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A Gallery of Grace

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2024 12:00 am

A Gallery of Grace

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 16, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version of this message or the other messages in this series here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/when-the-roll-is-called-up-yonder. In typical fashion, Paul wraps up his letter to the Romans by greeting and thanking diverse individuals who are worthy of affirmation. But before they get too big-headed, Paul reminds them that God is the One who really deserves the credit. The gallery of our faith is just a hall in the greater gallery of God's grace.

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It will be Timothy whom Paul sends to the Corinthians. To put them in remembrance, Paul writes, of my ways which are in Christ. It was Timothy who was sent to the Philippian believers along with a commendation from Paul that read, For I have no one else of kindred spirit. Surely this kind of commitment and insight and passion and faithfulness would be the result of three and four and five generations of godly Christianity. I mean, that's how you get into the gallery of grace, right?

Wrong! The Apostle Paul concluded his letter to the Romans by greeting and thanking several individuals who were worthy of affirmation. Paul also wanted them to understand that it wasn't so much about their greatness. It was God who really deserved the credit.

Stephen Davey has called this series, When the role is called up yonder. But this role of godly saints is a testimony of God's grace. We're going to learn more about that in this lesson called, A Gallery of Grace.

This is Wisdom for the Heart. Open your Bible to Romans 16 and join Stephen for today's message from God's Word. It's interesting, you go to a museum where the famous works of many artists, famous etchings and carvings, sculpted works of bronze and marble along with the famous paintings that people clamor to own. And it got me to thinking, what I find most fascinating is that God considers his greatest masterpieces to be made of flesh and blood. His greatest works are clothed in skin. You, ladies and gentlemen, are his greatest living, breathing masterpieces known to mankind. To the Ephesians, Paul wrote that we are God's workmanship from the word poema. Literally, we are God's poetry. We are God's works of art. If you want to visit the greatest gallery of masterworks, just come to church and look around. Look at the masterpiece sitting next to you or behind you. Don't look too shocked when you look in front of you.

Smile, don't stare. You happen to be the greatest masterpieces of God's grace. The most priceless works of art are the redeemed. Men and women of all ages created with the master strokes of grace, people who now belong to the great artist, the greatest of all, Jesus Christ. Now, we have been studying Romans chapter 16 and we have been basically working our way through this gallery of grace.

We've been introduced to one man and woman after another. They're part of the church at Rome. You could think of the church at Rome as the best art gallery around that known world. But in Paul's closing greetings after now we have worked our way through his severe warnings, we arrive at verse 21 where he will send greetings. However, these hellos are not from Paul. These particular greetings are from other believers who are in Corinth sending their greetings back to the believers in Rome. You could call this particular section a part of the Corinthian gallery of grace. Let's work our way through a few verses.

Timothy, my fellow worker greets you. Paul writes in verse 21. Now, without a doubt, we can say a lot about Timothy, but Timothy was closer to Paul than any other person on the planet, wasn't he?

Paul poured weeks and months and years into discipling this young man who would go on to lead several churches that Paul would help plant as well as the renowned church in Ephesus. Timothy, you may remember, was the son of a racially mixed marriage and also a mixed marriage of belief. His father was an unbelieving Greek.

His mother was a Jewess. And Paul's two letters to Timothy were never told when Timothy came to faith in Jesus Christ. But if you put the clues together, he and his mother and grandmother would have heard the gospel when Paul came to Lystra on Paul's first missionary journey. They heard Paul deliver the news that Jesus had fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Lois and Eunice had poured the Old Testament scriptures into Timothy's heart and life after he was born and throughout his early years. They saw it validated in the gospel of Christ through Paul's preaching.

They also saw it validated through the miracles of Paul, which Hebrews tells us authenticated the message of grace through that apostolic community who were endowed with special miraculous power. Paul there in Lystra settled his gaze on a crippled man. A man, the text tells us, was crippled from his birth, from his mother's womb.

He was born lame. And Paul said to him, stand upright on your feet. And the text says, the man leaped up and began to walk. Now that had everybody's attention as Paul delivered the gospel that this is from the power of Christ, whom I represent in this new era of grace.

The citizens, in fact, of Lystra assumed that gods had come to earth. And so they nicknamed Paul and Barnabas, Zeus and Jupiter, and began to worship them. And it took some effort of Paul to stop the worship of them saying, we're just ordinary men.

Stop. And they finally did. In fact, the text tells us that Jews came from Antioch who were upset with Paul and Barnabas in the gospel of Christ. They stirred up the crowd and the same crowd, if you can imagine it, that was worshiping Paul and Barnabas now gathers stones and stone Paul, assuming they've stoned him to death.

