- Sermon Notes
Maturity of Faith
These last chapters in the book of Romans are some of the most practical and encouraging chapters in the Bible because they give such a clear and tangible understanding of what mature faith looks like.
Paul said in chapter 12, “I beseech you, I implore you, to offer your life as a living sacrifice to God… And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
In other words, when you offer your life as a living sacrifice to God, He will transform you, He’ll change you so that you have His thoughts and His ways rather than the old thoughts and old ways you had when you were in the world.
Paul connects that transformation to faith; verses 22-23, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God… and whatever is not from faith is sin.”
We are transformed when we are growing in maturity of faith - and then live ‘out of’ that faith or ‘from’ that faith in all things. It brings God into every equation.
In chapter 15, Paul shows us that the maturity of faith, the transformation that comes from the renewing of the mind, is well worth desiring because of what it brings about in our lives.
Immaturity of faith is what causes someone to judge their brother or to look at their brother with contempt. But that only causes strife and brings division and hurt in relationships. If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself, then you have peace in your relationships; you have love in your heart and that’s way better than hurt, bitterness and broken relationships.
What does maturity of faith look like? That’s what makes these chapters so compelling, Paul is practical and clear as he describes what maturity of faith looks like.
I. Living from Faith Brings Hope
- Paul thought highly of the church there in Rome. They had a reputation for strong faith that was widely known.
Romans 1:8, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
- But they needed to continue maturing in their faith, there’s much further to go. And here he tells them how, by changing their perspective.
- But Paul also says that when you live “out of” or ‘from’ your faith, it strengthens hope.
- Hope is something we cannot do without. Those who were prisoners of war in Vietnam said that it was only hope that kept them alive.
- But sometimes life can become very discouraging. People get beaten down, depressed and weary from broken relationships and the heaviness of daily life.
- But when you offer your life as a living sacrifice to God, when you are being transformed because God is renewing your mind, when you’re old thoughts and your old ways are being replaced with God’s thoughts and God’s ways, you’re growing in your faith – and if you’re growing your faith, you’re growing in hope.
A. Bear one another’s burdens
- We were studying the context of these verses last week; maturity of faith should cause us to love our brother and not offend them or be easily offended. Don’t just please yourself, bear one another’s burdens. Love your brother.
- The word ‘bear’ means to carry, support or to place on your own shoulders. It doesn’t mean to tolerate or put up with someone else’s burdens or weaknesses.
- This is what maturity of faith looks like. “Don’t just please yourselves,” Paul said. This goes against the whole culture in which we are living. Many are extremely self-absorbed and self-focused.
Illus - Have you ever met a spoiled, selfish child that was actually happy? I haven’t, every one was miserable. The same is true of adults.
Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
- In other words, the condition of your soul is extremely important. When a person focuses on pleasing themselves, the result is a soul that is sick.
- Paul is pointing the way to true happiness and fulfillment in life; it’s living ‘out of’ your faith.
- When you get your eyes off of yourself and start building and edifying others, you will be edified and built up yourself. You will find hope arising.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
- There is an old saying that many wrongly think is in the Bible, “God helps those who help themselves” Actually, a better saying would be, “God blesses those who help others.”
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
B. Christ is our example
- Christ Jesus did not please Himself, Paul said, but instead He carried our burdens and took our reproach.
- He pleased His Father. There’s a big difference between obedience and obedience by faith. Jesus carried our burdens because it pleased His Father.
Philippians 2:5-11 Have this same mind in you…
Matthew 20:26-28, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
- Jesus is also our example in loving those that are different from us and gave parables that taught that lesson. He brought the gospel to a Samaritan woman, yet Samaritans were despised by the Jews.
- He also used a Samaritan to teach what it meant to love your neighbor.
John 4:9, Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Luke 10:33, “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,”
- What does it take to love your neighbor? Walk according to love, pursue the things which make for peace, don’t offend or easily be offended, edify and build others up… And you’ll be the one blessed.
II. Be Encouraged and Persevere
- In verse 4 – God’s word instructs us so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
- God is building and edifying your faith that you might persevere with one another. In other words, loving your brother requires patience and perseverance; so God encourages your faith and builds your maturity.
A. Bear fruit with perseverance
- It’s interesting that perseverance and encouragement are connected together and the result is hope.
- In other words, bearing the weaknesses or burdens of others can be wearisome if you’re not encouraged; but if you are encouraged and strengthened in your faith, you have hope.
Galatians 6:9, Do not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
- The word for encouragement here is important; it’s the Greek word paraklesis and it gives us the picture of someone walking alongside and speaking words of comfort, consolation, admonishment or encouragement; words that stir us and instruct and persuade us.
- God says in this chapter that what was written in earlier times, the Old Testament, is used by the Holy Spirit -- to speak into our lives, to build perseverance and strengthen faith.
- The picture of someone walking alongside with encouraging words suggests that we welcome those words and are eager to hear them.
Amos 3:3, Unless two are in agreement, how can they walk together?
Luke 8:14-15, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
B. Persevere in love
- These last chapters are about loving your brother. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. God is love and when you build your life next to the plumb line of God, you also love.
- Verse 5 – be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus so that you can glorify God with one accord and with one voice.
- Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us.
- Jesus was a servant to the circumcision, the Jews, to confirm the promises given to them. And he was a servant to the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy.
Illus - Consider the patience, the perseverance of God’s love to endure difficult people, both Jews and Gentiles, and us included; God is asking us to also persevere with patience because of love.
C. In believing you will abound in hope
- Verse 13 – He is the God of hope and He will fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope by the Holy Spirit.
- There is a direct connection between a living and active faith and the assurance of hope.
- Remember the Greek word here is not like the English. We often use the word hope to mean uncertainty, but the Greek word means a joyful and confident expectation. He is the God of hope, that’s where our hope comes from.
- Later in this chapter Paul writes that he has every expectation of coming to see them there in Rome when he travels to Spain.
- Verse 30, 32 – “Strive together with me in your prayers to God… so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.”
- Paul did finally make it to Rome, but it was completely different than his expectation. He wasn’t on his way to Spain, he was a prisoner under Roman guard.
- It would seem he was blown off course, or was he? Arrested and falsely accused, he appealed to Caesar which was his right as a Roman citizen.
- But along the way, they endured a raging storm in the middle of the Mediterranean for two weeks. All hope was lost, but Paul’s faith encouraged them all. Then they were shipwrecked on the island of Malta, and Paul even was bitten by viper.
- Paul took all the storms of life in stride. He was convinced that God was still the captain of his soul no matter what storm he endured.
Hebrews 6:18-19, We who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor to the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…
- Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”
- To be filled up with joy and peace in believing so that we can abound in hope is just simply a much better way to live. It begins with opening your heart to be willing to be changed by the renewing of your mind.
Ephesians 3:16-19, Be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man… to know the love of Christ and be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Scriptures to encourage the soul and strengthen faith:
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures; he restores my soul… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.
I lift up mine eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain to rise up early, to retire late; to eat the bread of painful labors; for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not faint.
Romans 15:1-14 NASB
1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me." 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. 8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,