policies can’t bring about unity in the church.  God gives the unity.  Therefore, we must not have our eyes on the differences in each other, but must look to God and depend upon God.


              Today let’s look at 3 points about the God of hope


  1. 1.   Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.
  2. 2.   God accepted us so that God would be glorified. God being glorified is what is important.
  3. 3.   Therefore, let’s depend upon the God of hope.



  1. I.            Just as Christ accepted you (vs. 7)


First let’s look at verse 7.


“Then” (7) refers to all that Paul said about the unity of Christians which takes up a lengthy percentage of the letter to the Romans. The way Jesus accepted us is to be the model for all Christians, the key to all solutions.  Here it tells us “Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you.” (7) In chapter 14 we learned how Christ accepted us. In chapter 15 Christ appears as dying in our place.  Christ died for those whose faith was thought to be weak. Not only that, but he also died for those whose faith was thought to be strong.  In other words, Christ died on the cross in exchange for the sins of all people. He loved us so much as to give away his life.  How can we judge someone that Jesus loved so much that he died for him! 


Until I believed in Jesus I really didn’t know how great the cross of Christ was.  However, I believed, was saved, and gradually, I was able to realize the greatness.  God’s love is so huge! He loved us when we didn’t deserve it. He continues to love us, forgive us, and accept us even now. This huge love is the foundation of our fellowship.  If we judge a person that God loves this much then we are the person that is the big problem.  In the church we are apt to judge people who are different from ourselves, but this is the result of the left over sin that we still have left in our hearts how. We must not forget this reality.


We are all sinners. We are flesh and blood humans put together having faults, defects, and weaknesses. We definitely aren’t saints. There is no one that is perfect.  Therefore, it is inevitable there are things about other Christians that you don’t like, or that you can’t accept, and it is difficult to like them.  However, Christ accepted us so much! That it so that we will love each other and accept each other.  The problem is that it is hard to stand in the love of the cross.


John 13:34


This is the will of God.  This is only possible to do by standing in the love of our Lord who said, “As I have loved you” (John 13:34)  In other words, whether we have accepted the love of Jesus’ cross will determine whether an attitude of loving each other will appear or not. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This is the key to unity in the church.




  1. II.          God being glorified is what is important (vs. 8-12)


In verses 8 to 12 Paul is talking about the necessity of Christian unity from another angle. That is to glorify God.


Here it tells us how Christ accepted us.  First look at verse 8 and it says, “Christ has become a servant of the Jews.” Christ was born as a Jew and was born into the Jewish community because this was promised in the Old Testament. That Christ would be born as a Jew was the fulfillment of the promises made to them.


However, Jesus didn’t just accept the Jews, but also the Gentiles.  Verse 9 says, “So that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy.”  Christ died on the cross not only for the Jews, but so that all people will know the truth and be saved. It is so that the Jews and the Gentiles “with one mind and one voice…may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (6) To demonstrate this Paul quotes in verses 9 to 12 four Old Testament passages.


  1. 1.   Vs. 9                             Psalms 18:49       This is a prophecy of David that the name of Lord would be praised among the Gentiles. The name of the Lord will be praised among the Gentiles too.
  2. 2.   Vs. 10                            Deut. 32:43         Both the Gentiles and the Jews will rejoice.
  3. 3.   Vs. 11                            Psalms 117:1       This too is a prophecy that the Gentiles will praise God.
  4. 4.   Vs. 12                            Isaiah 11:10        This too is a prophecy that the Gentiles will praise God. “The Root of Jesse” refers to the Messiah, but this Messiah was for the Gentiles. He was the hope of the Gentiles and would come for the purpose of saving the Gentiles.  This was prophesized long, long ago. Even the Gentiles who didn’t know the real living God up until now, will “sing praises to him.” (11)  

In other words, both the Jews and the Gentiles were accepted by Christ so that “with one mind and one voice” (6) they might “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (6)


              I think some of you may have noticed this about this passage, but up until now Paul has been talking on the theme of those of strong faith and those of weak faith accepting each other, but here he is not talking on the level of weak and strong people, but has moved his theme to the unity of the Jews and Greeks. For the Jews and Greeks to be unified was unthinkable.  They had a relationship like water and oil that can’t be unified.  However, by Christ being put on the cross, he “has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) and peace has been realized.


Ephesians 2:14-18


              This means it is not impossible to become one in Christ.  In other words, what is important is to seek to keep our eyes on and worship God. This is everything.


              It is o.k. to have different thinking about little things. However, what is important is to keep our eyes on the most important things.  If we really keep our eyes on the most important things, then the little things won’t matter to us anymore. The important thing is to keep our eyes on and worship God. If we live seeking this then the trivial different points that occur among people will not concern us at all and we can accept each other.




  1. III.        Keep you eyes on the God of hope (vs. 13)


Therefore, the third point is to keep your eyes on God.  Don’t let the differences between you and others or your emotions flourish, but keep your eyes on God.  That is because God is the God of hope.  When your eyes are looking in that direction, for the first time you are able to accept the other person.  Please look at verse 13.


Here Paul is calling God “the God of hope”. (13)  In verse 5 he said “the God who gives endurance and encouragement”. The God of endurance and encouragement can give us hope. The God of the Bible that we believe in is more than anything “the God of hope”. (13) “The God of hope” (13) is the God that can give us hope. Man all live with some kind of hope.  If you have no hope, you are not able to live. Even if you are alive, you will be a living corpse.


During the second World War, the German Nazis sent the Jews to the concentration camps where they were killed and died.  Among them there were a few people who survived. Almost without exception those who survived had some clear hope like that God was going to save them, or that they were going to see their family again. Hope gives us strength to live.


However, there are all sorts of hopes like the hope to become a millionaire or the hope to be famous, or a hope for an easier life. .Such a kind of longing or desires or ambitions can temporarily give us satisfaction, but it won’t continue. Therefore, such hope ends in despair. However, the hope that God gives definitely never ends in despair.  That’s because God is “the God of hope” (13), the source of hope. There is a real God who made everything out of nothing who is the source of “hope”. When we depend on him, “hope does not disappoint us”. (5:5)


Also when we look at Romans 5, we can see that God’s love is poured into our hearts so “hope does not disappoint us”. (5:5)


Romans 5:5-10


God didn’t for the righteous man or a good man, but when we were “still powerless” (5:6), “ungodly” (5:6) “still sinners” (5:8), moreover “enemies” (5:10) God loved us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (5:8) “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (5:10) 


Moreover, the absolute evidence that our “hope does not disappoint us” (5:5) is the fact of Christ’s resurrection.  Christ rose from the dead confirms that the hope of Christ can’t be locked up by anything and also that hope is eternal.  Therefore, those who hope in Christ, their “hope does not disappoint ” (5:5) them.


