Sermon on Rom. 1:8-15, preached on 30 September 2018.
Sermon Recording: Clik Here to Listen
Bible Readings: (OT) Isaiah 32:1-20 / (NT) Romans 1:8-15
I. Giving thanks to God always
II. Praising God for His saving work
III. Encouraging one another in God
We continue listening to God’s word recorded in Romans, especially in ch. 1, and the message we hear is the Lord’s goodness to us all. This is the fifth sermon in this series. Last week, the message was from v. 7 with a title, ‘Grace and peace to you,’ and it was about how Christians in their new and born-again life must find God’s grace. And finding God’s grace, how we should realise and enjoy His eternal peace which is the result of His grace. That’s what the Apostle Paul wishes for his beloved brothers and sisters everywhere, saying, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The same should be our greeting to one another. Today, we have these verses, vs. 8-15, and the message is about ‘the fruit of grace and peace’ in Christian’s life.
As you remember last message from v. 7, God’s grace is the source of our peace in the Lord Jesus. Then, this section we’ve just read presents to us what follows Christian’s peace – in other words, the fruit of peace – still in other words, what Christian’s inner peace produces in the life of believers like Paul and like you and me. By the way, this is the first example of the pattern found in Romans which I already mentioned a couple of Sundays ago, that is, the Apostle Paul in this letter to Romans presents a thesis or statement, then, gives its practical application. So, v. 7 states that grace gives to us the Lord’s peace and this section of vs. 8-15 explains to us what peace produces in us in real, practical life.
Three outcomes or fruits of Christian’s inner peace we find from our text for today: first, we ‘give thanks to God always,’ second, we ‘praise God for His saving work,’ and third and last, we ‘encourage one another in God.’ So, now, let us follow the Holy Spirit as He opens up this text to our ears and hearts.
I. GIIVING THANKS TO GOD ALWAYS
The first fruit of peace is ‘giving thanks to God always’ like the case of Paul the Apostle and our brother in the Lord Jesus. Paul’s life was filled with thanks to his heavenly Father. It is evident from various words and phrases in his letters. I’ve mentioned last week that Paul greets others in his letters total thirteen times with these words, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” About the same number of occasions, he gives thanks to God and in 1 Cor. 1:4, for example, he says, “I give thanks to my God always.” In other places, like Phil. 4:11, he talks about his life that is full of contentment and joy. In 2 Cor. 7:4, he says, “… I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.” Saying ‘all affliction,’ he means those troubles he had faced in his life. He was imprisoned, starved, lonely, sick, shipwrecked, beaten for his faith in Jesus. Despite many troubles, he says that his life is filled with joy! And because of that, he gives thanks always to God for all things as in v. 8 in our text passage.
Let me put it this way. Having received God’s grace, Paul enjoys the Lord’s peace in his life. Every morning he opens up his eyes and finds peace in his heart and soul, so, he thanks to God. As he begins his daily tasks, he thanks to God for giving him a higher purpose to live and do all things for the great Saviour Jesus Christ. No matter how few people would respond to the gospel of Jesus he shares, his heart is always filled with joy, so, gives his gratitude to the Lord. When evening comes, he looks back and thanks again to God for His presence and strength for the day. He knows that the same will repeat again tomorrow and all the days of his life. So, he finds more peace day after day, gives thanks to God more and more. Truth is, this is the norm of every child of God; this is what happens to every Christian when the Lord’s peace is established in that heart. God’s grace brings His peace to every new-born child of God and when this peace fills that believing heart, giving thanks to God is the immediate result of that peaceful heart.
Having said, I want you to consider what I’ve just said – I mean, giving thanks to God always is the norm of every child of God because the Lord grace has bestowed upon him/her the Lord’s peace. Then, examine your heart now and see whether your heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord, therefore, seeks every opportunity to express your thanks to God for His grace and peace. Does your heart and mouth say, ‘Thank you, Lord!’ or ‘How blessed are You, God, my Father, and Jesus my Lord and Saviour’?
