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I Am Not Ashamed: Greet One Another

I Am Not Ashamed  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We were made to be a part of God's family.

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Theme: We were made to be a part of God's family.
Theme: We were made to be a part of God's family.
Date: 07/23/17 File name: Romans48.wpd ID Number:
Date: 07/23/17 File name: Romans48.wpd ID Number:
This morning we arrive at chapter 16, the closing paragraphs of the Apostle’s letter to the Church that is in Rome. All the way back in his salutation, Paul writes, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (, NIV). He thanks God for them saying that “ ... your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” He tells them “ ... I long to see you ... “ and that he’s praying for them. Now, as he closes out his letter he begins naming names; 26 in all.
This morning we arrive at chapter 16, the closing paragraphs of the Apostle’s letter to the Church that is in Rome. All the way back in his salutation, Paul writes, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (, NIV). He thanks God for them saying that “ ... your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” He tells them “ ... I long to see you ... “ and that he’s praying for them. Now, as he closes out his letter he begins naming names; 26 in all.
Chapter 16 is essentially a P.S. — a postscript to the main body of his letter. He ends chapter 15 saying, “The God of peace be with you all. Amen.” That sounds suspiciously like an conclusion, but this is Paul, and the apostle has a few more things to say. In particular he needs to mention and commend some people. A few are mentioned in other parts of the New Testament, but the vast majority of these names are lost to the annals of church history. The exciting news is, if you’re a believer, there’s going to be a huge “meet-‘n-greet’ in heaven one day, and we will get a chance to greet these folks who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The key word in our text is greet. It’s used 22 times in 16 verses ... Greet Prisca and Aquila ... Greet Epaenetus ... Greet Mary ... Greet Andronicus and Junia ... Greet Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Herodian, Rufus ... etc., etc., etc.
Now, if you’re like a lot of Christians, you get to chapter 16 and you probably read through it like you’re reading trough the genealogies of Jesus — that is you read quickly and probably superficially, and in doing so you miss some really important truths. When Paul begins naming names we are reminded that the Apostle is writing to a real church, and to real people, in a real place, with real issues that need to be really settled.
As we arrive at chapter 16 we’re read a lengthy letter. Paul has defined the Gospel — that we’re saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. He’s provided us a systematic theology and circumscribed basic Christian doctrines. He’s given us a lengthy practical section on how confessing Christians ought to flesh out the gospel that they have received into their lives. Now, in this last chapter, he’s going to lay down some essential ecclesiology — the theology of church life. In this chapter we get something of an insider’s look of an early 1st century church. We learn four things:
The Early Church Was Deeply Relational
The Early Church Was Ministry-Minded
• The Early Church Was Ministry-Minded
The Early Church Was Doctrinally Careful
• The Early Church Was Doctrinally Careful
• The Early Church Was Gospel-Centered
The Early Church Was Gospel-Centered
This morning, and for the first three Sundays of August, I will flesh out these four points.

I. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS DEEPLY RELATIONAL

1. we learn from this chapter that the Church is family
a. we are part of a family of faith
1) to be a sister or a brother is not just an honorary title for a fellow believer
2) it is descriptive of the believer’s relationship with fellow Christian
ILLUS It’s one of the reasons I’ve always preferred Brother David to Reverend Krueger. The later infers an emotional distance and a cold formality. The former implies that I am in a relationship with you. Just last Sunday we baptized two new believers in the Body of Christ. When I baptized KayLynn you heard me say, “I baptize you my sister ... and when I baptized Jackson you heard me say, “I baptize you my brother ... “ We use that formula, not merely because it is traditional, but because it is descriptive of the fundamental nature of the Church ... we are a family.
Krueger. The later infers an emotional distance and a cold formality. The former implies that I am in a relationship with you. Just last Sunday we baptized two new believers in the Body of Christ. When I baptized KayLynn you heard me say, “I baptize you my sister ... and when I baptized Jackson you heard me say, “I baptize you my brother ... “ We use that formula, not merely because it is traditional, but because it is descriptive of the fundamental nature of the Church ... we are a family.
2. what looks like a hodgepodge of names we can’t pronounce, interspersed with a few random thoughts of the Apostle, actuality paints for us a picture of what a healthy congregation looks like
random thoughts of the Apostle, actuality paints for us a picture of what a healthy congregation looks like
a. one of the characteristics of a healthy congregation is that they live in relationship with each other
with each other
b. and why wouldn’t we consider each other as family considering that we all have the same Heavenly Father?
same Heavenly Father?

