Teaching, Endurance, Encouragement, Hope, and Unity (Romans Sermon 109 of 120)
August 06, 2006 | Andrew Davis
The Doctrine of Scripture
Introduction: Encouragement for the Race
Well, it's delightful to be back with you. It's been a couple of weeks since I've had the privilege of preaching here and absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. It's a joy to be with brothers and sisters in Christ in other places, and to see the unity that we have in the spirit. Isn't it? But it's sure good to come home. So I praise God for that. When I was a child and through my growing up years, one of the big events in my home town of Framingham, Massachusetts, was in April we would go down and watch the Boston Marathon. It would come right through our town a world-class event coming right to us and very quickly through us. Alright, right by they went. And some of the world's best runners and some who were not the world's best runners would come right on through our town six miles from the start.
So they all looked pretty fresh. They're feeling good about themselves. But anybody who's run long distance races or read about it, there's something that hits a long distance runner called the "Wall." And generally in a marathon it's somewhere around 20 miles and they say that physically and psychologically, the marathon, 26 miles, the marathon is half over at the 20 mile mark and it just so happens in the Boston Marathon that there's a series of steep hills right at that point. Three hills one after the other, right at the 20 mile mark.
And they're dropping like flies, it's called Heartbreak Hill and it's tough and there are people, some of the best running fans in the world and some of the most sadistic and masochistic people in the world, just line the streets right up Heartbreak Hill and just enjoy encouraging these folks on or just watching them not make it, one or the other, I'm not sure. Not everyone there has the same motive, but there are some that are there who's express purpose is to give those runners everything they need to get to the top of the hill and to urge them that it really is downhill from the crest. That hill right up there, from then on it's downhill and you'll make it.
Is there a brother or sister in Christ here today that doesn't need that in the Christian life? Do you not need the encouragement of the Holy Spirit today? Did you not come in here needing to be cheered on, in your Christian faith? And I don't care if things have gone well for you this week or not. You need the encouragement that Scripture gives. That's what today is all about. That's why I love Sunday, that's why I love to be here because I get weak in my faith, I need to be encouraged, I need the ministry of the Body of Christ, I need the ministry of the Word of God, don't you? And in the spiritual realm, Satan and his demons are lining the road and discouraging us. You'll never make it. Why don't you give up. Sin owns you, you'll never change. Constantly discouraging and so is vital for us that we receive today the ministry of encouragement through the word of God and that is the topic of Romans 15 4-6, it is the power of the Scripture to give to us everything we need to finish the race, that's what it's about.
Fully Equipped and Supplied for the Christian Race
The Lord wants us fully and amply supplied right to the end of our Christian race. He doesn't want us just to start or to proceed for a while, he wants every one of his chosen children to finish the race. Of all that the Father has given me I will lose none but raise them up at the last day. We have to finish this race and He is going to give to us everything we need to finish, and He does it through scripture. And from scripture comes instruction and from instruction comes endurance and encouragement, and from all of these come hope. And all of this produces a unity in the body of Christ, that is essential to the completion of God's work in the world, and without these regenerating supplies, I tell you, the church will not be able to finish its infinite journey, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
And without these regenerating supplies you will not be able to finish your personal race either, for you are commanded to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. To be just like Christ. And that's a long journey. And so for both the internal journey of Christ-like maturity, the external journey of worldwide evangelization, we need the regenerating supply of encouragement that the scripture is here to give us. Now, last time, a number of weeks ago, we looked at Romans 15 1-3, and you can look there now, we saw the obligation that strong Christians have to bear the failings of the weak. Verse 1 says We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves, each of us should please his neighbor for his good to build him up, for even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. So that's what we looked at last time. Now, remember the context, maybe some of you haven't been here with us, through Chapter 14 and 15, but the context is the church at Rome, Rome is the capital of the Roman empire, the most important city in the Gentile world.
