GOSPEL Dashboard: Legacy (Romans 16)

MOTIVATE

Charlie Brown on friendship…

  • Lucy: I think you try too hard Charlie Brown… Be like me, I don’t need any friends. I’m self-sufficient.”
    Charlie: Not me… I need all the friends I can get.”
  • Unfortunately, older we get less friends we have (self-iso, death). Loneliness places you > health risk than smoking 15 cigs a day.[1]

Paul is at the end of his letter to Romans and is grateful for all friends who has crossed his path and those who are to come. Today we will review how our legacy is attached to people more than anything in life, because people are the only thing you can take from earth to heaven.

Our legacy is attached to people more than anything in life, because people are the only thing you can take from earth to heaven.

GOSPEL Dashboard:

  • GOD: God is glorious  / We are worshipers.
    Romans 11:36 “To God be the glory forever. Amen.”
    • OTHERS: We are family
      Romans 12:9, 18 “Let love be genuine… live peaceably with all.”
    • SPIRITUAL GROWTH: We are thermostats.
      Romans 12:6 “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”
    • PRAYER: We are spiritual warriors.
      Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
    • EVANGELISM: We are sent.
      Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the sent feet who preach good news”
    • LEGACY: We are growing godly generations.
      Romans 16:27 “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

Our series has largely been in the book of Romans, which the book has historically had a relationship with spiritual revivals.[2] Whether Augustine, John Wesley, Martin Luther, or any other number of individuals who have been awakened to salvation and spiritual growth through the book of Romans. Recently, at a university in Kentucky, the simple preaching from Romans 12 has sparked a multi-week revival of worship, prayer, and spiritual renewal.[3] Revival is the expected relationship between the Christian and God (cf. Lk 4:1; Ac 6:3,5; 7:55; 11:24; 13:52; Gal 5:16; Eph 5:18; 1 Thes 5:19). Anytime a Christian has drifted, doubted, or disobeyed the Lord, they are in need of revival, which we know is an ongoing need. We should be praying regularly for revival. The test of revival is its endurance through the church to genuinely repent of sin and eagerly mobilize Christians to reach others coming to faith with the gospel of Jesus. This is the fruit in keeping with repentance (Lk 3:8). So, in some sense, this series is preaching and praying for revival at SPBC. May the Lord revive our lives and lips to testify of His goodness and grace, and that He may bring others into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.    
 

EXAMINE             Legacy: We are growing godly generations

Romans 16

  • looks like a list of social media followers or a phonebook (depending on which generation).
  • Names are not interesting, especially ones that are difficult to read and pronounce.
  • But the chapter focuses on Paul’s friends…
  • C.S. Lewis said a friend says: “What, you too? I thought I was the only one.” implying that friendship is formed through shared experiences and commonalities. For Christians, it is Christ. Paul notes this aspect throughout Rom 16 with his phrasing “in Christ” or “in the Lord.”
    • Christ is the grand commonality.
      • Where people from NY, AZ, TX, FL, and MD can overlook differences and get along.
      • Where fans of Ravens, Skins, Cowboys, Steelers,  Packers, Broncos, and whatever else can worship together.
      • Where artists, musicians, writers, sports fans, military personnel, healthcare workers, day care workers, domestic engineers, teachers, business professionals, and those unemployed and retired, can all work together.
      • Where race of white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Native American, or any other ethnicity can bring our differences together for a common cause of the gospel. 
  • Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.
  • Me with friends in MS/HS that changed with eagerness to grow in faith. Apart from Scripture, God has used Christian friendships to shape my heart, mind, and ministry.
  • Christian friends enjoy hanging, laughing, playing, eating, praying, weeping, thinking, dreaming, planning, worshiping together, and so much more.

Romans 16    3 descriptions of a ministry legacy

Paul sends greetings to friends in Rom (16:1-16). He has a word of warning and hope for his friends (Rom 16:17-20). Paul also sends personal greetings from his friends in Corinth (16:21-23). And Paul concludes with a grand doxology (Rom 16:25-27).

