Paul's Missionary Plans
General Idea: We are called to glorify Christ in all that we do! Paul fervently urges the in Roman Christians (and us, too) that when we worship (as a life style as opposed to just a gathering for a service) and are obedient to Christ, we must also demonstrate His love in how we relate to others. Paul seeks missionary support for his journeys because of the urgent need of the world to hear the Gospel. He desires prayers and respect. We must give the same to one another.
A. Paul reassures the Roman church of his intentions.
1. He does not want to create division or doubt, but merely states how the Christian life is to be practical and outgoing, not sedentary and inclusive (Col. 3:16).
2. Paul continues in his theme of our debt to the lost, his vision to evangelism. Since God saved us, we are in turn obligated to work in Christ's behalf, to be His agent, powered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel message.
a. The theme within this theme is to go beyond our comfort zone to those outside our perceived culture and social status.
b. The Jews were challenged to go to the Gentiles; we are therefore challenged to go to our neighbors too, regardless of whom they are!
c. The biggest barrier to evangelism today is Christians who refuse their call (Matt. 28), and forsake their gratitude.
d. It takes the power of the Spirit to keep us motivated, especially in the common places of life!
B. Paul's passion was to make Christ known, especially to those who did not
have the normal avenue, which back then was the Synagogue. (Rom. 1:13; 7:1-4; 11:25; 12:1) The house church came next, then the underground church, then 300 years later the national, and then the institutional "catholic" church.
1. We have many denominations and avenues today, yet so few will actually hear the Gospel!
2. The Jews will hear of it for certain, due to family traditions. Even the ones who claim atheism still know their roots and reasons for the faith. Nevertheless, Paul preached, what of the Gentiles?
C. Paul did not go directly to Rome after his conversion. Logic dictated that he, as an apostle to the Gentiles, go to their capital city, Rome.
However, he stayed in Jerusalem three years being discipled, and sought the will of God until he was called to go. Perhaps it was the effect of Pentecost, (Acts 2:10) and that another apostle went, perhaps Phillip. We do not know for sure. What we do know is what is most important, and that is to follow God, and not ourselves.
1. It took Paul over 25 years from His conversion until he finally was able to go to the Gentile capital; that was three years after he wrote this epistle!
2. God may direct us against our common sense and thinking. So, be in tune to Him, and His timing and not yourself.
3. As Paul was passionate to the Gentiles, where is your passion?
4. Do we give our highest attention to the work our Lord has given us?
a. With the pure motive, that God will be glorified!
b. That we will be filled with the same zeal!
c. That we never comprise or water down the Word of God!
D. The Trinity is fully expressed in this passage (vs. 17-20); God the Father
(vs. 17-18); God the Son (vs. 17-20); and God the Spirit (vs. 16, 19).
E. "Signs and wonders" refers to the miracles produced by the Holy Spirit through the apostles, especially Paul, as a testimony to God's power and glory (Ex. 7:3; Duet. 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; Isa. 8:18; Dan. 6:27; book of Acts).
1. The Bible gives no indication that the Signs and Wonders have stopped! They may be rare, but nonetheless they are here and working.
a. When we do see them, we are to be discerning and seek scientific and psychological reasons before we jump to conclusions. If we do not, we get ourselves in trouble by falling prey to shysters and manipulators using cheep magician tricks to distract us away from God's truth.
b. Remember the purpose of Signs and Wonders was to glorify Christ, not put on a show! When the manifestations become center stage, we miss the point of them, placing the focus on the delivery of the message, and ignoring the message!
2. It is often debated as to the normative aspect and whether or not it continues today. Some scholars propose that miracles are no longer a function of the church, and were just a part of "redemptive history." However, there is no Scriptural support for that position! Miracles may be rare, but to say they do not happen puts a limit on God's sovereignty. God has no limits; hence, why "process theology" (God is evolving, such as evolution) or "dispensationalism"(God is limited by time periods and contracts) is not rooted in Scripture, only in the minds of some men.
3. God had different covenants and periods in which he chose to work in "redemptive history," such as the O.T. period of law, our N.T. period of grace, the covenant of creation with Adam, and the Great Commission of our Lord. The problem with dispensationalism is when we say God is constrictive or limited, we are violating one of the most dearest and precious and truest doctrines, that of the sovereignty of God.
F. Paul's missionary journeys stretch from Jerusalem to Asia Minor to Greece, all over the Mediterranean, for a period of nearly 30 years. Paul established churches, discipled, and preached the Word. There is some debate whether he reached Illyricum, (present-day Shkodër, Albania). Maybe a letter of his accompanied some of his students who represented him. The point is that the Gospel reached far off places to the extent that early Roman solders found Christians as far as England within a hundred years after Paul. Paul's main argument for his mission was that he was ordained for it by the Holy Spirit.