And that church that Roman Church was a mixed church of Jew and Gentile, and they struggled with debatable issues, they struggled with, with what kinds of foods they could eat and what the role of the law of Moses would play in the church life, and it's amazing how the apostle Paul gives a chapter and a half, about, to the issue of the church getting along through these debatable issues. And the reason for this incredible focus verse after verse after verse as the Apostle Paul tries to keep the Roman Church united, the reason is that a united spirit-filled, gospel believing gospel preaching church, is the chosen instrument of Almighty God for the destruction of Satan's empire and for the advancement of His name and His glory in the world.
That's what he's chosen. And so therefore, the church must be united, the church must understand the gospel of liberty, the church must be pure from sin. We have to help one another because this is the way that God has chosen to destroy the devil and his empire. So Paul desires for the strong Christians, the mature ones to help the weak, he desires them to stay together to not fracture and fragment into a bunch of groups that fall apart and drop down into the dust. There they are in Rome surrounded by Imperial pomp and paganism, and worldly success and temptations of plenty, and it would have been so easy for that fragile coalition of Jew and Gentile believers in Christ, to fragment and for pieces to be lost. And Paul did not want that to happen, and so he wanted to minister here, encouragement, he wanted to minister the body of Christ, to hold it together by the power of the Spirit.
I. Ancient Scripture’s Immediate Purpose
And so he's zeroing in on those supplies that will keep the Church united. And he begins in verse four by talking about the role and the purpose of scripture. "For everything that was written in the past, was written to teach us…" So he's talking about the ancient writings, the scriptures, what we call the Old Testament. Now, we have to ask in context, why this parentheses, why does Paul stop and talk about scripture at this point, what's his purpose? Well, the immediate purpose, verse three had just gotten done quoting scripture, as it is written, the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me at Psalm 69, he's quoting the Old Testament. And frankly it's a bit obscure the quotation, it's a little hard to follow, how it fits in if you read Psalm 69, you might have a hard time seeing the point that Paul was making, but he makes his point. But then he wants to stop and say I want you to know something about Scripture. I want you to understand the ongoing role of the Old Testament.
Now, this is by my count, the 65th time that the Apostle Paul has quoted the Old Testament in the book of Romans. 65 times up to this point and he'll quote it six more times in this chapter And so he wants to stop and just talk about the ancient writings, the ancient scriptures. He wants to commend the purpose of scripture. Now, I believe that the devil's ancient work may be one of the oldest works of the Devil on Earth is to get human beings to doubt the Scripture, to doubt the Word of God specifically. You look at Genesis 3, and what does the devil say to Eve "Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?" Injecting the seed of doubt.
Oh how much trouble has come from that seed of doubt over the Word of God. But injecting that seed of doubt. Now how does it fit into the context of the church at Rome? Well it's a mixed church, you've got Jews who are well-acquainted with the Old Testament, and Gentiles who probably weren't as well-acquainted with the law of Moses and with all of these regulations and all that. They haven't been living them, they maybe were familiar with them. They're coming together now in a whole new era of redemptive history. It's the New Covenant now, it's a different time. And so I think the Gentiles in particular are going to be tempted to want to just jettison the Old Testament or least sections of it, to say we don't need this anymore, it's obsolete. Why do we even have to read the law of Moses? We don't have to circumcise our sons anymore, we can eat any kind of meat we want. Why do we even need it?
And so Paul wants to stop and to espouse, to establish the ongoing role of the ancient scriptures for both Jew and Gentile believer. So that they don't throw out the Bible. Furthermore, you know it was those Old Testament regulations that excluded the Gentiles anyway, that was that wall of separation that kept them on the outside. So if you're a Gentile believer, you might be tempted to just want to throw it out and get rid of it. He says No. "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us." He says. He's talking about the Old Testament.