God gives this hope.  And Paul prays that “the God of hope” (13) will fill the Roman church’s members “with all joy and peace” (13) so that they might “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (13)  It was not by their effort that they will have hope, joy and peace, but by faith, and by the Holy Spirit. After all it is “the God of hope” (13) who gives us such things and we must depend upon God.  Problems that cause us to lose hope arise in the church and we fall into despair. By depending on “the God of hope” (13) we are given joy and peace and we “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. (13)


This is not just in the church.  In our life over and over again things happen that cause us to fall into despair, but at such times “the God of hope” (13) by the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to give us hope.  The problem is where are eyes are looking.  If our eyes look at such problems we will fall into despair, but if we look at God, we are given hope.


When David was hated by King Saul, his life was on the stake, and he wandered 10 years in the wilderness of Judea. H“rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1)e confessed in Psalms62:1-8 about where hope and salvation came from when he was in the midst of life’s trials.


Psalms 62:1-8


David in the midst of the trials in the wilderness, he found “rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1). To find “rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1) is to put complete trust in God, and do away with all human power, and earnestly turn out hearts toward the Lord, and seek salvation only from the Lord.  The word used for “rest” (13) actually means “silence”.  To be silent means Don’t murmur or complain. Don’t do evil. A person that depends upon God is content with doing just that so he can be silent.  David in the midst of an attack by Saul’s army confessed in verse 6 of Psalm 62, God “alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” When many thoughts floated to the surface, like the flow of the river, he was able to just rest and move with the flow. He poured out his heart to God.  To rest in God isn’t to put a lid on your emotions. It is to give to God all the anxieties, anger, and sadness that rise up.  By pouring our hearts out before the Lord like this causes the storms of emotions to calm.  By looking at the realities of life we lose heart. If we aren’t quiet before the Lord, we worry about what others are thinking and become a slave of men.  Then we lose peace.  Therefore, in the background of what we are seeing, we must be looking at God. “He alone is my rock, and my salvation; he is my fortress” (Psalm 62:6) “my refuge” (Psalm 62:7) By looking to him, and depending upon him we will be given the perfect answer.


Where are you looking? What are you depending on?  Just as David found “rest in God alone” (Psalms 62:1) and depended upon the Lord, let’s trust in the Lord. That is so that “The God of hope” (13) will by the power of the Holy Spirit pour out hope upon you.   

Romans15:1-6 “One mind”

Today’s passage is a continuation of chapter 14. In chapter 14 Paul talked about how they should deal with problems that occurred in the church as a result of the friction between the people of strong faith and the people of weak faith in the Roman church.  In today’s passage we can see that the desires of Paul overflowed into prayer in verses 5 and 6.

              The problem of unity in the church is a really important problem.  That is because the church is the body of Christ. In the section about how to practice the Christian life which Paul begins talking about from chapter 12 on, the percentage of space given to this problem is huge. In the closing too, he brings up this problem and adds an explanation.  Today I would like to talk about three points of church unity.




I.               Bearing with the failings of the weak (vs. 1-3)


First let’s look at the point that those “who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak” (1) Let’s look at verses 1 to 3.


“We who are strong” (1) refers to the “strong in faith” of chapter 14.  This type of people were completely freed from the law of the Old Testament and believed that by the grace of Christ they were set free.  On the other end, “the weak” (1) weren’t able leave behind the laws of food and days.  This type of people thought that even if you believed in Jesus Christ, that still you had to follow such commands or you weren’t saved. They had a delicate faith so that when they saw people who didn’t follow the commands, they stumbled. Here Paul says, “We who are strong” (1) so Paul considered himself as belonging to the group of those who were strong.  And also he said that such people “who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (1) This is the principle of faith. Those “who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak” (1) “To bear with” (1) means “to accept as one of your own”. It is to carry together the weaknesses of the weak person.  The best example is our Lord Jesus.  In verse 3 it says “For even Christ did not please himself”, but instead it is written in Psalm 69:9 “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” This is the Passion of Jesus.  Christ was strong, but he bore the weaknesses of the weak.


Isaiah 53:4-6


Jesus used his body to show us what it means to bear the weakness. He bore our sorrows in our place; he took upon himself all our sins.  “Christ did not please himself.” (3) He bore “with the failings of the weak” (1) and carried their weaknesses for them. If we look at the life that Christ walked in this world, there wasn’t even one time when he pleased himself.  Jesus performed many miracles, but not one time did he do it for himself.  When he fed the 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, it was not because he was hungry, but to fill the hunger of the crowds.  Christ forgot about sleeping and eating and healed the sick, and met the needs of those who were struggling with troubles. When we look at such a model of Jesus, we know that we should not live to please ourselves, but “ought to bear with the failings of the weak” (1) and live to please them. This is the calling of those who are powerful, who are strong.


Why has God given you health? It is so that you can bear those who are weak from lack of health.  Why have you been given financial and material blessings? That is not so that you can live in luxury, but so that you can help others.  Why have you been given the gift of faith? It is so that you can support others by that spiritual gift.  This is the calling of those who are powerful. We are given joy by giving.


Luke 6:38


The measure that you use for other people will be measured to you. When I look at the lives of missionaries, their lives are continuously full of troubles. To give up your life and go to serve the people on the mission field is not easily endured. Even so those people who work in missions often say, “Evangelizing is joy”. Even though they had huge troubles, and made huge sacrifices, they say “Evangelizing is joy” because the measure that you use for other people will be measured to you. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38) When you pour what you have out, you won’t be dried up, but instead will be enriched is the principle of the kingdom of God.




II.             By the endurance and encouragement that the Bible gives (vs. 4,5)


Even so for the people with strength to bear with the failings of those without strength brings a lot of problems. Next let’s look at what is necessary to follow this command.  Please look at verses 4 and 5.


Paul quotes from Psalms in the Old Testament and then teaches about the use of the Bible.  In other words, the Bible gives us endurance and encouragement and provides us with hope. We read the Bible so that by what is written there we will receive endurance and encouragement and have hope.