A. PAUL IS WRITING TO PEOPLE HE LOVES

A. PAUL IS WRITING TO PEOPLE HE LOVES
1. the Letter to the Romans is not a doctrinal thesis
a. it is a letter to fellow believers who he knows and is in a relationship with
1) some of these people he has known for decades
2) some of them may have been praying for his conversion!
b. Paul speaks of how they loved him, and how he loved them, and how they loved each other
each other
1) the Apostle singles out four from this list as being so dear to him that he called them his beloved
them his beloved
“ ... Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia.” (, ESV)
• “Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.” (, ESV)
“Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.” (, ESV)
• “Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.” (, ESV)
“Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.” (, ESV)
• “ ... Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.” (, ESV)
“ ... Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.” (, ESV)
c. not only does Paul send his greetings, but so do those who are with him
“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. 22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.” (, ESV)
ILLUS. People want to go to a church where they feel a sense of community. A man will get up, dress, drive past fifty other churches, and travel all the way across town if he knows that a warm experience awaits him with love and true fellowship in the house of God.
will get up, dress, drive past fifty other churches, and travel all the way across town if he knows that a warm experience awaits him with love and true fellowship in the house of God.
2. it’s a remarkable group of people named in this chapter
a. in the first 24 verses, 33 names are mentioned, more than 37 people are referred to
1) some are obviously well off and part of society’s upper echelon such as Phoebe (vs. 1) whom Paul calls “a benefactor of many people, including me” and Erastus (vs. 23) who is the director of public works in the city of Corinth
(vs. 1) whom Paul calls “a benefactor of many people, including me” and Erastus (vs. 23) who is the director of public works in the city of Corinth
2) some are obviously poor such as Persis (vs. 12) and Julia (vs. 15) since those are come names among slaves
are come names among slaves
3) some are highly placed within Roman society such as the household of Aristobulus (v. 10) and Nereus (v. 14)
Aristobulus (v. 10) and Nereus (v. 14)
ILLUS. Aristobulus was the great grandson of Herod the Great, and Aristobulus lived in Rome, and ran in highly placed political circles. Aristobulus probably was not a Christian, but many of his household were — this would have included slaves, paid servants, and other employees who would have had opportunity to witness to the palace bureaucracy in Rome.
Aristobulus was the great grandson of Herod the Great, and Aristobulus lived in Rome, and ran in highly placed political circles. Aristobulus probably was not a Christian, but many of his household were — this would have included slaves, paid servants, and other employees who would have had opportunity to witness to the palace bureaucracy in Rome.
ILLUS. Nereus is important because of who his master was. Around A.D. 95 Claudius Flavius was the Major or Rome. His wife was Domitillia. In that year he was executed and she was exiled from the city. Their crime? Both had converted to Christianity when it was illegal to be a Christian. It caused quite a scandal. Claudius’s servant was also executed, and his name was Neresus whom most believe was the one who led the Mayor of Rome, and his wife to faith in Christ.
• Nereus is important because of who his master was. Around A.D. 95 Claudius Flavius was the Major or Rome. His wife was Domitillia. In that year he was executed and she was exiled from the city. Their crime? Both had converted to Christianity when it was illegal to be a Christian. It caused quite a scandal. Claudius’s servant was also executed, and his name was Neresus whom most believe was the one who led the Mayor of Rome, and his wife to faith in Christ.
4) nine of those named are women whom he calls hard workers, and fellow workers, and sisters in the Lord, and beloved, and refers to the mother of Rufus as one who mothered him — so much for Paul being a sexist pig that the Feminists like to portray him as
workers, and sisters in the Lord, and beloved, and refers to the mother of Rufus as one who mothered him — so much for Paul being a sexist pig that the Feminists like to portray him as
5) there are Greek names and Jewish names, and Roman names, which speaks of the multi-cultural makeup of the church that crossed cultural, social, and economic lines
the multi-cultural makeup of the church that crossed cultural, social, and economic lines
6) there are two couples named — Priscilla and Aquila (vs. 3), who are said to have risked their necks for Paul, and Andronicus and Junis (vs. 7) who were at one point imprisoned with Paul
risked their necks for Paul, and Andronicus and Junis (vs. 7) who were at one point imprisoned with Paul
7) there are even some of Paul’s relatives — Andronicus and Junis as well as Herodion whom he calls my kinsmen
Herodion whom he calls my kinsmen
3. finally, it’s as though Paul knows he must bring this letter to an end quickly, he writes, “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.” (, NIV)
a. in our culture a kiss among family members is common, but it’s uncommon within our culture when meeting merely friends and acquaintances
our culture when meeting merely friends and acquaintances
1) it’s simply not a part of our culture or custom
b. what the Apostle is implying is that we are to receive each other with genuine affection
affection
ILLUS. This is why we have the fellowship time that we do on Sunday morning. It’s noisy, its rowdy, and sometimes it’s hard to get control back. But it’s an important thing to do. We are to greet each other in the Lord, and to fellowship with each other in the Lord, and hug on each other in the Lord. We do it because we need it. And as rowdy as it can be at times it’s within the tradition of the New Testament church all the way back to this epistle.
noisy, its rowdy, and sometimes it’s hard to get control back. But it’s an important thing to do. We are to greet each other in the Lord, and to fellowship with each other in the Lord, and hug on each other in the Lord. We do it because we need it. And as rowdy as it can be at times it’s within the tradition of the New Testament church all the way back to this epistle.

