Thursday, May 3, 2018

2018.05.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 16:17-27

Questions for Littles: What kind of people should the Roman church members take note of (v17)? To what is division-causing and offense-causing contrary? What should the Roman church members do with these people? What kind of words do such division-causers use (v18)? What does the Lord want us to be wise in (v19)? In what does He want us to be simple? Who is soon going to crush whom under believers’ feet (v20)? What blessing does Paul give at the end of v20 and again in v24? Who else greets them in vv21-23? According to what is God able to establish them (v25)? What has happened with this gospel, according to v26? Whom is Paul praising in vv25-27? What does he use the last words of this great letter to do?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we come to the end of the book of Romans.

Of all the applications with which he could have concluded, Paul chooses to warn them to avoid people who cause divisions and offenses.

Is someone speaking ill of others in the church? Don’t listen to them. Avoid them. Are they trying to get you to be offended at them? Don’t listen to them. Avoid them.

The doctrine that we have learned is that the church is one body with many members. The doctrine that we have learned is to live at peace with all men, as far as possible.   The doctrine that we have learned is how Christ has given Himself out of love for the us. The doctrine that we have learned is to deal lovingly with those with whom we disagree.

Sadly, it is not a new problem that people stir up strife and create lines of division in the churches. And we know from other passages (2Cor 2:8-11; 1Pet 5:5-9; etc.) that this is a chief strategy of Satan himself.

Thankfully, we need only heed the Lord’s instructions, because we do so in the knowledge and confidence that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet!

Interestingly, the conclusion of the letter is itself an example of two things that strengthen the church against division: greetings and praise.

One of the things that division-causers do is to refuse to interact with whomever they are dividing from. It’s difficult to maintain hostility with a brother with whom you are interacting.

Another thing that they do is stop worshiping. They might attend bodily and not mentally. Or, they might start skipping altogether. But they do not enter into the eager, passionate kind of praise that we see in vv25-27. Offense and division are maintained by taking ourselves too seriously. And a wonderful antidote to this is taking the praise of God’s glory far more seriously!

Oh, dear reader, let us maintain unity by clinging tightly to whatever Scripture teaches! And let us avoid division-causers, taking time to greet one another, and eagerly and passionately praising God together!
Whom do you know that gossips about church members? What would God have you do?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or HB473 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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