ROMANS 15:1-33 Living in Christ Conforming Fellowship That Glorifies God

 

In Romans 14 Paul spoke of how the mature believer should bear with the one whose faith was weaker. Paul continues this train of thought into chapter fifteen [1] and points out a twofold reason why living this way is so important. This twofold reason for being other oriented is: 1.) Bearing with the weaknesses of others helps us become like Jesus; and 2.) Bearing with the weaknesses of others brings glory to God. Let’s look at these two purposes and how they come about in us to God’s glory.

 

First, Bearing with Weak and Living to Please Others Conforms Us To Christ-likeness

 

Romans 15:1-3 – “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”  [2]

The key word in these verses is “We.” The word “we” is translated from the Greek term HEMEIS (Strong’s # 2249 - hJmei`" - heµmeáis, hay-mice´), which means, “we, us.” Interestingly this word is an emphatic phrase. In other words Paul is saying “We ourselves,” we spiritual Christians in particular.[3] The word “we” here points us to the environment in which much of what we have been taught in the first eleven chapters of Romans is taught. That environment is the fellowship.

 

The Fellowship – God’s Workplace

 

God’s desire is to conform us to the likeness of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29). And the place where He moulds and shapes us into that likeness is in the body of Christ, the fellowship of believers. It is here where we are shaped and built up as we learn to co-exist and act like Jesus toward one another.

 

How does God use the fellowship to conform us to the likeness of Jesus? Ever felt lonely while surrounded by people in the body of Christ? Jesus felt alone when surrounded by His disciples. In the Garden of Gethsemane He took Peter, James and John, the disciples He had invested the most time and love in and told them He was going to pray and asked that they pray with Him (Matthew 26:36-46). He went a short ways off and prayed. He prayed so fervently that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). But when He returned to His disciples they were asleep. Imagine what Jesus must have felt; His closest friends and disciples were more concerned about sleeping than about praying for Him! He must have felt very alone. And then on the cross Jesus cried out with the words, ““My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). [4] Yes, Jesus understands what it means to feel alone and when we feel alone in the fellowship we have the opportunity to empathize with Jesus. Ever felt betrayed by someone in the fellowship? Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest and most trusted friends, Judas, and with a kiss no less!  (Matthew 26:47-50). Ever felt rejected in the fellowship? Jesus felt rejected (Isaiah 53:3). Ever felt as though those in the fellowship didn’t understand or just weren’t getting what you were teaching them? Jesus experienced that with His disciples (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). Ever felt how it feels for someone to do something good for you in the fellowship? Jesus felt that (Mathew 26:6-7). Ever felt compassion for those in the body of Christ? Jesus felt compassion (Matthew 15:32). Ever felt joy while ministering in the fellowship? Jesus did (Luke 10:17-18; 15:7-10; John 15:11). Ever felt loved in the fellowship? Jesus felt loved (John 20:16-17). These are all things we experience in fellowship that God uses to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. How does He do this? When we empathize with Jesus the Spirit teaches us about our Master, what He is like and how He responded in given situations and then the Spirit helps us to conform to Jesus’ ways in those similar circumstances. This is the process God uses to make us become more and more like Jesus.

 

A Word on church Hopping

 

Having said this, you can see how the common practice of church hopping (i.e. going from church to church instead of settling down in one church making it your home church) could be detrimental to our spiritual growth. If, in the body of Christ, every time someone rubs us the wrong way or doesn’t just see eye to eye with us, we leave or go somewhere else we actually are short-circuiting the Spirit’s work in us. How are we ever to know what it is like to be reconciled with sinners like Jesus if every time we are offended or we offend someone we run off? How are we ever going to really experience God’s love if we live in such a superficial way?

 

Peter slept when he should have been praying; he rejected, betrayed and cursed Jesus when Jesus needed him most (Matthew 26:69-75). Judas betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:48-50). Judas left the fellowship and went off and hung himself (Matthew 27:5). Judas rejected the idea of reconciliation and is known as the “son of perdition” (John 17:12). Peter on the other hand returned to Jesus and experienced the reconciling love of Jesus. Later Peter was inspired by God to write:

 

  • 1 Peter 4:7-8 – “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  [5]

Those inspired words flowed out of deep spiritual lessons taught by the Spirit to Peter. I’m not saying that if we change churches we’re like Judas necessarily. Sometimes it is necessary to change churches (e.g. when false teaching is taught). But the observation and connection I would like to provoke you with is that when we leave the fellowship because we’ve been “offended,” or because of issues we have with others in the fellowship instead of trying to work them out in the Spirit, in God’s grace and His love, when we leave instead of work things out, when we leave for petty differences, we miss a great opportunity for the Spirit to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. Don’t be cheated of that opportunity friend. When we experience problems with others there is a great opportunity to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

