Maturity of Faith
April 25, 2015
Roman 15, beginning in verse one, the title of our message "Maturity of Faith" what God desires for us is to grow in maturity of faith. By the way this is going to be our last message in the book of romans. I am going to miss the book of romans. It is just absolutely just rich in great theology and great help to us in our spiritual growth. Chapter 16 by the way is really personal greetings, he knows a lot of people. They are in the city of Rome, in the Church of Rome, so he sends a lot of greetings by name. We would do the same thing, you know, if we were writing a personal letter, we would say "hey say hi to so and so. And I know of that guy and I know him make sure you say hi to them". Another part of chapter 16 is that many of the people with him also want to send their greetings. So he says "hey so and so is with me, John is with me, he says hi. Steve is with me, he says hi. And so a lot of very very personal touches in chapter 16. But we are looking at chapter 15 because it continues on the theme that is building in our lives of maturity in faith.
Alright these last chapters in the book of Romans are so absolutely important because they are so practical, so straight forward. So absolutely encouraging because they are very clear in what maturity of faith looks like. Remember now, it is built on the foundation that Paul gave us in chapter 12. Where he says so strongly," I am beseeching you brothers, I am imploring you, offer your life as a sacrifice to God. Don’t be conformed to this world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind". See the point we've been saying is that when we came out of the world we brought a lot of the world with us. We brought a lot of junk. We brought a lot of those things that are not good or godly that really interfere with what God wants to do in our lives. Those are the things that he wants to take hold of. He is going to give us new thoughts, God's thoughts. God's ways. Way better. The point that his going to make is that it’s just a way better way to live. It’s just way better and it connects it to faith.
Notice the last verses of chapter 14, where he says "the faith that you have, have it as your own conviction before God but whatever is not from faith that is sin". So he is talking about being transformed, growing in maturity by living out of or from faith. In other words, you are bringing God into every equation. You are bringing God into every relationship. His principles, his ways, his thoughts then guide every conversation, every relationship, and every business deal. All of these, God is brought into every equation.
Chapter 15, Paul shows us that the maturity of faith, the transformation that comes by the renewing of your mind is well worth having because it’s just a way better way to live. It comes back to you in huge blessings. Consider the other side of that. Immaturity. Immaturity of faith is what causes division and strife and bickering. It’s that what causes someone to judge their brother or to look at their brother with contempt. This only causes strife and division and pain and hurt in relationships. Man, if you love God, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor. That is what it’s about. It has a bearing on our relationships. Love your neighbor, man. Its way better than the hurt and the bitterness and the brokenness that comes from the immaturity.
I. Living from Faith Brings Hope
What is maturity of faith looks like? That is what is so helpful here. It’s so practical and it’s important to understand that God wants us to grow. Any father is going to want his kids to grow and he is going to want his kids to grow in maturity. You know we have our granddaughter living with us and our grandson Ethan was over and we were out in the yard and he said "Throw me up grandpa, throw me up”. And so, you know he is three, his just turned three, so he is just the right size for that. "Okay help me out'. So he jumps a little and I just throw him up as high as I can throw him and he is just squealing with laughter. And so I just throw him up like that and then I, then I catch him. And then he said "Do it again, do it again grandpa. Do it again grandpa". "Okay". We throw him up again and I wait and I waited and waited and I catch him. And then “Do it again grandpa". Of course he is not up there that long but you get my point. Grandpa shoulders are getting tired and then Avia who is like seven and a half "Do it to me grandpa". (Sounds). "That is as far as I can go kiddo". Hey this is real fun when they are three. Am sure hoping when he is thirty his got more things in his life than this. My point is that God wants us to grow. He loves you, he loves me, and I want you to have a way better way in your life. It’s just way better. And I am going to show you what it looks like.
Chapter 15:1, now we who are strong, that is to say, growing in maturity ought to bear the weaknesses of those that are not strong, without strength. And not just please yourself. That word please, he is going to use many times and it is an interesting word. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good. For his edification. This is maturity.
And verse 3, hey even Christ did not please himself but as it is written, the reproaches of those who reproach thee fell upon me. For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction. He is referring here to the Old Testament scriptures. It was all written for your instructions so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope. He is going to build something. He is building and encouraging you to have this result in your life.
