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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 85

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

The Christian Life As One of Exemplification in Ministry

This chapter is closely connected with the previous one: "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification."

The subject of this chapter could be exemplification. "For even Christ pleased not Himself." Paul holds up Christ as an example. We are to act like Him. But there is a better word though the idea of exemplification is certainly here, which could be considered the key word.

Look at the eighth verse: "Jesus Christ was a minister." Verse 16: "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ ... ministering." Look at he twenty-fifth verse: "To minister." Look at he thirty-first verse: "That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea, and that my service." (That last word actually means "ministration" and comes from the same Greek word as minister.)

Now for the outline. In verse 8, who is the minister? Jesus Christ. The first point in the outline shall be the Ministration of Jesus Christ (vv. 1:13).

In verse 16, who is the minister? Paul, the writer. The second point in the outline is the Ministration of the Apostle Paul (vv. 14-33).

There are two aspects of Christ's ministry that are emphasized here: "Even Christ pleased not himself," but pleased others. His ministry was sacrificial (vv. 1-7). "The promises made unto the fathers," that is, the Jew. In the ninth verse: "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy." Christ was a minister both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. The ministry of Christ was impartial (vv. 8-13).

There are four aspects to Paul's ministry: In the first place, in verse 16 is stated "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ." His ministry was a personal ministry (vv. 14-17). In the second place, verse 19 reads, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." The ministry in the second place was a powerful ministry (18-21). In the third place, Paul is making plans. He says, "I intend to go to Spain: I will go up to Rome, but first of all I must go to Jerusalem." In other words, his ministry was a purposeful ministry (22-29). In the fourth place, he asserts in verse 30, "That ye strive together in your prayers." His ministry was a prayerful ministry (vv. 30-33).

Christ's ministry was sacrificial and impartial.

Paul's ministry was personal, powerful, purposeful, prayerful.

The Ministry of Christ

Paul begins by saying, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves."

"The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me" (Psalm 69:9). The bitter criticisms that were leveled against God fell on Jesus Christ. Paul was holding Christ up now as an example to the weak and to the strong, that they should not reproach one another.

Then he calls attention to the Old Testament: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." The article "the" is before that word "hope" in the original. "That we might have the hope," and "the hope" means just one thing: the hope of the coming of the Lord which carries hope of the glory of God, as mentioned in 5:2. Paul next speaks of "the God of patience"; he had talked about patience in chapter 5. "Consolation" means "comfort." "The God of comfort grant you to be likeminded." He is talking about these two classes, the strong and the weak, in their dealings one with the other. "Be likeminded toward one another, according to Jesus Christ." Just as His mind was when He took  upon Himself the reproaches of sinners, which reproaches were aimed at God, so these men ought to be willing to suffer and to bear with one another.

The "wherefore" of verse 7 means, "what are you to do?" The answer is "receive." Look back at the first verse of the fourteenth chapter: "Him that is weak in the faith, receive." So he is going back to that idea: you are not to receive one another for the sake of arguments and criticisms of each other's scruples, but you are to receive one another "as Christ also received you." He received us freely, forgave us all our sins, all our reproaches, never reminds us of what we did and where we were wrong, but "justified us freely." God receives us in Him. If God has received us that way, we should receive the weaker brother that way, and also the stronger brother that way.

He says, "As it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name" (see Psalm 18:49). Paul continued, "And again he saith, Rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people!" (see Deu. 32:43). Jews and Gentiles, should not break into two separate groups in the body of Christ (where there is neither Jew nor Gentile). Paul points back to the Old Testament where they are exhorted to rejoice together.

Verse 12 introduces a passage from Isaiah. Jesse was a Jew, the father of David. "He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles" (he extends beyond the Jewish race) "in Him shall the Gentiles trust" (see Isaiah 11:1, 10).

Verse 13 sums up the ministry of Christ and sums up everything that Paul has written before in this epistle, because this is the end of the doctrinal part of the book of Romans.

Let us look at the first phrase of this verse: "The God of hope." What is hope in the abstract? Nothing! It may mean anything. But the Christian hope is a definite thing; it is "the hope!"

"That you may abound in the hope," that your hearts and your lives may be filled with this hope. And there will not be any trouble with your weaker or stronger brother. This is not because your mind will not be different from other minds, but because your mind will yield to that mind which is above all other minds, the mind of Christ as represented in this book. There is no other place where joy and peace and fellowship and unity can be had. No other place exists where people who are diverse in mind, method, characteristics, nature and makeup can find unity and peace. That place is the mind of Jesus Christ, which is revealed in the Bible; and once we reject any part of His mind, as revealed here, it is impossible for us to have peace and unity.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 86 - "The Ministry of Paul")

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