Now, what's amazing for me as a church historian somebody interested in church history is that within one century there was a heretic in Rome named Marcian who did the very thing that Paul's protecting against. Marcian in 144 AD started his own church, in Rome. I guess that would be second Baptist in Rome, something like that. But it was the second, it was a schismatic group, and at the root of Marcian's heretical church was that the Old Testament was written by an evil God, what he called a demiurge. A wicked and evil God and therefore its teachings are wrong. We just need the letters of Paul, we need some or parts of the Gospel etcetera. He considered himself to be the successor to the Apostle Paul in his battle against Jewish legalism, he really wanted to strip the church of all of its Jewish roots that was a heresy that he started in Rome. Now, there are modern attacks on the old Testament. Ever hear it? There's the God of the Old Testament and then there's the of God of the New Testament, the God of the Old Testament is the God of wrath, and arbitrary rules that we don't need to follow anymore. The God of the New Testament is the God of love and mercy and grace, we see it in Jesus, in His inclusivity, and in his love for people. But then the Old Testament, this God reigns down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah and so there's a split there.
So you see people like Thomas Jefferson or Mahatma Gandhi or Albert Einstein making disparaging comments about the Old Testament, and even somewhat attracted to Jesus even Einstein as a Jewish man. Many modern people attack the concept of the Old Testament and any thought of reconciling the message of the Old Testament and the New.
All Scripture Given for a Purpose
But Paul here, I believe, is defending all of scripture, and saying, all of scripture is helpful and beneficial to Christians in an ongoing way. The scripture was given for a purpose. Look at verse 4, it says, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope." That is a purpose statement. It's why the Bible was given to us, God had a reason for writing it down. So many attackers of The Bible, critics of the Bible make it a human book. The Bible is ultimately God's book and God had a reason for giving it to us, he had a purpose in writing it down. Look at the purpose statements, everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. That's an infinitive of purpose.
So that that's a purpose statement. That we might have hope, that is the purpose that he's giving us. This is a very purposeful statement here, and he's saying that all of scripture is a gift, it's all that way. "Everything that was written in the past," he says, reminds me of 2nd Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." And that means everything, that means the history books, all the Old Testament history, that means the genealogies are there for a reason. That means the Law of Moses still has something to say to us even though it's been fulfilled in the new covenant. That means that the prophecies are there for us to read. Everything that was written in the past, etcetera.
And what is God's intended audience? Well, it's us, His people, His chosen people, through every generation century after century. God was thinking about you when he spoke to Abraham and he said, "So shall your offspring be." And Abraham heard that promise concerning the stars, he heard that promise, and he believed God, and the scripture says, "Abraham believed God and it was credited him as righteousness," Romans chapter 4. The Apostle Paul says this, "The words, 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone, but also for us to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." Those words were written down for us so that we could read them. All of those prophecies. You look at what David wrote, "They have pierced my hands and my feet," Psalm 22. Did David know what He was writing? He didn't understand it was written for us.
First Peter 1, said they didn't understand they searched trying to understand it, but "it was revealed to them, that they were not serving themselves," but us. Jesus himself in the debates with the Sadducees, he talked about the account of the burning bush and he said, "But concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven't tou read what God said to you. I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." God is speaking to you through Scripture. When you take up the Bible in the morning for your quiet time, you should say, God speak to me, say something to me, this is a biblical concept. So everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that we might have certain things happening in our soul.
Some time ago. I read a book by Graeme Goldsworthy called "Gospel and Kingdom" and he's troubled by some of those glib applications, you know David and Goliath. There was a chapter somewhat humorously, entitled "Killed any good giants lately?" And basically the problem he has with the application of scripture is that it goes too quickly from the text right over to immediate modern day application. So what are the giants in your life? Boy it'd be easy for me as a preacher to just do that. Alright? What are the giants in your life? And whatever problems financial. I could even do a three-point sermon. You probably might like it occasionally. Alright, giant number one, giant number two, giant number three. I looked at that and I said that isn't right, but you know something, I must tell you, I've kind of come, not full circle, but come to a different place.
