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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Barrier shattering power of the Gospel!

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house.
Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia.
Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.
Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord . . .

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the churches of Christ greet you.
Romans 16: 3-8, 16

Greeting, greetings, greetings! Romans 16:1-16 is one of those passages you’re tempted to skip over as you study your Bible. After all, what can you learn from a list of names like this? So the apostle Paul had a few friends? Great! What does that have to do with my life?

Well, skip by a passage like this too fast, and you’ll miss some of the many hidden blessings found in Scripture. I'm constantly amazed at the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the way He has arranged the Bible, and I'm certain He wanted us to see something here as well. So what could it be?

First of all, the very fact that Paul names other people like this is significant. I don’t know how you tend to think about the apostle, but for many he is seen as a kind of a spiritual trail blazer – a lone ranger out there conquering the world alone for Christ! But when you actually ead the Bible for what it says, you find a very different picture. Paul is an amazing man, make no mistake about it. But he is also very rarely alone! Wherever he goes there are others – faithful friends and common Christians– who make His ministry possible.

That brings up the second thing. Real ministry takes lots of people. There is an idolatry in our age that kills true, biblical ministry. We exalt the mega-pastor and the so-called Christian “celebrity” as if the fate of Christianity stands or falls with them. But the fate of Christianity never stands with any man or any movement! It always stands with Christ alone! And Christ stands with His church! Not special people, but common people he chooses to use to make His glories known

There are 27 people are named here. Most of them, you’ve heard of! We know next to nothing about any one of them. And yet they are believers who are important, not only to the Apostle Paul, but also to the Kingdom of God! We should never underestimate the vital role of the ordinary men or women who faithfully follow Christ

Another thing that encourages me as I study this passage is the clear evidence of the barrier-destroying power of the Gospel. In this list of Paul's friends are found, not only men and women (down goes the gender barrier), Jews and Gentiles (so much for the racial barrier), but also slaves and noblemen as well (the social barrier). The Gospel of Christ has power to break down every dividing wall that we put up as it brings all believers together on equal footing under the cross as sinners saved by grace!

But not only do we see barriers coming down, we also see the wonderful power of salvation on display. In this list we find members of wicked King Herod’s family. We also see members of the household of Narcissus, a Roman who was tragically executed by Emperor Nero. What a joy to have a Gospel that can reach into any home – no matter how deep the pattern of sin or how great the experience of tragedy – to bring help and wholeness in Christ. My prayer is that we would see many similar miracles of grace throughout this new year!

Rejoicing in His Mercy!
Pastor Scott Lee

1 comment:

Terry Delaney said...

Great stuff! They are also seen as important enough (and priviliged enough) to have found their names written not only in the Lambs book of life, but also the Book that brings forth life.

Good insight, brother.