From Church Relations through Missions to Eternal Worship (Romans Sermon 111 of 120)
August 20, 2006 | Andy Davis
Equality in Christ, Missions, Worship
Introduction: Missions Exists For Worship
Up in the heavenly realms, according to Revelation Chapter 4, there is a throne with someone sitting on it. And the 24 elders and the four living creatures and 100 million angels at least encircle that throne and they celebrate and they worship Almighty God continually day and night, praising and saying, "Holy, holy, holy." And they say, "You are worthy, our God, to receive honor and praise and glory and blessing, for You created all things. And by Your will they were created and have their being." That worship of God the Creator is going on incessantly in the heavenly realms. Wouldn't you love to be there right now? And then in Revelation Chapter 5 there's a different picture. I'm not preaching on Revelation this morning, I'll get to Romans in a minute, but I just love the vision of the heavenly worship, it just has the power to make you glad. It has the power to make you happy and to give you strength to fight sin. And so I think we ought to be meditating much on heaven, don't you?
And so in Revelation 5, as Revelation 4 celebrates God the Father or God the creator, so in Revelation 5, we have a celebration of God the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. And this is what the Scripture says, "Then I saw a lamb looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne." Meditate on that. "Encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll, the title deed of the earth some call it, it may be so. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the lamb and each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song. 'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were slain, and with your blood, you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.'"
Oh, what an awesome picture of heavenly worship of Christ the Redeemer, whose blood is shed for people from every tribe and language and people and nation. They are His. Many of them haven't heard about it yet but they will because the missionaries are going to reach them some day, but they are His already, they are blood-bought and they belong to Christ. And so there's this extended scene of heavenly worship for Christ, the Redeemer that's going on right now.
John Piper: Let the Nations Be Glad!
As a result of that vision of worship, I believe, John Piper introduced his great book on missions called; Let The Nations Be Glad! In this way, this is what he said at the very beginning,
"Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity but worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal in missions. It's the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God's glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. 'The Lord reigns. Let the earth rejoice. Let the distant coast lands be glad!' (Psalm 97:1). 'Let the peoples praise thee, O God, that all the peoples praise Thee, let the nations be glad, and sing for joy!' (Psalm 67). But worship is also the fuel of missions. Passion for God and worship precedes the offer of God in preaching. You can't commend what you don't cherish. Missionaries will never call out, 'Let the nations be glad' who cannot say from the heart 'I rejoice in the Lord…I will be glad and exalt in thee. I will sing praise at thy name, O Most High' (Psalm 104:34; 9:2). Missions begins and ends in worship."
Oh how powerful is that? Christ came, took on a human body. Suffered on the cross, bled and died, and was raised from the dead to make the nations glad, to make them eternally glad. Not just glad for this afternoon because they get to eat their favorite lunch. Not glad just for the next six months, because they've had a good harvest. Not glad for the next couple of years because their first born son was born to them this morning. Not glad for the next number of decades because they finally get to marry the girl of their dreams. All of those things are temporary. No, Christ came and suffered and died on the cross and was raised from the dead on the third day to make them eternally glad in Himself. Eternally glad in God. Glad forever and ever and ever and ever. Now, that's a powerful amount of gladness.
And you may wonder what could be the fuel, the eternal fuel of that much rejoicing? It can only be an infinite topic, it can only be an infinite subject, and that is the glory of God. It is God, the Creator, who by His will, He created all things, and they have their being, and also Christ, the Redeemer. These are infinite topics and they will keep us busy in gladness, forever and ever. The Lord reigns, let the nations be glad. Let the distant shores rejoice. Christ came to make the nations glad in Him, in His reign, in His sovereign supremacy and in His delightful personality.
Wouldn't you love to know Him better? Wouldn't you yearn to know Him better? I do. I yearn to know Christ better just as Paul did in Philippians 3. Just to know Him, what a delightful personality, we'll have eternity to search that personality forever and ever. And this was His stated goal, to make people from every tribe and language and people and nation eternally glad in Himself. It was His stated goal before the foundation of the world. But I say to you at present, the nations are not glad in Him. They are not glad in God's eternal power and divine nature, they are not glad in God's immutable throne, not according to His eternal purpose. There are some in the nations that are glad, but they all belong to Him, each one of them.
