Video Transcript: The Personal Touch

We are returning to our study of the book of Romans For the last time in this series, and we're  now at the chapter that you might rather skip, or at least just skim. It's one of those chapters  where oftentimes in Bible reading, you'll say, why do we have to read that? It's a whole pile of 

names, and you just want to move on. There's important things in Romans, but why would  you spend a lot of time on Hi, hello, how do you do with a whole pile of names that are  extremely hard to pronounce. But it is not wise simply to think that you know better than God  for including something in the Bible, or for including something in these letters. And so we're  going to consider Romans 16 today and find out what the Lord's message is for us in this  chapter of the Bible. The apostle Paul writes, I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant  of the church in Cencrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you. For she has been a great help to many people,  including me, greet Priscilla, and Aquilla. My fellow workers in Christ Jesus, they risked their  lives for me, not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus  and Junia, my relatives who have been in prison with me, they are outstanding among the  apostles, and they were in Christ before I was, greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord, greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, tested and  approved in Christ, greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion  my relative, greet those in the household of Narcissisus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena  and Tryphosa those women who worked hard in the Lord, greet my dear friend Persis another  woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Great Rufus chosen in the Lord and his mother, who has been a mother to me too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and  the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas  and all the saints with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ  send greetings. I urge you brothers to watch out for those who cause divisions and put  obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. For such keep away from them, for such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery. They deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your  obedience, so I'm full of joy over you. But I want you to be wise about what is good and  innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The  grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Timothy, my fellow worker sends his greetings to you, as  do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. I Tertius, who wrote down this letter greet you in  the Lord. Gaias whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy sends you his greetings,  Erastus, who is the city's Director of Public Works, and our brother Quartus, send you their  greetings. Now to him was able to establish you by my gospel, and the proclamation of Jesus  Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings, by the command of the eternal God, so that  all nations might believe and obey Him to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus  Christ. Amen. This ends the reading of God's word, and God always blesses His Word to those  who listen. Paul was a people person. That's one thing that comes through very clearly. He  had never been to Rome. And he's saying hi to everybody in sight, in a city and in gatherings  that he's never actually been to how does he know so many people? Well, in his travels, he  meets a lot of people in Rome, being the capital, the Empire, had people that travel a lot.  Some had been kicked out of the city for a while. And Paul had met them during that time,  and then they later returned to Rome, but he remembers people by name and they matter to  him and he values them. He goes through a lot of different names in this chapter. One of the  first things that you notice is that he again and again calls people beloved agapetons he they  are people. Some of you know the word agape. They are people who are dear to him who are  loved by Him. And this comes through in the way he speaks of many people as just family  members, our sister Phoebe, Rufus' mother, who's been a mother to me too my relatives,  maybe they are blood relatives of his, maybe their Jewish people. Or maybe he's just calling  them relatives, because their family in the Lord. And then over and over again, he speaks to  people as brothers. He picks up some of that from our Lord Jesus Christ himself. The Lord was  with his disciples and with groups of people who were following him, and his family members 

