Before we get to the main part of the passage I want to discuss, here are some notes about vss. 14-19:
· Notice that he praised the church in Rome that it was common for them to instruct each other. This is supposed to be the norm in the church. Yes, we have spiritually-gifted people who’re called to teach. But each of us is responsible for encouraging, admonishing, and challenging each other from God’s word.
· But even though this was a strong, growing church (spiritually and numerically) in which members could instruct each other, he knew that they needed to be “reminded” of some things. To be reminded means that it’s something that you already knew. All of us need to be reminded of what we might consider the “basics” of the faith, such as the nature and work of Christ, salvation by grace through faith, the Cross and Resurrection, and what he expects of us. It’s good to delve into some of the more esoteric and mysterious aspects of the Bible, but we always need to bring it around to the First Things which are “of first importance.” C. S. Lewis said that the best teachers are not the ones always coming up with something brand new, but the ones who bring us back again and again and again to the lessons we learned in Sunday School which we naturally tend to shirk.
· Think how important a priest’s job was under the Old Covenant. You were selected at birth, chosen for a special purpose. You were the representative between God and his people, and if you didn’t do your job right, people might die. What an awe-inspiring and intimidating task! But Paul said that the Lord Jesus had given him “the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God.” Guess what! As a believer in Christ, this applies to you. In a very real sense, you’re the go-between that God’s appointed to represent him before a lost and dying world.
That brings us to the last main point to consider here. Paul says that it’s “always been [his] ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that [he] would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” Now, is it wrong to build on someone else’s foundation? Of course not. That’s the job of preachers and pastors and teachers, those who are to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
But Paul had a different calling from most. In the realm of missiology (the study of missions), they make a distinction between evangelism (sharing Christ within your own people group) and cross-cultural missions (sharing outside of your people group). This would be me going to another people group (usually--but not always--to another nation) and proclaiming the Good News, discipling believers, and establishing churches “where Christ [is] not known.” This is not something that every Christian is called to do.
But it is something that every Christian is called to be involved in. If you aren’t on the field, then you’re called to support—by prayers and money—this type of work. This is not an option: In what’s famously known as the Great Commission, our Lord told us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” On the frontier between Christ’s Kingdom and Satan’s, it’s our responsibility and privilege to take part in pushing the edges into the Enemy’s territory.
So what’s your part? What’s mine?
Lord Jesus, wherever you want me to go, whatever you want me to do, the answer’s “yes.” And I pledge to support those on the frontier of your Kingdom, being light-bearers to those in darkness. Help me to help them, please.