Now he says verse 5, may the God who gives perseverance and the God who gives encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus. Respect your brother. Be of one mind. That, verse 6, with one accord. That is an interesting verse there if you were ever wondering, does God have a particular car that Christians should drive, looks like it’s the accord right there. It’s okay, that was really Connie and I am sorry. That with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Great picture. Unity. One voice. What a beautiful picture. One voice. One herd. Glorifying God because there is maturity of faith. There is no this bickering and division and strife.
Therefore, verse 7, accept one another and all the differences as Christ accepted us to the glory of God. And then he goes on to say about Christ. Listen I say, Christ has become a servant to the circumcision, that's to the Jews on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers and he was a servant to the gentiles to glorify God for his mercy. That is an interesting thing. Both Jews and gentiles. Oh is there a lot of difference between them. But God's heart is to serve and to love on both. Great picture.
And then I love what he does next. These next verses he just goes boom boom boom boom. One verse after the other to support his point. I love that style of teaching. Verse 9 says, "As it is written therefore I will give praise to thee among the gentiles and I will sing to your name". In another place, verse 10, "rejoice O you gentiles with his people". And another place, verse 11,"praise the Lord O you gentiles and let all the peoples praise him". And then again in Isaiah, "there shall come the root of Jesse", that is Jesus, "and he who arises to rule over the gentiles. In him shall the gentiles hope"? All these vast differences between Jews and gentiles but God loves and serves and reaches out to them all. Verse 13 is like an anchor point. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing"? Faith in believing. May the god of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I will just love that verse.
What a picture. I want you to be filled with joy. I want you to be filled with peace in your faith because you are going to be abounding in hope. In other words, it’s just way better. It’s just a way better way to live. Won’t you rather just to have the joy of the Lord, the peace that passes human understanding, the hope as an anchor to your soul? It’s just way better. And he goes on in verse 14 "and concerning you my brethren, I myself am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness". He thought highly of that church. "You are filled with knowledge and able to admonish or teach one another but I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again because of the grace that was given to me from God”.
Now I want to go back over these verses because he makes an interesting point. That maturity of faith brings about a result that is so worth having and so desiring. He is saying listen, when you live from your faith it brings hope to your life. It brings something back to you. Now remember Paul thought highly of this church and they had a reputation for strong faith. It was widely known. We read that in romans 1:8. "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all because your faith is been proclaimed throughout the whole world". I just love that verse. Wouldn’t that be awesome if that could be said of our church? Oh that church? I know that church. That is the church where there is strong faith. You can see it. There is maturity. That is a great church because they are standing on the word and they are growing through it. Won’t that just be an awesome reputation? Oh everybody knows that. I love that. But they still needed more. They needed to grow. Everybody needs to grow no matter how mature you are or you think you are, God wants you to grow more. You still need more. And he tells them how, by changing their perspective.
Paul says I wrote to you on some pretty strong points because I want you to have a new mind. I want to renew your mind. Get rid of the old completely. I am going to bring new, better. Paul says when you live from your faith or out of your faith, it’s just a way better life. It strengthens hope. Hope is something we cannot do without. The prisoners of war in Vietnam said that if it was not for hope they would not have kept alive. We need hope. We cannot survive without it because sometimes life can be very discouraging. People get beaten down by life. Depressed. Wearied. Broken relationships, heaviness of daily life. But when you offer your life to God as a living sacrifice, when you are been transformed because God is renewing your mind, old thoughts, old ways are being replaced with God's thoughts and God's ways, you are growing in your faith. If you are growing in your faith, something is being built inside you. You are abounding, you are growing in hope and it goes on very clearly in chapter 15 of what it means. What is it that it looks like? And it looks like this: bear one another’s burdens. This is maturity of faith.
We were studying the context of this and the last couple of chapters. Maturity of faith is what causes us to, love your brother, respect one another, and love your brother. Don’t offend. Don’t easily be offended. Don’t just please yourself. Bear one another’s burdens. Love your brother man. Don’t just please yourself. That is an interesting word there “please” because it kind of captures a phrase that is often heard in our culture. Am sure you've heard people say it. "I would do as I please". Captures the exact theme in its opposite. No one is going to, I will do as I please.