wanted to see him his mom and his brothers. And so somebody brought the message your  mother and your brothers want to talk to you. And Jesus looked around, and he said, Who are  my mother and my brothers, everyone who does the will of my Father in Heaven is my  mother, and my sister and my brother, and in saying that he wasn't trying to knock down the  value of his mother, Mary or his actual brothers and sisters, but he was lifting up others who  knew God as their father. And so we're brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ as well. It's a bond of love. It's being part of a family until the apostle uses that family language brothers  sister, mother of people in the church at Rome. He speaks of various individuals as agapeton,  my beloved Epenetus, Amplaitus, my beloved in the Lord beloved Persis, it's sometimes  translated dear friend or something like that. But it's always that same word, beloved, and  then he urges everybody to greet each other with a holy kiss, hugs and kisses all around. So  he has this sense of deep affection for the people whom he knows there. And not only are  they beloved to him, but they're also people whom he views as teammates. People who work  together with him Phoebe is one of those Priscilla and Aquilla fellow workers, Mary, Urbanus,  Tryphena and Tryphosa, women who worked hard in the Lord. Persis, another woman who  worked hard to the Lord Timothy, my fellow worker, the word that he uses for fellow worker is  sunergos and today a word that's gotten popular, at least in some circles is synergy. Synergy  is when people are working together, or sharing the same energies. And these are people who are fellow workers, they're teammates. When you think of the New Testament and the spread  of the gospel, you sometimes think of the great figures that are famous like Paul, the apostle,  or Peter, or others who were major leaders who planted churches in various areas. But if you  look a little deeper at what's going on in the Bible, you find out that it wasn't just the  superstars. There were teams of people, lots of people connected with Paul, that were  working with him. And this is how the gospel spread. And in more recent years, as the gospel  spread into places, like Africa, and Asia over the last couple of centuries, the missionaries who were sent there, some of them are considered those who spread the gospel, and certainly  they were heroic ambassadors for Christ. But a lot of the spread of the gospel happened  through the ordinary people who were part of their team who were spreading the gospel to  this village and that one, and just telling their friends and neighbors. That's how the gospel  spread in those early days as well. There were the great pioneering heroes. But there were  these teams of people who were fellow workers, and a lot would not have happened. If it had  not been for the teammates. We I was just at a game this week, and we were playing one of  our traditional tough opponents, and things went wrong. Our big guy top scorer top rebounder is sick, spends most of the game on the bench. But our shooter is hot, and he's just sizzling  the first quarter, and we get a little lead. And then he gets smashed in the nose, then he's  bleeding all over. So he's on the bench. Well, now what, you know, you're your top scorer,  your second top scorer, your top rebounder, they're all on the bench. All is lost, except when  it's not. Then the other guys come in, and the lead just gets bigger. And none of them had a  ton of points. One had eight, one had seven, one had six, one had five, but you know, you  kind of add it up and you still had more points than the other team. You don't win just with  superstars. They're nice to have. But you need a whole team. And that's not just true in  sports. The Apostle was very conscious that he had teammates, people who had worked with  him, but helped him spread the gospel. And he knew that they were vital to that cause and as as you listen to this list of names and the various people who are the sunergos, fellow workers of the apostle, just realize, again, what a wonderful thing it is to be a co worker with the Lord  Jesus Christ to be a co worker, in his mission to be part of a team, not just a star here and  there, but a whole team then as you write there are, there are memorable moments that  come up. And that tells us once again, in this personal touch of the apostle Paul, that, that he  was somebody who noticed. That's one of the things when you're a people person, and  especially a people person filled with the Holy Spirit. You notice what other people do. It's not  just all about you, or how you shown in that moment, but what other people did. He  remembers that Priscilla and Aquilla risked their lives for him. And he never forgot it. He  remembered the first convert that ever he had when he first brought the Gospel into the  province of Asia Minor or what today is the region of Turkey. He remembered that Epenetus  was the first one there who had responded to the Gospel and he never forgot that guy. He 

remembered Andronicus and Junia relatives who've been imprisoned, he remembered the  times that they'd been jailed. Together, there's, there's these shared memories. In other  words, that's what it's like to be in the work of the Gospel, and to be part of the family of God. When you go back a long ways with people, you remember, and you treasure some more hard times. In fact, sometimes those are the ones remember the best, the times you were going  through a hard time together. But those memorable moments are are part of life in the family  of God. So Romans is not just about the tremendous realities of the gospel, and the wonders  of Jesus Christ in God's eternal plan, though it certainly is about those things, but also about  the shared lives of ordinary people who are connected in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of these, you know, I won't get into detail about all the names, but just a few of the names I'll pick  Tryphena and Tryphosa their names mean, delicate and dainty. They may have been twin  sisters, you know how you often give twins names that match up, but they may well have  been twin sisters with these tender little names, delicate and dainty. And they worked hard in  the Lord. They weren't too delicate and dainty to roll up their sleeves, and be great workers.  