Our life of faith certainly can’t always endure troubles. However, in order to keep the unity in the church endurance is needed.  There is no way unity can be kept if you tell each other everything that you want to say or do everything that you want to do.  This can be seen in our relationships as a marriage couple. There are times when you want to say something, but by not saying anything and enduring even though it’s not always your own way of doing it and it is different, by being understanding and accepting, unity is born. If you can’t do that then there will be only confusion and destruction.


However, here when it says, “endurance”, it doesn’t mean just enduring.  This “endurance” means that people, who have the ability to find a solution, hold on to a hope in what the solution will bring. The Bible provides the endurance.


Also, for weak people to be comforted, encouraged, and given strength they need someone to stand by their side and encourage them.  You don’t have to do anything, just be with them.  Being by their side is a big comfort and encouragement. You don’t have to say anything. The word of God gives the comfort and the encouragement.


What is important for weak people is for them to have hope.  When they are depressed and in despair, there is no other solution but to encourage them by giving them hope. The Bible gives hope.  By the endurance and encouragement that the Bible gives, they are able to hold onto hope.  Therefore, verse 4 says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.”


In our life there are many troubles, sadness, pain, and trials.  However, in the midst of these, we experience God’s endurance and encouragement being given to us. More than anyone else Paul experienced this.  He believed in Christ and because he preached the Gospel of Christ he was stoned, put in prison, experienced                                              every kind of trouble, flogged severely, had trouble with bandits, had trouble with his own countrymen, was shipwrecked, and met every kind of hardship, but even in the mist of these troubles, he learned well that God is the God of endurance and encouragement. Even in the midst of these circumstances, he followed God, and he learned that the Word of God gave him endurance and encouragement.


We are the same.  In our homes and in our church, there are difficulties and agonies that we can’t express in words.  However, the God of endurance and encouragement makes us of “the same attitude of mind toward each other as Christ Jesus had.”(5)He gives us unity.




III.           For the glory of God (vs. 6)


Those who are strong accept the weak, and have one heart so that God will be glorified. Please look at verse 6.


We have one mind, one heart, and one will, so that with “one voice” (6) we can sing and praise God and testify to God. Sometimes when I am preaching, without realizing the sermon turns into a prayer.  Here Paul too wrote about many things. While saying many things it gradually turned into a prayer.  More than that Paul was compelled to pray.


“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (5.6)


Paul’s prayer is that the church would be unified.  It’s o.k. for there to be many different kinds of people.  It’s o.k. for there to be people from many backgrounds and thinking. However, he wanted the church to fundamentally have “the same attitude of mind” (5) and “with one mind and one voice” (6) praise God and witness to God.  This became his prayer.


This was the prayer of Jesus too. In John 17:21 it says. “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” This was just before the cross. After Jesus talked to the disciples from his heart he prayed that just as he was one with the Father that the church would be one with Christ and that the church members would be unified. That is so that by that “the world may believe” (John 17:21) that there is a God, that the Gospel is true, and that Jesus is the Savior. It is so that people will believe and receive eternal life and so that they might glorify God the Father.


“With one mind” which appears here in verse 6 is used only once in the whole book of Romans. However this word is used over and over again in the book of Acts. Amazingly in Acts whenever the word “With one mind” is used there is always amazing works of God and blessing overflowing and the church moves forward.  One example is Acts 2:46 and 47


When the believers met together in the temple courts and were together with glad and sincere hearts in their homes, when they were praising God, they enjoyed “the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) Also according to Acts 4:24-32, when Peter and John were released after being brought before the Sanhedrin for healing a man who had been crippled from birth, the Christians “raised their voices together in prayer to God.” (Acts 4:24) “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31)  Also in Acts 5: 12 to 14,”The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people.  And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them even though they were highly regarded by the people.  Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their numbers.” When believers are “with one mind” (6) praise God, God’s magnificent glory appears.


The events of Acts 13 Paul will never forget. Paul was ministering in the Antioch church at that time with Barnabas. Barnabas, whose name means “a child of encouragement”, had the gift of encouragement and encouraged those who hurting. Barnabas had encouraged the Antioch Church to accept Paul the Pharisee that had persecuted the Christians.  “For a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.” (Acts 11:26)  In the Antioch church there were many different kinds of people. First of all there was “Simeon called Niger” (Acts 13:1 Niger may indicate his dark complexion. Next is “Lucius of Cyrene” (Acts 13:1) As a result of the persecution of Stephen many Christians were scattered as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. These Christians spread the Gospel to only the Jews. According to Acts 11:20, later a second group of preachers came to Antioch. Some of them were from Cyrene, the capital of Libya, who “began to speak to the Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus”. (Acts 11:20) Lucius was probably one of them.  Many Greeks and Gentiles turned to the Lord. The ministry of Lucius and such preachers was probably one reason “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) Also there was Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. In present day that would be like being raised with the emperor. He was of high society. There were such people in the church, but their unity in the faith went above all their societal positions and ranks.  They sent Paul and Barnabas out to do world missions. Just because they had a person of high ranking doesn’t mean that this can be done.  Just because you have compatible friends that doesn’t mean that can be done.  They were able to do this because they had an unity of faith. It is only by overcoming human prejudices and obstacles that this can be done.  This Antioch Church had unity by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when they prayed together in one mind, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) Then they prayed and sent Paul and Barnabas out.  When the church prays “with one mind” (6), the awesome works of God and His glory appear.


“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice” you may praise God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we glorify God. In order to do that let’s bear one another’s failings, and “with one mind and voice” (6) let’s praise the Lord.      

Romans14:13-23 “Actions by Love”

The Pastor of the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas, Max Lucado, is the author of many best sellers that are loved by both children and adults.  In his book, The Special Love, he tells about this episode.  His wife’s name was Denalyn.  Denalyn had a habit.  That was when she parked the car in the garage, she would park in the middle of the garage.  Therefore, when her husband, Max, opened the garage door, there were times when his space was about half taken. Her husband, Max, who was gentle and kind would at times like this casually drop a hint, “Someone’s car is sitting in the middle of the garage.”  In Japan no one can understand this hint, but in America this hint is understood. One day, Max said this in a stronger voice, and from that day on the wife was very careful how she parked.

              One day her daughter asked the mother, “Mom, why don’t you park in the middle of the garage?”  The wife answered, “It doesn’t bother me, but your father doesn’t like me parking there. What your father doesn’t like, I don’t like.”


              Even if something doesn’t bother you, but the other person doesn’t like it, then you don’t do it.  That is good manners. It is becoming like Christ.