Hearing this, someone might ask, ‘how could I give thanks to God all day and every day, living in this difficult and sinful world? Don’t we have so much to worry about in this trouble-filled world?’ Well, I see that person’s point; so many things of the world clutter our minds. Yet, before we focus on ourselves and the world around us, we must turn our eyes to God, hear His voice through His word, and know what we miss. That is, the worth and blessing of peace we enjoy in Jesus. We know by faith in the Lord what is right and what is wrong. Knowing and distinguishing right from wrong, we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Do you know how valuable this is? This is hidden to the eyes of the world; people who don’t know the Lord Jesus because of their disbelief have no idea about the truth, they cannot distinguish right from wrong. All they know is what is wrong because they do not know or believe in Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life. Knowing the truth and seeking His way is the greatest treasure anyone can ever imagine. You and I have this treasure through faith in Jesus who is the truth. Nothing of this world, no one of this world can take it away from us because it is given to us by God! Knowing the worth and blessing of this treasure gives us peace, and this peace that is in us by the name of the Lord Jesus produces in us thanks and more thanks. So, Paul boldly and cheerfully says in Phil. 3:1, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.”
Giving thanks to God always is a fruit of grace and peace we first notify.
II. PRAISING GOD FOR HIS SAVING WORK
In addition to this fruit of giving thanks to God, grace and peace causes the believer’s heart to praise God for His saving work. After all, giving thanks to God cannot be done without praising Him. In this sense, thanking God and praising God are the same work of honouring the Lord.
But there’s more to our praising God for His saving work and this is the second aspect of the fruit of grace and peace. Take Paul’s case for example. He praises God for those Christians in Rome and for their growth in faith. He heard about their faith and how they had proclaimed Jesus to the world. So he praises God. In a word, praising God for His calling and saving the sinners, praising God for His strengthening Christians and churches, praising God for His work of expanding His kingdom on earth is the fruit of grace and peace. Such as this is completely foreign to the people of the world who have no faith in Jesus. They hate sinners turning to the Lord. So, without God’s grace and peace, no one can praise the Lord for His saving works.
Try to remember what you used to be and do when you did not have God’s grace, thus, have no peace with the Lord. You had no interest whatsoever in the matters of God and Christ and His church or any Christian. But now, you do praise God when you hear about people’s coming back to the Lord in repentance and faith. Your heart rejoices when this happens, and you praise God. You and I do the same when we hear from missionaries or our PIM padres or from any member of our congregation about news of God’s kingdom expansion no matter how near or far from us. So, we praise God, saying, ‘Oh, that church in a remote hostile land has been greatly encouraged and strengthened by God!’; ‘Oh, Bible translation works have been successful for such and such tribes in that part of God’s kingdom!’; ‘Oh, our church’s Bible study or prayer meetings have been well attended and growing!’ How wonderful is it to hear such news and how much do we praise the Lord for His amazing works of salvation? Praising God for His saving works is a fruit of peace we have in the name of Jesus Christ.
If this is a fruit of the Lord’s peace, we must examine ourselves and see whether we do praise God for His saving works in the lives of people. We ought to be fond of hearing news of God’s children and kingdom; we should be fond of sharing with all our Christian brothers and sisters news of Christ’s gospel proclamation.
Hearing this, someone might ask and say, ‘Why should I care for people on the other side of the earth? What is God’s work for them to do with me?’ Or say, ‘I don’t have enough time or energy to care for others but for my own things.’ Well, again, any person who finds no or less interest in praising God for His saving works misses something very important for him and all Christians. That is, the blessing of unity among children of God. We’re the ‘members’ of God’s household; there’s no ‘division’ in the body; we are to one another brothers and sisters whom Jesus Christ is not ashamed to call as ‘brothers.’ 1 Cor. 12:26 teaches us this blessed principle of unity among God’s children, telling us that both suffering and honouring we share altogether.
If this is the case, then, you and I ought to thank God and praise Him for His saving works for all members – our siblings – in this family of God. From bringing new converts into His church to deepening Christian’s faith and life in the Lord, we ought to raise our voices in praise for praising our God and Christ for His saving work is a blessed fruit of peace we have and enjoy.
III. ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER IN GOD
This is closely connected to the third and last fruit of God’s peace I want to talk about, that is, encouraging one another in God.