Rufus who's chosen in the Lord. And then he moves on to his mom and just moves on. But  everybody in Rome probably knew who Rufus was, and most people in the Christian church  because you read about him, his name comes up in Mark chapter 15, where it just says, By  the by Yeah, when Jesus was two weak to carry his cross. They grabbed a guy from North  Africa, Cyrene, who happened to be in town and made him carry the cross. His name was  Simon of Cyrene. And his kids are Alexander and Rufus. Well, the gospel of Mark was directed  mainly its original audience was for people in Rome. And so it's probably the same Rufus. So  when Paul says. Hey, greet, Rufus. Everybody knows this is the son of the man who carried  Jesus cross. But you know, he doesn't have to go into detail for his original readers. But for us, it's worthwhile noting that there are a lot of people with histories and they were not just a  name. There were things that had happened. Big things that were all part of that shared  history as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, let's get back to the beginning of this  chapter, where Paul says, I commend to you our sister, Phoebe, she's a deacon of the church  in Cencrea. Diakonon is the word that's translated servant here, it's often just means Deacon.  He says, I asked you to receive her in the Lord in a way, worthy of the saints give her any help she needs. She's been a patron. That word of prostatis just means that she's been a  benefactor or a patron, a wealthy and influential person who helps Paul out a great deal and  helps a lot of other people as well. So Phoebe is a sister, you know, a beloved one in the  family of God, but she's also a deacon and a patron. You may say, Well, that sounds like an  awfully feminist interpretation that would come only from our own time. Well, John Calvin was  writing 500 years ago or so and he says Paul begins by commending Phoebe the bearer of the epistle first on account of her office, because she exercised a very honorable and holy  ministry in the Lord. She is a ministri in Latin of the church. We should respect and honor  those who exercise any public office in the church. John Calvin was not an arch feminist, but  he was an interpreter. And he understood that Phoebe was not just Another lady being  discussed here. Calvin thought that this was a reference probably to something described in I  Timothy five in order of widows. And these widows had a special function in the church. And  they were to serve the Lord in special ways. So he thought probably her office was that of a  widow serving in that capacity, but however you wish to understand that she was an  important lady who was to be received by the church in Rome. Well, why was she to be  received? Well, she was the one delivering the letter. And so that's nice, you know, they didn't have the postal system. So she happened to go into Rome anyway, and threw the letter in her pocket and said, Hey, here's the letter. But that's not quite how letter delivery worked. In  those days, letter delivery was not just handing a letter over. But it was also the reading of  the letter, the explaining of the letter, the applying of the letter so that this was a messenger  you could count on who knew the mind of the writer pretty well. And now could kind of tell  you if you had any questions what's going on? When he says this? You read in Acts chapter  15, for example, there's a council that meets and this council deals with some very difficult  and controversial matters. And at the end of it, the council issues a letter that begins, it  seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to communicate this information. And they chose  two men Judas, not the bad one, but the good one. They chose Judas, and they chose Silas, 

who you may remember was one of Paul's travelling companions on a major missionary  journey. They chose those two men to deliver the letter. It's not just that they were errand  boys carrying the written material. They were there to deliver the letter and to explain it. And  that's what letter delivery meant. And so, this Deacon Phoebe delivers Paul's letter to the  Romans and they're told to receive her in a way worthy of the saints. When you read a little  further, you see, Phoebe delivers the letter, Priscilla and Aquilla, our mentioned. Priscilla and  her husband, she's usually the one mentioned first, we are not sure why she may have been  kind of the more prominent of the two. But at any rate, they worked with the Apostle Paul  when he was in court. And they've been kicked out of Rome because of the Emperor Claudius' decree. But now, Paul's writing in 57 A.D., they've moved back to Rome, but he still  remembers them, wants to say hi, they hosted a house church. And so Paul remembers these  and the one reason why we know of Priscilla in another context is that Apollos, who's a great  preacher of the gospel, really had preaching gifts and really had a great mind. But he didn't  quite understand