A. Bear one another’s burdens
No one is going to tell me what to do.it captures that sense of self. Me. I am the captain of my own soul and I will do as I please. God says, let me tell you something, that’s not going to work out so well. There is a better principle here. Don’t just please yourself. Bear one another’s burdens. This is maturity. This is what faith looks like in the reality of life. Now that word bear is really important. It means something. It means to carry, to support, to lay on ones shoulders someone else’s burdens. Christ is our example in that but he goes on to say it is not--, sometimes we have a sense of putting up with someone. We tolerate. That is not the bearing one another’s burden he is talking about. Oh I am just tolerating the relationship. That’s not it at all. No, you carry, you bear. So this is what maturity of faith looks like. Not just please yourself. Don’t take that I will do as I please. Have this heart. This is the heart of Christ. Maturity, which goes against the grain of the culture in which we are living. We are living in a very self-absorbed, self-focused culture in which that approach to life is highly praised.
Maybe we could look at it from this perspective. Have you ever met a spoilt child? I am sure you have. But have you ever met a spoilt child that was actually happy? I have never yet met a spoilt child that was happy. Every spoilt child I have ever met is whining and complaining all the time. You know what is interesting. I have met a lot of adult like that. There is a better way to live.
Notice in Mathews 16:25, principle of God's heart right here. “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it”. The one who takes that I will do as I please approach to life, he says let me tell you right now, it does not work out well for you. Here is the principle. Here is the principle. Whoever would lose his life for my sake you going to find it. This is where your life comes from. Trust me, this is maturity of faith. Faith says I believe God's principles are right because they came to me from God and his way is good and he wants to bless my life. He goes on to say what it would profit a man if he gains the whole world and he forfeits his soul. Or what would a man give in exchange for his soul. See if we can only see the way God sees. The value of our soul. He said listen, if somebody offered you the whole world in exchange for your soul won't be a good deal. What is your soul worth? What is your soul worth? Oh if you could only understand the value, the worth of your soul, the price that God paid to redeem it, your soul is important. The condition of your soul. See if a person focusses on pleasing themselves, their soul is sick and if you have ever sensed your soul is sick, it’s not pleasant at all. That spiritual yuckiness of Oh God this life, something is wrong. Something is very very wrong. Something really missing here. There is something really broken here.
God says, I am going to show you how that is healed. I want to show you a much better way to live. He is showing us and pointing us the way to true happiness and fulfilment of life. Living out of your faith. Honoring God with your life. Bringing God into every equation. Trusting that his way is right. See when you get your eyes off of yourself and you start building and edifying others, now you are living out of your faith. Now you are trusting God and you’re the one whose now is going to be built and edified because God is going to do it. Trust God. You are going to find hope arising.
Here is a verse I have used many times, very powerful, I want to use it again but I want us to focus on the other. Notice "let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth". Alright, we've seen this verse, very powerful. The key word there is the word No. let no. none, nada, nichevo, let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth. This is maturity of faith. God I believe your principle is right. I believe that if I would take hold of your principles, you are the one who’s going to bless my life. I know that if I would watch the words that I speak that there is a principle of blessing that comes. Notice what it says, but only such a word that is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it gives grace to those who hear. Aah give grace. Speak words of grace.
Build up, edify, let the words that proceed from your mouth be words of blessings and good. Edify. Just do not please yourself. I will say what I want to say. Well, that is not going to work out so well. Say words that bless and edify.
You know there is an old saying that many think is in the bible but it is not. That old saying is this: God helps those who helps themselves. That is not in the bible. I remember I was back in the restaurant business, I was partners in this restaurant, we were working with another owner in another chain and he knew I was a Christian and so he thought he would connect with me. Hey I know a scripture. God helps those who help themselves. That is not in the bible. The principle that is in the bible is this: God blesses those who help others. That is the principle in God's word.
B. Christ is our example
Luke 6: 38, "give", this is Jesus teaching. “Give and it will be given to you, because God will see to it”. He is the blesser. They will pour into your lap a good measure, press down, and shake them up together and running over for by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Trust me on this. That is maturity of faith. And then he goes on to say, now listen, Christ is our example. He examples that for us. He didn't please himself. He took our burdens, he carried our reproach. He did it to please his father. There is a huge difference between what we might call just obedience and obedience by faith. Obedience by faith, I do it God because I want to please you. I know that you are the blesser. I want to do it your way God. It’s just a better way.
Let me give you a verse. Would you open your bibles to Philippian 2? Just a few pages to the right. Philippians 2, beginning in verse 5, these verses you might want to underline or highlight because they are really powerful important verses for a believer. Philippians 2 starting at verse 5, listen to how it starts. “Have this attitude in yourselves that was in Christ Jesus". Right there you go. Renewing your mind. Set your life next to the plumb line mind of God and build it straight and true. This is how. Have this mind, have this heart, have this attitude in you that was in Christ. He explains it." who although he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or held on to but he emptied himself, taking the form of a born servant and being made in the likeness of men”. Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on the cross. Aah but the blessing that came.
