14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offeringacceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
MacArthur's introduction to this passage....
The body of the letter is over. It ran from chapter 1 verse 18, after the 17-verse introduction, beginning in verse 18 clear through verse 13 of chapter 15 which we concluded last week. That's the main body which is a beautiful description of salvation by grace through faith with all of its implications. Now in this concluding section, having given them his theology, he gives them his heart. Having described to them his doctrine, he gives them his own soul. Having told them what he believes to be the truth of God, he now tells them some of his own ministry perceptions.
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
Here Paul basically reassures them that his epistle was not written to them because he thought they were the lowest of the low. No, Paul knows that they are genuine believers and he has written this letter to encourage them and strengthen them.
When people ask me to whom I preach I always say I preach to the most committed people in the congregation. I'm not interested in scolding the marginal people, I think the Spirit of God will work in their hearts. I am interested in feeding and strengthening and encouraging those who are already committed to the truth of God because they're the strength of the church. And when someone is confronted with the truth, it is not the reflection of a low estimate, it is the reflection, as in the case of Paul, of an estimate that says I know your character and virtue is such that you will take what I say and apply it to the glory of God in your own blessing.
The Roman church appears to have been a healthy one. There was no particular sin issue that Paul needed to address, like he did with the Corinthians and Galatians. On the contrary, he commends the church strongly here.
They are full of goodness - they are rich in moral character, in the fruit of the spirit, they hate sin and love righteousness. This doesn't mean they were perfect, they were not And they still needed Paul's boldness and convicting challenges in order to strengthen their sincere faith. In other words - they were already a great church and Paul's prayer was for them to be an even greater one.
They are complete in knowledge - they are doctrinally and theologically sound.
They are competent to instruct one another - in other words, because of their moral character and because of their sound doctrine, they are competent to hold each other accountable and admonish one another. You don't need a degree to be qualified to counsel someone - you need moral character and sound doctrine - and that is just as true today.
If they were such a great church, why did Paul write them?
15 I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again
Paul wasn't telling them anything new, he was reminding them of truths they already knew. There is always room for growth. They is always room for improvement. None of us have "arrived" spiritually. We have never become the best that we could possibly be. We can all use godly reminders.
We do, after all, tend to forget things. In fact, if we went back and re-read Romans 1, I bet we'd all have forgotten some of the interpretation and things we learnt in our study on Romans - and we just did it! We forget. We need to be reminded.
And often the best way to be reminded is to hear the same truth presented in a slightly different way. When we hear the exact same thing word for word, we tend to think "Oh, I already know that" and tune out. But when we hear it in a fresh way, we are reminded and perhaps even understand it more deeply. And that is Paul's intent.
But even more than that...
because of the grace God gave me
Basically, he wrote to the Romans because God told him to. As MacArthur put it, Paul was given the grace of a divine mandate to proclaim the truth.
This was the cause of his ministry. I have spoken to you more boldly than you might have expected me to speak, I have spoken to you more directly than you might have anticipated I should speak, and the reason I've done that is because there's a grace of God that infuses my life that compels me to speak the way I speak....
so should any believer with whatever his or her spiritual gift might be understand that same compulsion. For all of us have been given gifts from the Spirit of God which the Spirit of God by grace compels to be used. And a committed Christian understands that duty.
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offeringacceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
First of all, all believers are priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9, Revelation 20:6) - we don't have to go through any person to get to God. Jesus has made that possible for us and done away with the need for the OT priesthood. But Paul uses this as an illustration for what he is doing.
as a priest he presents his offering to God, a spotless sanctified group of Gentiles washed in the water of regeneration, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ through saving faith. And this, beloved, this is the only priesthood there is in the new covenant. It's the priesthood of Christian ministry. Not to offer atonement for sin but by preaching the gospel of God to unsaved people, winning them to Christ, we then offer them back to Him as an acceptable offering....
what are you offering God? Do you have any such spiritual sacrifice to hold up to His altar?
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 15:17-22