              Today’s passage is dealing with this problem.  In other words, especially those who have a strong faith are asked to be considerate of those who are not strong and not to be a stumbling block for them. Today I would like to talk about 3 points of this.




I.               The love of being considerate (vs. 13-16)


First let’s look at verses 13 to 16.


In the passage before this Paul taught that we are not to judge each other, but instead accept each other. In today’s passage Paul is asking that we decide to not be a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters and that those who have a strong faith decide to be considerate.  In verse 14 Paul says, “I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself.” The reason Paul mentions unclean food is that he is tying this passage together to the passage before it.  There were some people called strong people who were convinced like Paul “that nothing is unclean in itself.” (14) However, there were also some people who didn’t think that way.  Those people thought that like it says in the Old Testament in Lev. 11, there are “clean animals” and “unclean animals” and to eat unclean animals is sin.  Perhaps this may have had to do also with the problem of meat that had been sacrificed to idols which is written about in I Cor. chapters 8 to 10.  They thought that to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols is to associate with idols and that they would become unclean. Either reason, there were Christians who for religious reasons, did not eat such food.  Paul called such people, those of weak faith.  Their faith was not weak, but he called them weak because it was easy for them to stumble over such issues.  Among Christians there are such weak people, and those who don’t worry about what they eat, in other words, people of strong faith.


Paul was convinced “that nothing is unclean in itself.” (14) However, for those who think it is unclean, it is unclean.  By this point, it can be said that Paul belonged to the people of strong faith.  Even so he said to those of strong faith, “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (13) The reason for saying that is “if your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.” (15) In the case of the earlier example of Max Lucado, for the wife parking in the middle of the garage was not something that bothered her, but it really bothered her husband, Max.  If Max didn’t like it, then she thought that she didn’t like it either.  This is being thoughtful. This is good manners.  This is having a love that shows consideration.


The principle that Paul is teaching here is that in the church those with a strong faith must be considerate to those who have a weak faith. This principle is very important. The unity of the church should always be kept by those who are thought to be strong conceding and compromising.                    . 


The American pastor, Charles Swindol, said that the things that God has made               are in themselves good and we have the right to fully enjoy the things God has made. However, in the case of a person whose faith has not matured and it is a stumbling block, then we must have self control over our rights.  When it is necessary to do so, love command us to put limits on our freedom. When by the use of Christian freedom there is a fear of damaging God’s work, we need to have the ability to show real love by using discretion and not using our freedom.


According to Romans 15:3, “even Christ did not please himself.” Jesus also controlled his rights. More correctly said, he gave up his rights.  Jesus “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8) When Jesus was put on the cross, the crowds that were watching made fun of him saying that if he was the savior, to save himself, but Jesus didn’t do that. That wasn’t because he couldn’t do that. If he wanted to, he could have flown down from the cross, and fought with the people that were saying such things and thrown them in hell.  However, Jesus didn’t do such a thing. That was because if he had of, God’s words that Jesus must be put on the cross and die would not have been fulfilled.  Jesus experienced what no one ever has of being separated from God, judged by God, and so that those who believe in Him will have eternal live He chose the road of death on the cross. In other words, that Jesus died on the cross is for our good. Jesus didn’t please himself, but he thought about what was best for us, for our profit, and for our good.  This is what a person that bases his actions upon love is like.  In other words, he doesn’t base his actions upon his thinking. He thinks about the person who is weak in faith and bases his actions upon what is good for the weak person. That is because the weak person too is “someone for whom Christ died.” (15) Therefore, if that person is destroyed by “your eating” (15) then you can not say that you are acting out of love.     




II.             The essentials are the important things (vs. 17-19)


Secondly, please look at verses 17-19. The reason we should be considerate of those whose faith is weak is because “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (18)


Here Paul has a strong conviction about what the essentials of the church are.  The essentials of the church are not eating and drinking, but “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (18)  Righteousness is having a right relationship with God.  In other words, the peace and joy that we receive through the Gospel of Christ enables us to have a right relationship with God which is the core of the church, the essence of the church. What we are going to eat, what we are going to drink are not the essentials. If that is the case even though there are many different opinions about eating and drinking, that really isn’t an important issue.  There are times when we must concede and compromise. If the church has the wrong standard of values and judgment in what are the essentials and what aren’t, the church will become confused.  The church often has fights occur over such issues. The first problem that the first church experienced was over food. 


However, “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (18) These are the essentials of the church.  We must not depart from the essentials or give in to other thinking.  However, regarding nonessential things we should try as hard as we can to be polite, and patiently deal with the other person, but sometimes it is necessary that we have a huge heart that concedes to the other person.






III.           A life by faith (vs. 20-23)


The third point is to base your actions upon the convictions of your faith.  Please look at verses 20 to 23.


Paul’s conviction about food was that “nothing is unclean in itself.” (14)  However, if by food another believer’s heart is hurt, then it can’t be said that your actions are out of love. It will be destroying “someone for whom Christ died” (15) by food. Therefore, it is necessary to concede to nonessential matters.  On the contrary, what about if you thought that you must not eat, but ate it because someone else persuaded you to do so? If you are convinced that to eat is right and you ate it then there is no problem. However, if that is not the case then your conscious will bother you.  An important thing for Christians is to live with nothing in our heart that will cause our conscious to bother us.  If we think we should not eat it, and have doubts in our hearts as we are eating it, then this act did not come from faith so we will be condemned for our sin.  “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (23) Each one of us before God so that our conscious does not bother us, must judge and take action according to the convictions of our faith.  This is what Paul is saying in this passage. 


Here is talking about whether a person should eat and drink for religious reasons.  In other words, this is dealing with detailed issues on a personal level not with the order of the church as a whole. If each individual person on his own decided such issues as the way we baptize, whether we baptize children, the organization of the church, things that have to do with how the church is run, etc., the order of the church can not be kept.  It is important that you follow the ways of the church.  On individualistic issues depending on your understanding of your faith, you must act according to your convictions.


What is your standard for your actions?  Christians need to do what is right.  However, just doing what is right is not good.  At the same time you need to have a huge heart, a patient heart. You need to be not judging, but be accepting. The church must be the same.  The church stands in the truth of the Gospel and must correctly preach the Gospel. This was the theme of Romans chapter 1 to 11.  The next important thing is while standing on the foundation of this truth, in the relationships between Christians we need to have open minds.  In the church both those people with strong faith, and those who are weak, need to open up their hearts to each other and accept each other.


