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The Sermon Today

06 May

Hello again!

Today my dad preached at The Fountain of Grace Church. He preached on Romans 15:7-13, and here’s what he said:

Psalm 103:1-17 1 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children.

Let’s sing together:

Romans 15:7-13 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Let’s pray together:

One of the greatest benefits of being a Christian is that we are accepted by God. Think about what we were before we became Christians. We were without hope and without God in this world. We were rejected, we were far away from God, we had no inheritance in Him, we were excluded from God and His people and His promises, for all eternity.

Then Jesus Christ came. And He was rejected by God so that we could be accepted in Him. When He died on the cross, taking away your sin, it was for the very purpose of making you acceptable to God. So He was rejected that anyone who believes might be accepted. Ephesians 1:6 tells us that God made us “accepted in the Beloved”; we are accepted by Christ and in Christ. We are received, we are welcomed in.

And the Bible tells us that we are to accept other people. Because we’ve been so graciously received by God in Christ, we are to accept others, to welcome them into our fellowship. We can see that in our passage of study today, Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. So the motivation for us accepting others is that we’ve been accepted. And just notice, please that  whatever instruction we’re given in the Bible always comes from the gospel. In other words true biblical admonishment flows out of what Jesus did for us.

Notice these four powerful words: “Christ has welcomed you.” Think about those. You may feel totally unworthy but “Christ has welcomed you.” You may feel that your past disqualifies you, but “Christ has welcomed you.” You may feel that you fall very short, that there are things wrong in your life, but if you are a believer, “Christ has welcomed you.” You are accepted in Him.

You see, so many people think that in order to be accepted by God they have to do good works, or clean up their lives, or obey the 10 commandments and God will accept them. But those are all wrong ways to acceptance. Notice verse 13 for a moment: Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…” As you simply believe the gospel, as you trust that message to be true, you are counted as righteous, and you are filled with joy and peace because you know that “Christ has welcomed you.” And we must get this message out, that God receives anyone who puts faith in Jesus. He welcomes all, no matter their past, no matter their current struggles, if they believe in His Son.

And this is such an important point, and I want to give an illustration that will hopefully help us understand that our acceptance with God is because of Christ. I invite you to turn to Genesis chapter 46. And to give the background on this chapter, the whole middle East is in a severe famine, and a man by the name of Joseph has risen to power in Egypt, and he has stockpiled food because God told him a famine was coming. There’s food in Egypt where there is none in all other countries. But Joseph is a Hebrew man, not an Egyptian, and Joseph wants to bring his father and his brothers to Egypt where there is food. But there is a problem. The Egyptians hate the Hebrews, and the Egyptians also hate shepherds. Notice the end of verse 34: “…all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.” Well guess what these Hebrew brothers are? They are Hebrew shepherds. These brothers wouldn’t have stood a chance with the Egyptians, except for Joseph.

Now notice chapter 47:1-2: Genesis 47:1-2 1 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.” Now picture this in your mind. Here are these brothers, dressed in their shepherd outfits, with their shepherds rods. They are hated by the Egyptians for who they are and what they do, they would not be received nor welcomed, but Joseph introduces them, Joseph brings them into the presence of Pharaoh, Joseph presents them and asks that Pharaoh receive them, welcome them.

And Pharaoh interviews them in vss. 4-5 and what would be Pharaoh’s verdict? Would he say, “You know we hate shepherds, they are detestable to us, we will not welcome them into our land.” No, look at verses 6. Pharaoh says, “6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.” See, they were accepted because of Joseph. They were his brothers! Joseph was the reason that the Hebrews were welcomed by Pharaoh. It was on Joseph’s merits alone that these foreigners could come and settle in the best part of Egypt (Goshen) at a time when they should have been sent away.

And let’s apply this story to our own lives. By nature, we are not acceptable to God. By birth we are like shepherds to the Egyptians. We are enemies, we are detestable because of our sin, our rebellion against God has made us detestable. But we have a Joseph. His name is Jesus. He is our kin, our brother. And by His death and resurrection He made us acceptable to God. We get all of heaven because we are His brother. And we are welcomed. We are received.

And Paul tells us in Romans 15, based on the fact that Christ has welcomed us, we are to welcome others. Here is the mental picture we’re supposed to have. We are convicted of our sin and so we go to the cross, and we see Jesus’ arms are wide open, receiving us, welcoming us, and now we turn around and our arms are to be wide open to other people. Welcome them as He welcomed us.

And what this phrase means is that we are to welcome them into the body of Christ, not throwing their past up in their face, not questioning whether they could really be a Christian, but receiving people who profess faith in Christ into the fellowship of Christians.