In this regard, I’m literally overwhelmed by the teaching of our text passage. For our first point – giving thanks to God – the Apostle Paul says only a half of a sentence in v. 8. For the second point – praising God for His saving work – about a half of a sentence or a bit more, covering the second half of v. 8 and maybe the first half of v. 9. But, for this last point – encouraging one another in God – almost five or six verses in our text. In fact, this third and last point is permeated almost every word in this section.
Just to give you a brief overview of this point, let me list a few points, beginning from (1) Paul’s unceasingly mentioning of those Christians in Rome in his prayer (v. 9), then, (2) how he desires to come to see them (vs. 10, 11, 13) and (3) to strengthen them through teaching (vs. 11, 12, 15); and (4) how much he wants to be encouraged by their faith and spiritual fruit (vs. 12, 13).
In all, Paul’s desire to see them and share with them what he has received from the Lord is amazingly deep and strong. He prays for them unceasingly and puts God as his witness for that. It is not a simple, light word to put God’s name as his personal witness. He knows better than anybody else regarding the OT command which forbids swearing falsely by God’s name (cf. Lev. 19:12) and its consequence (cf. Exo. 20:7). So, he seeks God as his witness, proving his genuine heart for his fellow Christians in Rome.
We find plenty of evidence for his prayer for others in his letters. For example, at the end of his letter to the Colossians, he mentions 11 names plus all the members of churches in three different cities. I’d like you to know that, in Paul’s time, churches gathered together at houses. So, in Paul’s greetings for churches in three different cities, we don’t exactly know how many house churches he has in mind, but surely more than just three local congregations.
Also, as he mentions about his desire to see them so that he may impart some spiritual gift to them, he doesn’t say it as a passing remark. He truly wants to come to them. He’s been prevented from doing so until the moment of his writing this letter. But his heart’s desire to seem them will never go away until he actually sees them sometime somehow. He’s been praying for that to God continually as we read these words in v. 10, “without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” His heart is literally filled with the desire to be with the brothers and sisters in Rome. It sounds to me like he is homesick and suffers from it.
So, the question is, ‘Why does he want to see them so dearly?’ At least two possible reasons. First, he desires to see them to impart some spiritual gift to strengthen them in the Lord. This is about his obligation to all people as recorded in v. 15. He must preach the gospel to all Christians in Rome as much as anywhere else. In fact, this duty is not for Paul only; it is for us as well, as the end of Mt. 28 teaches us – we’re to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples of all nations. We are commanded and obliged to teach people all things the Lord has commanded us. Because of this duty and privilege, Paul is eager to see all Christians in Rome.
I wonder whether we have a similar, if not the same, desire in our hearts for the people around us, beginning from our family members and friends and neighbours. Paul was an apostle, so, he was different from us in terms of our offices in Christ’s church. Nevertheless, we share the one same duty, that is, sharing Jesus’ gospel with all in the world. I wonder whether we have a similar, if not the same, desire in our hearts for the people around us. I wonder whether our desire for them is as strong as homesick. If not, we altogether repent from our indifference to this our privileged and blessed obligation to the world!
The second reason for Paul’s desire to see the Christians in Rome is that he may also be encouraged by them, especially seeing their faith in the Lord Jesus! Our Lord Jesus is clear about this joy, saying in Lk. 15:10 this: “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” A good example is what He said to His disciples by the well in Samaria. Having saved that Samaritan woman, Jesus’ heart was filled with that heavenly joy. So He didn’t really need any food His disciples had brought. He said to them in Jn. 4:32, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” Seeing one sinner being renewed in the Lord is a joy that belongs to the heavenly realm; such is not an earthly joy. Paul desires to have this heavenly joy and be encouraged by seeing it!
This surely is a fruit of the Lord’s peace which is the outcome of His saving grace! Through sharing the Lord’s gospel, we’re mutually encouraged; by seeing each other’s growth in faith, as well as witnessing a new birth among sinners, we’re mutually encouraged in the name of the Lord Jesus!
So, let me conclude. God’s grace saves us from sin and death, and we begin our life in His peace. This peace produces in us a thankful heart, then, praises to God for His saving work in us and in the lives of many fellow Christians. Then, we’re mutually encouraged as we share the Lord’s gospel with each other and witness as its result, each one’s growth in faith!
May God our Father deepen His peace in us so that we may bear good and much fruit of it, such as these three we’ve heard about this morning in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen. ***