You still need to read the story of David and Goliath, saying what are you saying to me, Lord? What are you trying to teach me here? Yes, David is more like Jesus, than he is like us, We are not called to be heroic and go save the people of God, by facing such a ferocious giant. We're more like the Israelites cowering in the holes wanting someone else to save us. That is all true but you still need to learn something, you need to be fed by the scripture, you must be. That's why it was given. And so I've kind of come full circle. My yearning today is that you who are sitting and listening to me today will get what you need for this week to be holy and fruitful for Christ. That's my yearning, apart from that I've wasted my time and yours. Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. Now, there's a lot of immediate purposes, here. Look at it, you see, everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.
So, that's instruction so that through endurance and encouragement, we might have hope. Those are immediate goals of the scripture. There are others that come in, not right here, but they're there. As you read the Bible, warnings against sin, and their enticements, through promises. Joy and celebration, wonder and awe, insight and understanding. All kinds of good things come to us when we read the Scripture. But let me tell you something, the ultimate purpose of scripture, the ultimate purpose of scripture is that God may be glorified by your salvation. That's the purpose. Because it says in Second Timothy 3-15. Paul speaking to Timothy, how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. That is why the scripture was given and you know that salvation is a lifetime work, and so through faith in Christ Jesus, that you would be given the wisdom you need to believe.
And the ultimate goal of Verse 6, "So that with one heart and mouth, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." That's why the Bible was given, so that we wretched sinners would be cleansed of our wretched sin. And that we would be brought into the very presence of God and that we would be eternally glorifying God for His mercy in Christ. That's the purpose of scripture.
II. Scripture’s Glorious Chain Reaction
Now, look at the glorious chain reaction we have here. Look again at verse 4, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope." First, Paul starts with instruction.
The Bible Was Given For Instruction
The Bible was given to teach us. Have you ever heard people speak about head knowledge? They almost always say, it negatively. Well, I'm not sure what part of my body I'm supposed to use to have knowledge. Okay, is it okay for us to have head knowledge? What do you think? I don't think it's just Okay, I think it's absolutely essential to the Christian life. The problem is if it just stays in your head and it's not transforming your heart, that's what they say, and we agree about that.
But my goodness, there can be no heart knowledge without first there being some head knowledge. Would you all agree? Just nod at me, I know it's hot in here friends. I know I'm hot too, but yes, we must have the head knowledge before we can have the heart knowledge. And so the scripture was given to teach us, to teach us things that we would not know any other way. Facts about God, His attributes, what he's like, his decrees in eternity, his actions in history, facts about God, facts also about Christ, His person, His miracles, His teachings, His death on the cross, His resurrection, His ascension, His future reign. His coming in glory, judgment He will sit and all the nations, gather before him. I need to know these facts and I can't know them any other way, except from the Bible.
Facts also about the people of God, about the Jews in the Old Testament, about the church in the New Testament trying to understand what happened to people when they obeyed, what happened to people when they disobeyed. I need to know these things. And scripture was given to teach me. And frankly, without this knowledge we cannot have faith and without faith our character cannot be transformed and without our character being transformed we cannot act differently. And so knowledge that the Scripture gives primes the pump for the entire Christian journey. We must have this knowledge, we must know what the Bible teaches. I think this is the essence of Romans 12:2 were it says, "Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind and then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And so the scripture was given to teach us. Don't despise a teaching ministry. Thank God for it. I'm not here just to move your emotions. I think there are other speakers that can do that better than I can. But I want you to know what Romans 15, 4 through 6 teachers. That's my goal today because I trust that this scripture will help you in your Christian life. And I have a sense I may never preach on it again. And so my desire is that you would understand as fully as possible within the hour and a half that we have together that you would understand. See, some of you are laughing, others are visitors and you're worried now. Okay? We are not going to be here an hour and a half, but in the brief time we have I want you to understand this text. That's my goal, every week. So teaching.
