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Applying the Big Picture of Hope

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Applying the Big Picture of Hope

Romans 15:14-33                   March 17, 2002

 

Scripture Reading:

Introduction:

What do you hope for?

That question is as individual as each one of you out there in the pews.

That question is as wide open as the heavens, isn't it?

Indeed, hope places our expectation in God.

You are here today because your hope is in God.

The very word implies a desire for something good.

Romans 8:24-25 says, "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

Hope is well grounded and confident in the goodness of God.

What then is hope? It is looking forward with a positive expectation to that which is good and beneficial.

 HOPE = H-aving O-nly P-ositive E-xpectation.

Many of us have a great need to be able to consistently apply hope.

We tend to drift too quickly into negativism.

That is when we take over and tell God that he can't do something or that he won't.

We become spiritual dictators.

We play the "devil's advocate." But why should we give the devil any credibility?

Hope is the big picture we miss when we are sitting too close to the screen (Matt).

The closer you are the scarier it gets. But we need to back off to gain perspective.

It is too bad when we can't see hope because hope (along with faith and love – 1Cor. 13:13) is what we have to look forward to after we have done all we can do with God's help.

And we can look forward to it because now it is all in God's hands.

Now faith believes something can happen. And hope believes it will happen. And we can also add that love trusts God in how it will happen.

But we will be focusing on the aspect of hope in our message today in Romans 15:14-33.

Paul, in writing the Roman Christians, is now concluding his letter with the longest ending of any letter he has written.

He has addressed their problems and needs as a church with lengthy and convincing theological persuasion and argument.

He has brought them to the point where they should now understand the need for unity and be able to achieve it.

He has shown them what church unity looks like:

          A unified church will be effective in their relationships with each other.

          A unified church will be effective in acceptable worship to God.

          A unified church will be effective in each becoming like Christ.

Then he gave them a benediction of hope in 15:13 (a unified church will be effective in hope because they now have hope).

He has done all he can do. Now he must apply and express hope for himself and for them that his purpose (and God's purpose) will be accomplished.

These are the final brush strokes on the big picture of what he has hoped to accomplish by having written them.

Big Question:

What does Paul hope for the Roman Christians as the result of writing to them?

How must we apply the big picture of hope?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 14-16)

Paul knew he wasn't writing to either a new church plant or a deeply sinful one, but to one that knows and practices the faith.

He has written "quite boldly" on some points not necessarily to impart new knowledge but to "remind" them of what they really already knew.

In other words, the truth needed application to the situation at hand.

Paul also writes boldly because of the grace that God gave him – to bring the Gentiles into obedience to God.

The purpose here is that Paul sees himself like a priest who offers an acceptable sacrifice – and that sacrifice in this context is Gentile converts acceptable to God.

          B.      Implication

He hopes they will understand his purpose in helping them achieve what they have already begun.

We must apply the big picture of hope in our present situation.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 17-22)

God works miracles through Paul because he is God's point man to open up the Gentile world to the gospel.

Paul identifies the agent of his apostolic ministry (Christ) and its purpose (leading Gentiles to obey the Lord).

He also states the results of his ministry being from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum that he has fully proclaimed the gospel.

Even more important than geography is Paul's sense of having completed a significant phase of the ministry God has given him.

That ministry that God gave him was to be a pioneer missionary church planter "not building on someone else's foundation" – not that there is anything wrong with that if that is the ministry God gave you.

          B.      Implication

He hopes they will understand his circumstances in not coming to them sooner.

          We must apply the big picture of hope in our continuing circumstances.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 23-29)

Paul mentions his next three destinations: Jerusalem, Rome, and Spain.

He wants to let them know why it has taken him so long to get there, and also that when he does arrive, he probably won't stay long.

Rome is necessary for securing logistical support for the next phase of his ministry.

His previous home base was Antioch, but in reference to where he feels God is leading him now, he must move his base further west (Wycliffe relocation to FL).

Before all these plans can be carried out, he needs to bring to a successful climax his project of collecting money from the Gentile churches for the impoverished saints in the home city of Jerusalem.

So Paul has two reasons to come to Rome; a negative one (the hindrance of needing to complete the ministry in the east is now over) and a positive one (he longs to see them).

Still, Rome is not his final destination. He wants them to "assist" (delicate word) him with financial support to go to Spain.

In v. 27 we see why the collection is so important to Paul. It is not just a charitable project; it is also designed to bring the Jewish and Gentile believers into closer fellowship.

To make sure that actually happens and nothing goes astray, Paul, as the apostle to the Gentiles, must accompany the gift to Jerusalem in order to authenticate its purpose as a healing gesture.

In v. 29, Paul breathes a sigh of relief knowing that when the tension of dealing with the collection is over he will be able to come to them "in the full measure of the blessing of Christ."

          B.      Implication

He hopes they will understand his calling in planning to come to them now.

          We must apply the big picture of hope in our future plans.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 30-33)

Paul's frequent references to his own ministry as a "struggle" give us the reason why he requests their prayers.

Missions and ministry is dangerous and demanding work that urgently needs God's continuing oversight.

It is not that prayer itself isn't sometimes a struggle, but that here he is saying that prayer is necessary because of the nature of the work.

He asks prayer for two specific things; that he will be rescued from the unbelievers and that the saints in Jerusalem will accept the offering of the collection.

The natural result then would be that he could then come to them.

          B.      Implication

He hopes they will understand the urgency in prayer.

          We must apply the big picture of hope in persistent prayer.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Conclusion:

Big Answer:

What does Paul hope for the Roman Christians as the result of writing to them?

How must we apply the big picture of hope?

He hopes they will understand his purpose in helping them achieve what they have already begun.

We must apply the big picture of hope in our present situation.

He hopes they will understand his circumstances in not coming to them sooner.

          We must apply the big picture of hope in our continuing circumstances.

He hopes they will understand his calling in planning to come to them now.

          We must apply the big picture of hope in our future plans.

He hopes they will understand the urgency in prayer.

          We must apply the big picture of hope in persistent prayer.

Timeless Truth:

A caring church with a message of hope.

Romans 16:1-16

- Social Composition of the Early Church – broad but generally of the 'lower' classes.

- Organization of the Early Church – apparently loose.

- Women in the Early Church – more than a third of the 27 names mentioned in greeting are of women.

          They are a significant part.

          They have the same access to God that men enjoy.

          They are engaged in significant ministry.

Romans 16:17-27

- False teachers:

          Cause division

          Serve only themselves

          Talk smooth

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