B. PAUL IS WRITING TO PEOPLE HE LOVES IN THE LORD

B. PAUL IS WRITING TO PEOPLE HE LOVES IN THE LORD
1. in these verses we repeatedly see phrases, in the Lord, and in Christ Jesus, and in Christ, and chosen in the Lord
Christ, and chosen in the Lord
a. Paul knows these people, and loves these people, and they know and love him for one reason — they’ve all been born from above by the grace of God, and that puts them in relationship with each other
one reason — they’ve all been born from above by the grace of God, and that puts them in relationship with each other
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,” (, ESV)
b. God saves diverse people from diverse places, with diverse cultural distinctives, and puts us all together in a family called the Church, and then calls us to love each other in the Lord
puts us all together in a family called the Church, and then calls us to love each other in the Lord
"And God gave us this command: Those who love God must also love their brothers and sisters." (, NCV)
2. God says, “I want you to learn to love the people in your spiritual family.”
a. why?
3. because your physical family will disappear when this world ends
a. but your spiritual family is going to go on forever and ever and ever
1) Christians are going to spend a whole lot more time with their spiritual families than they do with their physical family
than they do with their physical family
4. one of the things you're going to do in heaven is you're going to love God
5. and the other thing you're going to do is you're going to love the other believers that are there
are there
a. learning to love fellow believers here in this world is practice for one of the things you’ll be doing for all eternity
you’ll be doing for all eternity

