Anyone have plans for the summer? I know that a lot of us stay here and brave the sweltering heat that comes in the summer months. But I know that a lot of us also try to get away for a week or two and visit family and friends. This summer seems like it will be my most traveled summer. I have a conference that I’m leaving for today. I have a four day trip that I’m taking with my dad. Then I will be gone for two weeks for a family reunion. And to top it all off I have a week missions trip with our youth. Plans and travel on top of plans and travel. And most of the time, when we plan everything out, plans seem to work themselves out. But not always.
There are times when I have had to change, shift, or outright cancel trips because someone got hurt, or an emergency came up. And I’m sure we’ve all had plans change because of something out of our control. How have you handled it? There have been several vacations I’ve taken where I wanted to do something, but because of time or energy, we just couldn’t do it. And I was not to happy. I mean, it’s my vacation, why should I change my plans? But things happen and plans change.
Lately, I have been going through the book of Romans. And while I’ve been reading through Paul’s letter to this church in Rome, I have been learning what it means to live in victory everyday. In fact in my church, I just finished a five week series on this very idea. Today, I want to briefly take you through that victory series, and see how Paul had to put this into practice. So today, we’re going to focus on the book of Romans, chapter 15, verses 22-33. But before we get into those verses, let me share with you what Paul has been building beforehand.
The book of Romans is a theological treatment of who we are in our rebellion against God. How we are sinners and cannot for the life of us, make right our sin and rebellion. Paul then points us to Jesus and God’s plan of salvation as a free gift given to those who accept it. Paul compares Adam, the sin bringer, to Jesus, the sin sacrifice. Then after chapter 10, Paul begins to shift his focus from the the sinner pre-Christ and their need for him, to the justified life after accepting Jesus’ work on the cross. Then in chapter 12, Paul gives us insight into how to live in this justified life. For the last several weeks I have been calling this the victorious life. The life post cross, in which Jesus won the victory over sin and death, and now we who accept this action on our behalf, can live in the victory as well. And this victory is not just in heaven, but victory today, and everyday thereafter.
In chapter 12 verse 1 through chapter 15 verse 22, Paul gives us three ways that we can live out this victorious life: through submission, not fighting over in inconsequential opinions, and sharing what God has done for us.
All of what Paul has done up to verse 22 of chapter 15, has been to build into his readers an understanding of the foundations to the Christian faith. But the point of Romans is not just to rely the theological and it’s practical application. Paul desires, that the Church in Rome would be his partners in sharing the Gospel to the unknown regions, in this case Spain. And that’s where we come today. To what Paul’s future plans for his ministry are. So if you have your Bibles we’re going to start reading in Romans chapter 15, verse 23.
23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia (a-ki-uh) were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
Now really, there’s not much here. I mean Paul is concluding his letter with some talk about going to Spain. And if it were a modern audience we might respond to where Paul writes, “and to have you assist me on my journey…” with, “here we go, here’s the real reason he’s writing to us, he just wants money.” And maybe that’s the case, I mean, Paul does talk about the material blessings that the Gentile believers of Macedonia and Achaia (a-ki-uh) are giving to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem.
But I don’t think this is the case, instead, if anything Paul is seeking that they would be in prayer for him. In fact, that’s what Paul asks them to do in verse 30, “30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
The Church in Rome joining Paul in prayer for the expansion of the Gospel message is Paul’s desire. He never asks them for a cent, but rather desires that they would be in prayer for him.
But none of this is what we’re going to focus on today, because within all of this, is an extremely important teaching for Paul and us, but it can be easily over looked.
Today, I want us to focus on two verse from this passage. Verse 29 and verse 32. Why these to verses? Because these two verses finish off Paul’s teaching on the victorious/justified life. Like I said earlier, Paul started with our sin, moved into God’s sacrifice through Jesus, and into our living the victorious life that Jesus won. Paul gives us three applications of submission, not quarreling, and sharing God’s word, to help us live out the victorious life. And now he ends it with two exclamation marks, that sum up how the victorious life is to be lived out.
“29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ…. 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.”
Paul spent 15 chapters showing the Roman Church why they need Jesus, and how Jesus’ victory on the cross leads them to live victorious lives today. And then at the end of this entire 15th chapter teaching, Paul gives us two practical life mottos to live by.
“29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ… 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.”
Why do these matter? Because Paul understood that the victorious life was lived in both the ease of peace, and the harshness of suffering.
Let’s put all of this into context. Paul is writing to the Roman Church on the eve of him going to Jerusalem. Where, he didn’t know, but he was going to be arrested, thrown in jail, placed on a boat that would eventually ship wreck. This is the route that Paul took to get to Rome. And instead of going to Spain, Paul would be killed.
Paul didn’t know that all this was going to happen, but he understood that no matter how he was going to arrive in Rome, it was going to be by the will of God, and the blessing of Christ.
This is how the victorious life God has saved us to experience is summed up. No matter what the circumstance, whether good or bad, we need to have the mind set that the will of God be carried out, and blessings of Christ will be poured out in full measure to us through it.
So is suffering blessing? Apparently, because James says this in the opening to his letter, “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:2-3).”
Jesus says it like this is John’s Gospel, “33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42).’”
To which the writer of Hebrews says, “2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”
What can we walk away from all of this? Paul leaves us with two mottos to say as we live in victory, “However I come, it’s in the blessing of Christ,” and “Let God’s will be done in my life.”
When we have these two ideas as the mottos of our victorious life in Christ, what we’re doing is putting our eyes on Jesus, the Victor. The One who beat our sin and death. This is the victorious life, that we are found in him. Hence the reason why Jesus made the comparison to him being the vine and us being the branches in John chapter 15.
The state of the world, the state of our checking account, the state of our health, the state of our vacations, none of it matters. Because even if we plan it all out the way we want it, it can and probably will change. What matters is this, are we living in such a way that the blessings of Christ show themselves in our lives because we are living to be in the will of God, or are we not?
If you and I want to live victoriously through the cross, we can only do this by living in daily submission to Jesus becoming more in our lives. Nothing else matters. No matter the situation, whether good or bad. Because in the end it’s Christ or nothing. I want to read to you an hymn from the turn of the 20th century by A.B. Simpson.
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
It once was painful trying, Now it's perfect trust;
Once a half salvation, Now the uttermost.
It once was ceaseless holding, Now He holds me fast;
It once was constant drifting, Now my anchor's cast.
It once was busy planning, Now it's trustful prayer;
It once was anxious caring, Now He has the care.
It once was what I wanted, Now what Jesus says;
It once was constant asking, Now it's ceaseless praise.
Once it was my working, His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him, Now He lives in me.
Once the power I wanted, Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored, Now for Him alone.
All in all forever, Jesus will I sing
Everything in Jesus, and Jesus everything
Let us be people that all we want is more of Jesus, and less of ourselves. Because only when that happens, can we see ourselves living daily in victory.
I always give a challenge at the end, so here’s a challenge for your week. Write down these words, “29…I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ…by God’s will…”
This week, when you face the peace, or the struggles, speak the words of Scripture and put your focus on Christ and his work in your life.
And let God bring to you his victory, as you rely and focus on him alone. Amen.