They drag him out of the city and they leave him for dead. The text tells us as the story continues that Paul rose. Same word used of Christ's resurrection.

Many believe that he rose from the dead. He arose and he went back into the city. Now, that's where Paul's testimony is different than mine would be.

I would arise and leave the city. Paul arose and returned to the city and preached and there was great fruit. After that second missionary journey, this young man now, 21 years of age, named Timothy, followed Paul and became his associate, which means that somewhere 21 years earlier, something significant had happened. His mother Timothy's mother, who had violated the law of God by marrying an unbelieving Gentile, offered her prayer and hope in the naming of her son Timothy, which means honoring God. She had poured her life into that young boy, teaching him the Old Testament scriptures and Timothy would later grow up and fulfill that prayer as she also came to faith in Christ who would fulfill all Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah.

Let me, before I move on, say something about this particular masterpiece of grace. A son born to a believing woman and an unbelieving father, the absence of a godly father does not erase the power of God the Father. The work of God's grace in your life is not genetic.

It is supernatural. It can be fostered and nurtured by godly parents and should be as Timothy testifies. But the absence of it doesn't mean that a godly heritage will never ensue. In fact, if you have a godly heritage, don't take it for granted.

Thank God for it. Benefit from it. Learn from it. Stand on the shoulders of those godly ones who came before you and take it even further in your commitment to Christ. Praise God for the heritage you have. But if you do not have a godly heritage, don't be discouraged. Don't be discouraged. God's plan for your life is not shortchanged because you weren't raised in the truth.

He had you come to faith at the perfect time for you and for his cause. Now that you've come to faith, though, begin it. Begin the heritage. You're to start it. You're the first one perhaps in your family.

Run with it. Years later, it will be Timothy that Paul sends to Thessalonica to build up the saints and settle some serious disputes there in the church. It will be Timothy whom Paul sends to the Corinthians. To put them in remembrance, Paul writes, of my ways which are in Christ.

It was Timothy who was sent to the Philippian believers along with a commendation from Paul that read, for I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. Surely this kind of commitment and ability and insight and passion and faithfulness would be the result of three and four and five generations of godly Christianity. I mean that's how you get into the gallery of grace, right?

Wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, you get into the gallery because of grace. Godly parents do not guarantee godly progress, nor do unbelieving parents guarantee unbelief. This would be true in the life of Timothy, that the lack of spiritual influence in his youth did not forfeit spiritual insight in his future. Timothy, my fellow worker greets you. What a story. Paul goes on to write in verse 21 and so does Lucius and Jason and Sosipater.

I had to practice that to get it right today. Let's go back to Lucius. He shows up again in the book of Acts.

We won't turn there for the sake of time. The leaders of the church in Antioch are named. Most believe that this same Lucius from Cyrene was a friend of Simon of Cyrene. They both served in the early church. Simon, of course, the one who carried the crossbeam of Christ up the hill. This Lucius is introduced to us as one of the five faithful men who led the early church in Antioch.

Five interesting men actually. You had a Jew from Cyprus named Barnabas. You had a Gentile. You had an aristocrat named Manaen, who's a story all of its own. Manaen was raised with Herod Antipas in the same household. Manaen would go on to trust Christ.

This Herod would be the one who would have John the Baptist beheaded, as their paths obviously took different routes. Along with these men serving now as leaders in the church in Antioch, you had an African man named Lucius, this one mentioned here in Romans. And you have a converted rabbi named Saul. Later, his name is changed to what?

Paul. So you have a Gentile, a Jew, a black man, a white man, an aristocrat, and a poor man, all leading in the church in Antioch. In fact, the church, ladies and gentlemen, in Antioch where Lucius served who now sends his greetings to the believers in Rome would become an example of unity in the face of diversity. In fact, I'll go further and say that the church in Antioch where Lucius served proved at the very outset of this dispensation of grace that the problem of prejudice is not a problem of class. It is not a problem of color. It is a problem of character.

You convert the character and you solve the problem of color and the problem of class. Paul mentions Jason next in verse 21. He also appears in a dramatic event recorded in Acts chapter 17. All of these men, by the way, are sermons all by themselves, but I'm not going to do that. I'm handling all of them in one sermon. Have you noticed that? And all the people said?

Yeah. Luke says, the Jews formed a mob and they set the city in an uproar and coming upon the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. Let me just read it to you for the sake of time. Evidently Paul and Silas have hidden in the house of Jason as this mob is created to kill them. And then they slip out evidently the back door because they're not found. And we know that they were searched for throughout the whole house because the text says, and when the mob did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities shouting, these men who have upset the whole world have come here also. And Jason has welcomed them.