And so what is the solution to that problem? Well, it is missions. It's missions. It's people like you and me going across the miles and reaching out with the gospel to those who are not yet glad in God's sovereignty, not yet glad in Christ's redemption. It's missions, that's the solution of the problem. As Paul already stated in Romans chapter 10: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent, as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.'" So what's the problem? Well, in God's infinite wisdom, the preachers, the missionaries, they must be sent. They must be sent out. The sending ones are the church. The church, therefore, must be a healthy, strong, united sending pad, launching pad for missions.
And I believe that Paul is writing in this section to the Roman church, so that they will be united around that purpose. That they will be a united launching pad for missions to the Gentiles. That's his purpose, that's why he wants them to be united. Now, let's do a little review. Romans 14, we've seen that the church in Rome was a divided... Not a divided church, a mixed church. I don't want to say divided, but they could have been divided because they were struggling over what we call debatable issues. And so Paul in Romans 14:1, urges them not to divide over debatable issues, but rather welcome each other and not dispute over these debatable issues.
Well, what would they be? Well, we've seen in our studies in Romans 14, it would be how the law of Moses would take part in the ongoing Christian life, and perhaps issues connected to paganism. Like what about eating meat sacrifice of idols and all of these debatable issues? His like, "Let's not divide, let's not have Jews and Gentiles dividing over these things. We cannot have it." And so, therefore, he desires the church to be united, to be genuinely united and not crushed by division. And so he wants this mixed church of Jews and Gentiles to love each other, and welcome each other.
I. Review: From Church Relations to Worldwide Worship
Now, last time, we saw that the present struggle in Palestine between Jews and Gentiles, Hezbollah and Israel and all of that, are really just the modern chapters of an ancient struggle. And frankly the whole Jew-Gentile struggle is itself a subset of the conflicts that all human beings just tend to have. The reason is we're not at peace with God, therefore, we're not at peace within ourselves and therefore we're not at peace with other people in the world, whoever they may be. And so any division in conflict is really all united in that way. The church of Rome, we saw last time had the seeds of its own destruction already planted in its sin nature. It's not easy for sinners to come together and be in close contact with each other without division and controversy and strife starting to crop up. And so, he desired the unity of the church.
Now, I said last time in John 17:23, Jesus prays' High Priestly Prayer, and He prays in this way, he says, "May they, the church, be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." In other words, as we become more and more Gospel united, as we become more and more one as the Father and the Son are one, in this world now, as the world is watching that unification process, then the Gospel is heightened in it's estimation in the hearts of the unbelievers and they see the power of the Gospel to transform lives, and they're attracted to it. They believe that Christ was sent by God, the Father, it is therefore essential to the advance of the Gospel that these local churches be united, that they be genuinely one.
So what's the flow of thought here in Romans 15:7-13? I think what's happening is this. First, all things should be done to the glory of God, all things. Salvation plan itself was worked out before the foundation of the world to be maximally for the glory of God, that's how God desires to glorify Himself with this redemption plan. That redemption plan, before the foundation of the world, included both Jews and Gentiles. Not Jews alone, but Jews and Gentiles. Christ was sent to fulfill that plan, and He, Himself, is the pattern for Jew-Gentile unity. He accepted sinners like us and therefore we should accept one another. Jew-Gentile unity and worshipping God was prophesied to the patriarchs and the promises made to the patriarchs and to the prophets, as we'll see this morning.
The ultimate and then would be that elect representatives from every tribe and language and people and nation would be around the throne worshipping God, God the Creator and Christ the Redeemer, forever and ever, blood-bought, cleansed from their sins, they will be around that throne forever and ever, and therefore we should get along. We should get along with each other in the local church. We should love each other. We should get over our petty divisions and disagreements and troubles, whatever they may be. Because someday, we're going to spend eternity together around that same throne. And the more we can imitate that now the better it will be for the advance of the Gospel. That's the whole flow of the argument and that's what's going on here.
II. Review: Remedies to Church Division Seen Last Week
Now, last time I gave you six remedies to this Jew-Gentile division, which I said by a connection extends to really any division in your life; Your marriage, your parenting, and church, etcetera, but focus on the issue of Jew-Gentile division in that local church.
