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This Worldwide Movement, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 2, 2023 9:00 am

This Worldwide Movement, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 2, 2023 9:00 am

What do you think is the greatest sign of Christian maturity? We close the “Romans” series in today’s message by looking at a seemingly unimportant list of acknowledgements of people serving in the church that fill the last pages of the letter.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We always tell you here, you've got a part of the mission. All of you, not just those of you that are gifted like me, but all of you have a part of the mission. We always tell you, God made you good at something. Whatever he made you good at, do it well to the glory of God, but also do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God and leverage it for the mission of God. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. We're glad you're joining us today as we head to the finish line of our study in the Book of Romans. Have you ever wondered what is the greatest sign of Christian maturity?

Today, we'll be looking at a seemingly unimportant list of acknowledgments of people serving in the church that fill the last pages of the letter. But Pastor J.D. helps us see its importance in showing us why we never outgrow our need for connection to God's family. And that, my friend, is the measure of our spiritual maturity.

So grab your Bible and pen and let's return to Romans chapter 16 for our final teaching in the Book of Romans. Paul seems to be swimming in friends. And by the way, not just one kind of friend, not just other important apostles and other people who are really people of stature.

People, ethnically diverse friends, weak friends, strong friends, slaves, free, rich, poor, men and women. If I could just be really, really personal with you all for a moment, I'll tell you as this church has gotten bigger, I have felt this temptation. It's like a tracker beam toward isolation. You start to believe this lie that there's all this important stuff out there to be doing. And so I don't have time for the messiness of ordinary relationships. I'll tell you, Veronica, my wife and I have battled against that because we know that that kind of isolation does not lead anywhere good.

And I always quote to you this statement by the late David Pauluson, a Christian counselor, things that grow in a secret garden always grow mutant. People who live by themselves, people who live in isolation without peers, without people who can look them in the eye and just be real with them, they always end up in a bad place. You ever notice, by the way, how a lot of men, how a lot of men as they get older have less and less friends? They pull away and by the time they're in their late 50s, they've got very few actual friends outside of their wives. Again, that's not exclusively a man problem, but I see it a lot with men. That's dangerous because that is not how God designed you to live.

And I promise you, it will lead to all kinds of problems. Yet some Christians feel like the ability to live by yourself with just God is some kind of mark of spiritual maturity. Oh, it's fine. I don't need anybody else. It's just me and God and that's sufficient.

That's actually wrong. Listen to what Tim Keller says. I love this.

Look at this. Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect. In the garden, you know, not good that man should be alone. Adam was lonely. Oh, Adam, something was wrong with that.

No. He wasn't lonely because he was imperfect. He was lonely because he was perfect. The ache for friends is the one ache that is not the result of sin. God made us in such a way that we couldn't even enjoy paradise without friends.

You're in a perfect place, right? No pain. Play all day. You can't even enjoy that without a friend. He said, human friends. Adam had a perfect quiet time every day.

For 24 hours a day, he had a quiet time. Yet still, Adam needed friends. If you're lonely, you aren't dysfunctional. You're healthy. You're lonely because you're not a tree.

You're lonely because you're not a machine. To need deep spiritual friendships is not a sign of spiritual immaturity. It's a sign of maturity. It's not a sign of weakness.

It is a sign of health. Love and connection to the body, listen, is the ultimate sign of Christian maturity, which is why when Paul lists out all these names and praises them, he doesn't talk about how important they are. He doesn't talk about their status in society.

He doesn't talk about how much money that they've given the ministry. Over and over, he praises one thing. Their devotion to God and their devotion to one another because for Paul, that's the ultimate sign of maturity. The health of your walk with Jesus is measured less by how much you know. It's measured less by how gifted you are. It's even measured less by how many people you brought to faith in Christ and more by how much you know and are known in the body of Christ. You need to beware any sense of importance or busyness that cuts you off from that because that is cutting you off from your spiritual health, the spiritual health that God gives to you by being in a family and a community in the body of Christ. I've told you, I've just admitted you, I have sort of a natural proclivity toward this.

