Romans 15:14-16 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Paul encourages the church in Rome with these words. You are full of goodness. You are filled with all knowledge. You are able to instruct one another. He was confident that the spiritual needs of the church there was being met by the people. He only needed to remind them of their needs and abilities. He was able to do this because his gift was to be a minister to the Gentiles concerning the gospel of God. Isaiah had prophesied that the glory of God would be declared among the nations. He said the time would come when believers from all nations would come as an offering to the Lord.(Isaiah 66:19b-20) That process began while Jesus was on earth and has been expanded by the ministry of his disciples and the church through the ages.
Hebrews, Chapter 11, shows us that God has always related to mankind the same way. By grace, through faith. In that rollcall of the faithful God begins with Able who, by faith, offered a more excellent sacrifice than his brother, Cain. And the list goes on: by faith Enoch; by faith Noah; by faith Abraham; by faith Sarah… Etc. All of these were people chosen by God to maintain a faithful lineage from which Christ was born. They were not chosen because of their works of righteousness. And neither were we! However, once chosen they, and we, were qualified by God. Paul states his satisfaction that the Christians in Rome were full of goodness, full of knowledge and able to instruct one another. Let's look at each one of these qualities. Paul said that they were…
Full of goodness.
We know, from Scripture, that he was not talking about human goodness. A thousand years before Christ, David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned these words: Psalm 14:1-3, The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. 3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
First, David refers to the atheist as a fool. Then he goes on to say that there is none who does good. Apart from the work of the Spirit of God in a person's life, there is no goodness.
All humans are born dead in trespasses and sins. Only the great mercy of God gives us any hope of attaining to life and goodness. Human goodness will not measure up to the standard set by the word of God. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The standard is nothing less than God's glory, and friends, we do not measure up! Jesus made it very clear…
There is none good but God. Listen to the story of the rich young man as presented in Mark's gospel. Jesus was walking along the road when he was confronted by a young man. Listen while I read, Mark 10:17-22, And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus' response to the young man might seem out of place to us in our society. "Good Teacher" might have been answered with, "Thank you for recognizing that I'm good." Instead, Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." I think Jesus was calling for a confession of faith. In essence, he was asking if the young man recognized that he was God. But Jesus knew the man's heart and pushed on to challenge him. "You know the commandments," he said, and went on to list some of the commandments that involve our relationship with people. The young man asserted that he had kept these from his youth. And so Jesus said to him, "sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."
Mark then notes that the young man went away in sorrow because he had great possessions. In reality great possessions had him.
There is none good but God and…
He gifts us with his goodness. When Paul listed the fruit of the spirit he showed us that a part of that fruit is goodness. Listen while I read Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Because of the presence of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer we are full of goodness and should make every effort to display and exercise the goodness that God gifts us with. We are not just full of goodness we are also…
Full of knowledge.
Remember, it is God who gives us everything we need to live the Christian life. We have been…
Enriched by grace. Listen while I read, 1 Corinthians 1:4-5, I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge…
The grace of God given to the Christians in Corinth is the same grace released in the church today. "In every way" includes all that we have need of in life. We are "enriched" by the grace of God in speech and knowledge. The problem that we have is that we forget that our speech should be seasoned with grace. We forget that we don't gain the knowledge we need through education. Our speech and our knowledge is a grace gift of God.
When a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior Holy Spirit comes to live in them and goodness and knowledge are…
Gifted by Holy Spirit. Let's look at two passages of Scripture. They're short and to the point. The first is found in, 1 John 2:20, But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
Wow, John, the elderly apostle, doesn't say, "You should have been anointed by the Holy One and therefore should have knowledge". He says, with great confidence, "you have been anointed By the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.” All have knowledge? Can that really be true? There are many things I do not have knowledge of. By the way, there are many things I don't want to have knowledge of. But the important things — the things of the Spirit of God — I do want to have knowledge of. Is it possible that we really do have the knowledge we need? Let's look at our second passage of Scripture. Remember, these are the words of Jesus spoken during his last days on earth.
John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
These words were spoken by Jesus in the last week of his life on earth. He had many things he wanted his disciples to know. He knew that his disciples really didn't "get it". Many of the things he taught them had to be repeated again and again and still they did not grasp the truth.