1) Understand God’s Ultimate Purpose: His Own Glory
First, I said we need to understand God's ultimate purpose, and that is His own glory. If you focus on God's glory, it's going to be hard for you to bicker about whatever is top on your list. You diminish and shrink, in your own estimation, and God becomes greater and greater. And so, you're able to get beyond your divisions and controversy.
2) Understand God’s Second Purpose: Our Eternal, United Delight in His Glory
Secondly, we should understand God's second purpose, and God's second purpose is to make us eternally happy in His own glory. He really wants to love us and give us gifts, and so He wants to give us Himself as the highest gift and secondly, He wants to give us each other as a lower gift, lower than Himself, but still glorious and wonderful. And I don't mean ourselves as we kind of are now, all messy in our sin and our selfishness, but I mean, He wants to give us each other glorious in Christ forever and ever. And so, that's what He's doing, He's giving gifts to us.
3) Obey God’s Command: Accept Each Other Wholeheartedly
Thirdly, we needed simply obey His command. He's told us in 14:1 and then in 15:7, we should accept one another. We should just accept one another, we should welcome each other and treat each other that way.
4) Follow Christ’s Pattern of Acceptance
Fourth, we should follow Christ's pattern of acceptance. I said last time that Christ gives us both the why and the how of accepting one another. Why should we accept one another? Because Christ has accepted us. How should we accept one another? In the manner that Christ accepted us, and we saw it in all the different ways that Christ welcomed people and so we should welcome each other that way.
5) Understand Christ’s Servanthood “to the Jews First”
Fifth, we should understand Christ's servanthood to the Jews, understand it, and see how Christ came as the servant to the circumcision of the servant to the Jews, and how He served them by taking their griefs and their iniquities and even their sins to the cross, not as a potentate, but as a humble servant.
6) Understand Christ’s Commitment to God’s Truth
And then, sixthly, last time we said we need to understand Christ's commitment to the truth.
III. God’s Purposes for the Jews and Gentiles: Eternally United Worship
Now, this morning, we're gonna look at four new remedies, four remedies to Jew-Gentile division remaining. And each one with the goal of Gentile worship.
1) Believe God’s Promises to the Patriarchs
2) Glorify God for His Mercy to both Jew and Gentile
3) Believe God’s Prophecies to the Prophets
4) Rejoice in Hope, United by the Holy Spirit
First, to believe God's promises to the patriarchs. Second, to glorify God for His mercy to both Jews and Gentiles. Third, to understand the prophecies of Jew-Gentile unity. And fourth, to hope in our glorious future together. Let me tell you something, through all that, my goal is just make you happy in your eternal future with the body of Christ. I want you to walk out happy in Christ.
You know something it's really commanded. It says we're supposed to rejoice in the Lord always. And again, I say rejoice. There is so much to rejoice about. So I want your problems and whatever struggles you may have brought into this sanctuary this morning to shrink into insignificance compared to the glory that's going to be revealed in us. That's my desire ultimately.
Believe God’s Promises to the Patriarchs
So let's look at the first one, and that's to believe God's promises to the patriarchs. Now, who are the patriarchs? What do we mean by that? Well, look at verse 8-9, "For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy." The patriarchs are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. David in another place is called the patriarch and that's fine. But these are the great leaders of Israel from antiquity past. And some promises were made to the patriarchs. Well, what promise in particular?
Well, the first and greatest promise concerning Jew-Gentile unity came in the original call of Abraham when he was still living in Ur of the Chaldeans, way back in Genesis chapter 12, what I called, when I preached on that passage, the ancient origin of modern missions. And there it is in Genesis 12, "The Lord said to Abram, Leave your country and your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you unto a great nation and I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse. [And listen] All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Now the word peoples, somebody once asked a preacher, "Is that a word? Peoples? I mean, isn't people plural already? So, why do you put the S on at the end, peoples? Well, peoples, as we'll talk about in a couple weeks, but they are identifiable people groups, like nations defined by language and culture and by geography. Peoples, nations. All peoples on earth will be blessed somehow through Abram of Ur of the Chaldeans. Now how can that be? Well, we know because we're further along in redemptive history. We know it's because Jesus Christ is the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham, He's descended from Abraham. He's the fulfillment of that promise. We also see the promise made to the patriarchs in Abraham. In Genesis 22:17 and 18, after God had commanded him to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved. And Abraham was willing to do it and just as he's about to plunge the knife into Isaac's heart and kill him, the angel of the Lord stopped him. He said, "Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son, whom you love." And then he said this, "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me."