Jesus always ate with sinners. The Pharisees saw this and criticized him.  Jesus replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31, 32) Jesus’ will is to accept those who are weak.  He poured his heart into accepting weak people and changing their lives.  He didn’t condemn their sin.  In the church there are many kinds of people ranging from spiritual babies to the elderly. We must not look at the other person by our own standards. Even those that look like splendid Christians had a time when they were spiritual babies.  It is nothing more than by the grace of God that they have so splendidly matured.  If that is the case, God is asking us to be a church that has an opened heart, and accepts each other.  Those who are strong in the faith and those who are weak in faith should pray for each other as a church and let’s accept all those who come to the church. That is because the church’s commission is to lead sinners to salvation.

Romans14:1-12 “Do not judge”

A very well known magazine took a survey by questionnaire from ministers in Korea.  The main question was “In the church what kind of person is the most difficult to deal with?” The number one answer was “the person who has fasted for 40 days”. The number two answer was “the people who regularly pray all night”.  The third most frequent answer was “the people who have studied at seminary”.  Fasting, all night prayer, and studying in seminary are all important things for personal spiritual growth. Therefore, it seems strange that such people would cause problems.  However, many people who have experienced such things as fasting, all night prayer, and seminary don’t apply that grace to themselves, but to others.  For example, someone who has fasted for 40 days must have received a lot of grace, but instead of thinking about how that applies to himself, he may think that the Pastor needs to be more spiritual or the church leaders need to pray more.  If he has prayed then he should be more humble and have more humility, and be overflowing in grace, but in reality instead he judges others.

              It can be said that wherever people gather problems will arise.  That is because the people who gather together all have different personalities and ways of thinking.  If there are 10 people, then there are naturally 10 different ways of thinking. What’s difficult is that sometimes people judge other people’s opinions because they are different from their own.  What is important is not to sit in judgment, and blame, but to understand what others are saying and accept each other.  Today let’s look at three aspects of not judging others.




I.               Those who eat and those who do not eat (vs. 1-4)


Please look at verses 1 to 4.


One cause for judging other people in the church is a difference in the understanding of the Bible, and the understanding of the faith. This letter was sent to Rome which was at that time was the central city of the world, and there many different people were assembled.  There were Jews who had made decisions to follow Christ, there were people of Grecian background, of Roman background, people of many skin colors, there were slaves, and there were high class people. Also there were people who were cultured, and there were people that lacked culture. In reality there were many different kinds of people.  If there are many different types of people, then it is natural that there are many different ways of thinking. Here the problem is a difference in the understanding of the Bible.  Verses 2 and 3 deal with the problem of food, and verses 5 and 6 deal with the problem of days.  There was a difference of understanding on such things.


First, about food, some people believed it was o.k. to eat anything. However, some people believed that you must not eat anything but vegetables.  This is not like vegetarians who claim this for reasons of health, but they claimed this for religious reasons.  At that time, those who were called people with a strong faith believed that through the Gospel of Christ they were set free from the Old Testament law and traditions so they believed that they were set free from the rules concerning unclean food recorded in Leviticus chapters 1-16 in the Old Testament, and ate freely with no concern as to what they were eating.  Also about the meat that had been sacrificed to idols that is brought up in I Cor. 8:4 they thought that the idols were not real gods so they didn’t worry about it and believed that it was o.k. to eat anything.  This type of people knew well what the freedom that the Gospel brought was so they looked down on people who were attached to the law.


Another example is verses 5 and 6 where some people considered “one day more sacred than another” (5) while others considered “every day alike”. (5) It is thought that this refers to those people who even though they became Christians,                 they still considered first of all the Sabbath, and then all the days that were commanded to be observed in the Old Testament as special days and kept them.  However, for Christians who believed that that they had been set free from the law, they couldn’t accept the life style and thinking of those who were still following the law and judged them.


However, even when the opinions and thinking about our faith is different, we should not judge others. “The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (3) We must not judge someone Christ died for because of food. If God has accepted the person, then it is only natural that we accept him.


However, even if a person considers himself a Christian, there are some people that God has not accepted.  The reason that God doesn’t accept a person has nothing to do with such food or drinks. It is because the person has the wrong doctrine about salvation. Salvation is in Christ.  If you don’t confess Jesus as Lord, you can’t be saved. Even so there are some people that don’t recognize Jesus as God and others say that you can’t be saved just by believing. These people are definitely wrong.  We need to take a definite and clear stance towards who have the basics of the Gospel wrong.


However, there is also a gray part.  For example, how you baptize is one gray part.  Some people say you only have to sprinkle water to be baptized, but others claim that baptism means “immerse” so the whole body needs to be immersed under the water.  We are Baptists. Baptism by immersion is one characteristic of Baptists. There are some churches that require Christians who have not been immersed to be baptized again.  However, what is important is not how you were baptized, but that you believed and were baptized.  Those who believe and are baptized will be saved.  Even if the method was wrong, if you believed, then God is pleased and you are saved.  Things like this, just because our thinking is different, we should not judge. However, the church has order so, while respecting individual thinking, and accepting them, we should follow the thinking of the whole church.  If not, then it is best to go to another church that has the same thinking as you.


The same thing can be said not only about baptism, but about the minute details of the Christian life too.  Some people say you must not drink or smoke, but others think that you are free. On such issues, we are not to judge, but must accept each other.


An American Pastor, Charles Swindol gave 7 reasons why we must not judge.


1.    We don’t know all the facts.


2.    We can’t fully understand the motives.


3.    We can’t completely think objectively.


4.    If we aren’t in that situation, we can’t know it correctly.                      .


5.    There is a part that we can’t see.


6.    We all have prejudices, and there are times when our field of vision diminishes.


7.    We are not perfect and we are not consistent. 


When we think about it, what we know is only a small part. We have a tendency to only take in what is good for us. We have a habit of looking at things self centeredly. Since we are like this, if we judge others, then that is the real problem.


Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay not attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:1-5) The person we must judge in not other people, but ourselves. First of all we need to take out the plank that is in our eye.  Then we will be able to see clearly and can remove the specks from our brother’s eyes.


There are many different kinds of people in the church so many differences are born.  However, we must not judge, but we should recognize each other, and accept each other. There is no one that can say that only their thinking is right. People who are used to meditating, please don’t say that people who all pray together at one time in a large voice are fanatics. Also people who pray in a shouting voice, don’t look at people who are praying quietly and say that they are spiritually cold.  It doesn’t matter if we pray in a shouting voice or pray quietly.  All we need to do is pray.  We need to think that the other person is receiving grace by another style. That is being patient.




