Text: Romans 15

Introduction: Culture of Self-Reliance and Self-Centeredness vs. Mutual Acceptance and Total Dependence on God. (Read Romans 3:9-18; Jeremiah 17:9)

What is dependence? Proverbs 3:5-6, “to lean on your own understanding” is to be independent of God—meaning, you can survive life without God in your life.

Background: Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Church in Rome. In our passage, Paul is looking forward to visiting them before going to Spain to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Paul reminded them to have “Total Dependence” on the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Main Idea: Paul tells Christians of four matters to exemplify such total dependence:

  • Dependent on one another grounded in the Scriptures (1-6) – Weak and Strong analogy. (14:1) Accepting one another. Those who are weak (indifferent, dogmatic, legalistic, and immature in their faith) need those who are strong in faith to encourage and build them up (15:2).
    • The Christian life centers on strengthening others—endurance (not tolerance, or indifference)
      • That is why it is important to be active in the community of believers: church, small groups, and prayer groups. (yes, be yes; and no, be no).
      • “One mind and one voice.” But where are your small groups now? What’s really challenging is that those who are not participating are the ones who accuse the church of not doing anything or progressing at all. Do not be like that.
    • Dependent on Jesus Christ’s work (7-13) – Christ’s active obedience was the fulfillment of all the prophecies stated in the Old Testament. This specific passage tells us that our security, our assurance, and our confidence in depending totally on Christ is 100% sure. The Christ that we worship is totally dependable and trustworthy. Have you ever had a friend or someone whom you can totally depend on? Other than Ivy, whom I depend on very much, my pastor-best friend Jerome Ocampo is dependable. Having someone whom you can rely on brings overflowing hope and assurance.
      • However, total dependence on Christ requires one major thing in our life—self-denial.
      • This attitude is Christ-centeredness or conforming to the likeness of Christ. When Christ entered our world, he emptied (kenosis) himself; he denied his will and obeyed the will of the Father. Likewise, we are called to depend solely on Christ, not on anyone else, especially not on ourselves—only on Christ! “You lived to die, rejected and alone…” (Above All song)
    • Dependent on the Power of the Gospel (14-22) – “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed…. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10, 12; Cf. John 14:6) How? Remind yourself of two things:
      • Salvation – salvation happens only once but is applied daily. No person here says that he or she does not need to hear the gospel of Christ anymore because he or she has been a Christian for a long time. Paul here deals with that reason in verses 14-15; despite knowing that Christians in Rome were already well-knowledgeable about the gospel of Christ, he still preached to them the wonderful grace of God and reminded them of the power of the gospel of Christ. If this is a challenge of Paul, then why do we resist such an opportunity and privilege to study God’s word? Why are you not being in one mind with the church?
      • Transformation (Sanctification) – When dug deeper, this human heart bears humanity’s sinful nature. Indeed, it is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). What does humanity need in order to have a better condition of the heart? Just like any heart problem, diagnosed as fallen, sinful, and corrupt (Rom. 3:10, 23, Eph. 2:1), it needs surgery; more than that, actually, it needs a transplant. A renewal of heart.
        • This renewal of the heart is called the circumcision of the heart (Deut. 30:6; Romans 2:29). It is taking away the impurities of the heart and making it brand new. Indeed, the promise of a new heart was given to the new covenant people. God said that He would give them a “new heart.” Further, He “will remove…their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26).
        • A renewed—or regenerated heart—is God’s promise for His children to live righteously, freely in His grace, and enjoy the life He has given them. Through Christ’s righteousness, humans became righteous—injected (imputed) with His purity and holiness and clothed with His grace and mercy (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:27).
        • God promised that He will preserve His children. Part of this promise is the operation of the renewal of the heart (Jeremiah 24:7). Indeed, it will only be possible through God’s Spirit (Ezk. 36:27). The renewal of the heart is inseparable from the indwelling of the Spirit. And as Christians, the promise of the indwelling of the Spirit is given to His children alone (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:14-17).
      • Dependent on the Joy of Following God’s Will (25-33) – For God’s glory, not ours (also, 6, 13)
        • God-centered – “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ… so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (29-33)
        • The goal is missions and evangelism to Spain:
          • Missions – church planting, outreach, and community services.
          • Lottie-Moon on Thanksgiving Sunday.
          • Outreach giving: Bottles to Blessings

Conclusion: Last week, we talked about wholehearted trust—having a contrite heart, constantly trusting God, and communal trust. Today, we have heard another trait of a disciple of Christ—we should embrace Total Dependence on God in this world of self-reliance. After completing the task given by God to him, William Carey said on his deathbed to stop talking about him and start talking about his savior.

“Did you call me?’ he asked. “Yes; yes. Mr. Duff,” said Carey solemnly,” you have been speaking a great deal about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey. I beg of you, that when I am gone, nothing may be said about Dr. Carey. Don’t talk about Dr. Carey. Speak, I beg you, about Dr. Carey’s Savior.”

 

Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey
November 12, 2023

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