Can you imagine this scene? What a testimony. Luke goes on to record in verse seven, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar saying that there is another King, Jesus.

Isn't that wonderful? And they stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. And when they had received a pledge from Jason, literally bail, when they received bail from Jason and the others, they released him.

And the courage of Jason doesn't need much commentary. He evidently lived to tell the story, of course, no doubt gained great respect in the early church, but he was a man who put his life on the line for the apostle Paul and the gospel of Christ. And he became associated with these who were known by the city in this wonderful testimony of those who are upsetting the whole world. That was their testimony.

They're upsetting the whole world. And what of Christianity today? We live in the opposite era, don't we? Where we don't want to upset anybody with the gospel. Let's make Christianity a pleasant thing. Let's advertise Christianity as an easy thing to switch to for people who want to just try Jesus out. So a bumper sticker this last week, try Jesus. You don't try Jesus.

You trust him. And then he revolutionizes your life. Ladies and gentlemen, when I invited Jesus Christ into my life, I invited trouble. When you invited Jesus Christ into your life, you invited pressure like the world knows nothing of. Your struggles are greater. Now that you know the truth, now that you follow the way, now that you have been exposed to the light, then had you remained in darkness.

We advertise Christianity with some sort of incentive that is easy. No, it isn't. Suddenly you can no longer go with the flow. You can't float downstream with all the other dead fish.

Now you swim upstream and that's hard and challenging. And as I reread these stories surrounding these men and this wonderful content of their lives, it struck me, it occurred to me that wherever Paul went, a riot broke out. Wouldn't that be something for church? You want to join this church? Great.

Here's your riot gear. And before you join, you need to go down the hallway and take the class on how to bandage open wounds. How to handle persecution with perseverance is across the hall. Now wherever the church in America goes, it has come to expect appreciation and deference and applause and a seat at the table. Is our gospel so diluted that nowhere in it is any truth that would give our world even the slightest case of heartburn? What did Jesus Christ mean when he said they're going to hate you like they hated me?

It makes me ask the question, does anybody hate me because of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Well, ask Jason what it was like to deny himself, take up his cross and follow after Christ because he put his life on the line and he did it. And he now is one of the masterpieces in this gallery of grace.

The next name is Sosipater or the shortened name Sopater. He was one of the Bereans who heard Paul preach in Acts chapter 17. He listened. He went back to the scriptures to see if those things were what?

Were so. And after confirming that Paul's message was the truth, he was among those who placed his faith in Christ and entered the living church. Now verse 22, I Tertius who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. It's interesting because it's at this point that we uncover the truth that Paul isn't writing the letter with his own hand. He's dictating the letter. And Tertius is the man, the secretary as it were, who's writing down the letter. A man in the household many believe of, Gaius, who's writing down whatever Paul is saying to the Romans.

And here there's this parentheses. He sort of stuffs in his greeting. Many believe that Paul was kind enough to allow him to include that greeting, which would have been a custom. And also there is the belief that Paul was afflicted with the oriental eye disease, ophthalmia contracted in the lowlands of Pamphylia during his first missionary journey, which brought on near blindness. Perhaps this was his thorn in the flesh.

We don't know for sure, but there seems to be evidence to this. To the Corinthians, he wrote, this greeting is in my own hand. In other words, someone dictated the letter and he simply picked up the quill and wrote a few greetings there at the end. Near the end of his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote, you see with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand, with my own hand because of apparent physical difficulty, maybe it was his eyesight. Paul, when he did pick up the pen had to write with large letters so he could see what he was writing. Now Paul is dictating the epistle to the Romans to this one known as Tertius. What a privilege for Tertius, isn't it? Consider that Paul evidently allowing him now to pen his own greeting.

I Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. What's even more significant ladies and gentlemen is that Tertius isn't a name, it's a number. The Roman masters identified their servants, oftentimes according to the oriental custom by number.

Now in the Roman culture, the name Primus would have been like Mr. This was the title of distinction. It meant literally first man, means first. This first man above the others was given the responsibility to manage the household. He was in charge of the marketing and the purchasing. By the way, this is the position that Joseph was elevated to in Potiphar's house. He was first man.

He managed his household. In Paul's day, this man would have simply been referred to as Primus. The second and third and fourth servants were also given names as numbers and they had responsibilities in descending importance. After Primus was Secundus and Paul in one letter greets a Secundus, simply means second man. After him was Tertius, simply the third man in line. If Secundus was unavailable and Primus was away doing something and something had to be done, it would be the duty of Tertius or the third man to do the duty of the servant in charge. Most believe that Tertius, then this third man, was one of the servants in the household of Gaius, this wealthy man mentioned next in verse 23.

