“Wrestling With Romans”
God’s Shop Window (Chapter 10 Verses 1-21)
The Apostle asks, “Did they not hear?” “Of course they did”, he answers (v18). Then he quotes four Old Testament passages verifying how Israel heard the message of salvation, finishing with Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 65.2). They heard the clear presentation of the gospel, by God’s servants, by the Lord himself and his Apostles. Israel had no excuse, that they were not saved, why? Because of their own failure to submit to God’s righteousness (v3), they preferred to do it their way, they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:20). and they lost out, it cost them everything. But Paul takes no delight in that whatever, he doesn’t gloat, he doesn’t condemn, or criticize, he just states the facts. But he also burns with an holy desire that they would yet be saved (Romans 9.1-3; 10.1). May it please God that something of that would rub off upon us in our day, that we too may burn with such a desire for our own nations. Yes they too have heard the message, yes, you could write the same anthem across our nation, the UK today, ‘I did it my way.’ But we take no delight in pointing that out, nor do we want to take time to criticise. May it please God that my time, your time be spent in building what is relevant to our situations, gospel ministries. Churches where people can come, and in a suitable, godly, reverent atmosphere, one charged with the presence of God’s Spirit, and hear about Jesus, the mighty to save (v17). This is need of the day wherever we live.
There are five characteristics that need to be developed in order to achieve the above, I leave you to think them through and work out. 1. A leadership that empowers, that builds, encourages discipleship and develops other leaders, i.e., pastors and preachers. 2. A passionate spirituality, saturated with a love for Jesus Christ. 3. The kind of worship services that inspire, with people are there because they want to be there, folk filled with a desire to worship God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. 4. The development of others abilities, or gifts if you like, seeking to build people up, giving them responsibility, helping and encouraging them to take on more. That’s how Jesus produced his men. 5. The building of loving relationships, sharing of homes and meals together, enjoying one another. Folk are drawn to happiness. Practical love has a magnetic power. Far too often church means coming and going, listening and leaving, and that’s it till next Sabbath, or the mid-week meeting. It’s hardly what you would call family is it? If you think about what family life is meant to be in reality, loving, sharing, encouraging, sorrowing, helping and praying together, that’s what church life should look like. Isn’t it? Mission, the salvation of the lost depends upon it from a human perspective. The church is God’s shop window, where he desires to display his grace. When folk look into the shop window of our churches, what do they see?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)