II. IN GOD'S FAMILY THERE ARE FOUR LEVELS OF RELATING

A. THE FIRST LEVEL IS MEMBERSHIP: CHOOSING TO BELONG

A. THE FIRST LEVEL IS MEMBERSHIP: CHOOSING TO BELONG
1. this is the most basic level
a. that means you find a church family and you choose to get connected to it by either officially joining, or regularly attending
officially joining, or regularly attending
"Now you who are not Jewish are not foreigners or strangers any longer, but are citizens together with God’s holy people. You belong to God’s family." (, NCV)
citizens together with God’s holy people. You belong to God’s family." (, NCV)
b. let’s be honest this morning — this is where many believers end their fellowship
2. the Christian life is not just a matter of believing, it is also about belonging
a. God wants you to identify with and to make the choice to be a part of His family
b. when you were born physically, you automatically became a part of the human race and an earthly family
and an earthly family
1) but when you are born-again, you have to choose to identify with God’s family
c. sometimes, I’ll hear people say, "Well, I'm a Christian, but I don't want to belong to any church."
any church."
1) that just doesn't make sense
ILLUS. That's like saying, "I'm a football player, but I don't want to be a part of any team." It doesn't work. It’s tough to be a team of one – although many people try! It's like saying, "I'm a tuba player, but I don't want to be a part of the marching band." A tuba player without a band sounds pretty funny. There isn’t a big demand for tuba soloists.
team." It doesn't work. It’s tough to be a team of one – although many people try! It's like saying, "I'm a tuba player, but I don't want to be a part of the marching band." A tuba player without a band sounds pretty funny. There isn’t a big demand for tuba soloists.
3. a Christian without a church family is an orphan
a. one of the unfortunate tendencies in America today is the growing number of Christians — or at least people who profess to be Christian — who have no church home
Christians — or at least people who profess to be Christian — who have no church home
1) if they go to church at all, they flit from congregation to congregation
2) these are Christians who go from church to church to church looking for the best full-meal-deal
full-meal-deal
3) they attend whatever church has the best spiritual menu that week
b. folks, God designed His children to belong to a church family
1) if you want to grow, if you want to see God at work in your life, you have got to join a body
join a body
4. the first level is choosing to belong

B. THE SECOND LEVEL IS FRIENDSHIP: LEARNING TO SHARE

B. THE SECOND LEVEL IS FRIENDSHIP: LEARNING TO SHARE
1. God’s children were made for relationships
a. life is not a solo act, and neither is the Christian life — believers need other believers
believers
"All the believers were together and shared everything." (, NCV)
2. this verse teaches us two things about Christian friendship
a. 1st, you can't develop friendships without meeting together
b. 2nd, you can't develop friendships without sharing
3. the verse says that these first believers met together constantly
a. the more frequently you meet together, the closer you're going to get to other believers
believers
ILLUS. Some of you know the blessing of having really deep friendships that you’ve maintained for 10, 15 or even 20 years. Now, can you maintain a deep and caring friendship when you only see the other person, say once or twice a year? You can’t maintain friendships that way. You choose to develop friendships by making time for them.
maintained for 10, 15 or even 20 years. Now, can you maintain a deep and caring friendship when you only see the other person, say once or twice a year? You can’t maintain friendships that way. You choose to develop friendships by making time for them.
1) in the same way, you’ll not develop close Christian friendships when you infrequently meet with other believers
infrequently meet with other believers
4. how do we go about developing deep and caring friendships?
a. you have to learn how to share
ILLUS. Those of you who are parents know one of the fundamental lessons children have to learn is learning to share.
have to learn is learning to share.
b. God’s children also need to learn to share
5. so what are we supposed to share?
a. that is where the Bible is full of instructions on things Christians are to share with each other
each other
b. let me just mention just a few
1) the Bible says we're to share our experiences
"As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other." (, NCV)
a) think of all the wealth of knowledge and experience sitting here right now in this church family, and how much we could learn from each other if we just spend time with each other
this church family, and how much we could learn from each other if we just spend time with each other
2) the Bible says we're to share our homes
"Open your homes to each other, without complaining." (, NCV)
a) why? — because you cannot fellowship in a crowd — you can only fellowship in a small group
in a small group
b) it’s in a Sunday School class or each other’s homes that you really get to know people
know people
3) the Bible Says we’re to share our problems
"By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ." (, NCV)
(, NCV)
a) troubles and problems come in all shapes and sizes, don’t they?
b) to share each other’s troubles and problems means more than mere toleration
toleration
c) it means finding a way of assisting a fellow believer regardless of the oppressing affliction that has come their way
oppressing affliction that has come their way

