Sermon on Romans 15:4-13
Text: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”
10 Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the goals of the United Nations, when it started, was to have a place where the various countries could work together to solve various problems throughout the world. We see attempts to do this in the areas of medical help and other humanitarian endeavors. Food is collected to be sent to countries, where there is famine. At times, the United Nations is called upon to police various parts of the world. You may hear of UN peacekeepers in war-torn countries. The idea behind the United Nations was that there would be unity, and, through that unity, there would be progress and things would be accomplished. Unfortunately, we have often seen that there is not always complete unity in the United Nations. Various countries, for whatever reasons, don’t always agree with the others. If there is no unity, not much can be accomplished. This morning in our text, the apostle Paul talks about unity. It is a unity that we can only know through Jesus Christ. This morning as we prepare for Christmas, MAY THE CHRISTCHILD BRING US TRUE UNITY: 1. A Unity That Gives Glory To God, 2. A Unity That Reaches Out To Others and 3. A Unity Which Fills Us With Spiritual Blessings.
Verses 5&6 read as follows: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The unity that we strive for can only come from the hand of God. True unity is foreign to the world. All of us are, by nature, selfish and self-centered. We tend to think of ourselves first and let others fend for themselves. We become offended and upset if anyone actually thinks differently than we do. Little children are not the only ones who become upset when things don’t go their way. This is not unity. It is not a pulling together. It is a pulling apart and, worse than that, every selfish thought that we have is a sin. Our selfishness deserves to be punished with hell as much as the worst sins that we can think of. Without God, there is no unity.
However, with God there is true unity. When Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, he brought us together. We, through the Sacrament of Baptism, became members of the Holy Christian Church, or the communion of saints. The word “communion” means a coming together. Our reception of the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our common faith. Because Jesus died for us, we belong to the same family, with God as our Father, and Jesus Christ as our Brother. We have been brought together into a oneness because of God’s grace.
As was stated earlier, when people work together when there is unity, much can be accomplished. What can we, as unified Christians, accomplish together? We find several answers in our text. One is found in verse 6, “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There is a unity that gives glory to God. First, a unity of heart means that there is a likeness in our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. We believe the same things. The same spirit flows through our hearts. There is a unity of our mouths, that is to say, we all confess the same thing. We publicly profess the same things that are found in our hearts.
This is all to glorify God. God is glorified when we worship or pray to him or do anything that shows our appreciation and love for God. What Paul is speaking of here is a unity of heart and mouth when we worship, pray, or in any other way carry on the Lord’s work. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his first epistle to them, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) May we join together in glorifying God for his love for us.
Another way in which we can work together in unity is to reach out to others with God’s love. St. Paul spends most of our text quoting one Old Testament passage after another showing that all people are to be saved. For example, in verse 12, Paul quotes from our Old Testament Lesson (Isaiah 11:1-10): “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” Why would Paul emphasize this point again and again? Apparently, there were some Jewish people in the Roman congregation, who were insisting that the Gentiles obey all the Old Testament ways. They had trouble with the fact that God wants all people to be saved, regardless of race. But Paul taught the Jewish Christians in Rome that they were to accept the Gentile Christians as brothers.
So also, we are to reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to our sinful nature, we begin to think of those people that we feel don’t belong in the family of God. They don’t fit our idea of the type of person we would like to have with us. But, before we start to feel that way, let us turn to verse 7, where Paul writes, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Note the words, “Just as Christ accepted you.” Jesus accepted us, not because we were so warm and cuddly, nor was it because we had a great deal of potential, nor was it that we thought as he did. Jesus Christ accepted you and me purely out of love. Ephesians 2 teaches this lesson very clearly when it says, first in verse 1, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins.” Later we read in verses 8&9, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Jesus accepted the unlovable and he tells us in our text to “Accept one another.” Bring the gospel to all nations, to all people. Prejudice has no place in the spreading of the gospel.
There are many ways to reach others. One is through our offerings to our synod. Part of the offering that we give to our synod are used to support missionaries at home and abroad, bringing the message of Jesus Christ to all people. Through our offerings, these people are sent out in our name to reach the people of the world with the gospel. Another portion of our offerings that are given to our synod is used to prepare young men who will be pastors and go out with the Word. It also goes to help young men and women as they prepare to teach the little lambs of God’s kingdom. We have unified as a synod, so that we can work together in reaching the people of the world.
We also reach others by the things that we say and do. Jesus calls us “The light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) When we join together, we are a bright light to which the world is attracted. May we make use of our unity and reach out to others with God’s Word.
St. Paul concludes this section of Scripture with prayer. We read in verse 13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When we are unified, God promises many spiritual blessings. He speaks of “joy.” Joy is more than whatever tickles our fancy at the time, which unfortunately at times, includes someone else’s misfortune or indulging our sinful nature. True joy comes when God’s will is done and people act as God wants them to. May there be true peace. True peace is more than just the absence of conflicts in our lives, or that all is going just as we want it to. True peace comes when we live in harmony with our God and our neighbor. True peace comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven. May you have hope in your life. Hope is the confidence in God’s grace and help. It is a knowing that with God all things are possible. Christians can be positive people, because of the hope that God has placed in us. When we are united in faith, all these blessings will also pour out upon us.
In the early 1860’s, a war was fought in the United States because 13 states wanted to break away from the Union. A large amount of blood was shed to reunite the two sides. Now, almost 150 years later, the United States are working together for the good of all. Blood was also shed so that the warring between God and us could end. Jesus’ blood was shed to bring both sides back together. May we rejoice in our unity with God. Because we are his, he promises to bless us. May we grow in our unity. May we work together so that all is done to God’s glory. May we reach out to others with the Word of God. Finally, as Paul writes, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.
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