II.             Know your position (vs. 4)


The second point is that we must know our position. Please look at verse 4.


Paul is having us look at what our position and situation is. That is the reason that we must accept those who are weak and not judge. Our position is that we are nothing but servants. Therefore, “who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (4) A “servant” is a person that is used in the home.  He is used in someone’s home, but other people have no right criticize him.  It is only the master of the house who can criticize.  Especially other servants in the same position have no right to say anything.  If that happens then that the servant does not know his position. It is a slander to the work of God.  It exceeds his authority. To exceed your authority means                       to go beyond your rights.  If you can do that without being disturbed by it, then that is sin and must for sure be admonished.         .




III.           Living for the Lord (vs. 5-8)


The third point is to live for the Lord.  For Christians this is the most important thing and is our foundation.  Please look at verses 5 to 8.


Here the words, “to” or “for”, meaning for the purpose of is used 7 times in this passage.  In other words, whether you eat or whether you don’t eat, whether you observe or don’t observe is not important. What is important is the purpose of eating, of not eating, the purpose of observing special days or not observing special days.  And for Christians the most important thing is that it is “for the Lord”.  “Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord…and whoever abstains does so to the Lord.”(6) “Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.” (7) Each person “should be fully convinced in their own mind” (5) how they should act and act that way. The most important thing is whether it is for the Lord or not.  It depends on whether we are living for the Lord, whether we will die for the Lord or not.


Romans 6:12


The reason is given in Romans 6:18


We have believed in Jesus Christ, been united with him, have become Christ’s slave, the slave of righteousness, so we are not to be controlled by sin.


Galatians 2:20


We have been crucified with Christ, and died with Christ to our old life of sin, and have been changed into a new life in Christ.  We now live as a new creature in Christ.  We have been changed into a person who lives for the Lord.  This is the most important thing for Christians, and is our foundation.


Why are you living? Christians never live by or for themselves. Also no one dies for themselves.   Christians confess that if they live, they live for Christ.  If they die, they die for Christ.


Florence Nightingale who is famous as being a nurse not only for her own country, but for taking care of the enemy soldiers too.  She said, “Having a love for your country is not enough”.  A larger love is needed.  She took care of not only her side, but her enemies too, helping all who were injured. These words are calling out to us Christians too. Just being right is not enough. We must love. Just being correct is no good.  We need a large heart to accept others.  Christians need a large heart. We must not judge, but be patient.  We should accept those who are weak in faith. We must not judge their opinions. Within that life style, God’s glory will be seen. For Christians who confess that whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s this is not difficult to do.

Romans13:11-14 “Wake Up”

Augustinus, a theologian from the middle ages is well known for being converted by the Word of God and his life taking a dramatic change. When he was young he led a really wild life.  Searching for the truth he went from Carthage, Africa to Milan, the capital city of the Western Roman Empire.  There he heard a childlike voice telling him in a sing-song voice, “take up and read”. He opened the New Testament that was there.  The passage that he read by chance is today’s passage, Romans 13:13-14.  Up until then no matter how much he tried by his own strength, he wasn’t able to attain a holy life.  When he who was struggling painfully, read this passage, in an instant his heart became full of peace, the clouds of doubt completely disappeared. He awoke from a deep sleep, and was changed into a life of new life.

              Today from this passage I would like to talk about three points about how Christians should live in the age of the end of the world.




I.            Understanding the present time (vs. 11a)


First let’s look at “understanding the present time”. (11)  Please look at verse 11.


In the New Testament two words are used for the word, “time”.  One is “chronos“ and the other is “kairoi“.  “Chronos“ is the time given equally to all people. As the time moves on we are born, grow up, become old, and die.  As the hands on the clock more around, time moves on.   In contrast, many people don’t know about the other word for time, “kairoi”. Christians only know this time. This time is the time of God.  More clearly put, when Christ comes again, this is the end of the world. Verse 11 says, “salvation is nearer now”.  This is the time of Christ’s coming, the time of the completion our salvation.


This world does not just continue to idle away.  Eventually the end of times will come. At that time heaven will come and Christians will be set free from all darkness.            .


Rev. 21:1-4


              At that time, all the tears from Christians, those who follow God, will be wiped away.  There will be no more pain, mourning, crying, or agony.  There will be need for police, rescue teams, hospitals, or rehabilitation centers. That is because we will be free from all pain and agony.  In the center will be God’s lamb, Jesus. From there shining like crystal the river of life flows out, and that water of life heals all the nations.  This is for us Christians the most wonderful time.  Such a time will come.


          In this age there is a lot of pain and agony. By the earthquake and national disasters how many people are in deep mourning over the loss of family and homes! How many people are in pain with their bodies aching here and there!  How many people are troubled by troubles in human relationships! Marriage, raising children, and jobs wear us out and we loose hope.  However, eventually we will be set free from troubles, agonies, mourning, and pain, and a time of perfect happiness and peace will come. That is when Christ comes again and the time when our salvation is completed.                 


              Christians know about this time.  They don’t know when it will come, but it “is nearer now”. (11) Paul wrote his letter about 2,000 years ago so compared with that time, the end times are greatly closer.


              In Matt. 24 Jesus tells us what it will be like just before the end.  At that time many anti-Christs will arise claiming to be the Christ and many people will be fooled by them.  There will be endless wars.  In various places famines and earthquakes will occur.  Eventually the Anti-Christ will appear and many false prophets will appear, and those who believe in Christ will be severely persecuted.  Unlawfulness will be the norm.  Many people’s love with grow cold.  “When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (Matt. 24:33)


              We are seeing many of these signs.  Half a year ago the unprecedented                     huge earthquake occurred.  The damage from tsunami and atomic electrical plant was huge and the area still can’t be restored. Also if we look at the whole world too, natural disasters are occurring everywhere, atrocious crimes continue one after another. I don’t think I am the only one that thinks society as a whole is getting strange.  Surely the last days are nearing. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matt. 24:35)




II.          Wake up (vs. 11b)


In the end of verse 11, Paul tells us what we should do, “The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber.” (11)  Because Christians know that the end of the world is nearing so they must wake up from their sleeping. “The hour has already come for you to wake up.” (11) What time is this? This is the time when Jesus’ second coming is nearing so we must wake up and be prepared.