So how are we all blessed in Abraham? Well, we all know it's through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was a Jew, he was born of the Jews, he came and ministered to the Jews. He was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And so Christ came to confirm these promises made to the patriarchs, specifically that Abraham would be a blessing to all nations. And so Paul wrote in Galatians 3:8, "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.'" And Paul says in Romans 4, that all of us, Jew or Gentile, all of us who have believed in Jesus Christ, who have repented of our sins and have trusted in the saving work of Christ, we are children of Abraham. We are adopted into Abraham's family. We are engrafted into the olive tree, and we're receiving nourishing sap from that root system. We are children of Abraham. And so Christ came to confirm those promises, so therefore, how can Jews and Gentiles not get along? This thing was predicted way back in 2000 BC, that Jews and Gentiles together would be blessed by Abraham's offspring, by Christ.
Glorify God for His Mercy to both Jew and Gentile
Secondly, we need to glorify God for His mercy, both to Jew and Gentile. Look at verse 9, "so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy." That's Paul refers to the purpose of God in making these promises to the patriarchs. God's desire has always been worldwide, but it's still self-focused. What do I mean by God's purpose being self-focused? We already covered that. God wants to give you Himself, He wants to get your eyes off of all of your earthly concerns and troubles and difficulties and gets you to focus on Him. And so, therefore, Gentiles and such, I think we all are, although there may be some Jews among us, but most of us are Gentiles, we Gentiles need to glorify God for His mercy. We need to focus on God for His mercy and give Him thanks.
Since all of us are sinners, we should come to the realization that it's only by mercy that any of us stands before such a Holy God. It's only by mercy that we're actually going to get to be there, surrounding the throne with the hundred million angels in that high and holy place that God lives. Only by mercy will sinners like you and me ever get to be there. It's only by mercy that we will live forever and ever. And so therefore, we need to glorify God for His mercy. Well, that is a uniting feature, isn't it? God has been merciful to this one and also to this one, how can they not love one another? How can they not welcome one another?
Now, mercy, the mercy of God was a big theme of Romans 9-11, as he's dealing with the whole Jew-Gentile issue and eternal predestination, all those things. And it culminated in this marvelous statement about God's mysterious plan. In Romans 11:30-32, he says this, "Just as you [Gentiles] who are at one time disobedient to God, have now received mercy as a result of their [the Jews] disobedience, so they [the Jews] too have now become disobedient in order that they [the Jews] may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you [Gentiles]." You see how He unites Jews and Gentiles on the topic of mercy? "For God has bound all men over to disobedience, so that He may have mercy on them all."
Let me tell you something, when we get to heaven, we will not want to talk about us. You won't want to talk about you. I think at one level, you'll be thoroughly sick of the topic. It may preoccupy you now more than it should, but it will not preoccupy you in heaven. And if you think about yourself at all, it will be just to glorify God for His mercy. Amen? To glorify God for His mercy, that's what you'll think about yourself. O, how merciful has God been to me. And I think the more you think about it now, the happier you'll be in Christ. Who are we then to not welcome somebody else? How can we not glorify God for His mercy to us? And secondly, how can we not glorify God for His mercy to others? And thirdly, therefore, how can we not be merciful to each other? It just totally affects the way you treat each other. It totally affects the way you treat people who are giving you a hard time. Someday, we're going to be standing before the throne and all of that will be gone. How can we hold it against each other now? What a waste of time. What a waste of time to hold something against somebody. Let it go.
And I'm not saying we don't follow the church discipline issues and try to show somebody. Out of love for them we do it, but not because I need it done for myself or I'm going to be angry and I'm not going to go to that church anymore, and all that stuff. No, we let it go. We glorify God for His mercy.