the full gospel when they first came across him. And so Priscilla and Aquila  took him aside and explained the gospel to him more adequately. And then he mentions  Andronicus and Junia, who are said to be outstanding among the apostles. Andronicus is a  male name, Junia is a female name, maybe a husband and wife pair, we're not sure all the  translations have Junias because that would make it a masculine name. And you couldn't  have a female outstanding among the apostles. So they knew that it had to be a masculine  name. There's one minor problem, and that is that the the male name Junias doesn't exist  anywhere else in any known manuscript in the ancient world. So it's almost certain that Junia  here is a woman. And when it says they're outstanding among the apostles, these two people  you'd ever heard out there not exactly among the 12 apostles. So what's it talking about?  Well, there's two possibilities. One is that Andronicus and Junias are held in a very high  opinion by the apostles are considered outstanding by the apostles. Another possibility is that  they are what are sometimes called apostles of the church, people who weren't among those  12 apostles, but nonetheless, traveling people sent out by the church to spread the good  news. And so you have these people in pretty prominent roles and positions, Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia that the Bible mentions, and again, if you just skip over Romans 16, then this just isn't  even on your radar. But once you read Romans 16, and you have to say, well, what are all  these women up to? That he's talking about? He talks about the various workers that we  talked earlier about those teammates, those fellow workers, a lot of them are women, who  worked very hard to the Lord, Phoebe Priscella, Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, he  mentions all these women workers. In other letters, he mentions Euodia and Syntyche women who've contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, that's pretty strong statement  women who contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, in the church in Philippi.  Christians, there met at the house of Lydia, who was that wealthy merchant in textiles when  he writes to the Colossians the Apostle says, Hey, say hi to Nympha and the church in her  house. So again and again, you have women workers who worked with the Apostle Paul. Now  this is the man keep in mind, who was accused of being anti woman who is accused of having  suppressed the role of women for century after century, and considering them to be not very  significant or valuable or important. This guy who says they contended that my side in the  cause of the gospel and calls one after another, these valued workers and and gives his  greatest letter to a woman to bring to the church at Rome. And if you read elsewhere in the  Bible, you read of various prophetesses, Miriam the prophetess. Deborah, Miriam was the  sister of Moses and Aaron, who was a prophetess. Deborah was a prophetess, who was  leading Israel during the period of the Judges, And the prophetess Hulda was speaking God's  word at the time of King Josiah. And when the law of God was found in the temple, and it was  saying some things that perplex them, and they wanted to know what's going on here. Then  Josiah sent a messenger to the Prophetess Hulda and said, What's this law, talking about?  When you get to the New Testament, you find that the evangelist Philip had four unmarried  daughters who prophesied and the Bible, you know, in I Corinthians 11, it says women are to  keep silent. And people say that's the Bible, final word on the matter. Thank you. The same  chapter speaks of a woman who prays and prophesies and how she is to behave when she  prays and prophesies. So something gets lost in the process, if the only thing you know, is the

Bible passages that place a limit on women's roles. The Bible says in the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. This is a prophecy from Joel. And then it is fulfilled on  Pentecost, and it's the apostle Peter, quoting Joel, in the last days, I will pour out my spirit on  all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, even on my servants, both men and  women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. So the question for us  when you read this kind of material is, are we the kind of people and are we the kind of  church that launches women or only limits them? The apostle Paul, obviously, from what  we've read today launched many women into gospel service as valued co workers. Now that  does not undo a couple of other things. He said, he set a limit on women's roles in a couple of  settings. He said, I don't permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. He may well  be speaking there of the official role of teaching as pastor or elder. But the fact that that limit  is there is quite different from saying, therefore, you are a biblical church, if you have that  limit in place. That's the error that some conservative churches make that if you observe the  limit, and make sure women don't do what they're not supposed to do. Now we're biblical.  