날짜: 2018년 6월 10일
제목: 서바나로 가는 길
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20180603 Sunday Worship Sermon
Romans 15: 22-29 “On the way to Spain”
We have meditated and shared the words of Romans for almost a year.
It has been and is… a precious and meaningful time for myself in meditating on words of Romans and preparing sermons.
And I hope it was a great time for you too.
The Book of Romans is the book that explains to us the essence of the gospel.
So, the Book of Romans has always been at the center of change in Christian history.
There was an outstanding theologian and philosopher called St. Augustine.
He was smart, but he lived a fast life.
It was in the Book of Romans that he was transformed into one of the most brilliant theologians in Christian history.
In the Middle Ages, the words of Romans influenced one Catholic monk.
He was Martin Luther who was a leader of the Reformation.
The Book of Romans was the driving force of courage that enabled him to stand at the forefront of the Reformation.
It was the words from the Book of Romans that also changed John Wesley who was the founder of the Methodist Church into a preacher and evangelist of the gospel.
Thus, the words of Romans have the power to change lives.
This is because of the power of the Gospel of the Romans.
Therefore, I believe that it is meaningful and very important for us to understand and accept the words of Romans.
Also, I believe that the words of Romans has the power to move our lives.
We already know the contents of the Book of Romans is made up of two major parts:
First, the Word of Romans is a doctrinal summary of the problem of salvation.
How will we be saved?
In response to this important question, Paul answers Romans 1:17:
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
It is not by our will or act that we are moved from the place of sinners to the place of righteousness.
It is possible only by faith, by grace that gives faith.
When we believe and rely on the love of Jesus who gave his life for us, we are free and saved.
It is in Romans 8: 1~2.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
After this proclamation about salvation of personal dimension, Paul leads us to a well-balanced place of faith in which we practice.
Balance of our spiritual and faith health is very important, just as our body's health depends on balance.
The doctrine of salvation proclaimed from Romans chapter 1 to chapter 11 is extended by faith as a practice, not as knowledge from chapter 12.
It is emphasized that if we have experienced the grace of God and the joy of salvation, we are now living as a saved person.
That is, as people who are saved, we live as if we were saved.
What do you think is the reason why churches and Christians today do not have a positive influence in society?
Christians must think, speak, and act like Christians.
However, many Christians are giving up living a Christian life because of the small profits and self-satisfaction in front of their eyes.
Those who do not go to church know what the gospel is.
They know who Jesus is.
But why not come to church?
There are two reasons.
One, as I mentioned last Sunday, is that they are disappointed because of two faced Christians.
Another reason is that if they go to church, if they become a Christian, they come to know what a true Christian life is.
They know they need to lay down or give up the self- centered life.
That is why they cannot come to church.
That's what it means to say, "I'll go next."
They want to go, but it is still hard for them to give up the way they are living.
In other words, it is a proof that those who do not believe in Jesus know well what a true Christian life is like.
So Paul is asking us to live as Christians once again.
He continues to explain how to live as Christians from chapter 12.
Let’s look at 12:10-14
“Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…”
It is these things that we must observe in our church community and in our relationships with others.
When these things go well, our faith will be balanced and healthy.
And when our faith becomes healthy, we will live a fruitful life.
In the first half of chapter 15, Paul has made this exhortation to life as a faithful Christian who is saved.
And now Paul adds one thing in today's text.
One thing is added, and the word of Romans is finalized.
What is it?
There is a final piece to complete the Romans, that is, to complete our beautiful faith.
Imagine the Book of Romans as a puzzle, there is a piece in the puzzle that is missing.
To complete this puzzle, we need that final piece.
It is "mission."
Yes, it is a missional mind.
Let’s look at verse 23-24.
“I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while…”
Paul has a plan to visit the Roman Church and then go to Spain.
Yes, Paul writes this letter to the Roman Church, revealing that he has a future goal.
The final destination of his missional life is to go Spain.
People at that time thought Spain was the end of the world.
As we know, Paul was devout and wanted to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He wanted to go to Spain, which he thought was the end of the land to spread the Gospel there.
He prayed earnestly for it.
But before Spain, he wanted to go an another place..
It was Rome.
At that time, Rome was the center of the world.
He thought that if he went to Rome, there would be a way to Spain.
Therefore, Paul wanted to go to Rome.
But, in verse 22, Paul mentions;
“I have so often been hindered from coming to you.”
We do not know what happened, but it did not work out as planned.
Nevertheless, Paul never gave up on the plan.
The reason why Paul did not give up was because of the purpose of his life.
The destination of Paul's mission was Spain.
And the purpose of his life was "to please God."
Yes, in 1 Thessalonians 2: 4, Paul confesses:
“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts…”
Paul wanted to please God all throughout his life.