Believe God’s Prophecies to the Prophets
Thirdly, we need to believe God's prophecies through the prophets. Look at verse 9-12, it's just a majestic golden chain of prophecies of how God, speaking through the patriarchs, speaking through the prophets said, "I intended this from the beginning, before the foundation of the world, that Jews and Gentiles together would glorify God for His mercy." He's proving it from Scripture. As it is written, "'Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles. I will sing hymns to your name.' And again, it says, 'Rejoice O Gentiles with His people.' And again, 'Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. Sing praises to Him, all you peoples.' And again, Isaiah says, 'The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations and the Gentiles will hope in him.'"
A golden chain of four prophecies, a string of quotations from the Old Testament, one from each of the major sections of the Old Testament, one from the history books, 2 Samuel, one from the law books, in Deuteronomy. One from the wisdom literature, in Psalms, and one also from the prophets, in Isaiah. And so he binds all four parts of the Old Testament in a united voice to prove one thing: God has always intended this united Jew plus Gentile worship around a single throne forever and ever in heaven. That's always been His purpose. This isn't a new thing. It's to quiet therefore Jewish Christians from thinking that God never really intended to save Gentiles. It's from quieting Gentiles who think that they're second class citizens and don't really deserve to be there, somehow.
Some Christians, even go so far as to say that the Gentiles were God's plan B. Perhaps you've heard this among some dispensationalists. And they'll say that God was really working through Israel, but they rejected Christ. Oh, what a surprise, we have to go to plan B. They haven't read Romans 9-11, I guess. Nothing surprises God. As a matter of fact, He ordained it so that God could bind the whole human race together in disobedience and have mercy on them all. That's what it says, we just read it. But they're saying, "No, no, God's on His plan B now, it's been going on for 2000 years, this extended plan B." A backup plan. And that we are kind of inserted after the 69 weeks of Daniel before the 70th week, we're just kind of the big parenthesis, what a long parenthesis inserted in there, plan B.
Well, look, I'm not going to get into all of those eschatological details this morning, but I will say this: God intended before the creation of the world to save both Jews and Gentiles through Christ, and these prophecies should end that question forever. And by the way, it's not just four in the Old Testament, there are dozens and dozens of these kinds of predictions and prophecies, that God has always intended to save Jews and Gentiles in Christ.
Now, the Jews themselves had a difficult time grasping that God had a saving intention toward Gentiles. That, my friends, is a gross understatement. The Jews had a difficult time accepting that God had a saving intention toward the Gentiles. You remember in Acts 22 when Paul was giving his testimony to his Jewish countrymen in Jerusalem? And they're listening to the road to Damascus conversion. There are listening to all the things that God had done in Paul's life quietly, until he got to a certain point. And this is what Paul said, "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, 'Rid the earth of him. He's not fit to live.'" Do you have a sense of a national allergy to a single word? The word is Gentiles. What a dirty nasty word to those nationalistic Jews back then.
But Paul saturates the quotes in the word Gentiles. Do you see it? Over and over. I will praise you among the Gentiles. I'll sing hymns to your name. Rejoice, O Gentiles with His people and praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. And sing praises to Him, all you peoples and the Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations and the Gentiles will hope in Him. Is that an accident? No, he chose those. The Gentiles, God had a saving intention toward the Gentiles.
Now, the first of the four prophecies is the one that David gives in 2 Samuel 22, it's also Psalm 18, and he's celebrating his own deliverance from Gentile enemy. So it's a little bit strange to be included in the string, but it's fascinating, really. David says, "You have delivered me from the attacks of the people. You have made me the head of nations. People I don't even know are subject to me." So he's talking about how he's become a ruler there in Palestine. But if you look more closely, it's really seen from a messianic perspective, like David is representing Christ. And so basically people that had been warring against him are now bowing down before him and serving him. Is that you? Were you at one point warring against Christ, fighting against Him, and now you're gladly bowing before Him? Yes, it is. Psalm 18 is your story and Christ is your King. And at some point, you Gentiles, you came and you bowed before Christ and He became your Savior. You took His yoke upon you and you learn from Him because He's gentle and humble in heart. You bowed your knee before Christ the King. And so it says, "I will sing praises among the Gentiles."
