Dr. Danny Campbell
This young convert was deeply impressed and determined to make these the rules of his life. From that day onward throughout his life he made it a rule to spend the first moments of his day alone with God and God's Word. Before he read a letter, looked at a paper or even read a telegram, he went first to the Bible, that the first impression of the day might be what he got directly from God.
- Series: Facing Life's Challenges with the Apostle Paul
- Scripture: Romans 12:3-8
Paul Always Stirred People Up
Series: Facing Life with the Apostle Paul
Last time we reflected on how much suffering and sacrifice Paul endured for the sake of getting the gospel where it had not been, and how he sometimes felt like giving up.
We looked at that great passage in Acts 18, where in Corinth during his second missionary journey, the Lord had appeared to him…
Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” -Acts 18:10
Paul was able to keep going when he felt like quitting because he knew God’s presence was with him and God had a purpose for him.
Today we will look at another factor that greatly helped Paul, and will help us, continue to love and serve Jesus as we live this life of faith.
I will tell you what it is in moment!
Not only did Paul spend 18 more months in Corinth before returning to his church family in Antioch of Syria, but he then went on a third missionary journey in which he logged even more miles than before.
Paul’s missionary journeys compared:
(SE Asia Minor)
Macedonia, Achaia (Europe)
Even though all of that was within the Roman Empire of the day, all of that travel would have involved navigating many sub-cultures of very different people groups within the Empire, just like travelling in India or the European Union would today.
So what was the other thing that helped keep Paul going when he felt strained to the limit?
The rich relationships he had within the body of Christ, and his belief that every Christian had their part to play on Team Jesus!
Read Romans 12:3-8, or through 13, or through 21
Paul Always Stirred People Up Let’s Pray!
Let’s begin by looking at a verse within Hebrews.
Throughout the centuries scholars debate over whether Paul wrote Hebrews.
It would be cool if he did, because that would mean he wrote exactly 100 chapters of the Bible, which is a nice round number!
But the other 13 letters of Paul are all signed up front with Paul and his co-writers.
I believe it may have been Barnabas, because it is so encouraging and he was Mr Encouragement (the Son of Encouragement).
It also is a great exposition of the priestly law, and Barnabas was a Levite.
Timothy is mentioned at the end, so it could be one of Paul and Timothy’s other travelling companions like Silas or Priscilla & Aquila.
We don’t know. But let’s look at a verse that very much describes Paul’s approach to Christian fellowship.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews 10:24-25
We live in a day in America when many people proclaim they love Jesus, but aren’t interested in gathering with other believers.
They think – I can worship God out on the lake when I am fishing, and I can catch a better message online or on TV from the famous preachers than anybody in my town can preach.
Within this culture it is not uncommon to hear even those that do go to church a lot say, “I just really don’t get anything out of the preacher or the Sunday School.” We also hear a lot of people lament that “they aren’t getting their needs met.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 challenges us to think about gathering with other believers in another way.
Gathering with other believers is for worship and instruction, but we are also called to have a sense of mission when we gather with other believers – to consider how we can stir up within each other love and good works.
And that brings us back to Paul’s love for the body of Christ, and how wherever he went he was always stirring people up to love God, love sound teaching, and to be involved with advancing Christ’s causes on earth.
Every Christian is simply a sinner saved by grace V. 3
In the first message in this series, we saw Paul acknowledge that he was the chief of sinners. He was well aware that God had saved him not because of anything special about him but because of how special God’s love is!
He was well aware that people would see that he the former enemy of Christ had been transformed in salvation, and they would say, “If God can save Paul he can save any wretched sinner.”
Paul knew that any believer that truly understood their depravity and God’s grace in saving them would think humbly about themselves, not highly, and never consider themselves better than anyone else.
Every one of us here who is already a believer came to salvation by faith in Christ, not merit of any kind in us.
And that makes us children of God the Father by faith in Christ. We are members of His family.