What about launching them to do what they're supposed to do? And what about keeping in  mind that when Jesus chose the first witnesses of His resurrection, it was women that he  chose as his witnesses. So it's it's unbiblical to emphasize the limits really strongly, and not to launch women into gospel work and into important church roles. Few of you may have heard a little bit of a kerfuffle the last few weeks where a prominent pastor was asked about a woman  who speaks at many women's conferences and what her name was mentioned, what's your  response is two word response was go home. Okay. But that's not quite the message that Paul had. Just go home, be a good wifey. Take care of the kiddos, and stick with your knitting.  There were a few more things that the apostle and the scriptures have in mind for women. So  however, we sort that out, and as I've already observed, I, I believe that there is a limit placed in the Bible. And it is very, a very narrow limit of what women are not supposed to be involved in. But the Bible's main concern is to launch women into the service of Christ. Well, another  interesting thing about these names is where the people are located. Those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Well, who's that guy? Well, he was the grandson of Herod the Great, and he was a buddy of Claudius Caesar. And right under the nose of that household, there are disciples of Jesus. There are those in the household of Narcissus. who are in the Lord and  Narcissus was a powerful adviser to Claudius Caesar. Claudius had died a few years before  this, and probably Aristobulus and Narcissus are gone by now too, but they still are  immensely powerful households of nobility in Rome. And there are Christians there. When  Paul writes to the Philippians, he says, greet those who are in Caesar's household. By that  time Nero is the Emperor. And there are Christians, right under his nose, in his own household. So you have disciples who are already in the palaces, they may not be the big shots, although some of them were pretty prominent people as we're going to see in a moment. But there,  there are people that God is placing in every area of life and of social structures. Now, when  you read Romans, it's easy to think of the epistle of Paul to the Romans, but he didn't actually  write it. He dictated it, and the person who wrote it was slave number three, and most likely,  the name Tertius just means number three, kind of a common way of naming back then  there's Tertius, later, we'll see Quartus, which means number four, it was written by slave  number three, and then delivered by a woman. Now, this is grounds for really knocking this  letter to the Romans, it had to be written by a low life and just sent to a group of people who  had no sense of value or importance. Um, Celsus was an anti Christian writer of about 200  years after Christ and He griped, and he thought it was a really valid charge to show  Christianity was not true or believable, because it appealed only to foolish and low  individuals, and persons devoid of perception, and slaves, and women and children. What  more proof do you need the slaves and the women like it, and the little kids, but we, the  educated, we, the leaders of society, we the evaluators of worth what's worth paying  attention to? We know. Well, how many of you have heard of Celsus if I didn't tell you about  him. He wasn't such a hot shot, after all, was he. People are still studying the letter to the  Romans, long after Celsus has been forgotten. So the Bible has this way of taking people who  are considered very low, and lifting them up. Jesus Himself said those who are last will be  first. And the first will be last. Unless you humble yourself like a little child, you won't even 

make it into the kingdom of God. So he reversed things from the way most people thought of  them. Think of Jesus and Paul themselves when the apostle or when the prophet Isaiah was  looking forward and prophesying about Jesus, he said he had no beauty or majesty to attract  us to him. He wasn't this dazzling figure who you just looked at him, and he looked like a  leader. When you looked at his bank account, he didn't have one. he didn't have a fixed  address, even he had no place to lay his head. He must not have amounted to much. Paul, we don't know exactly what he looked like and the description comes from about a century after  so whether it was passed along by word of mouth or somebody just kind of imagined it, but  the only description we have of him, he was short, bald bow legged had a unibrow his  eyebrows met, they didn't say unibrow. You know, they said, you know, in the Latin, his  eyebrows met, and his face was full of friendliness, the face of an angel. There you have it, he would not have been on the cover of the sexiest man in the world. But he had the face of an  angel. And as Paul himself put it poor, yet making many rich, you know the grace of our Lord  Jesus Christ as though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through  his poverty might become rich. That's how the gospel works. It doesn't take the person who's  famous, the one who makes the covers of the magazines for being so good looking, the one  with a fabulous bank accounts, the one with the most political power. God can save a rich  person because yeah, he can get a camel through the eye, he can do the impossible. But the  rich and the important don't have an advantage over above those who are despised and lowly in the eyes of the world. So you have God doing this work