Sunday – November 20, 2022
Word On Worship – Sunday – November 20, 2022
I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 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.
Paul had good reason to offer an excuse for not yet having reached Rome. Although his introduction to the Romans indicates he had wanted to visit these saints for years, he had not done so. Now Paul writes this epistle to them from Corinth, some 600 miles southeast of Rome. But now as close as he is to Rome and as eager as he is to visit the saints there, when he leaves Corinth Paul plans to head not northwest toward Rome, but southeast, traveling more than 800 miles back to Jerusalem. Though so close, he does not press on the remaining distance but turns around and goes in the opposite direction to Jerusalem.
If the Epistle to the Romans is Paul’s ministry to these saints in absentia and by mail, Romans 15:14-33 provides his excuse for his prolonged absence when he could have visited with relative ease. Indeed, his reasons for not having visited, and his future plans to visit, are most instructive. Here Paul reveals his priorities for living out his life and the basis of his plans for future ministry. Paul informs us how he determined on a practical, daily basis the will of God for his life.
Compliments are not handed out by Paul without good reason as his epistles contain a number of instances of admonition and rebuke. If these Roman Christians did not need to be taught or corrected, why did Paul write this epistle? He did not write this epistle to inform as much as to remind. He did not write Romans to innovate as much as to reiterate. This is a very difficult but vital principle for we who devote our lives to learning the Bible. Personally, I find great exhilaration learning something new, and I find great pleasure in sharing this new insight in my teaching ministry. But such insights seldom focus on the fundamentals of the faith but on incidentals. To the degree that we innovate, we depart from the fundamentals which we are responsible to reiterate.
The great danger for Christians is similar to that which faces athletes—in focusing on the fine points, one can forget the fundamentals. Sports are won or lost because teams execute or fail to execute the fundamentals of the game. So it is with the fundamentals of the faith. The great danger for Christians is that we may lose our focus on the fundamentals and begin to pay too much attention to the fine points. In the words of our Lord, we may “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). Paul wrote Romans to remind growing Christians of the fundamentals of their faith. There is little “new” in Romans, but all of it is vital.