I think a lot of men do, but my wife has helped me out a lot with this. She's like, this is just gonna do nothing but mess up your quality of life, even if that's all you're concerned about, if you get isolated. And one of her most like statements she always throws up in my face is this one. Fame is making yourself accessible to a bunch of people you don't really care about at the expense of those that you do. That's Veronica Greer, spiritual advisor to J.D.

Greer, right? Because what happens is you, what she's helped me see is the church being bigger is not gonna make you happier. More people knowing your name, having your name on this and that out there, that's not gonna make you happier. If God calls you to do it, then do it and serve others with it. But really what adds to the quality of life, what makes life enjoyable, what makes it healthy and thriving is the peer community, having that type of community.

And I just don't feel like we acknowledge that much. You see what Paul values there in Romans 16 is he values connection and he himself is one who is connected. The third thing you see, you see that ordinary members play extraordinary roles in the body. This list, maybe the most astounding thing about it to me is it shows you that there's a whole lot of people involved in the ministry, most of whom you'll never hear about again, like Tertius. Some of you had through you, and I read that verse 22 about Tertius because it says Tertius wrote the letter. I, Tertius, who wrote the letter, greet you in the Lord, you're like, wait a minute, I thought Paul wrote the letter. Yeah, Paul dictated the letter.

It was his thoughts, but Tertius is the guy who actually wrote it on paper because evidently he was trained as a scribe. So verse 22 is like him poking his head from around the camera. He's the camera and he pokes his head around the camera.

It's like, hey everybody, and then goes back around the back. That's what he's doing there. You're never gonna hear about Tertius again, yet every word that you read in Romans was penned by his penmanship. Tryphana and Tryphosa and Perseus, Paul says works hard. In fact, one of them works really hard, but you had to wonder about the first two.

If Tryphana and Tryphosa work hard, then he's like, but Perseus really hard. They're like, oh, we totally got slammed, but they all worked hard in the ministry. Then you got Priscilla and Aquila who risked their necks for the ministry, opened up their homes for church meetings, and then you got beloved Rufus's mom. It's like, oh, say hi to your mom because you know what?

She's like a mom to me. Here you've got a woman who is of such stature that the apostle Paul feels like she is able to care for me and mentor me and nurture me, and so when I'm given a shout out in the Bible, I'm gonna talk about Rufus's mom because of the role she plays in my life. Now again, friends, most of those people you will never hear about again, yet they had a huge impact on the spread of the gospel and the fact that you're sitting here right here this weekend.

You owe a debt of gratitude to all of them. Historian Stephen Neal says that nothing is more remarkable about the spread of the gospel in the first century than its anonymity. He said we're always talking about the apostles. He said if you look at the three big church planting capitals, three big church planting centers at the end of the first century, so 100 AD, there were three major kind of places of activity, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome.

Jerusalem had already been destroyed by this point. Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome. He said what they all have in common, they're all church planting centers, they're all thriving, they would all shape Christianity for the next several hundred years. He said we don't have any idea who planted the churches in Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome. There's a bunch of people like the ones you see listed out in Romans 16. In fact, the founding of the church in Antioch is recorded in Acts 11, and here's all it says. I'll read you the verse that talks about a group of people going there. Luke does not, the author of Acts, does not mention the name of a single one of the founders of that church.

All he says is, and the Lord's hand was with them. Them. Them. Them is Luke's way of saying a bunch of dudes and dudettes whose names I won't even mention because you're never gonna hear anything about them again anyways.

The kind of people who get listed in the credits in the movie is bystander number three. Yet they planted a church that would one day send out the apostle Paul and become a missionary capital, a church planting church that would impact all of Christian history. These are the people you see in Romans 16. Unknown people who worked hard. They sacrificed.

Many suffered and some died. And because they did, we are here. When they lived, when they got together in their prayer meetings and they prayed for the gospel to go to the ends of the earth, we were the ends of the earth. Our ancestors were the ends of the earth. We weren't from the centers of power and civilization. You trace back most of our ancestors.

We were the ends of the earth at that time. And they're praying for us. And because they labored, because they sacrificed, because they were willing to serve in anonymity, because they live for that kingdom and not their own, you and I are here this weekend. Well, see, I share that because Romans 16 makes me say it's our turn. If Paul were writing a letter to our church today, if there was a book of the Bible called Paul's Letter to the Summit, that'd be pretty awesome, wouldn't it?

