November 14, 2021
One of the problems of modern-day Christianity is that we think by sitting in a worship service we’ve done God a wild favor. We sing and listen to a sermon and think we’ve done our duty. We sit, soak, and sour, but God called us to serve. You, friend, have been called to be a minister and servant of the Lord Jesus.
The theme of Romans chapters 15 and 16 is ministry, ministry, ministry. Every member is a minister. The words “minister” and “serve” in Greek are interchangeable. They’re the same word. When you’re serving, you’re ministering. Romans 15:8 says Jesus Christ was a minister; then Paul says, “that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God” (Romans 15:16).
Romans 15:25 says, “But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.” In 15:31, Paul hopes his “service [same Greek word as “minister”] for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.” We minister to others on His behalf and through Him.
Romans 16 begins, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church.” There’s no such thing as an inactive church member. Every member is either building up or tearing down, but you’re active. You’re either part of the team and helping or not a part of the team and hurting. Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”
Every member is either gathering or scattering, working with the Lord Jesus or working against Him. God wants you to serve. You’ve been called into ministry.
As we look at these areas in Romans 15 and 16, ask yourself, “Am I willing for God to minister through me this way?”
Paul begins by describing the ministry of encouragement. If you’re strong in the faith, you’re to encourage the weak and be empathetic with your fellow believers: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another” (Romans 15:5).
We’re to be patient with and comfort one another. This is the ministry of encouragement.
You’re not here to please yourself and make yourself number one. The Church doesn’t exist to make you happy.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was asked to come to speak at one of the Army’s conventions. He was very elderly by then and couldn’t come, so they asked, “Just send us a telegram.” He sent a one-word telegram: “Others.”
As we help others, we’re brought together. God wants us to encourage and lift one another up. If we’re busy picking at each other, we’ll never look up and see the glory of God.
You and I need to be ministers of encouragement. Every one of us needs encouragement, and our God is a God of all consolation. He’s been patient with us; we need to be patient with one another. I need patience and you need it. Everyone has an area of hurting. Look closely and there’s a tear in every heart. Put your arms around your brothers and sisters and help them on. Ask the Lord, “Father, give me the ministry of encouragement.”
Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to bring them to a saving faith in Him, not just so they alone would be saved, but that through them all the world’s nations would be blessed. (See John 4:2.) Jesus came as an evangelist to seek and save all who are lost. The evangelist Paul said, “He has given me the ministry of evangelism” (Romans 15:16). The Lord Jesus set the example.
Every child of God has been saved to bring souls to Jesus Christ. I don’t care how faithfully you attend, how beautifully you sing, or how liberally you give—if you’re not endeavoring to bring souls to Christ, you’re not right with God. Don’t call yourself His follower if your business is not His business, “to seek and to save that which is lost.”
The motivating purpose of your life should be to go to Heaven and take as many with you as you can. Ask Him, “Lord, lay some soul upon my heart and win that soul through me.” If you can’t bring a soul to Jesus, help someone else bring one to Him.
We’re all called upon to give. Paul says the believers in Greece were happy to take up a love offering and send it back to Jerusalem to help the suffering saints there. They had received an incredible spiritual blessing from the Jews, so they wanted to help them in their need.
We’re debtors to the apostles who suffered, the martyrs of the faith. We’re debtors to Jesus Christ and His precious cleansing blood. How can you not want to give to the One who left Heaven to die for you?
If we’ve been so blessed spiritually, should it pain us that we give some of what we can’t keep anyway? Missionary martyr Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
You can invest in the only thing I know of that’s going to Heaven. You can invest in souls. You cannot lose what you invest in Heaven. Ask, “Oh, God, give me the ministry of giving.”
Prayer isn’t getting ready to serve. Prayer is service. You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you really can’t do much more than pray until you’ve prayed.
Some say, “I don’t have much to give, and I’m at home—I don’t see others often enough to be an encourager.” You can pray! Paul had enemies. Paul begged his brethren to pray for him. “I need protection. I need the Gospel to be received. Would you pray I would be delivered and the message received?”
As a college student, just a youngster, I was preaching a revival meeting in Jacksonville, Florida. One of my college buddies, Ernie Harvey, was with me. It was his home church. Ernie said, “Adrian, I’d like you to meet my mother.” I’d never met Mrs. Harvey. Ernie was a big, tall, strapping, athlete. He and I played ball together. I went with Ernie to meet his mother. We went to a dilapidated apartment building, up to a threadbare flat. A little woman came out. She had crippling arthritis. Her hands were puffy. Her joints and knees were swollen. She could hardly stand up straight. But she had the face of an angel.
Now, I was the young evangelist, going to college to play football, full of myself, thinking I’m more important than I was. We visited with her and she asked, “Boys, how did the revival meeting go last night?” I said, “Wonderful, wonderful. God came down, and it was glorious.” I began to tell her all the things that happened. Tears came to her eyes. She said, “I knew it, I knew it. Adrian, the whole time you were preaching, I was on my knees praying for you.”
I thought, “Oh, God, Adrian, you numbskull, you ignoramus! Look at that little body! What pain it must be for this lady even to get on her knees!” But what a ministry! Pray for your pastor, your teacher, your neighbor—pray for people. That is a ministry! And you’ve been called into it.
In Romans 16, Paul mentions a number of people by name. Paul was not just a soul-winner but a friend-maker. We minister by receiving people (See Romans 16:2.), greeting people (v.3), loving them (v.5), helping (v.6), honoring (v.7), and guarding the fellowship against all kinds of false doctrine (v.17-18). How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity and fellowship. (See Psalm 133:1.)
Through Paul, God gave us the book of Romans. This is the Constitution of Christianity. Now we come to the bottom line, the last three verses of the book:
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Paul ends the greatest treatise ever written on the faith with these verses of praise and worship.
Friend, we need to stop complaining about the days in which we live and start worshipping. There’s never been a greater day or age to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God is calling you into ministry. You don’t just sit—you serve. Imagine what could happen if every believer began to fulfill the ministry we are called to. Ask God to make you a ministering servant.
Father God, I pray in the name of Jesus that You will bless and anoint every believer so that as individuals all of us, having different gifts and abilities, may begin in our own ways to serve for your kingdom and Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.