We leave a legacy when we recognize people as a gift (Rom 16:1-16)
1  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2  that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
3  Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
4  who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.
5  Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.
6  Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.
7  Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
8  Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
9  Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.
10  Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus.
11  Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus.
12  Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.
13  Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.
14  Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them.
15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

  • Paul’s letters are filled with teaching but also testimony of how the Christian faith is lived out. Paul’s friendships were the success of his ministry.
    • Paul traveled with friends.
    • Paul visited & stayed with friends.
    • Paul encouraged, challenged, and prayed for friends.
    • Paul worked alongside friends.
    • Paul got persecuted, punished, and imprisoned with friends. How many can say they went to prison and sang in jail with friends?
    • Paul at times disagreed with friends… and also reconciled with friends.
    • Paul, at the end of his life, beyond his salvation, was most grateful for friends and ministry partners.
      • Paul in Romans 1:11-12 “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen (same word used in 16:25 “Now, to Him who is able to strengthen you, according to my gospel…”) you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” The implication is that growth in faith is explicitly linked to growth in faith friendships.
      • Philippians 1:3-5 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until know…”
      • 1Thessalonians 2:8 “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become so very dear to us.”
      • “You are my joy and crown”
        (Php 4:1; 1Thess 2:19-20)
      • Hebrews 3:12-13 / 10:24-25
    • We are family and soldiers who need each other to do battle against the enemy (cf. Rom 16:20).
  • In Rom 16, there are more greetings than every letter of Paul’s combined, with 35 individuals and several other groups recognized.
  • Paul’s relationship roles varied: sister (16:1), brother, servant, saints, patron (16:2 Phoebe was a person of means and maturity – wealth used for the gospel).
    Was Phoebe a deacon? Phoebe is described as a servant (daikon), which the word can be used generally or specifically. Since Paul identifies Phoebe with the church in Cenchrae, it probably indicates a specific position (cf. Moo, Schreiner). Women were vital for the spread of the gospel and development of churches in early Christianity, and onward through the ages including today. In this list of 35 names, 10 are women.[4]
    • Christ and the early church elevated women and didn’t endanger women with attacks and abuse with harsh words, lusting eyes, inappropriate innuendos, or unwanted physical contact. Instead, Jesus defended women from wrongful condemnation and defined them as valuable roles in His kingdom.
    • So, while a woman’s role is to be appreciated and elevated, SPBC does hold to a complementarian interpretation of Scripture that women can serve everywhere outside of elder/pastor role in the church (cf. 1Tim 2/3; Titus 1).  
  • Priscilla & Aquila fellow workers who risked their necks for me (16:3-4), churches (16:4-5), beloved Epaenetus & Ampliatus (16:5, 8), Adronicus & Junia were fellow prisoners and kinsman (16:7), as was Herodion (16:11). Rufus’ mother was like a mother to Paul (16:13); Rufus was son of Simon who carried cross of Jesus (cf Mk 15:21).
  • Paul’s friends were diverse with those being Jews/Greek/Roman, men/women, single/married, young/old, servants/wealthy, new/seasoned in faith (cf. Galatians 3:28). When there is great diversity groups must determine what is essential, and what is not, for unity to exist. Unity isn’t determined by uniformity, but each diversity expressing itself for a shared purpose.
  • Paul’s friends represented a network partnership of at least 5 house churches. This should be aim for (small) Family Groups.
    • House of Pricilla & Aquila (Rom 16:5)
    • House of Aristobulus (Rom 16:10)
    • House of Narcissus (Rom 16:11)
    • House of Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and brothers (Rom 16:14).
    • House of Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. (Rom 16:15)
  • 16:5 – “Epaenetus first convert to Christ in Asia” word is actually “firstfruit”, which carries the thought of a harvest to come. If you read missionary biographies or study movements of God, first converts are important for celebrating God’s work of plowing, sowing, planting, and expectation for hope and future harvest.
    • Me with SPBC… Montagne.
      • If you came to Christ during last 13 years…
      • If you joined membership in last 13 years…
      • Member longer than 15/20/25/30/40/45…
      • IMB People Groups…
  • How is it possible for Paul to know so many people that he hasn’t met? Because he invested in people who invested in people. It’s generational discipleship. We have grown too content with simply discipling our similar generation, or sharing with a next gen but not pressing in helping them reach a next gen.  

Let us remember, people are the mission, not programs, ministries, or events. Some helpful ways to remember…

à Hospitality: welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you” (Rom 16:1)  

à Thanksgiving: “I give thanks…” (Rom 16:4)
Who is helping your spiritual growth… and how can you express thanks?

à Affection: “Greet ___ ; Greet one another with a holy kiss.” This is a cultural expression implying greeting with warmth, cheer, sincerity, equality, and love. We must be careful not to create a cultural practice into a timeless truth, or worse to encourage inappropriate behavior. But the principle is that our greetings and care for one another should be warm (cf. Rom 12:10). A kind word of affirmation or listening conversation can go a long way.