We are human and we learn so much about Jesus when we live and fellowship with other human beings. One of Jesus’ greatest attributes is His incarnation and empathy. If you want to be like Jesus you must learn the trait of empathizing with others. In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 4:15-16 – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  [6]

The next time you are offended and tempted to leave ask yourself a question and let the Spirit help you find the answer. When you are offended and tempted to leave ask yourself, “What do You want to teach me about Jesus through this circumstance and situation Lord?” when you start to respond to trying situations with that question, you will begin to take large steps in being conformed to the likeness of Jesus, you will begin to have large hunks of Romans 1-11 practically implemented in your life.

 

The Importance of Fellowship

 

The Bible is filled with verses that tell us the importance of fellowship. Below are just a few:

 

  • Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”  [7]
  • Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  [8]
  • Acts 2:42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  [9]
  • Acts 4:32-37 – “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  [10]
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  [11]
  • 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  [12]

These verses tell us that there will be “adversity” we experience, “iron sharpening iron,” amongst us but we should always be devoted to fellowship, to one another, sharing with each other, helping each other, stirring each other up to love and to do good works, walking in the light of Jesus. When we walk in the light of Jesus it leads us to fellowship. The light of Jesus is learning what Jesus is like.

There are two reasons that fellowship is important and essential to faith building. First, since salvation is “eternal life” (John 3:16), we need to get to know and get along with those with whom we will be spending eternity. And second, it is in the environment of fellowship, where there are those who are ”strong” and “weak” that God works to bring about the likeness of Jesus in us who believe. It is on this latter situation that Paul focuses in Romans 15.

The Spiritually Strong Get Their Strength From the Spirit

 

The word “strong” is translated from the Greek term DUNATOS ( Strong’s # 1415 - δυνατός - - dunatos /doo·nat·os/) which occurs 35 times in the New Testament being translated, “possible” 13 times, “able” 10 times, “mighty” six times, “strong” three times, “could” once, “power” once, and “mighty man” once. [13] This spiritual strength comes from the Holy Spirit who helps our weaknesses and empowers us to serve, which we see in the following verses:

 

  • Romans 8:26a – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.”  [14]
  • Acts 1:8 - “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  [15]

The Holy Spirit wants us to be strong in our faith and wants us to help others become stronger in their faith too. This is what Paul goes on to say.

Help Those Who Are Weak

The word ‘bear”  is taken from the Greek term BASTADZO (Strong’s # 941 - βαστάζω bastazo /bas·tad·zo/) and occurs 27 times in the New Testament being translated, “bear” 23 times, “carry” three times, and “take up” once.[16] Think of giving someone a piggy-back ride, helping a fatigued or injured player to keep on playing  or even the carrying of a wounded soldier. This is what our attitude toward one who is “weak” should be. And this carrying we do of the weaker person is done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The word “scruples” is translated from the Greek term ASTHENEMA (Strong’s # 771 - ασθένημα - as-then´-ay-mah) referring to literally something seen as “weaknesses” a scruple or sensitivity that arises from a weakness of faith. [17]

 

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he is inspired to explain this beautifully in the following words:

 

  • Galatians 6:1-5 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5 For each one shall bear his own load.”  [18]

In these verses Paul explains how even if we find out about a sin that someone has been caught up in or “overtaken” in a sin, we should seek to gently restore them (Galatians 6:1). He then uses the same word, “bear ” – BASTADZO, to instruct us on how we should help each other in carrying our “burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Notice the comparison between a “burden” and a “load” (Galatians 6:2 and 5). The distinction is that a burden is something too great for any one person to bear; a load is that which one is responsible and able to bear. When we help each other in carrying the burdens that are too big for any one person, we are fulfilling the law of Christ.

What is Christ’s commandment? Jesus said:  

  • John 13:34-35 - “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  [19]

When we lovingly help one another in burdensome situations we fulfill the Law of Christ and the Spirit uses that to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. The same is true when we lovingly bear the weaknesses of a fellow brother or sister in Christ.

