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Ministry to Unbelievers

May 16, 2021

Romans 15:15-27

Golden Text: “As it is written, To whom Christ was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.” Romans 15:21

Introduction: In this lesson Paul is giving his attention to the most practical matters of a Christian’s life instead of the more theological matters he addressed in his epistles to the Romans. When Christians accept the Lordship of Jesus in every area of their lives, they also accept and share His values and His attitude of love toward other Christians.

The Lesson:

I. Ministry Privilege – Romans 15:15-17

The Jews, God’s chosen people, were given the privilege of hearing the

Gospel first, but when they rejected Christ (The Messiah), the opportunity to believe was given to the Gentiles (all who are not Jews).

Paul was very courageous in the way he spoke to the Romans because he had never been to Rome or assisted in the founding of the church. He did not question their beliefs or knowledge but was reminding them of the things they already knew.

The gift of grace mentioned in verse fifteen refers to the spiritual gifts given to him as a minister of Christ.

Paul was not neglecting the Jews by giving a special ministry to the Gentiles. Ministering simply means to serve as a priest and that word (ministering) only appears five times in the New Testament. Paul believed he was functioning as a priest when he preached the gospel. As a priest one of his primary duties was to offer sacrifices. The Gentiles became an offering to God when they came to believe in Christ through the preaching of the gospel. When the Gentiles came to believe, it was not just for their belief but also to glorify God and give Him (God) pleasure. So, Paul was the priest who presented the converted Gentiles to God through Christ. All Paul wanted to do was to glorify God and he gave to all of us the example of using vacation or off-times to spread the gospel.

II. Ministry Power – Romans 15:18-21

Sometimes Christians need to be reminded that no one is

indispensable regardless of prominent positions they might hold in the church or in the world. Instead of boasting about things he had accomplished, Paul saw himself as just an instrument to be used by God. He ministered by both words and actions.

God has ordained preaching the gospel as the means to the end (eternal life with God). As believers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, etc., we can and should prepare the soil, plant and water the seed and cultivate when needed. God alone will produce the growth. (see 1Cor. 3:6).

In verse 19 Paul mentions “mighty signs and wonders.” Those were a part of the apostle’s ministry. Paul preached the gospel from Jerusalem all the way to the Roman province called Illyricum which was along the east coast of the Adrian Sea. It was the farthest Roman province in distance from Jerusalem.

Paul’s goal was to share the gospel and plant churches in places where people had never heard the gospel. His travels were not only a means of expanding God’s kingdom. It helped Paul avoid the problems of following someone else who had started a church. Paul just wanted to preach the gospel and avoid the practice of comparing old and new leaders. After Paul’s conversion he readily affirmed that God loves the Gentiles just as He loves all people.

III. Ministry Plans – Romans 15:22:27

Paul had planned to visit Rome many times but because he faced many

unexpected things on his missionary travels his plans were often interrupted. Paul had not planned to spend time in Rome on a permanent basis because he wanted to visit unreached areas rather than those areas that were already evangelized. Paul’s goal was to visit Spain, the next major body of land.

Before traveling to Spain, Paul had planned to spend time in Rome and hopefully receive financial assistance from the Roman Christians. He also wanted to spend time enjoying the fellowship of the Roman believers. Our lesson does not say whether or not Paul ever made it to Spain because he was arrested, released and then rearrested under Nero’s control. While Paul was writing the book of Romans he was headed to Jerusalem to deliver offerings for the poor. However, while he was in Jerusalem, he was arrested after being falsely accused and sent to Rome as a prisoner.

Many churches were planted in Macedonia, Achaia and the city of Corinth. As he traveled many were helped with their physical needs just as Jesus commanded us to do in Matt. 25:31-46. Looking further, Paul wrote in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

We must be willing to give just as much as has been given to us. The Gentiles had been given the benefits of spiritual blessings through the gospel just as given to the Jews. Because of that, the Gentiles were obligated to share their carnal things (material blessings) with the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem.

The book of Romans was Paul’s premier epistle and it provides content that is critical knowledge of Christian doctrine and Christian living. Take the time to read the entirety of Roman’s, chapter ten.

Application: The gospel of Jesus Christ is open to all people that they may become believers. When we speak of worship in the church, we know that is internal or within as the gospel is preached, songs are sung and believers participate in communion. However, to grow the church we must go outside the sanctuary where the poor and the lost dwell. We absolutely must minister to the unbeliever to expand God’s kingdom.

It is mandated that we do so in the Great Commission (Matt.28:19-20) which states, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The key words are Go, Baptizing and Teaching. It is our job to plant and to water but God gives the increase.

Valinda Livingston – Shiloh Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky

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