Would he mention your name? In every generation that the gospel really goes forward, it is because ordinary people like the ones you see in Romans 16 grab a hold of their responsibility in the movement. One of the greatest gospel expansions took place in the early 1700s in a movement most of you will scarcely have heard about. It was led by a guy named Count, let me get his name right, Count Ludvig von Zinzendorf, which by the way, parents, that's another name I tell you to avoid if you're trying to name your kid. But he founded a movement called the Moravians.

Here's how it started. He was very, very wealthy. And in his early 20s, he was in an art museum and there was a famous painting called Ecce Homo, Behold the Man, picture of Jesus bloodied and on the cross. And on the bottom was a little thing written out in Latin that said, all this I've done for you, what have you done for me? God really began to work in Zinzendorf's life. He realized that he had all this privilege and he was supposed to do something with it. He began to, he had developed this famous statement that I actually share with you a lot where I'll ask you like, where would you be without Jesus?

And then the answer I give you is you'd be at exactly the same place millions of people are in the world without you because it doesn't matter if Jesus dies, if nobody ever hears about it, that the preaching of the gospel is an important part of the saving act of the gospel. That's what Zinzendorf began to preach to his generation. He began to use his estate and his means to be able to train young, a bunch of young, early 20s gospel emissaries who would go out from his place there in Bavaria, parts of Germany, and they would go out to the ends of the earth. Not only was it like seminary pastor types of people like me, the Moravians started these for-profit trading companies. They say, by the way, that the for-profit trading companies that went to these places, they were more secure and more stable than the missionary ventures and they ended up having a bigger gospel impact. When you trace the end of the movement, you see that in just the span of about 100 years, they brought the gospel from Greenland to Guyana, from Jamaica to Cape Town, from New York to North Carolina. A few of them even settled in the place that I would one day grow up, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They established a gospel community there and their impact would shape the community that I grew up in.

The church that I grew up in was less than a mile from the gospel outpost the Moravians had established in 1753. Zinzendorf's motto, his credo that he gave to this generation was, I love this, preach the gospel, die and be forgotten. And a whole generation said, that's what we're going to do. Whether they were in the ministry side or whether they were in the business side, they said, it's not going to be about building our kingdom. Our goal is to preach the gospel, die and be forgotten.

Yes, forgotten history, but remembered by you and me. But because of that, specifically because of them with me, I'm impacted by the gospel. Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten with an impact that resonates for eternity. That's what you see in Romans 16. Here's a question for you.

Is that going to be you? Thanks for listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit us at jdgreer.com. Did you know Pastor J.D. has a brand new book coming out? It's called 12 Truths and a Lie, answers to life's biggest questions. In this newest work, he unpacks what the gospel has to say about some of life's biggest questions like, what's my purpose?

And how do I know for sure I'll go to heaven? There's also a special podcast you'll want to listen to that coincides exactly with this new book as well. So be sure to check that out too. The book actually releases on December 5th, but we have a very special offer for our Summit Life listening family. If you reserve your copy right now, you'll receive a free copy of the audiobook version as well, which is read by Pastor J.D.

himself. To pre-order your copy of 12 Truths and a Lie, just head over to jdgreer.com. But right now, let's head to the finish line of the book of Romans. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. We always tell you here, you've got a part of the mission. All of you, not just those of you that are gifted like me, but all of you have a part of the mission. We always tell you, God made you good at something.

Whatever he made you good at, do it well to the glory of God, but also do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God and leverage it for the mission of God. A recent Forbes magazine survey indicates that 75 percent of college graduates, 75 percent believe that their job is going to carry them overseas at some point. Now, if you ask me, I think that number is a little high. It's kind of like the same, you know, studies show that 84 percent of college graduates think they're above average at math. And you're like, I feel like that's a little self-defeating.

But regardless, whether that's inflated or not, there's a lot of you that are already thinking about where your career is going to take you. And what I want to tell you is, preach the gospel, die and be forgotten, be a part of this faithful them. I think this chapter gives you a preview of heaven.