Seek Good for Others

 

Then Paul goes on to summarize by saying that we should not live, “to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good . . . ” Believers should not be selfish, self-centered or what we have previously described as being fleshly (see Romans 7). Instead we are to seek our neighbor’s “good.” The word “good” comes from the Greek term AGATHOS (Strong’s # 18 -  αγαθός, αγαθοεργός - agathos /ag·ath·os/ -  an adjective) which occurs 19 times in the New Testament and is translated, “good” 77 times, “good thing” 14 times, “that which is good” eight times, “the thing which is good” once, “well” once, and “benefit” once. [20] We are to seek the best interests of those around us. Are you seeking the best for those around you? Do you care about their walk with the Lord? If a new book or Bible comes into the local Christian bookstore is your first inclination to get it for yourself or get it into the hands of the person who needs it more than you do? Think of how our relationships would change for the better if we sought the good of those around us!

 

Build Up Your Brother and Sister in the Lord

 

Paul continues by defining the good we seek for those around us as, “leading to edification.” The word “edification” is an important one because this is what Paul by the inspiration of the Spirit points us to as our ambition and desire for our brothers and sisters in Christ. The word “edification” comes from the Greek term OIKODOME (Strong’s # 3619 - οικοδομή - oikodome /oy·kod·om·ay/) that occurs 18 times in the New Testament and is translated, “edifying” seven times, “building” six times, “edification” four times, and “wherewith (one) may edify” once[21] This is a compound term (OIKOS – A family house + DOMA – to build and edifice, roof) and the meaning here is to build up, construct, put together. Our aim, ambition and desire should be to help others any way we can to grow spiritually and be built up in their faith.

 

The church is a place where people are supposed to be built up and edified spiritually. This is what Paul states in his letter to the Ephesians when he is inspired to write:

 

  • Ephesians 4:11-16 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  [22]

The church is a tool of God to edify people spiritually. Jesus is putting a body together to serve Him in this world. The only problem is that too often the body of Christ becomes more like a Frankenstein horror than a bride of bride of Christ. Why is that?

Hindrances To Spiritual Edification

What hinders the proper functioning of the body of Christ? What keeps us from growing in the Lord together? The Lord through His word tells us two things hinder His building us up in the Spirit, carnality, unbiblical causes and conflict. We are not talking about the necessary correction or rebuke that the Bible supports (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we are talking about are actions rooted in selfish ambition and self-centeredness. Paul and James were inspired to explain the problem in the following words.

First, spiritual edification is hindered by carnality. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he tells us about carnality when he is inspired to write: 

  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-11 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  [23]

You see, carnality is confusion over the place of Christ in our lives. The carnal person has not put Jesus as their Lord in their heart and is still trying to rule their lives in their own strength. What is worse is that this often leads to pride and the attempt to rule others as well. This undermines God’s work in other’s lives. (See Romans 7 and our previous discussion about the “flesh” – SARX.)

Second, spiritual edification is hindered by unbiblical causes. Paul writes to young pastor Timothy:

  • 1 Timothy 1:3-7 – “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”  [24]

When we divide over non-biblical causes the edifying goal of God’s word, which is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith” short circuited and we are not edified(see Romans 14 discussion). “Idle talk,” that which is not based on solid Scriptural grounds or deals with that which would edify, undermines and hinders God’s work in us. That is not to say that we can’t discuss areas where there is room for opinion, but we should not discuss such issues to the point where it hinders the edifying process of God in us.

Third, edification is hindered by conflict. In James letter he is inspired to write:

  • James 4:1-6 – “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  [25]

The inevitable outcome of carnal attitudes is conflict, wars. James tells us that when we selfishly and prayerlessly pursue our own lusty desires, it will lead to conflict that will undermine the edifying work of God in others and us.

When people in the body of Christ put themselves first at the expense of others the result is carnality, divisive causes, and conflict that prevents God’s edifying work in us or anyone else. Rather than get caught up in carnality, unbiblical cause and conflict, God wants to use our relationships to mould us into the likeness of Jesus.

Becoming Like Jesus To Those Around You

Paul then gives the motivation and impetus for not living selfishly and seeking the best for others. He says:

  • Romans 15:3 – “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” [26]

Jesus gave His life for us, even when we were sinners (Romans 5:8). And He did not come to serve His own purposes but to do the will of the Father. Paul quotes a Messianic psalm here (Psalm 69:9) and we also see in the following verses the selfless nature of Jesus when recall His words that were:

  • John 4:34 – “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”  [27]
  • John 5:30b - “. . .  . As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”  [28]
  • John 8:29 -  “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”  [29]

When we put the good and spiritual growth of others as a priority in our lives, we are acting like Jesus  would act toward them. And therefore we can say that when we live for others and not ourselves God uses those instances and circumstances to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. Remember the mountain peak of the letter of Romans? Romans 8, and remember what we said God’s desire and purpose was for all believers? It is to be conformed to the likeness of His Son Jesus as Paul was inspired to write:

  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [30]

Do you see what is happening here? Paul’s inspired instruction on the practicality of how to live toward those around us is a map on how God uses our routines and interactions with people to mold and conform us to the likeness of Jesus. The more you live for others with a servant’s heart and don’t serve yourself, the more you are like Jesus.

