“Wrestling With Romans”
Sent and Sending – (Chapter 15 Verses 23-33)
The Apostle’s future plans are here laid out (vv23-29). All, of course, in the will of Lord. We can see here just how fully Paul has preached the gospel (v23), he has laid a foundation for others to build upon, and now there is nowhere left in this region for such work to be done. That doesn’t mean there is no more work to be done, yes, the work needs to be consolidated, developed and expanded, but Paul will have left that work in the hands of capable elders, as was always his custom (Titus 1.5). Paul expected people to be converted when he preached the gospel, a lacking I fear on our part. But further, he expected men to grow in the Lord, to full stature, and to eldership material, he looked for rapid growth, and he got it. Why don’t we? Why in our Churches are there so many people whose growth in grace seems to be so stunted? These men would not only be eldership material, trained, equipped and gifted by the Holy Spirit, but some would be trained to be missionaries too, sent out within the region to plant and establish other Churches. Now if you have trouble with that, check it out in Scripture, there were of course the twelve apostles, the foundation of the New Testament church (Ephesians 2:20). However, the word simply means one who is sent, there were men who in turn by the apostles were sent, to do a like work, missionary work. Yes, there were the original twelve, who were significant, even foundational and irreplaceable (Ephesians 2.20). Barnabas was not included in the twelve, but he is described as an apostle, i.e., a sent one, by the church that is (Acts 14.14). The difference is of course, the original twelve were sent by the Lord Jesus immediately. Others, such as Barnabas, were sent out mediately, by the Lord Jesus, but through the church. Paul tells us what marked an apostle out from others ((2Corinthians 12.12). We can debate about titles, whatever you want to call a man, it cannot be denied that we need like men today, who are missionaries. Men called of God, with a passion for the lost, clothed upon with the power of the Holy Spirit, to go up and down this land of ours with the gospel. The work languors, the churches are dying, prayer meetings are nigh non-existent. The need has never been greater.
But now Paul’s work will carry on into Italy and to these Roman Christians at long last (v23). Paul in visiting this Christian Church (v24), as he has already declared his eagerness, and intention to do (Romans 1.11, 15), was for the purpose of ministering to them, but also, to receive something from them (Romans 1.12). Now he is not talking about financial gain, he is talking about a spiritual blessing. You see Christian ministry is supposed to be reciprocal, the congregation are supposed to be a blessing to the one ministering, and to one another. There is an horizontal element as well as vertical, if the horizontal is left out, if you haven’t edified one another, then you haven’t truly worshipped. Paul is looking for assistance, for fellowship, he is looking for spiritual sustenance. Will he get it? Would he get it in your Church?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)