G. Paul is seeking support for his trip to Spain, one of the main reasons for his letter. It is fascinating to speculate if Paul ever went to Spain or died right after his house arrest in Rome. The fact is, we just do not know (Acts 28). Most scholars assume that Paul was released after the house arrest in Rome and then was martyred, so he never made it to Spain. However, Spanish legend says he did (see "Paul's Situation" of section B of the Romans Background article). As Paul preached to the Jews to accept the Gentiles, now he turns the table to expound them to help their fellow troubled Christians who are Jewish (Rom. 11:17; 1 Cor. 9:3-14; Gal. 6:6)! Paul seeks their support in prayer, and perhaps money, in three areas--that he will be safe to travel to Judea to bear the Gospel, that the Jerusalem church accept their gifts, and that he can visit them personally in Rome.
H. "The God of Peace" (2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:16) Even in Paul's struggles and hardships, he refers to God as comfort! If we just live our lives with the attitude of how things affect "me" and not "others," then we are living with the devil, and not with God!
1. If you could be a missionary, to what county would you want to go?
2. If you could choose any place on earth to live, where would it be?
3. How do you feel when missionaries seek support for their journeys?
4. Have you ever sought support in prayer, and perhaps money, for a ministry project?
5. What do you think it means to glorify Christ in all that we do?
6. Read Col. 3:16. Have you ever considered that worship is more of a life style than just a gathering for a service?
7. How have you supported missionaries, in prayer, financially, other ways?
8. In what ways have you been sedentary and inclusive in your faith?
9. What about the churches in which you have participated?
10. How can the Christian life be practical as well as outgoing?
11. How can our debt to the lost empower us to do better at evangelism?
12. Have you ever gone beyond your comfort zone; if so what happened and did it change your perceptions and views afterwards?
13. Do you and your church associate personally with people outside your perceived culture and social status?
14. How do you relate to neighbors and other people who are different from you?
15. How do your relationships stack up against what Christ has called you to do and be?
16. How can you convince Christians who refuse their call (Matt. 28), and forsake their gratitude to consider that they are the biggest barriers to evangelism?
17. Paul's passion was to make Christ known. How can his passion influence and fuel yours in the right direction?
18. Why do you suppose that although we have so many avenues to proclaim the Gospel, fewer and fewer people are coming to the church?
19. What do you need to do to make sure you are following God, and not yourself?
20. It took Paul over 25 years from His conversion until he finally went to the Gentile capital. What have you had to wait on in your life?
21. God may direct us against our common sense and thinking. If so, how can you discern if it is God and not your own aspirations?
22. Paul was passionate to witness to the Gentiles even though he grew up in a cultural religious system that despised them. Where is your passion?
23. Do you give your highest attention to the work our Lord has given you?
24. Do you do it with the pure motive of glorifying God?
25. How would you define being filled with zeal?
26. How have you seen the Word of God comprised or watered down?
27. Do you or do you know people who claim that the Signs and Wonders have stopped? If so, what is the argument?
28. Have you ever experienced Signs and Wonders, such as tongues, or healing?
29. How important a role did Signs and Wonders have in the spread of the early church?
30. How important are Signs and Wonders in the church today?
31. What do you think is the main purpose for Signs and Wonders?
32. Do you or your church believe in dispensationalism? If so, after reading our theological thought on this issue, what do you think now?
33. What is your impression of Paul's mobility all over the Mediterranean for a period of nearly 30 years, remembering he was on foot?
34. Did you know that Christianity reached England within 100 years after Jesus gave the Great Commission?
35. So, in comparison, how effective do you think our mission efforts are today?
36. Can you imagine the interpersonal dynamics of Paul, who, preaching to the Jews to accept the Gentiles, now turns the tables and expounds them to help their fellow troubled Christians who are Jewish?
37. Have you been in similar interpersonal dynamics in your church, such as a new convert, after joining your church, becoming the key person to help a seasoned member, and then visa versa?
38. How can this phrase, The God of Peace, give you hope in your struggles and hardships?
39. How can you live your life with the attitude of how things affect others? How would that improve your relationship to God and others?
40. How can you be in tune to Him, and His timing rather than to yourself?
If we just live our lives with the attitude of how things affect "me" rather than "others," then we are living with the devil, and not with God!