The Bible Was Given for Endurance
Secondly, endurance. Notice that Paul gives two character traits that are closely related, endurance and encouragement. Endurance is the ability to persevere through trials and temptations without giving up. Endurance means you don't give up, you keep going, you're in a 26 mile race and at the 20 mile mark when you are exhausted and you think there is no way you can make it through those last six miles that now are feeling like 60 and your legs are heavy and you burned all of the resources you have and you just don't have any idea how you'll make it another step, you must have endurance. That's what endurance is. Endurance is essential to your salvation. Think about Luke 8:15, The Parable of the Seed and the Soils.
The seed on good soils stands for those with a noble and good heart who hear the word, retain it and by endurance produce a crop. You gotta stick with it in the Christian life. You can't give up. Again, in Romans 2:7, it says, "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality He will give to them eternal life." That is not salvation by works, friends. He's just describing the life that ends up in heaven. Persistence in doing good, seeking glory, honor and immortality. That's the Christian life. Romans 8:25, it says, "But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it with endurance, we wait for it patiently." And again in Hebrews 10:36, you need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
Perseverance, endurance is essential to the Christian life. Now, the Christian life can become easily very discouraging, isn't that true? Are you ever tempted to be discouraged in your Christian life? Look inward, you say you know you need to be like Christ, but you keep seeing the sin crop up. You thought you were done with it. Irritability, lust, pride, selfishness, materialism, idolatry. And you thought you were done and you're not. And it's so discouraging as you fight sin, so discouraging. You yearn to see more godliness in your family life, in your marriage, in your parenting, in your relationship, in your family. And their sin is active as well.
You want to see yourself lead more people to Christ, but nobody ever seems to come to Christ or the ones that show some indications they end up being the other seeds in the soil. The sun comes up or whatever and then a year later they're not around. And that's so discouraging. You want to see your church be a glorifying spirit filled fruitful Church and it's less than you think it should be. And all of us see it. And it's discouraging, it can be very discouraging. Let me tell you something. I said recently, we're meeting with a group of men and I said, "Satan is eager to sell you discouragement at every corner of the road."
I remember I was on a mission trip to Haiti. I'll never forget this. And we were going through the streets of Port-au-Prince and we were in the poorest area of the city, Cite Soleil. And we saw kids coming with containers and getting muddy ditch water out of the ditch and then going into the tent city there. And I thought, "What in the world are they going to use that water for?" Well, about a mile of the road there were these cute little Haitian kids coming right up to our bus, we weren't moving very fast, we were going... We were just stop and go. And they're coming right to the windows and they're trying to sell us refreshing looking drinks of blue and red and orange color. They didn't look new. The bottles looked mostly clean.
And I looked at that and I said, "No way am I buying that and drinking it, even though I'm very thirsty." And it did have condensation on the outside, it looked refreshing. But I said, there's poison in that bottle. There's no way my system can handle it. But they were persistent in selling it, they really wanted to sell it to us. And I think that's a picture of what the devil tries to do with discouragement. So, "Here, have this, drink this." All of the time, "Be discouraged, feel down." And we've got to say, "No sale." I can't be discouraged just because my story has a happy ending, has a glorious ending. How can I be discouraged? And the whole Church's story is a glorious story with a happy ending. Discouragement is unfit for the Christian life. We have to fight it at every turn.