Notice verse 9, therefore also God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth. That at the name of Jesus, every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the God the father. That is powerful. There is the example of Christ.
But then he takes that example and he presses it into our lives with a very important principle found in Mathew 20:26-28, this is Jesus teaching. Notice how he says it "whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant". Now notice that he does not correct them or rebuke them for the desire to be great. He says wonderful. You want something great in your life, awesome.
You desire greatness in the spirit, great. Wonderful. But you do not get there through the ways of the world. I am going to give you something far better than that. God’s way. Now you got to trust me because it is not intuitive. You got to trust me because this is not the way the world does it. So you got to trust me on this. Now maturity of faith says I will trust you on this. Then it goes this way, whoever wishes to be great shall be your servant .Really Lord? Really do I have to do that Lord? I am not sure I really want to do that. That is because you are speaking out of your old way.
Trust me, there is a better, Godlier, more excellent way. Whoever wishes to be first, he shall be your slave. Look at the son of man he didn't come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. He is our example in loving those that are very different. An example the Samaritans. He reached out with grace, with God's love, with the gospel, brought them as an example of compassion. Remember the story.
Well first of all a little background. Who are the Samaritans and why was this a problem? The Jews absolutely despised the Samaritans. These Samaritans lived up in the northern area and they, I mean, the fact they were despicable people. Why such strong feelings? .This goes all the way back to when Syria came in and destroyed the northern kingdom, exiled so many of the people living there, brought some other people to live there instead they intermarried with those that had remained, created some kind of quasi somewhat looking Jewish thing but golden cast but it was a mess and boy did the enmity start. Jews would not have anything to do with them. Those despicable people. And here comes Jesus. Sees a Samaritan woman who’s by this well. And so he comes up to the woman and he says give me a drink. Now this is right out of John 4:9. But get her perspective. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to him, now how is it that you being a Jew ask me for a drink being a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. How can this be? She is shocked by it. Jesus responded, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that says to you give me a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water". A conversation ensues and at the end of it she says, “Sir give me this water". She then comes to faith. She goes and gets the whole village. They come to faith. These are all Samaritans. Shocking but a tremendous example.
And another point Jesus was asked by some lawyers, “Sir, what is the highest and foremost of all commands that God has ever spoken, Jesus, you know the answer?" he said," The highest and foremost is this: you shall love the Lord your God with all your hearts, soul, mind and strength. And the second is much like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself". On these two commandments hang the entire law and prophet. In other words the whole Old Testament is hang on those two things. So the man no doubt thinking he was clever said, “Well just who is my neighbor?". So Jesus answered. There was a Jewish man who was travelling from Jerusalem down to Jericho. On the way, on the road he fell in the hands of robbers. And they took him, they beat him, they stripped him, they left him half dead on the road. And who should come by sometime later but a Jewish priest who saw him and crossed to the other side. Then sometime later a Levi came, saw the man there, and crossed to the other side. But then a Samaritan sees him there. Now these Samaritans they knew very well the way the Jews thought of them. They knew that the Jews hated and despised them. but Luke 10:33, but a Samaritan was on a journey, came upon him and when he saw him he felt compassion and he bandaged up his wounds, put him on his donkey, brought him to an inn, paid the man two denarii, two days of wage and said if there is any still owed, I will pay when I return. Then Jesus said, "now of the three proved to be the neighbor?" they answered, “the Samaritan". "Correct. Now you go and you do the same".
II. Be Encouraged and Persevere
What does it take to love your neighbor? Well, it’s so practically said here, in the last chapter in this one. Walk according to love. That is what it takes. Walk according to love. Pursue the things that make for peace. Pursue is an active word. Pursue the things that make for peace. Don’t offend, don't easily be offended. Edify. Build others up. Let the words that come from your mouth build others up. Guess what? You will be the one that is blessed.
