“Wrestling With Romans”
We Need to See the Throne (Chapter 15 Verses 14-22)
The matters Paul now begins to deal with are personal ones, telling of his past work and future plans regarding his ministry. They are, however, very instructive. We can see for instance that he was no hit and miss evangelist, but a man of vision, and one who mapped out his future plans, under the umbrella of God’s sovereign will, of course (James 4.13). Paul’s desire is to visit the Roman Church, that’s included in his future plans, as he passes through on his way to Spain (vv23-24). But that eager desire to minister to them, is not because of some error that has come into the Church, no, on the contrary, the Church here in Rome is on a good footing (vv14-16), he’s convinced of that. The goodness he speaks of (v14), is a right quality of heart, and the completeness of knowledge doesn’t suggest that there’s no room for any more. It means simply that they were well-rounded, a fully orbed Church as regards to Christian teaching. That’s a refreshing thought in these days, is it not? Yes, there are some around, but not many really, that we could describe that way, good solid Bible teaching evangelical Churches, fully orbed. It seems that it has to be one extreme or the other, either over-the-top experience orientated, or a dead as a Dodo Reformed orthodoxy. Which of course reflects the lack of balanced Bible teaching, and the inability to bring the two together, to produce warm experiential prophetic preaching and teaching. Because that only produces well rounded, full-orbed Christians and Churches.
Of course in Rome they had the gifts and necessary instructors (v14; Rom.12.6-8). Well again you see, if people are not being soundly converted, sanctified, gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit, then the Church will wilt. That is the way that it grows and reproduces, always has done. But you see when you have people occupying pulpits and positions of leadership who ought not to be there, either because of their own lack of teaching, or their lack of giftedness to teach spiritual truth. What happens? Well, you either have sermons that are endlessly boring lectures, where the dead remain dead, and the living eventually move out. Or, endless praise and music, with no substance at all, no proper Bible preaching. Where are the gospel preachers, and no not just Ministers, but men in our pews who sit there week after week, and who do nothing else. Where are the men with a passion for the lost, a burning desire to take the gospel to the lost, where are the evangelists amongst us today? We need men gifted of God, mighty in the scriptures, full of the Holy Ghost, with passion for the souls of men and women. If the ministry is not producing such men there is something wrong with the ministry. And if the ministry is quenching any passion that is there then that is sinful. I’ve come across young men over the years with a real desire for evangelism, they come to an understanding of the Reformed faith, join a Reformed church, and that’s the end of their zeal. They just become perpetual students. God have mercy on us, for what we’re producing and for what we’re not producing. It sure ain’t disciples! We need to see the throne, we need to be driven to our knees, we need saving again. I pray in this fashion, that God would provide secular employment for the settled Pastors (working instead of reading books all day and every day), and that he would provide funds for evangelists, to free the latter to go with the gospel up and down the land. To plant churches yes, but before you do that you got to get souls saved first. I pray God to melt the hearts of the frozen chosen.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)