The reason why he devoted himself to mission is because God is pleased with it.
Paul wanted to go to Rome because he wanted to preach the gospel there and please God.
Likewise, Paul wanted to go to Spain, the end of the world, not to have a pleasant trip, but because of the idea that God would be glad if he would proclaim the Gospel there.
Paul had a desire for this mission and a passion for pleasing God.
This passion for mission and the missional mind is the last piece of the puzzle to complete the book of Romans.
Paul is now seeking the support of the Roman Church in His mission to Spain.
Brothers and sisters, mission is not just done.
Of course, we can do this anytime if we have a mind of mission.
If we want to go on a mission, we can go.
If we want to do it, we can do it.
But the problem is that we cannot do what we want.
We need to take a more serious approach to this issue.
The heart and steps toward the mission field are not possible with our will and efforts, but possible with the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In the end of the Book of Roman, we can see Paul who is asking for another chance for the mission to Spain.
The words of Romans so far would have been an exhortation to invite the people of the Roman church into the place of mission.
If we believe in Jesus and are saved and live happily without any struggles or conflicts with people around you, is that all of our Christian life?
Is that all done?
If that is the goal of our faith, what is God's promise to save the whole world?
If the last piece of this puzzle, "Mission", is not fitted, then our faith will end up in a "prosperity gospel" that only I am happy, blessed, and successful.
In order to lead the people of the Roman Church to this mature faith, Paul is leading them to this final position of determination by explaining the principle of the gospel and the doctrine of action.
The conviction of salvation only by faith…
The fruit of faith as a saved Christian…
And the desire for mission...
All three must be fulfilled and balanced.
This is the true faith that the Book of Romans teaches us.
The problem of salvation is solving our past problems that were under sin.
The attitude of a believer who lives like a saved Christian is a matter related to the reality in which we live now.
And mission is connected with our future problems.
This is because the Kingdom of God must continue until it comes into this land.
Brothers and sisters, what do you think about Paul’s life?
What kind of life did Paul live?
Was Paul happy? Or was Paul unhappy?
Was Paul's life blessed? Or was his life cursed?
Was his life full of regret and sadness? Or was his life full of joy?
How do you hope your life will finish?
From our human perspective, Paul's life seems unhappy.
He gave up his good background and opportunities to succeed.
He didn’t have family.
He passed through many dead moments.
He was imprisoned and beaten.
Yes, his life seems miserable from our human perspective.
But we cannot read such sadness, pain, regret in any letters that Paul wrote.
In conclusion, Paul lived a happy life because he had a dream.
He had a dream of going to Rome.
He had a dream of going to Spain, the end of the earth.
He had a dream of embracing north Europe beyond Spain.
He had a dream that the gospel spreads and covers the whole of the world.
Because of this dream, Paul was not hindered from his path under any circumstances and hardships.
Brothers and sisters, do you have this dream?
Paul had a dream of mission, and he was happy because of this dream.
I hope that we all have dreams.
I hope that our Olive church will become a community of dreams.
Paul's purpose to join the people of the Roman Church in the Spain mission was not to fulfill his personal needs.
It was to share the dream of mission with them, and to make them experience greater blessings because of that dream.
It was to give them the opportunity to receive the blessing first.
So, in verse 29, Paul says,
“I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ…”
According to today’s text, Paul plans to visit Jerusalem before going to Rome.
The reason is to deliver the relief offerings of the churches of Macedonia and Achaia gathered to help the poor at Jerusalem church.
It shows us the fact that Paul’s ministry is deeply connected not only for overseas missions but also for the local church.
Yes, God's blessings will be filled when these two ministries are balanced, ministry to serve the local community and ministry to go to a remote mission field.
This is the figure of a healthy church.
During the time of writing the Book of Romans, Paul was staying in Corinth.
Corinth was about 2000 miles away from Rome.
However, it is about 6000 miles to go to Rome through Jerusalem.
Though it is a difficult journey to go about three times the distance, Paul does not mind that either.
To Paul, caring for the Jerusalem church was just as important as going to the mission field in Spain.
When churches participate in and support this balanced ministry, God's blessings will be filled more abundantly.
I wish Olive church to be a well-balanced church.
There will be Annual Conference this week.
At the Annual Conference three years ago, I was appointed to Olive church.
When I look back upon past three years, I am so thankful.
There have been many changes.
Little by little, you see the church change into a beautiful figure.
I confess that everything was God's providence and blessing.
However, through the last part of the words of Romans, God tells us that we should not stay here.
If past times were times of blessing by God's grace, the coming times should be such times as serving our neighbors and bearing the work of mission.
I pray that all of us will go to the ends of the earth with the heart of God who wants the Gospel to be spread and then finalize the last puzzle of faith. Amen