A. Bear fruit with perseverance
It’s going to come back to you. And then he goes on to say, be encouraged and persevere". In other words God is saying look, I am going to bless you. I am going to bless you. I am going to build you up so that you can persevere in this. The word persevere here means to love steadfastly. Bear your brothers burden and do not stop. Do not quit. Do not give up. Do not give up. Don’t quit. Don’t give up on your brother. Don’t give up on your relationship. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Persevere. See he is saying bear fruit with perseverance. Bear fruit. He is talking about maturity of faith here. Bear fruits. Interesting how perseverance and encouragement are connected together. Bearing the weaknesses and the burdens of others can be wearisome. It can wear you down if you are not encouraged. God is going to encourage you. If you are encouraged and strengthened in faith, there is always heart.
Galatians 6:9 "Do not lose heart in doing well for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary". Don’t grow tired. Don’t grow weary. Don’t lose heart because you are going to reap something.
It is going to come back to you. And you know what, I am going to encourage you. I am going to build you. God is saying, I am going to build you up. Now, isn't it an interesting word this encouragement. I do not like to bring the Greek in because it is not easy to get a hold of but there is an important word here that I think we should get. Pericles’s in the Greek. It’s a word that describe the Holy Spirit. He is the periclip. The one who comes along the side and the picture is two people walking together and the periclep is the one who is walking alongside. One is discouraged, is beaten down, life’s troubles, discouraged, he comes along along the side just speaking words of life, encouragement, consolation, comfort. Words that stir up, words that encourage, words that instruct, words that persuade. It’s a great picture. But it is also a picture not just of the one who is speaking but also of the one who is hearing. Because there is a longing I want to hear that. There is an openness to the word. Speak. Thank you. I was so discouraged, you came alongside and encouraged me. I was so distressed, disturbed and you spoke words of life to me. You comforted me. There is an eagerness. You can see just that walking together in that relationship.
I love Amos 3:3,"unless two are in agreement how can they walk together?” It is that picture of common heart. See this is really important because Jesus says to us in these verses I am going to give you a word of encouragement. I am going to give you that word of encouragement. You know all the words that were formally written out of the Old Testament, they were all written to encourage you. And now we have the New Testament, it’s all written to encourage you. You know that every gift of the Holy Spirit is given to encourage, to build up and to edify. I am going to encourage you. You know if we would take a stone and just skip it right through the Old Testament we will find verse upon verse upon verse that just encourages us.
Let me give you some examples the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down on green pasture, he restores my soul and even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil for you are with me. You are right in your in staff. You comfort me. Here is another one the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life. Who should I dread? Though a host in camp against me my heart will not fear. Though war arise against me, in spite of these, I shall be confident. Here is another one, I lift up my eyes to the hills where does my help come from. My help comes from the Lord. Maker of heaven and earth. Here is another one, unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain to build it. Unless the Lord guards the city the watchman keeps awake in vain. It’s vain to rise up early, to retire late, and to eat the bread of painful labors, for it is he who gives to his beloved even while he sleeps. Here is another one, do you not know have you not heard the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, He 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.
one last one, though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock be cut out of the fold and there be no cattle’s in the stalls, yet still I will exalt the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, the Lord God is my strength and makes my feet like the feet of a deer and he makes me walk on high places. I don't know about you, but those are encouraging words. Am going to come alongside of you. I am going to speak words. I am going to encourage you. You are down trodden. I give you rest. You are hurt and broken I will comfort you. You are weak and lost I will strengthen you.
But there is a key. There is a very important key. And this is found in Luke 8 where Jesus is teaching and he says you know the word of God is like a farmer sowing his seed, and then some seeds fall on different types of soils or different kinds of hearts of people. Notice this, Jesus says the seed now that fell among the thorns, these are the ones who heard but as they go on their way they are chocked with worries, riches, and pleasures of this life. Get this, and they bring no fruit to maturity. There is no fruit to maturity. They’ve heard the word but there is no fruit. Ah but listen but the seed that is sown in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word, but they have the word but they have heard the word in an honest and good heart and they hold it fast. I love that fast. I love that phrase. They take hold of it. They hold on to it. They hold on to it fast and it says and they bear fruit with perseverance, steadfastness.
B. Persevere in love
What is he saying back to romans 15, he perseveres in his love. Love your brother, persevere in it. Be steadfast in it. These last chapters are about loving your brother. You love God, then love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. See here is the thing he is trying to show us, God is love. That is who he is. And when you build your life next to the plumb line of God you build your life next to that heart. He is love and he wants you to love and me to love. That is why he says in verse 5, he says listen this is how it is going to be seen. Be of the same mind be of the same mind with one another so that you can glorify God with one accord. No bickering and strife and division and brokenness. Maturity is blessing. Accept one another as Christ accepted us and then he uses the example of Christ reaching out to the Jews, reaching out to the gentiles. Oh, there is a lot of difference but he brings them together. This is a great mystery he says but the two shall become one. Under the banner and the blood of Christ Jesus. Amazing.