where he takes the lowliest people,  and then he still unites them with some of the highest I number three, slave number three  Tertius, who wrote down this letter greet you in the Lord. So he gets his one sentence into the  Bible. He's taking dictation from Paul but he gets his sentence. And then Paul goes on Gaias  whose hospitality the rich guy, maybe he's the owner of Tertius Gaias who's hospitality I and  the whole church here enjoy send you his greetings, Erastus who is the city's Director of  Public Works and our brother number four send you their greetings. So we have Erastus'  name written in stone, actually, it's written in the book of Romans. But if you look outside the  amphitheater at Corinth, there is in stone engraved, that this pavement was done by Erastus  at his own expense when he was appointed director of Public Works or city treasurer. So you  have Erastus, who is one of the most powerful men in the city of Corinth. And then you have  number four, who works for Erastus. And they're both following Jesus together. And they both  get the same greeting, hey, if you're number four, or if your Mr. Big Shot, Paul's glad that  you're both Christians, and he's going to greet you and the gospel had this way of doing  things from early on that some of the most powerful people were converted to the faith, some of the lowliest were too one of the early bishops of Rome, in fact, was a slave. He wasn't, he  didn't have a high position in society, except he was head of the whole church of Rome. The  Apostle after saying all these things, then he has some last minute, things that he still wants  to say. I urge you brothers to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in  your way that are contrary to the teaching, you've learned, keep away from them. For such  people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery.  They deceive the minds of naive people, what a description. There's people who follow their  own appetites, but they claim to be teachers of the gospel. They don't have a gospel, they  have whatever their own urges have produced as a message. And Paul says, Watch out for  them, because they cause division. Nowadays, you'll hear that people who want to hold fast  to biblical teaching on doctrine, and on sexual ethics are divisive, they are not inclusive. The  Apostle says there are people who follow their own urges and appetites. And they want to  corrupt the Church's teaching, but they're the ones who are causing the division, not those  who are holding fast to the truth of Christ, and beware of the smooth talk and flattery and  everything else. And then the apostle goes on to say this, everyone's heard about your  obedience. So I'm full of joy over you remember what he said earlier, I myself was convinced  that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct  one another. He's got confidence in them. And his last word for them again, is I have  confidence in you, I'm full of joy over you. But I do want you to be wise about what's good,  and the innocent about what's evil. And then in typical fashion, he says a whole mouthful, in  just two sentences, the God of peace will soon crush Satan, under your feet, the grace of our 

Lord Jesus Christ be with you. In a sense, that's just about everything right there. The enemy  is going to be crushed. And God's grace is going to surround you and be with you. If you know you have the grace of God, and if you know Satan is going down, then and only then can you  really keep going in life with confidence, basically, exactly what he said, halfway through the  letter. I'm convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, or anything else  can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And that makes us more than  conquerors. And so here again, he's saying, God will crush Satan, and the grace of the Lord  Jesus Christ, is going to be with you. Well this was maybe not one of those chapters, you  should just skim or skip. This is a lot that the Lord wants us to know. It's important to know  that we all when we belong to Jesus, are beloved members of God's family, whom God knows  by name and treasures by name. It's important to know that the church is not just the  superstars, or those who are in the spotlight. But the church and the Gospel Mission is all  about teamwork, and co workers, and teammates. It's important to know that for every name, there's a story that God remembers it all. And that God's people especially if you're a people,  person with the personal touch, you remember, and you treasure. And when I look out in this  congregation, some of you I've known of long time, and I have a lot of memories. And I have  to admit, some of you that I've known a long time think I have have an embarrassing memory of you most of the time. Those are the things I actually forget some of you who are kids,  especially, you know, no man, I can say, well, you know, I don't remember very much of that  anymore. But I have tremendous and wonderful memories. You know, when I go through my  church directory, or pray for people in the church, it's not just a rbrbrbr, I know that name that name that name. I know you. And I remember you and love you. And that's how we're to look  at each other. The role of leading ladies in the church and of those women workers is  something that's got to be part of our ongoing vision of the way women view themselves and  serve the Lord, as well as the way the rest of us encourage and launch women into the  service of the Lord. The way that the gospel brought together and appealed to women, and to slaves, and then also to some of the bigwigs too, and united them, he erased those  differences in society, very often. And still, today, there is an attempt to slam the gospel by  saying, hey, the apostle was against women, and he just left step slaves stuck in their chains.  