C. THE THIRD LEVEL IS PARTNERSHIP: DOING MY PART

C. THE THIRD LEVEL IS PARTNERSHIP: DOING MY PART
1. partnership is realizing that you’ve got a contribution to make — that the family of God needs you
needs you
a. God did not bring you to this church to sit and soak in some spiritual spa
1) He brought you here to serve
2) He wants to make a difference in our church and in our community through your life
life
2. in every family there are family responsibilities
a. you divide up the chores with every member of the family doing their part
3. we’re a Christian family and in Christian families there are also responsibilities
a. every one of us has a part
1) the Bible is filled with commands and illustrations that you and I are to work with one another in getting God’s Kingdom Work accomplished in this world
one another in getting God’s Kingdom Work accomplished in this world
ILLUS. It was so gratifying to see how many of our members were involved in the mission project of several weeks ago. So many worked so hard to minister to families who had real needs. And many worked behind the scene to make it possible for others to minister.
mission project of several weeks ago. So many worked so hard to minister to families who had real needs. And many worked behind the scene to make it possible for others to minister.
4. choosing to belong is important, and learning to share is important, but doing your part is also important
a. but in order to be a part, you've got to find your niche — you have got to find out, Where do I fit, and how I do I fit in to the life of my church?
Where do I fit, and how I do I fit in to the life of my church?
"The whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole Body is healthy and growing and full of love."
special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole Body is healthy and growing and full of love."
b. each part in that verse refers to you and it refers to me
1) we are a part of God's body
2) and it is by working together that we get things done
c. each believer here this morning has a part to play in the Body of Christ
1) when we cooperate, we get more done together than we could ever get done by ourselves
ourselves
5. let me encourage you to take a practical action step this week
a. if you want to experience a deeper level of fellowship, look for a practical need in a fellow believer’s life that you might be able to do something about this week
a fellow believer’s life that you might be able to do something about this week

D. THE FORTH LEVEL IS KINSHIP: LOVING BELIEVERS LIKE FAMILY

D. THE FORTH LEVEL IS KINSHIP: LOVING BELIEVERS LIKE FAMILY
1. the deepest level of fellowship in the family of God is what we might call kinship
a. kinship is an old term that we don't use much anymore
1) kinship literally means your closest relationships and refers to your closest family
ILLUS. When somebody has an accident, the para-medics will always ask who the “the next-of-kin" is. And they don't mean great Aunt Ethyl who lives 1500 miles away. They need to find the person the victim cares about most, the person who is closest to them, the one they hold most dear. That’s the person they’re referring to when we say next-of-kin.
“the next-of-kin" is. And they don't mean great Aunt Ethyl who lives 1500 miles away. They need to find the person the victim cares about most, the person who is closest to them, the one they hold most dear. That’s the person they’re referring to when we say next-of-kin.
2. the Bible says that's the kind of attitude we should have toward fellow believers
a. referring to the early church, the Book of Acts says . . .
"They spent their time learning the apostles’ teaching, sharing, breaking bread, and praying together." (, NCV)
praying together." (, NCV)
1) these early Christians were like family to each other
b. the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christian at Rome . . .
"Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves." (, NCV)
for yourselves." (, NCV)
3. the Bible tells us that we are to be as committed to each other as we are committed to Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
a. most of you know “For God so loved the world ... “
b. but how many of you know ?
"This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters." (, NCV)
our lives for our brothers and sisters." (, NCV)
c. this is the deepest level of fellowship — sacrificing for each other
Folks, this is what life is all about, loving God and learning to love each other. If you miss this, you have missed the two most important purposes of your life. Life is not about your accomplishments. It is not about your accumulation of stuff. It is not about your rewards and certificates. It is about relationships. You were put on this earth to know God and love Him, and to know His family and love them, because that's whom we're spending eternity with.
Folks, this is what life is all about, loving God and learning to love each other. If you miss this, you have missed the two most important purposes of your life. Life is not about your accomplishments. It is not about your accumulation of stuff. It is not about your rewards and certificates. It is about relationships. You were put on this earth to know God and love Him, and to know His family and love them, because that's whom we're spending eternity with.
As a pastor, I have been at the bedside of people as they were dying. In those situations where I've been there at the side as people were taking their last breath, I have never once had anybody say, "Bring me my diplomas. I want them close to me." Nobody says, "Bring me my trophies." Nobody says, "Bring me the gold watch I got at retirement." Nobody says, "Bring me my palm pilot." It is in those final moments they desire to have closest to them what matters most, — family and friends.
Loving God, is called Worship. Loving each other is called Fellowship. The Bible says this in "Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Here in the last chapters of Romans the Apostle gives us a clue as to what makes for a healthy church. It’s being in relationship with people whom we have a genuine affection for, because they are brothers and sisters by the grace of God.
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