His estate was large. The text tells us that he's not only able to host Paul, but he's able to host the assembly when they gather to worship. If you skip ahead, by the way, to verse 23, you also see another man mentioned here, another servant. His name is Cortus.

Again, a number. He's the fourth man. Evidently one of the other servants in the home of Gaius, he is fourth in line, fourth in charge.

And by the way, in case you're tempted to think that the servants occupied a lesser status in the church, Paul added the descriptive phrase, Cortus what? The brother. He is our brother. He is equal with us. Imagine in the gallery of grace, there is this wealthy master and landowner and two servants, number three man and number four man.

And in case you're wondering, they are our brothers. Paul mentioned one other man in verse 23, Erastus, the city treasurer greets you. By the way, it is a blessing to see a political leader who aligned himself with the gospel of Christ, genuinely aligning himself with the church. In Acts chapter 19, he's referred to as a man who served Paul.

The tense of the verb indicates habitual service for the cause of Christ. Erastus, a political leader who loved the church, who loved Christ and the gospel. In 1929, interestingly enough, archeologists working in Corinth uncovered a Latin inscription on a paving block near the main road. With this inscription dating back to the first century in the time of Paul, and I quote that inscription, Erastus, commissioner for public works, laid this pavement at his own expense. Most believe it is the same Erastus, a steward or manager of Corinth's business affairs.

A.T. Robertson, a Greek scholar called him the city manager. And it was known in that day for political leaders to pay for some public work. And so Erastus paid to have this portion of the road put in place. Perhaps he wanted to make sure the missionaries got in and out quickly, safely, whatever. But he also had a great testimony in that city as a political leader. There isn't any evidence that Erastus resigned his post when he accepted Christ. In fact, the evidence with this context rather indicates that he held the office at the time of writing and he served both Christ and his city with distinction. He remains an example, by the way, for every political, every civil leader today, every businessman or woman, every professional out there in the community. It is possible to serve Christ and your city. It was possible then, and it is possible today. Now, before we wrap up our study, would you join my imagination as I thought about this church meeting in the home of distinguished Gaius?

Imagine what that would have been like. The servants have prepared the home. They've cleaned it, put out the chairs. They have fixed the meal. And now the assembly's arrived. They've gathered. And as was their custom, a loaf of bread made earlier by the servants and a cup of wine was shared among them in honor of the body and blood of their Savior who had been given for them.

Can you imagine there's Gaius? As the loaf comes by, he breaks off a piece and eats it and he hands it to number three man. And number three breaks it off and eats. There's Erastus who takes the cup, the politically connected, elite, well-known man of the city who drinks.

And as their custom of sharing that common cup, he passes it to Cortis, number four man, who drinks from the same cup. There's something astonishing happening here on this estate. Something amazing had to have happened to allow for the erasure of status and the equality of those brothers and sisters. This ladies and gentlemen is the gallery of grace where servants and masters, simple men and statesmen, eat and drink together.

They've become brothers. This is the masterpiece of God where men and women who are redeemed by Christ are drawn together by grace and you discover if you look carefully, no color, no class, no personal agenda, no turf to protect, no title to polish, just grace and the love for Jesus Christ. This is to be ladies and gentlemen the great gallery for the world and whenever the world comes in or whenever the world sees you out there, they see something more priceless than a Picasso or a Monet or a Rembrandt.

They see the treasure of a transformed life and a demonstration of love between classes and races and ages and careers. It is the unmistakable work of a master artist in this collection of masterpieces called the church that, by the way, he is still in the process of painting, collecting, displaying. We are the gallery. We are the masterpieces.

Let's live like it for the glory of the master artist who still today paints in the colors of grace. With that prayer, Stephen wraps up this series from Romans 16 entitled, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. I want to remind you of a couple of things while this series is still fresh in your mind. First, this series is available as a set of CDs that you can add to your library of Christian resources. Give us a call today at 866-48-BIBLE and we can give you personalized help in obtaining this resource. We also have this series posted to our website and our smartphone app. If you ever miss a lesson but want to stay current, you can go online and get caught up. That website once again is wisdomonline.org. Next time we're with you, Stephen will begin a series called Postcards from John. He'll take you verse by verse through 2nd and 3rd John. Be sure and join us here on Wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-16 00:45:35 / 2024-02-16 00:55:18 / 10

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