By listing out all their names, what Paul is saying is nobody ever saw you, but I see you and I commend you. One day, Jesus is going to do that. Is he going to recognize you that that was your agenda, what you see in Romans 16. I got a big house, I'm using it for the church. I got this gift and this ministry. God's given me this kind of prosperity.

I'm going to use it for the church. I'm going to preach the gospel, die and be forgotten, but leave a legacy that resonates for eternity. Those are the three things that you can learn from that list. Number one, our unity in the body outweighs our divisions in society. Number two, you never graduate from connection to the body.

That is the highest mark of maturity. And number three, ordinary members play extraordinary roles. That's what we learn from this final little list that Paul tucks in at the end.

It's not just the extra credit role. But Paul's final words in Romans are reserved for God. As Paul reflects on the gospel that he's just written about, the movement he's a part of, Paul does what he has done two or three times in the book of Romans and that is, he breaks into a prayer, verse 25. Now to him who is able, he says, to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ.

By the way, with that word able, he connects you back intentionally to what he said at the beginning. See, Romans 1 16, I told you it was a key verse in Romans. Remember this, I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation.

The word power, I explained to you, is the word dunamis, which later they would use to come up with the word dynamite. Paul uses that same word here. So what he's doing is he's taking you in your mind back to the beginning of Romans and he says now to him, to the one who is powerful to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ. He's saying that the same God who was powerful to save you by the gospel is the God who will give you the power to strengthen you in the gospel. God launched your salvation by the gospel. He will sustain it by the gospel. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation from start to finish.

It's not just the power to save you, it's the power to strengthen you. It's why for 16 chapters Paul is taking us in and out of the gospel because, friend, the gospel, as we say, is not just how you begin in Christ, the gospel is also how you grow in Christ. The gospel is not the diving board off of which you jump into the pool of Christianity. The gospel is the pool itself.

It's not just the ABCs, it's the A through Z. We never go beyond the gospel. And Paul said in this gospel is the power for everything. So I'm going to take 16 chapters and I'm just going to try to show you the insides and outsides of it because in it is the power for everything in the Christian life. 16 chapters to explain why the gospel is all that you need. 16 chapters to show you how the gospel can transform you. It can transform your outlook on life.

It can transform your relationships and your family with your neighbor. 16 chapters to explain that the gospel is the hope of the world and it is worthy of us giving our lives to. 16 chapters.

Do you remember them? In chapter one, Paul explains what a mess we were and why if we were to be saved only God could do it. Only God could do it. In chapter two, he unpacked why religion can't save us because he said, religion, you see, neither removes the stain of sin nor repairs sins, damage to our hearts. You find yourself having to conclude with Paul in chapter three, there is none righteous, not even one. There's no one who understands. There's none who seeks God.

All have turned away. There's nobody who does what is good, not even one, not Jew or Gentile, not rich or poor, black or white, religious or irreligious. All have sinned, Paul says, and all fall short of the glory of God.

Yet there's good news, he says, for all, right, for all, for gift righteousness through redemption in Christ Jesus whom God brought forth, presented as an atoning sacrifice through faith in his blood so that God could be simultaneously just, the upholder of righteousness and the justifier, the one who gives righteousness to the one who has faith in Jesus. So Paul says, where then is boasting? Where does this division come from in your church? It is excluded with the pride being excluded that makes, the pride that makes us feel superior to one another.

With that being excluded, so is division excluded. For we conclude, he says, that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. It's the one who does not work, he says, chapter four, the one who does not work but believes on him who justifies the ungodly. It is his faith that is counted for righteousness, and that's available to anybody, no matter where they come from or what they do. To those who trust the promise, just like our father Abraham did when God said to him that he would give him a son back from the dead, Abraham believed that God was able to accomplish what God said he would accomplish.