There is a school of thought that says that Christ taught his disciples all that he could in the time that he had and then finally left them on their own to carry on the work. Nothing could be further from the truth! He did not leave his disciples on their own operating with the world's values. He himself said, "I am with you always even to the end of the age." You see, our goodness and knowledge are…
Not according to the world. Let's return to first Corinthians and see what Paul had to say to them. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, …consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Not many of the Christian church are wise according to worldly standards. In fact, when Jesus set out to choose his disciples he walked past the Bible school and the seminary and went along the seashore to choose some fishermen, a tax collector, a rebel and one who would betray him. In fact, Paul himself was the only one that we know of who had formal training. He might, by the world's standards, be considered "qualified" to serve as a Bible teacher.
Now he writes to the Corinthians and says that God choose the foolish and the weak, the lowly and despised, the "nothings" to carry out his work. One thing Scripture is very clear on, none of us have anything, in our selves, to boast about. Our goodness is not our own and our knowledge is found only in Christ Jesus who became to us "wisdom from God". So that we can boast only in the Lord.
The apostle Paul had to unlearn a vast amount of knowledge in order to know only Christ crucified, buried and raised again. Once we recognize the source of our goodness and knowledge then we are…
Able to instruct one another.
One of the gifts given to the first century church was a man named Barnabas. "Barnabas" means "son of encouragement". The church today is in great need of Barnabases. Paul was in great need of a Barnabas when he came to Jerusalem some three years after his salvation experience. Remember, we are able to instruct one another because we are full of goodness and full of knowledge. Each of us needs to…
Be a Barnabas. Let me read about him from, Acts 9:26-28, And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he (Paul) went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
Barnabas was a man of courage. He was willing to approach this man who was known in Jerusalem as Saul of Tarsus. He was a persecutor of the church and for all they knew was pretending to be a disciple in order to infiltrate their ranks and betray them.
Barnabas put that aside and went to Saul, who would soon be Paul the apostle, determined that he really was a disciple of Christ and brought him to the apostles. The apostles were those chosen to lead the church but they needed instruction and encouragement from a Barnabas. In the same manner we need to…
Encourage one another. In order to be an instructor one has to be an encourager. Let's look at, Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
"Stir up one another" is a phrase that might describe how some Christians operate but the things they stir another up to is not necessarily "love and good works".
"Consider" implies a need to create a plan. To think through what needs to be done before beginning the process of instructing. "Stir up one another" is more than preparing a lesson plan and presenting it. We need to stir the desires and emotions of one another. This is not just "head knowledge" this is "heart knowledge". We are full of goodness and full of knowledge and therefore, able to instruct one another. We need to meet together and encourage each other day by day. The strength of the early church was found in close fellowship. Take the time to read the second chapter of Acts and see how the first church operated.
Today, there is very little close fellowship in any church I know of. This local church included! We need to focus more on helping each other and encouraging each other to build the strength this church needs for the days that lie ahead. We need to instruct one another…
In every way. Paul wrote to Timothy the following words 2 Timothy 4:1-2, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Preach the word! Not someone's opinion or philosophy but the word of God. We are to reprove, rebuke and exhort and it can come across as very harsh. Many Christians have never learned how to reprove, rebuke and exhort in a manner that will be listened to. If you approach a person with a severe tone in your voice, you're words very likely will be rejected and good advice may be lost. Sometimes it's necessary to reprove a person but it should be done in a manner that will be listened to.
So, if we are to reprove, rebuke and exhort, we must do it with patience. More than that, "with complete patience" and that should be accompanied by teaching. Jesus was not harsh in his treatment of people. Oh yes, he did go into the temple courtyard and overturn the money changer's tables and drive their livestock out of the house of prayer. But we must remember that in his day-to-day activities Jesus was often approached by people who were rejected by others and therefore very conscious of any feelings of rejection. Also, much to the displeasure of his disciples, he was approached by little children. Little children are attracted to people who are not harsh disciplinarians. So, when we have to reprove, rebuke and/or exhort we should always do it with complete patience and accompany it with teaching.
Peter said you must always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”. Our instruction should always be done with patience, gentleness and respect. It has taken me many years to grasp this concept and is not easy to put into practice. I pray that these qualities will always characterize my ministry.
Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has the ability to instruct others. The problem is we often think that such ability only comes after Bible school or seminary. Bible school and seminary are important. In fact, every method of improvement of our understanding of the word of God is important. But the truth is the ability to instruct, encourage, preach and exhort is given by God not by education. No one, in their own strength, is qualified to minister in the name of Christ. Anyone, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is qualified and capable. God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called! Paul's satisfaction is not based on the high quality humans in the church in Rome, or in today's church, it is based on the high quality God that we serve. Is he your Lord? Have you put your faith in him? If not, do so now!
All scripture quotes from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.