Another way to say that is that Christ is the head of our body, and each of us are like members of the body who relate first to our head, Jesus Christ, and then to each other as we receive instructions from the head.
Look at verse 4.
Every Christian is a contributing part of a body whose head is Jesus Christ V. 4
The letter to the Romans was written in the mid to late 50’s, after the letter to the Corinthians. The way Paul’s letters were circulated among the churches, it is probable the Christians in Rome were already familiar with Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 12.
Read I Corinthians 12:12-26
I love the easy to understand illustration
Christ is the head we get instructions from
We are like hands and feet and other body parts that receive instructions from Christ and work together to accomplish what he wants.
Paul taught and modeled that all Christians need to obey Christ and work together to accomplish things for Christ. Said more positively, each of us has a role to play in accomplishing Christ’s work on earth.
Here’s how Paul taught it in Ephesians 4
Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. -Eph. 4:16
The Apostle Peter taught the same thing in I Peter 4:10
As each one has received a (spiritual) gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. -I Peter 4:10
Let’s look from Romans 12:6-8 at how Paul stirred up the use of spiritual gifts in those around him!
Paul encouraged fellow believers to use the spiritual gifts God had given V. 6-8
In verse 6 Paul says we’ve got different gifts to grow this body, so let’s use them.
Timothy was an example of men Paul stirred up to use the gift of Prophesy (Preaching) by faith (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
Why does preaching take faith?
Preaching is like farming – you don’t always know what the results are and whether or not you are having an impact until the harvest – time will tell!
I had good conversations this week with Isaac Mooneyham, Allen Payne.
Isaac and I were reflecting on preaching and pastoring, and I told him how Edwin Stephens quoted Allen when he was teaching. When I told the story to Allen, he said that he was just quoting Pastor Lamar.
Phoebe was an example of someone Paul stirred up to use the gift of ministry, or serving to meet a pressing need (Romans 16:1-2)
Turn to Romans 16:1-2
Phoebe not only had a heart to meet needs, she also probably had some administrative gifts.
She also had the gift of availability, if she was willing to make the long journey to Rome to deliver this letter and to collect their offering for the poor saints back in Jerusalem.
Priscilla and Aquila were examples of a couple Paul stirred up to use their teaching abilities (Acts 18:1-4, 24-28)
Having been taught by Paul, this couple was able to instruct Apollos and he was a better preacher for having been taught by them.
They also must have had the gift of hospitality, because we read of them having a church in their home in Rome in Romans 16:3-5 and before that in their home in Ephesus (I Cor. 16:19).
Tychicus and Onesimus were examples of those Paul stirred up to use their gift of exhortation (Col. 4:7-9).
When Paul was going from one place to the next, he often left a few team members where he had been, sent a couple ahead to where he was going, and others to check on and communicate with still other churches.
Again we see how men like this sacrificed their time to go to those fellow believers, exhort them and bring back word of how they were doing to Paul.
The churches of Macedonia were examples of those who Paul had stirred up to use the gift of giving (2 Cor. 8:1-4)
Macedonia would be churches like the Philippians, the Thessalonians, the Bereans
They gave generously and sacrificially in response to the need of the saints back in Jerusalem
Paul used their example to encourage the churches in Achaia churches like Corinth and Athens and Cenchrea to give.
Titus was an example of Paul stirring up a man with leadership gifts and giving him opportunities to develop them (Titus 1:4-5).
Paul makes clear that Crete was a tough place to minister, but he trusted that Titus had learned enough to do it and that God could do it through Titus!
Silas was an example of Paul stirring up someone to show mercy with cheerfulness (Acts 18:25-34).
Oh hoe beautiful it is when the body of Christ does life and ministry together with a sense of gospel purpose.
When it happens, others want in – just like those prisoners, just like that jailor!
The church is not to be a cruise ship, but an aircraft carrier – that’s what we take from Paul’s constant stirring up of body members to fulfill the ministry God had given each of them! Let’s all do our part in stirring people up for Christ!