In Matt. 25 is the story of the 5 foolish virgins and the 5 wise women.  The 5 foolish virgins brought their lamps, but they didn’t prepare the oil for them.  On the other hand, the wise virgins prepared oil along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was late coming so the virgins all began to fall asleep.  However, in the middle of the night the bridegroom appeared so they all woke up and prepared their lanterns, but the foolish virgins had the lamps, but they didn’t have any oil. They asked the wise virgins for oil, but wise virgins said they didn’t have any extra oil to give them. Therefore they went to the store to buy some, but just then the bridegroom came and those who had no oil missed going to the wedding banquet. They went to the banquet hall and asked to be let in, but they weren’t allowed in.  We need to be awake, so that no matter when Jesus comes we are prepared and ready.


I experienced this when we had the blackouts after the huge earthquake.  The first night that we were scheduled to have a blackout, I got the battery run camp lanterns out, but I didn’t have any batteries.  I went to buy them, but no place had any batteries, not even the small shops. I looked everywhere, but there was no place that had them. We spent the evening by candle light, but I thought that I should have been better prepared.


We don’t know when Christ is coming. He will come when we expect him the least.  If we knew when the thief was going to come, we would be awake and waiting for him. However, a thief doesn’t announce when he is coming.  We must be prepared, because Jesus will come when we expect him the least.




III.        Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 12-14)


The third point is how we should prepare ourselves. We must take off our old clothes, and put on our new clothes.  We must wear Christ.  Please look at verses 12-14


Here Paul says, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (12) Here “the deeds of darkness” (12) are carousing, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, and jealousy.  “The deeds of darkness” are grouped into 3 groups.


Group 1   “carousing and drunkenness” (12) This refers to drinking alcohol and becoming obnoxiously noisy. The condition of a person who is carousing and is overly intoxicated is that his senses have become paralyzed. Christians must not become           like this


Group 2 “sexual immorality and debauchery” (12) This refers to immoral sex. When Paul wrote the letter of Romans, he was probably at Corinth where this sin was widespread. Debauchery is immoral behavior or an occasion when someone behaves this way and they forget all shame.


Group 3      “dissension and jealousy” (12)        This is fighting and conflict.  Some commentaries say that this sin is easy for Christians who live pure lives, not drinking or taking part in immoral sex to commit.


In short, these acts are all acts of the sinful nature of the life style of the old man which “gratifies the desires of the flesh”. (14) These are called the “deeds of darkness”. (12) The list of such acts which gratify the desires of the flesh are also listed in Galatians 5:19.


However, Christians are to do away with such “deeds of darkness” (12) and must “put on the armor of light”. (12) Here it says, “So let us…put on the armor of light.” (12) because now is the time of spiritual war.  When you go out to war, you have to put on appropriate attire. In other words, Christians need to put on “belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17)


Also this is to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”. (14) To “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (14) is to become one with Christ.  It is to live a life that is fitting for a child of the light. Therefore, we are to “behave decently” (13) The early Christians were like this. They lived so much like Christ that when those around them looked at them, they saw Jesus in them.


David said, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” (Psalms 16:8,9)  To always set the Lord before us, to live a life with God in the center is to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (14) This is what is needed now with the Lord’s second coming so close.  This is what God desires of us.


Are you prepared in this way? Are you ready for Jesus whenever He comes?  Usually when we go somewhere, we prepare well before going. Therefore, it is strange if we don’t prepare for Christ’s second coming when it is so close.  We are not going on a 2 or 3 day trip, We are going on a trip for eternity.  We don’t want to be wearing rags when He comes.  We want to be wearing “the armor of light” (12).  Therefore, we must clothe ourselves “with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (14) There is the prayer “Maranatha”. It means, “Come Lord Jesus”.  Let’s always continue to pray “Maranatha” and prepare for the Lord’s second coming.

Romans13:8-10 “Love fulfills the law”

A college student who was studying law said to me one time, “No matter how many laws are made, society doesn’t get any better.” To fulfill our responsibility to society and follow the religious teachings are important, but that is not everything.  According to verse 10, “Love is the fulfillment of the law”. Let’s look at three aspects of love fulfilling the law.



I.               Love is keeping the law.   (vs. 8)


The first point is that people who love others are keeping the law perfectly. Please look at verse 8.


Paul who in verse 1 told us about the responsibilities that Christians have as a member of society is now giving his thoughts on personal debts.  That is “let no debt be outstanding.” (8) From this verse some people say that Christians are never to borrow anything.  Other people say that is not so, that this passage is teaching that we must pay back what we borrow on time. 


The founder of Calvary Chapel in America, Chuck Smith, takes this position. He thinks that Christians should never borrow money.  Many years ago I stayed in the apartment of Bob Haggen, one of the Pastors at Calvary Chapel.  He took us to see the Church in Costa Mesa.  He explained to us that they believed that Christians were not to borrow money so they built the church all in cash.  They didn’t take any loans out.  Calvary Chapel thinks that both the church and the members privately should not borrow any money.  That includes when a person buys a house too.  It is true that financially borrowing and loaning has the possibility of destroying personal relationships.  It can control a person’s heart, take away our freedom, make our hearts mean, and hinder healthy relationships. As a result of borrowing money, sometimes our spirit which should be free is sold to other people. Our life style sometimes becomes more of consulting the feelings of other people and less of consulting the will of God.  Of course it is best not to borrow unless it is absolutely necessary and then to pay it back as soon as possible. However, this passage I do not think it is teaching that we must never borrow money.


Matt. 5:42


Luke 6:35


If the Bible outlawed borrowing then Jesus would not have said the things He did in these two verses. In these passages there are a borrower and loaner so it is telling us what we should do when he borrow money.


  Rev. Reiji Oyama says that the word, “debt” in the Greek had the meaning that you had an obligation that should be fulfilled.  It isn’t referring to just borrowing things back and forth, but is teaching about fulfilling obligations in general. In other words, here it is telling us to do away with debt and to carry out our obligations. Presently, lots of people claim they have rights, but about obligations they lightly look over them and don’t try to fulfill them. This passage is advising against this. For example verse 1 says to obey the authorities that stand above us.  This is one obligation that we need to fulfill.  Of course to pay back what we should pay back is an obligation that we should fulfill. To not meet that obligation will definitely not make God happy.