Dispensationalism A dispensation is "a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God" (Darby). Another view of Dispensationalism says that God uses different means of administering His Will and Grace to His people in different times and people groups in the area of Conscience, Law, and Grace (Scofield). C.I. Scofield (1843-1921) said there are seven dispensations: innocence, conscience, civil government, promise, law, grace, and the coming kingdom. They claim that the 'Dispensations' are not ages, but stewardships. No matter what label you give it, they are rooted in specific periods. Dispensationalists interpret the Bible using these periods as their primary template and filter. Thus, they tend to skew Biblical principles and make their views by taking those principles out of context.Dispensationalism is not necessarily heretical, nor does it move a Christian outside excepted Biblical Christianity or the "scope of orthodoxy." In addition, it is not essential for us to know or deny. It will, however, give misleading and wrong interpretations and promote a limited sovereignty view of God, such as He can only do certain things in certain times with only certain people. Of course, any Bible student must realize God is not limited and is totally sovereign! Sometimes Dispensationalism is compared to "Covenant Theology" and is divided by semantics. Other times it is divided by bad hermeneutics (bad interpretations). Dispensationalism finds its popularity and modern roots in the Scofield Reference Bible of the late 19th century, which has been revised and is still very popular. There is an online version on our Bible Tools channel. This reference Bible has influenced the doctrinal beliefs of many churches, including the Baptist church, Fundamentalists, the Bible churches, and many non-denominational evangelical churches and seminaries including Dallas Seminary. Although Scofield did not come up with it, he built on what was founded, developed, and propagated by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) in his writings and commentary of the Bible. There is an online version of this on our Bible Tools channel also. Dispensationalism also believes in a big distinction between God's plan for Israel and God's plan for the Church. Thus, the church did not start until Pentecost. And some say that the Jews have no role today. An honest reading of Hebrews and Revelation would clear that up! They also see and interpret any Scripture that would otherwise refute their view, as referring to another "division" of Scripture. As a result, Scripture is not interpreted in its context or as a whole, but as fragmented divisions that applied only to certain times and places. It is difficult to argue with them since their premise of Biblical interpretation is flawed, and they rule out any passage that disagrees with their position, stating that it does not apply. A more proper Biblical understanding on what Dispensationalism is trying to communicate can be found in Covenant Theology. This is a system of theology that views God's dealings with man in reverence and reference to Covenants (contacts) rather than dispensations (periods of time). The two main covenants are between God and Adam (the start of the law, fully realized under Moses), and the "Covenant of Grace" between the Father and the Son (Heb. 13:20), where the Father gives to the Son the elect, and the Son must redeem us.Both of these covenants were made before the world and humanity began. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. Covenants, according to the earliest Middle Eastern traditions, had five parts to them: 1. Stating and recognizing the parties involved. 2. A chronological introduction on why the contact was established. 3. The circumstances and principles of the contract. 4. The rewards and punishments in keeping or breaking the contract. 5. Distribution of the contract where each party receives a copy of the agreement (much the same as we have today). The quintessential covenant in Scripture is the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments! The purpose of the covenants that God has made with us through time is to establish who He is, our responsibility toward Him and others around us, and to convey His promises, of which we are the ultimate beneficiaries. We receive eternal promises and blessings through His covenants of grace. (Gen. 2:16-17; 9:1-17; 15:18; 26:3-5; Gal. 3:16-18; Luke 1:68-79; Heb. 13:20) Other covenants can be found in Scripture between God and Noah, God and Abraham, and God and Moses. All Biblical theologians will recognize that God works differently through the Law than through Grace. That is how Dispensationalism came in. Even Jonathan Edwards makes these distinctions. Many Dispensationalists see him as their father, but Edwards spoke of covenants, not Dispensationalism. The responsibilities given to humanity by God were different during the periods of Adam and Eve, the Law, and the Cross. The Jews were to show their faith by doing what God had commanded (Duet. 6). When they could not keep the Law, God allowed the sacrificial system for atonement. Salvation came to the Jews, not by keeping the law, because none of them could do it. Salvation came because they understood its true purpose of revealing sin, pointing toward the Cross to come, and their turning to God.
Unfortunately, many good Bible teachers, seminaries, and churches adhere to Dispensationalism out of ignorance, tradition, or bad mentoring. Most are just confused over the semantics of covenant verses dispensation, while others go overboard to the point of saying Spiritual Gifts are not for modern Christians and some even deny the role of Baptism, saying it was for the early church only. Again, as this is not essential salvation-based theological stuff, we can agree to disagree. Just make sure you base your theology on what the Scriptures say, and not what you think they should say!
© 1998, 2002 R.J. Krejcir Into Thy Word http://www.intothyword.com/