  • Some people only receive a kind greeting from a pet and not a human, and this should not be.
    • Marcie from Charlie Brown “No one should be expected to go off to school, or work, or to join the navy without someone to kiss him goodbye. It’s just human nature.”  

à Mission: “servants” (Rom 16:1), “risked their necks” (Rom 16:4), “worked hard” (Rom 16:6), “fellow workers” (Rom 16:9, 12). Christians are not merely members in a social club but workers and soldiers in God’s kingdom (cf. Rom 12:11 “Do not be slothful in zeal; serve the Lord”). Deep community and fellowship is accomplished through service together not sitting together.

We leave a legacy when we speak truth in love (Rom 16:17-20)
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
18  For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
19  For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
20  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

This passage may catch some off guard, with Paul transitioning notes of warm welcome to earnest warning. Yet, the tone aligns with the overall reality that relationships are so important that we must do all possible to guard from harm and grow in the hope of our faith.

Paul warns the Roman church to stay unified in membership and urgent in mission. 16:17 “Watch out” (σκοπέω) implied to take heed or examine critically.[5] Paul warned the Roman believers to affirm teachers of sound doctrine and avoid those who are self-serving for their own comfort and cravings. Therefore, Christians are to be wise to what is good and innocent toward evil.

A church that wants to grow godly generations must have defined doctrine and be bold in truth. We must never waver and wander from the gospel. A church that wavers from biblical teaching is like a blind Uber driver for your life or worse like an army blocking the route to heaven and forcing you onto the ramp exit to hell.[6]

The application for this principle is to place ourselves in environments where we can grow. There are many soil types in the world, but only one that will produce a harvest (cf. Mk 4).

  • What are the soil conditions for what you want to grow?
    Spiritual growth doesn’t happen without intentional habits.

  • Are things growing that you need to uproot?

Being unintentional about faith is not neutral but negative. Weeds will develop, thorns will overgrow, and rotten fruit will emerge.

  • Where have you emphasized God’s love but neglected God’s truth? It happens when we hear but don’t listen/act/obey (cf James 1:22-25).

APPLY/THINK

We leave a legacy when the gospel goes deep in hearts and wide across generations & nations (Rom 16:21-27).

21  Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
22  I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23  Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
25  Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
26  but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
27  to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

  • In the latter half of this passage, Paul lists 8 names who are with him in Corinth and send greetings to Rome.
    • Timothy: Paul’s fellow worker/mentee pastor in Ephesus
    • Lucius, Jason, Sosipater: Jason was Paul’s host in Thessalonika (Acts 17:5-9)
    • Tertius: Paul’s scribe. – [like cameraman waving]
    • Gaius: Paul’s host, probably baptized by Paul (1Cor 1:14)
    • Erastus: city treasurer
    • Quartus

  • Romans (and all Bible) was written from and for ordinary Christians not professional theologians. The church must return to its roots of every believer filled with the Spirit and on mission with God. Paul commended the importance of ordinary people who were faithful living sacrifices for the gospel. The Christian church has been blessed, built, and sustained throughout history by unsung heroes: people who care about the name of Christ more than making a name for themselves; people who don’t get caught up in cultural politics and celebrity chasing, but simply put their hands to the plow and persevere day by day living for Christ and serving Him. 

  • Today, God knows your names  and your our service to Him. You may feel washed up, dried up, fading, or forgotten. These are lies from Satan. Paul’s closing words to Romans
  • Don’t get discouraged if your ministry or work feels insignificant or unnoticed; God sees you (cf. 1Cor 15:58 “knowing that your labor in the Lord is never in vain.”). 

Rom 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Jesus has won the war, but there are still battles being waged (struggles, suffering, sin, death). But there is coming a day when the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet! Until that day, let us all – men & women, young & old, work together to grow godly generations.   

*Place the confusions/complications under Jesus’ feet today.

*See yourself belonging to Jesus and to His body.

God gives us salvation for sin confessed, strength for struggles acknowledged, and comfort for fear identified. Call out to Jesus!

Rom 16:25, 27 “Now to him who is able to strengthen… to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”


[1] https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/loneliness-is-harmful-to-our-nations-health/

[2] See https://www.ligonier.org/posts/book-romans-and-its-impact-church, https://www.crossway.org/articles/why-study-the-book-of-romans/,

[3] https://www.asbury.edu/podcasts/108559/

[4] Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, the mother of Rufus, Julia, the sister of Nereus.

[5] James Dunn, Word Biblical Commentary, Romans 16:17.

[6] https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/gospel-purity/excerpts/how-to-kill-a-church

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