And then the second quotation, the original context is Deuteronomy 32, and the context is one of celebrating God's deliverance from enemies. But whereas, the first quote is David celebrating in the midst of the Gentiles, now the Gentiles themselves are urged to take part in the celebration. Look at verse 10, "Rejoice O Gentiles, with His people." Would you like to join us? The Jews are saying, "Why don't you come along? Why don't you rejoice with us?" What a glorious pre-figurement of our heavenly praise, Jew and Gentile together worshipping Christ in perfect unity. Again, note the theme of rejoicing. Well, friends, I have a great job to do this morning, I get to preach on happy rejoicing verses. Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people, a sense of delight.
Now the third quote carries this theme even deeper, a direct command to the Gentiles to praise the Lord in Psalm 117, that's the shortest Psalm in the Bible. Just two verses, and this is what it says: "Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples." Why? "For His mercy has been abundant toward us and the truth of the Lord endures forever." Why should the nations praise the Lord? Because His mercy has been abundant to us forever.
And the final prophecy is a prediction that the Gentiles will actually in fact glorify God for His mercy. See, the first is David celebrating among the Gentiles. The second two are urging the Gentiles or even commanding them to take part, but the fourth says what? They will. Not just they might or they're commanded to, they actually will hope in the Root of Jesse. Look at the prophecy. Again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations and the Gentiles will hope in Him."
Now, the Root of Jesse is Christ, of course, and Gentiles hope in Him, when they hear the gospel, they realize that His blood was shed for their sins and they realize that this world is not all there is, and financial and physical and relational suffering and struggling is not all there is, there is a glorious world waiting for us and it's getting closer and closer every week, and that is my hope and yours. The Gentiles will hope in Him, that is in Christ.
So first, David rejoices in the Lord in front of the Gentiles, then Moses urges the Gentiles to celebrate with his people, then the psalmist commands all the Gentiles to worship Him, all nations, and then finally, Isaiah predicts that it's going to happen, that every nation will find its hope in Christ.
Rejoice in Hope, United by the Holy Spirit
The final factor of unity and Jew and Gentiles in this benediction in verse 13. Rejoice in hope, united by the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 13 on how rich it is. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Look at all these delightful, wonderful words here: God, filling, hope, joy, peace, trust, overflow, hope, power, Holy Spirit. These are delightful things that Paul is in effect praying for the church there at Rome.
So, basically, may the God of hope fill you, church of Rome, with all joy and peace as you, church of Rome, trust in Him, so that you, the church of Rome, may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. That's what he wants them to do. It's a benediction pointing them. And in effect he's saying, "You know what, your hope is someday you're going to be at that throne, you're going to worship, Jew and Gentile, together forever."
You know what I would like? I would like a little manna from heaven, dropping down to feed on while I'm on my exodus through the wilderness of sin until I finally get to the promised land. I want some heavenly worship to drop into my life everyday, I want to eat it, I want to feed on it, and be happy in heaven now, while I still have time to advance the gospel and get along with my brothers and sisters here in this world and do things that will glorify God, like a warrior for Christ. I want to eat that manna now. And so I say to you that you could be happier in Christ than you are, and so could I. We need to feed on this manna, friends. You need to meditate much on Revelation 4 and 5, and whatever visions of heaven from Scripture you want to meditate on, and realize that God has a glorious saving plan intended for the ends of the earth, and for your life too.
The future is unspeakably glorious, and it only comes in verse 13, as you trust in Him. According to your faith, it will be done to you. As you're trusting in Christ, you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. So trust in what I'm saying. These things are sure and certain realities, they just haven't come yet. Christians are the only ones who can deal with that category. Sure and certain realities that haven't come yet. That's the essence of Christian hope. And someday, it's going to be ours.