However, if we read a little more, we can see that the theme here is much more than “Don’t borrow” or “fulfill your obligations”.  That is because right after saying, “Let no debt remain outstanding”, (8) it says “except the continuing debt to love one another.” (8) The central message here is “Love one another” (8) and this is what Paul wanted to say.  In other words, He is changing the theme from the lifestyle of fulfilling your obligations in society to we must “love one another”. (8) Therefore, right after he says, “Let no debt remain outstanding”, (8) he says “except the continuing debt to love one another.” (8)  The debt of love is different. This is because to love other people is to follow the law perfectly.  Therefore, it is good to be in debt to love and to try to repay the debt.  By that debt we love other people.


In this case the debt of love that we have is of course the love that we have received from other people.  We borrow love from others, and repay that love back. That is how we live loving each other.  However, the root of that love is God’s love.  God loves us so we pay that debt of love by loving our neighbors.  By doing this, by loving each other, we follow the law perfectly.


God by His great love gave life to us who were dead in sin and transgressions. Even though we didn’t worship God as God, lived selfishly, and deserved to be torn to shreds, God full of mercy gave life to us who were dieing. God sent his
only son, Jesus Christ to this world, and took upon himself our sin and died on the cross. He paid the complete debt of our sins on the cross. Thus we can come before God boldly.  This is the Gospel of Christ.  Therefore, next we pay our debt towards God by loving our neighbors. This is the debt of love. It is permissible to have such a debt. In fact to put it positive, we should live with more debts of love. By doing that we should love each other.


In John 13 is the story of Jesus washing Peter’s feet. Peter says to Jesus, “You shall never wash my feet.” (8) However, Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (8) Jesus was saying to Peter that if he didn’t accept Jesus’ love then he would have no relationship with Jesus.


Christians are those who have received God’s love.  They have believed in Christ because they have received Christ’s love. Because they have received Jesus’ love they love Jesus, and they can go out into the word and share Jesus Christ’s love.


In Romans 1:14 Paul said, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” Paul recognized that he himself had to continue to pay off his debt throughout his life. This was the debt of love. It is the debt of the love of God given through Jesus Christ, the debt of grace.  Paul received an enormous amount of Jesus’ love, and experienced amazing grace.


II Cor. 5:14


The reason why Paul was not defeated no matter what terrible persecution he was in for sharing the Gospel was because he was surrounded by the love of Christ. Since the love that he had received from Christ was so huge compared to the persecution he was receiving that he decided that it could not cause him to fall. What supported the apostle Paul was this debt of love.


A really humble person is someone who has received uncountable love and grace from family, and church members and especially from God, and he also has awareness that he is paying the debt of love as he lives.  Such a person wants to by loving each other pay off the debt of love.  That is because by loving other people, you are following the law perfectly.




II.             Love summarizes the law  (vs.9)


Secondly, love summarizes the law   Look at verse 9.  There are many commands and the Jews even made more, but they can all be summarized into one.  That is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (9)


One day an expert in the law came and asked Jesus what the most important commandment is.  Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37) is the greatest commandment.  Then “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39) is the second commandment and is just as important. “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:40)


“All the Law and the Prophets” refers to the whole Bible. The most important commandments in the whole Bible are the two commandments to love God and to love your neighbor.  In fact, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:40) In Romans Paul is saying that to “love your neighbor as yourself” (9) summarizes the last half of the 10 commandments which deals with human relationships and which Paul quotes in verse 9. To love God and to love your neighbor summarized all of the law, is its center. When we live in these words, we will really build beautiful human relationships.


The great theologian from the 4th century Augustine said, “Love only God.  Then do what you want to do.”  He had the assurance that if people only loved God, and are left to their own thinking there will be no problem.  If a person loves God, then he will follow God’s word. He won’t be able to be separated from God. The key to the answer to all problems, the core of all problems is love.


After Jesus rose He confirmed Peter’s love for Him.  Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15, 16, 17)  Because Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, Peter was hurt and he answered, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17) Then Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17) The reason that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him was that if he had that love, then after that there would be no problem.  Before that Peter had denied Christ three times. That was because Peter didn’t have that love. He loved himself. His faith was self centered. Therefore he denied Jesus three time because he wanted to protect himself.  Jesus responded to that by asking Peter three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15, 16, 17)  He confirmed this three times. If he had that love, that was enough.


How about you?  Do you love Jesus?  Or are you like Peter whose faith depends on what is good for you?  If you can like Peter say, “Lord you know all things; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17), then that is enough. The problem is whether you love Jesus or not.  Everything depends on that one point.  If you love Jesus, then you will love your neighbor because Jesus commanded, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:35)  To love God, to love your neighbor summarizes all the law. It is the center of it.  If we love our neighbor, that is following the law completely.           




III.           Love is the fulfillment of the law (vs. 10)


The third point is that love is the fulfillment of the law. Please look at verse 10.


Fulfillment means to be filled with.  In other words, if we live in love, we fulfill the law.  The one and only way that man can fulfill the demands of the law is by loving.  If there is no love, then life becomes a just a life of rituals and formalities with no heart in it.  However, when love is a part of our life, our hearts are overflowing.


Recently it is said that the numbers of elderly who are having lonely deaths are increasing.  They have money, food, and any thing they need, but there are many cases of lonely deaths.  This is because they have no love.  No matter how much food you have, that you have clothes, that your life is stable, if there is no love, the person can’t live.  Even if things are overflowing around someone, if someone doesn’t show interest in that person, doesn’t show any love, then he will feel empty. What fills one’s inner being; the thing that fills us is love.  Love is the fulfillment of the law. Let’s live with love in this society.


Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan who was a person who lived in love.  A man fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes and beat him.                 When the Samaritan saw the man lying half dead, he didn’t ignore him, but went to him and poured oil on his wounds, bandaged him, put him on his donkey and took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper and promised to pay more if that wasn’t enough. Even though the Samaritan was in danger of being robbed himself, he didn’t think about himself, but helped this wounded traveler because “he took pity on him” (Luke 11:33) His heart was filled with this wounded man.  He didn’t have time to think about himself.  He didn’t figure how much money it was going to take.  If he did, he would have also been worried about being late to what he had planned.  He was only concerned about helping the man.  This is what it means to love our neighbor. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)


In our society there are many people who are wounded, struggling, and who have fallen down. The commission that we have been given to do within this society is to “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

What can we do? The important thing is that we live by the Word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (9) Then let’s pray that the Lord will show us what we can do.  “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (10) Let’s desire that we can live together in love.