Now there is a reason why Paul is teaching this principle here: the church in Rome was made up of Jewish converts to Christianity, who no doubt still held to some of their separatist beliefs. For example, I want to read to you one of the documents that the Jews had written, called the Megillah, and it was written right before they entered the Promised Land. It says this: “From the time that the children of Israel enter into the Promised Land, no Gentile has any right to sing a hymn of praise to God.” Gentiles were excluded, they were far off, not accepted. In Jesus’ day Gentiles were called “dogs”, “pigs”, the “uncircumcised.”

And Paul is teaching here that Christ welcomed the Gentiles in, so that Jews and Gentiles would both lose their former identities and now simply be one body, called Christians. Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Christians are those who have left behind their past labels, their heredity, their past identity and now we are only Christians. And we are one in Christ with every other Christian alive. We have no dividing walls in the body of Christ. “for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”

Notice how Paul shows the oneness of the body of Christ in verses 8, 9: Romans 15:8-9 “8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” The Jews praise God for His truth, the Gentiles praise God for His mercy. And we are both included in the work Jesus came to do for us. We are one in Christ. And there is no such thing as a Jewish Christian, or a Gentile Christian, we are just Christians. We leave off any other identity, any other label of our past.

Now notice vs. 9, that we are to praise God for His mercy. So let’s consider for a moment, this statement: “that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” Why are you and I to glorify God for His mercy? Well there are at least 5 reasons to glorify God for His mercy.

  1. 1.    You were an enemy of God, but Jesus reconciled you. Colossians 1:21-22 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 …he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death.  We are to glorify God for His mercy to us in reconciling us at the cross.
  2. 2.    You were far away from God, but Jesus brought you near. Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. We are to glorify God for His mercy in bringing us near to Him at the cross.
  3. 3.    You were under the wrath of God, but Jesus put you under the grace of God. Ephesians 2:3-5 “3 …we were by nature objects of wrath…it is by grace you have been saved.” We are to glorify God for His mercy in putting His wrath on Jesus instead of us and saving us by His grace.
  4. 4.    You were dead in your sins, but God made you alive. Colossians 2:13 “When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” We are to glorify God for His mercy in forgiving us all our sins and raising us out of them. That’s mercy.
  5. 5.    You were destined for hell, but Jesus opened up heaven for you. That’s what the whole Bible is about. We are to glorify God for His mercy, because all who repent and believe are headed for heaven and not hell.

So you see why a Gentile, you and me, should glorify God for His mercy to us. All who believe are reconciled to God, are near and close to God, are under the grace of God, are alive with Christ and on our way to heaven.

And now Paul does something very interesting. He brings in four quotes from the Old Testament to prove his point. It’s as if he is saying “you who were formerly Jews should know that God accepts the Gentiles, it’s written in your Bibles.”

So the first one he quotes in verse 9 is Psalm 18. Now remember what the Jews wrote: “no Gentile has any right to sing a hymn of praise to God.” Well what God wrote in Psalm 18, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And in verse 10 he quotes Deuteronomy 32: “Rejoice Oh Gentiles, with His people.” And in verse 11 he quotes Psalm 117: “Praise the Lord Oh you Gentiles, and sing praises to Him, all you peoples”. And in verse 12 he quotes from Isaiah 11: “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”

What is the point? Just this: because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, all who believe, both Jews and Gentiles are welcomed and received by God. As Christ has received us in order to promote the glory of God, so ought we to treat each other in a similar manner for a similar purpose.

And then we close with verse 13, let’s read it in closing: Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isn’t it amazing that the most desponding and depressed people, are often raised by God to a good hope when they believe; and the most guilty can be relieved in a moment, and given hope; like the thief on the cross, and the three thousand on the day of Pentecost!

Notice the words “fill you” and “overflow” and understand that believing produces fullness of joy and overflowing hope. David said, “My cup overflows.” I have a friend who signs his emails, “drinking off the saucer, Dave” because his cup overflows. There is tremendous fullness in Christ, where we overflow with hope—and this comes through believing.

Now just contrast that for a minute with what the world offers you. The world offers fullness and satisfaction, but ends in emptiness and frustration. I would draw your attention to 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 18: 1 Peter 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, The way of life apart from Christ is described as empty, meaningless, lacking fullness and satisfaction. But by believing in Jesus God fills us with joy and peace and we overflow with hope.

Maybe you’ve been believing the lie of the devil, that this world will give you something satisfying, that you’ll be full and complete if you just have (fill in the blank). But now you see that fullness comes by putting your faith in the gospel, by trusting in Christ, and so God’s Word encourages you today to repent, turn from your sin and believe the good news. And you will discover that God will fill you with all joy and peace in believing and you will overflow with hope!

So here’s the summary of the passage today: Rejoice in your acceptance with God, praise God for His mercy, and accept others like God has accepted you in Christ. Tell them how to be accepted in Christ. Tell them of what He has done for you and what He can do for them. Let’s pray.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Todays Sermon

 

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