C. In believing you will abound in hope
You know what the scripture say about God's heart towards the Jews. All day long I hold out my hand to a rebellious and difficult people. Well you know what? He can say the same thing about us. His love does not fail, does not quit. He perseveres, he perseveres in that love. He says I want you to persevere. Do not quit. Persevere. Because you know what, it is a way better way to live.
Notice verse 13 it’s an anchor here, in believing you will abound in hope the result of faith, maturity of faith. It’s just a powerful verse. Now the God of hope, he is hope. He is the God of hope and he will fill you with all joy and peace in believing and you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. What a beautiful picture for us. Just a way better way to live. Wouldn’t you just love to have your heart filled with joy? It is just way better. Would you love to have your life filled with peace? It’s just better. Abounding in hope, not just a little hope, not just kind of somewhat hope, you are going to be abounding. It is a foundation. What’s your hope built on? My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. That is the point. That is the point. There is a hope steadfast and sure. It’s just better. Having hope as a foundation, it’s just a way better way to live.
Notice Paul’s life, you know on the second half of chapter 15, he expresses to them that he has every expectation of coming to see them. He says now listen pray for me, I am going to stop in Jerusalem, pray that that goes well and then I am going to go to Spain. When I go to Spain, I am going to stop in, I am going to see you. We going to sit down together. We going to enjoy one another’s company. Oh I cannot wait for that. Well guess what I did not work out that way. Did his life get run of course? He got to Rome. He did finally get to Rome. Yes, under the guard of a roman centurion as a prisoner. And all the way, ship. Middle of the sea, Mediterranean, a storm, horrendous storm. Two weeks in a hurricane force storm in the middle of the Mediterranean. Can you just imagine this and the ships of those days, you know sailing ship in the middle of the hurricane like this. Everything was lost. They threw everything over the board even the ship's tackle. And he says all hope was lost. Except for Paul. He stood up in the midst of them, men be strengthened, be strengthened. Not one hair of your head will be lost. Now that's just an expression, they lost some hairs.
The point is, no life will be lost here. Strengthen men. Now they lost the ship, ship wrecked off the coast of Malta, they came dragged into shore but no life was lost. They lit a big bonfire to get all dried, a snake, a viper comes out and lurches on Paul’s hand, and he shakes it off and keeps on going. Paul, oh he has got a hope, sure and steadfast. Just a way better way to live.
You know how a lot of people are, do you know how a lot of people are? You know that verse I quoted earlier from Habakkuk 3, though the fig tree should not blossom, you know why people are. they say you know what Lord if the blossom of the fig tree is not there and there is no fruit on the vines and if the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food and yes if the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no cattle in the stalls, well guess what, I am out of here. You are not getting me to push around anymore. If that’s the way you going to treat me, am out. Paul says you know what have got a better way than that. I have a hope and assurance steadfast and no matter what storm comes and no matter what happens in my life, I tell you what, I have an anchor for my soul. I prefer that way. I prefer that way. We have been through our own storms and I tell you what, it’s better to an anchor.
Hebrews chapter 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. The God of hope will fill you with joy and peace in believing and you will abound in hope and that is just a way better way to live.
Father thank you for your word that strengthens our soul, that shows us the way to maturity of faith but God we know this, you are the one that does it, you encourage, you strengthen, you come alongside, you speak those words, but God we know that we got to open our hearts. We need to open our hearts to hear it, to receive it, to want it, to long for it. Church, this morning, this day, would you say that to the Lord? I want your word, I want this to be true in me. I want that maturity. God I want my heart to be filled with that joy, that peace abounding and hope. I want that anchor for my soul. God would you come alongside and you speak those words of life and encouragement. God I need you and I am opening my heart to you. Would you come alongside and just fill my life with your joy, your peace, your spirit. Would you just raise your hand and say that to the Lord. God I want, I am raising my hand because I want you to know my heart, I want you to know my prayer, I am asking God would you take hold and fill and I just want to live that way because I know it is the way of greatest blessing. Just raise your hand and say that to the Lord.
- 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,