If you understand what he really was like, and what the Bible really says, you'll understand  that the gospel did more to lift up women, and to empower slaves and to give them dignity  than any other force in human history. And it also did more to bring people together we see in our own politics again, that it's very popular, just to deal with it as saying, Okay, there's the  evil, evil, evil 1%. And the way we've got to deal with things is to set different people against  each other. Hey, the Bible doesn't always say nice things about rich people either. But  sometimes, the Gospel just brings people together. And it says, Hey, slave, number three, and slave number four, you're just as important as the city's Director of Public Works. Why don't  you guys all you guys can all receive greetings in the Lord and rejoice in the Lord together.  And then there is of course, that final warning, watch out, always be on your guard, there's  going to be people trying to mislead you, or the people trying to divide you. But I know you,  and you're not going to listen to are you? you're going to keep going. And God is going to  crush Satan under your feet and the grace of Jesus Christ is going to carry you. And how else  could I end a letter but with praise? Now to him was able to establish you by my gospel in the  proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelations of mystery hidden for long ages  past, but now revealed, and they know through the prophetic writings by the command of the  eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him to the only wise God be glory  forever through Jesus Christ, amen. How Paul, he can't ever say a short sentence, when he  starts praising God, he just rattles on and on, you know, he opens Ephesians with a 14 verse  sentence. Once he gets praising it just keeps on going. And here, he's already explained in  detail his gospel, now he's just giving God praise that through Jesus Christ, there's been this  Mystery of the Ages. That's what something he loved to delight in, that God had for so so long had this amazing plan. And now in the time of Jesus and of his apostles, he's made the plan  clear, a plan that his prophets in their writings had been making known, but now it's clear  what those prophets were talking about. It's clear what the eternal God was up to. And he was up to this, all nations believing and obeying Him. That's something we hadn't emphasized as 

much quite in this chapter, although the whole epistle has it that God takes people from every nation, we've seen that he takes men and women, we've seen that he takes the the slaves  and the slave owners and the rich and the poor, but he also is bringing people from all nations to believe and obey Him. And that's why Paul calls him the only wise God. When we looked at  Psalm 131, a little earlier in the service of my heart is not proud. There's things too wonderful  for me, that I belong to the only wise God. And he had it planned forever. And there's a lot I'm  not going to figure out. But he has got it all figured out because he is the only wise God who  had a plan all along. And to him, belongs the glory forever and ever. That's what the gospel  was ultimately about. The good news of the gospel of the glory of God, to Him be glory,  forever and ever. Amen. We praise you God for your Son, Jesus Christ for the gospel that is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes and We thank You, Lord, for this  righteousness that comes to us through faith, righteousness, Lord, that makes us right with  you and transforms our lives. We thank you for the Blessed Holy Spirit, who lives in us and  moves us to call you Abba Father, who helps us in prayer. We praise you that nothing can  separate us from your love. We thank You, Lord God for your mysterious and wonderful plan  to call Israel and to make them a blessing to the nations and to bring all peoples together  under one head, even Christ Jesus, we thank You, Lord for the call to commit ourselves and  offer ourselves as living sacrifices, to be transformed in our minds and in our lives. And we  praise you, Lord, for this great gospel message that continues to ring throughout the  centuries, continues to bring gospel power and salvation to your people. We rejoice in you, we give you glory, honor and praise and help us Lord in our own time, in our own setting, to be  faithful to that gospel, to support one another, to lift each other up to launch one another into ministry that we may be powerful in witness help each person here man or woman, boy or  girl, to sense again the marvel of belonging to you, and also Lord to gain a clearer grasp of  your purposes in their lives that they too, can become ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ.  We pray in His name, amen.

Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2022, 11:50 AM