IV. Review and Application: Unity and Joyful Worship of God’s Glory
Now, by way of review, last two weeks we've seen 10 remedies to the problem of Jew-Gentile disunity in that 1st century church in Rome and by connection, we can look up to our church here, your own situation. First, we saw understanding God's ultimate purpose, His own glory. Secondly, understanding God's secondary purpose, our delight in His glory. Thirdly, simply obeying God's command to accept each other. Fourth, following Christ's pattern of acceptance as He has accepted us so we accept one another. Fifth, understanding the nature of Christ's servanthood to the Jews, so that we Gentiles wouldn't be arrogant toward the Jews, but realize He went to the Jews only in His earthly ministry. So let's understand His servanthood to the Jews. And sixth, understand His commitment to God's truth, He came to make God truthful, to vindicate His truthfulness for those promises that were made to the patriarchs. Seventh, believe God's promises to the patriarchs concerning Jew-Gentile unity. And eighth, glorify God for His mercy to both Jews and Gentiles. And ninth, understand the prophecies that someday Jews and Gentiles will together be around the throne worshipping Christ. It's going to happen. And tenth, hope. Actively hope by faith in our glorious future together.
Alright. Well, how do you apply this to your life? You may be saying to me, "You know, Pastor, this sounds wonderful, I can see that you're excited about it, at least. But the question is, I don't actually have a Jew-Gentile problem in my life. I mean, I have problems in my life, but I'm really not struggling with the Jew-Gentile question. It's really not something I'm wrestling with." Or you might extend it to First Baptist Church Durham, you say, "You know, we're really not struggling with the Jew-Gentile problem here." Well, remember what I said at the beginning; all problems of disunity have their root in the same place. And that is our relationship with God. And if your relationship with God is what it needs to be, then it's going to factor out into a peace with God that you experience and extends to a peace within yourself. Well, you know that God's at peace with you by Jesus' blood, and so therefore, be at peace within yourself, and then you extend it to every relationship that touches you in your life.
It's not just a Jew-Gentile question. It's a Gentile-Gentile question, how we're getting along with each other. Issues of reconciliation with the body of Christ continue to be paramount. We, as a body, need to be united more than we are. I will not say to you that I see great problems of disunity in the church. There was a time that I did, but not anymore. That's gone. Now, there's an essential and a sweet unity and already good things are flowing as a result of that, but I think we can do better. I think we can know each other and love each other more than we do. And out of that will come an intense white hot power for worldwide evangelization. That's what I'm yearning for in this church. So, let's apply it to our church. Or apply it to your marriage.
I think you ought to meditate more on the fact that the two of you are going to spend, in Christ, if you're both Christians, the two of you will spend eternity worshipping God together at the throne. So whatever stuff is troubling you right now, can you please let it shrink into its proper insignificance in the face of that? I'm not saying you don't have questions you have to resolve. I'm not saying you shouldn't talk things through and talk about your budget, your finances, how to parent your kids, whether you should sell this home and move into that one or whatever. I'm not saying these issues don't need to be discussed, I'm just saying keep them in a heavenly perspective, and be happier than you've been in discussing them up 'til now. Be content in the fact that someday you'll be in perfect unity even on that question.
So, meditate, I would say, frequently on your heavenly future, and have full delight in worship. Can I speak to the issue of corporate worship? If we're all going to be worshipping in heaven, can we worship better than we do? You might say, "What do you mean?" I mean, can we just come ready to worship? I mean, come ready to just be hot and passionate and worship? And it's our job to be prepared for that and to stimulate you to worship. But I think it's so important for you to be hot and ready and passionate for worship as well. Get yourself ready every week for corporate worship, because we affect... The leaders affect your worship, but you affect one another as well, and when you're standing next to somebody who's singing with all his or her heart, doesn't that move you? You may want to move for some reason, right? Depending on their skill level.
Alright, but there's just something powerful about being in a congregation that's passionately by the Spirit, worshiping God corporately. Let's worship God. And then finally, let's live for God's future glory and the advance of the church. There's still peoples, people groups that haven't heard the name of Christ. We're going to talk more about that, not next week, but in the following weeks. Let's be involved in worldwide evangelization to the ends of the earth.
If you're listening to me and you've never given your life to Christ, the joy and the happiness that I'm talking about here today is only available one place. It's only available in Christ. Only through faith in Christ can you know this kind of eternal joy. It's only place. I so praise God for Haley Herb and for the work that God's done in her heart. What a powerful testimony. That can happen to you. If you have never trusted in Christ, you can give your life to Him right now. Don't leave this place without repenting and trusting Christ for the salvation of your soul. Close with me in prayer.