So how does scripture resupply our endurance? Well, it gives us examples of endurance in the Bible. Look at Abraham waiting 25 years to get Isaac. Look at Joseph who unjustly is sold into slavery by his brothers, unjustly imprisoned by Potiphar, unjustly left there when some others of servants of Pharaoh said they would get him out, but they didn't. But through all of that he maintains, Jacob said, "Limber arms in the service of God." He's ready to go and when his time came he wasn't bitter, he wasn't angry, he just stepped forward. Endurance. Or you've heard of the patience or endurance of Job, how he went through all of these trials and never cursed God or sinned. So examples. Hannah, who prayed for a child and God granted her prayer. Or the Apostle Paul as he city after city is persecuted. Endurance. Scripture also re-supplies our endurance by giving us promises connected to our endurance. How about this one, in Matthew 10:22, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
Well, that's an encouragement. Isn't it? To endurance. Or by dire warnings of what happens to people who don't persevere. Look at Samson. Samson made it through three tests with Delilah, right? "Tell me the secret of your great strength." I just want to know. He was not a discerning guy. Why do you want to know the secret of my strength? This is making me suspicious. Alright? And then even worse to test whether he told the truth, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you." This is not a good relationship. And he should've known, but he didn't. And finally through the nagging on and on, he gave up, he just gave up. It's a picture of us and temptation, isn't it? We just get tired and we give in. It's an example. Look what happened to him, his eyes were put out and he lost his strength.
Or by stimulations to prayer through to strengthen perseverance. Jesus said in Luke 18:1, He "told His disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and never give up." So He gets you praying, Jesus tells you this parable about the persistent widow and all that. And that you should never give up, keep praying. Or just commands in Hebrews 10:36. "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will see what He has promised. You must persevere. These five different ways, He strengthens your endurance.
The Bible Was Given for Encouragement
The next word that Paul talks about here is encouragement. We've been talking about it the whole time. This is a weighty word, it's related to the word "paraclete" which is the Holy Spirit, the counselor, it is that encouragement that the Holy Spirit gives, the scripture was given for that purpose. You read of the sweetness of heaven and you're encouraged.
You read of the power of God, the immutable, the unshakable power of God to finish your salvation and you are encouraged. You read of the mighty power of Christ resurrection from the dead and he is a pattern of what you will do someday. And you're encouraged. You read of the ultimate defeat of Satan, we'll get to it in Romans 16, the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. And you're encouraged. You read of the promises of God to help you day after day and you are encouraged. Strengthen yourself by the Word of God, don't yield to that weakness that discouragement brings. The scripture was meant to give you encouragement.
The Bible Was Given for Hope
And the ultimate result of this glorious chain is hope. Hope is a certainty of delightful future things based on the promise of God.
Absolutely delightful and absolutely certain. That's what hope's all about. And you know something, without hope you will not fight the good fight of faith. You just won't. You'll give in to temptation. You'll stop doing your ministry, you'll give up, you'll give up on this church, you'll give up in your family, you'll give up in your marriage, you'll give up in your fight against sin, you just will give up. You must have hope because if you don't have hope you will not fight. And if you don't fight you will not make any progress. You've got to have hope. So you see the glorious chain. Scripture instructs us, through the instruction we get endurance and encouragement. The result of that is hope and we keep moving in the Christian life.
III. God’s Wonderful Gifts: Endurance, Encouragement, Unity
And praise God for it. That's what he's giving us. Now, all of these wonderful things are from God. Isn't that wonderful? Look at verse five and six, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. So that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." This is the benediction. It's not a prayer. Because you're not talking to God, but he's talking almost like a prayer. It's like a benediction. May the Lord be gracious to you and bless you, may He make his face shine upon you and give you rest. That kind of benediction. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement. But the point of the benediction is that all of the good things you need to see the race through to the end, they come from God. Now, many of you saw a number of years ago that film about Eric Little, Chariots of Fire. And I don't know if you remember, but there's this very dramatic point earlier in the movie in which he, who's usually just a sprinter, 100 meter runner, runs the 400 meters. And he gets knocked down to the ground.
And in a race that short it's still longer, it's longer than 100 meters. But race that short, that's a kiss of death. There's no way you're going to be able to get up off the ground and win a 400 meter race. Except that Eric Little just wouldn't give up. So he gets up and he digs deep and he fights as hard as he can. And at the tape, he wins the race. After that he gives somewhat of a gospel presentation. And he's talking about the Christian race, he likens the Christian faith to the running of a race. And he says, "Where then does the strength come from to see the race through to the end?" And what does he say? "It comes from within."