It was counted to Abraham for righteousness, and it wasn't just written to him for his sake, but for all who have the faith of Abraham who believe in Jesus that was delivered up for our trespasses and raised again for our justification. Romans five and six were our glorious reminder that since we have now been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that his life in us now gives us victory over sin, because though the wages of our sin, what we had earned is death, the gift that God gave us was eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. So Paul said you got to reckon yourself dead to sin, that's not you anymore, you're now alive to God through Jesus Christ. Romans seven, Paul describes our ongoing battle with the flesh and with sin, and with Paul in that chapter we despaired that though our minds knew what we ought to do with our flesh, we couldn't make ourselves do it. We lament with Paul that there is really nothing good in our flesh, and we cry out with Paul, who will deliver me from this body of death? And then with Paul we answer, well I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, the gift that was given to me, and when I receive him I celebrate with Paul in Romans eight, the greatest chapter in the Bible, that there is now no condemnation for those of us, for me who is in Christ Jesus. That regardless of what you and I are going through, we know that God's plans for us are only and always good, that all things work together for good to them who love God or are called according to his purpose, because we know that the ones that God foreknew, those are the ones he predestined, the ones he predestined are the ones he called, the ones he called are the ones he justified, and the ones he has justified are the ones he is going to glorify.

That confidence that we have in salvation, Paul says, is now the confidence that you can walk into the face of Rome with. If God is for you, who's going to be against you? Because if he didn't even spare his own son for you when you were his enemy, how will he not also with him freely give us all things? Who can bring an accusation against God's elect?

God is the one who justifies you. Who could separate you from the love of Christ? Could affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? For Paul, by the way, it would mean being beheaded by Rome. When he goes to that list, every single one of those things he's going to deal with in Rome. Yet he could say, no, in all those things, I am more than a conqueror through him who loves me, because I am persuaded that no matter what Nero does, either death or life or angels or rulers or present things, present things to come or powers or height or depth or anything else in all of creation is going to be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, my Lord.

And if I got the absolute approval of the only one whose opinion really matters, if I've got the acceptance of the only one who sits on the throne and rules history, then Rome, I'm not scared of you. Romans 9, 10, and 11 show us that we can trust that God is going to keep these promises to us because he kept all his promises to Israel, every single one of them. Romans 9 through 11 present a God to us who is eager to save, a God who works mysteriously, yes, yet always mercifully. A God whose ways lead us to conclude all the depth of the riches and both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God.

How unsearchable his judgment, how untraceable his ways. Romans 12 was the hinge of the entire book, showing us that those who believe the gospel inevitably they become like the gospel. Those who have been greatly loved have no choice but to become people of great love. Chapter 13 explains how our hope in God's eternal kingdom enables us to endure in this hostile one. Chapter 14 expresses our mottos as believers. If we live, we live for the Lord. If we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we do it for the Lord. Chapter 15 shows us that we each have a role to play in God's kingdom, a sacred trust in carrying out this mission.

Chapter 16 simply illustrates that by celebrating the beauty of the body of Christ in the chapter, we see a God who glorifies himself by putting our love for each other on display and by using ordinary people in extraordinary ways in his kingdom. So as we come to the end of this letter with the apostle Paul, how can we not burst into praise with him and say, now to him who is able to strengthen me according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept silent for long ages, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God, to advance the obedience of the faith among the Gentiles, to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to him be the glory forever. Amen. All God's people said, amen. Amen.

That's it. After 16 chapters of Romans, this book can be summarized by saying that we're desperately lost without Jesus. So he came to live the life you couldn't live and die the death you deserved. You don't have to understand every word of Romans to understand that and believe it. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor and author J.D.

Greer. Today's message was the conclusion of our year-long teaching series through the book of Romans. But before we wrap up today, I want to remind you that you can still get our featured resource that we've been talking about for the past few weeks. It's the second part of a two-part Bible study through the book of Romans written by our friend, the late Pastor Tim Keller, and it's called In View of God's Mercy.

This book covers the final nine chapters of Romans, and it'll make a great study to take you even deeper into these scriptures in your own devotional time or a perfect study to walk through with a small group or one-on-one with a friend. To receive your copy, simply give a gift of $35 to support this ministry. You can call us at 866-335-5220, or you can give online at jdegreer.com. Now, before we close, let me remind you that if you aren't yet signed up for our email list, you'll want to go online and do that today. It's the best way to stay up to date with Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts.

It's quick and easy to sign up at jdegreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to listen again tomorrow as Pastor J.D. begins a new teaching series called Together We Endure in the book of 1 Peter. So we'll see you here Friday on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-02 11:51:22 / 2023-11-02 12:02:51 / 11

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