|Series Theme: "Faith Sermons"|
Title: 28. God of Transformation (5)
5. Transformation of Mind & Life
We have been considering God's desire to transform our lives
We need the transformation because of the sin we have inherited and the sinful tendencies we hold on to.
By Jesus death God opens the way for us to receive forgiveness and a new life.
By the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, God enables our lives to be changed.
This morning we will first consider briefly the NT teaching on persverance and then observe it in the life of the apostle Paul and draw conclusions from that.
A. Observe the NT teaching on perseverance
There is this basic teaching about perseverance:
Jas 1:4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything
i.e. maturity in the Christian life comes through perseverance
perseverance is handing on and keeping going
How is perseverance developed in us?
Jas 1:3 you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
i.e. when your faith faces obstacles or hindrances
Rom 5:3,4 we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Ooops! Hardship also produces perseverance but perseverance also produces character.
So when do we need perseverance? All the time! Let's take Paul as an example.
B. Example: Paul's Frustrations Rom 1:10-13
Paul had a really good desire in his heart – to go to Rome and to bless the church there with his ministry that came as he was praying:
Rom 1:10 -13 I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
Notice the “at last” – he has been wanting to come for some time but things have stopped him.
He is probably writing from near Corinth on his 3 rd journey (starts Acts 18:23)
Earlier in that journey, in Ephesus, he had expressed his desire to visit Rome :
Acts 19:21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem , passing through Macedonia and Achaia. "After I have been there," he said, "I must visit Rome also."
So in Acts 20 we see he goes north from Ephesus up through Macedonia and down to Achaia ( Greece ) and it is probably down there that he wrote this letter.
Even there he had to change his plans because of the sinfulness of men:
Acts 20:3 “ Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria , he decided to go back through Macedonia .”
C. The Causes of his Frustrations
At the moment he has other pressing things on his agenda:
Rom 15:19-22 So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum , I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation… …. This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
i.e.1. His ministry of preaching the Gospel had been one of the reasons stopping him.
Rom 15:25-28 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem . They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.”
i.e. 2. His responsibility of transporting the money to Jerusalem requires him to put off coming to Rome .
Rom 15:30-32 I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.”
i.e. 3. Things in Jerusalem (unbelieving opposition) may hinder him unless they pray.
D. So what happened?
a) The events
NB. He hadn't got the answer to his prayer that he had wanted!!
b) But Note God's hand overseeing Paul:
Acts 21:10,11 a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea . Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, `In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' "
Acts 23:11 “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem , so you must also testify in Rome .”
c) The Outcome:
Phil 1:12-14 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
The activities of sinful men (spurred on by Satan?) had hindered the process (as God knew it would) but the Lord nevertheless worked so that Paul would continue to share his testimony before kings along the way!
In Rome his testimony had been far more powerful that he could have ever dreamt.
All he had to do was persevere – keep on believing and keep on being faithful
E. Some Conclusions?