No it doesn't. I'm sorry, I know it's a good Christian movie and all that kind of thing, but that's just wrong. Let me ask you a question, how long would you have lasted in your Christian life if all of your resources had to come from yourself? Would you not have given up a long, long time ago. Let me ask the question again because it is a good question. We just need the right answer. Where then does the strength come from to see the race through to the end? He actually corrects it later in the movie by quoting Isaiah 40. You remember? He's in Paris he's at the Church of Scotland and it's so powerful, this montage of success and failure, athletic, whatever. And you're listening to Isaiah 40 and this is what it says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the Earth, He will not grow tired or weary. His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, he increases the power of the faint. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
So where then does the strength come from to see the race through the end? It comes from God. How do you keep getting up in the morning and having your quiet time, how is it after a day in which you have yielded to temptation and you feel disgusting and you feel totally unfit to be a Christian, the next day there's an internal strength to get up, repent, confess and try it again. Where does that strength come from? It comes from God who will not let you go. And praise God for it. He's got hold of you and He will never let you go until you are finished being saved.
Where then does the strength come from to see the race through to the end? It comes from the one who began the race in you and that is God. And God wants to give us, this church and all Christian churches around the world, one final gift. He wants to give us a spirit of unity among ourselves. He wants us to love each other and care about how the race is going for each other and to notice when somebody is stumbling and falling and to help them to be a minister of encouragement to them strengthening them by means of the scripture, that's what he wants, he wants to give us a spirit of unity among ourselves so that we don't give up. None of us give up.
Brother and sister, does it matter to you if your brothers and sisters finish this race? Did you care? Does it matter to you? You should. We will watch over one another in brotherly love. That's what we say we're going to do for each other. And what is God's ultimate purpose in all of this? Well, may the God who gives endurance and encouragement, give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ, literally, according to Christ Jesus so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
IV. God’s Ultimate Purpose: Perfect Unity in Glorifying Him
Friends, the purpose of everything is right there, the Glory of God. He does it all for His own Glory, he's saving you so that you can with one heart and mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where are we heading? Where are we going? Well, in Christ, we're going to heaven and what are we going to see when we get there? Well, we're going to see a throne and someone sitting on it? And if we look around, we're going to see people from every tribe and language and people and nation. And they will be with one heart and mouth focused on one thing, the throne and the One sitting on it. And they will be honoring and glorifying the Lamb of God. Who shed his blood that they could be there. Who paid the price so that we could be there. And there will be no divisions by race. There will be no divisions socio-economically, no division by talent or intelligence or gender or what era of church history we lived in. We'll all be one. That's where we're heading.
Now, I think it's good for us to act like it in the meantime. So that when people walk into this Church they sense and feel strongly a sense of unity among ourselves. We need to see it in our corporate worship. We're shifting out application. Every Sunday, will you please get yourself ready to worship and glorify God? Will you please do it in this way? Go to the Scriptures and say, "Lord, who am I in Christ? Please tell me how much you love me." If you have to confess sin then do it. Repent and bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance. Get yourself ready to be with the brothers and sisters in Christ. Strengthen yourself in the spirit. And listen, if this upcoming week you're discouraged, don't just lay there and be discouraged. Fight it, open up the Word of God and say, "Lord encouraged me. Please feed me, sustain me and strengthen me through the word of God. Give me a message today so that I could be filled with joy." You know something? We're of no use if we don't really believe how much God has loved us.
We have no use if we're not happy in Jesus. So you need to labor on yourself every day in the Scripture to be encouraged. And then finally, ultimately, you need to trust in Christ as your personal Savior. I have no idea, I look out at faces and I don't know where each of you are at. Some of me I know very well, but others I don't know well. The Scripture gives the central endurance and encouragement in this way, come to Christ, come to the cross, believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins. Close with me in prayer.