How do such verse affect you? Are you resistant? Do you think, “Wait a minute, I’m not going to be a doormat for anybody! Won’t people take advantage of me?” Let’s ask another question, do we ever take advantage of Jesus? Do we ever take from Him and not show appreciation or give Him even the sincere worship He deserves? Yes, I believe we would all have to admit to that. But that doesn’t stop Jesus from serving, from giving. Thank Jesus fro His grace. But don’t’ you see, in order to become like Jesus, in order to be conformed to His likeness we have to let down our guard like He did and surrender to the will of the Father. We have to adopt an entirely knew way of thinking (i.e. not be conformed to the world’s way of think but rather be transformed by God to a knew way of thinking). This knew servant’s heart and others orientation comes form the work of the Spirit in us and for it to take it’s full desired effect in conforming us to the likeness of Jesus, we must surrender to it as living sacrifices.

The mature believer will never simply disregard what others think as an imposition on their life. The mature believer lives to please others and edify them and in so doing follows the steps of Jesus as the Bible says:

  • Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  [31]
  • 1 Peter 2:21 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:”  [32]
  • 1 John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”  [33]

In yet another portion form one of Paul’s epistles he described his own practice in terms of becoming all things to all men, or respecting the feelings of the weaker brother or the person he ministered to. Paul wrote of this to the Corinthians to whom he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”  [34]

The reality is that Paul is free from the imposition of human restraints, but he limits his liberty for the sake of not offending the unsaved and that he might have greater opportunity to win them to the Lord and also to facilitate their spiritual growth and maturation. A mature child of God lives to please his or her neighbor, not themselves. The aim of this is to win the lost to Christ. But the benefit and effect on the believer surrendered to God to live this way is that the Spirit uses this to conform the believer to the likeness of Jesus in the process. But how can we become Jesus in this way?

How Can We Become Like Jesus and Glorify God?

Romans 15:4-7 – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. ”   [35]

Paul exhorts us to treat people like Jesus would. But how can we become like Jesus and bring glory to God in this way? We have already studied in Romans how we cannot grow spiritual or change ourselves by relying on our own strength (Romans 7). If this is true, then how are we made like Jesus? How is our heart and mindset changed to put others first?

Paul directs us to God’s word for it is in the word of God that we have hope not only for the future but also for present change and spiritual growth. God has given us examples in His word, of how He changed and sustained people who put their faith in Him. That should give us hope because if He did it for them, He will do it for us (15:4). We are to look to God to make us like Jesus, to bring us together and make us like-minded and a united body of believers to His glory (15:5-6).

When we look to God in hope, our priorities are brought into proper perspective and we treat others in light of the hope of God’s future glory (15:7). When we look to God’s word we learn about Him and particularly, we learn about His Son Jesus. Indeed, the Bible says:

  • Hebrews 10:7 – “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’ ”  [36]

When you study God’s word you learn about Jesus. This is the purpose of God’s word. The word of God gives us a picture of Jesus, our model and example in life. [37]

The Threefold Purpose of the Word of God

Paul is inspired by God to tell us here that God’s purpose in giving the scriptures was threefold.

First, God gave His revelation “for our learning” – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, . . .”  (15:4a). The word “learning” is translated from the Greek term DIDASKALIA (Strong’s # 1319 - didaskaliva didaskalia, did-as-kal-ee´-ah) which refers to, “instruction (the function or the information); doctrine, learning, teaching.”[38] God wants us to learn, to be disciples, or learners. The primary means of God’s transforming and changing us  is  by the Spirit of God applying the word of God in a way that changes and transforms the people of God to Christ-likeness.

 If you aren’t into reading or learning, you’ve got a big problem in terms of what God wants for you. Paul wrote elsewhere:

  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  [39]
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [40]
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [41]

God wants us to learn about Him in His word. God wants us to know about His infinite patience and grace and love and mercy. Which leads us to the second purpose of God’s giving His word. What does God want us to learn from His word?

Second, God gave us His word to give us hope – “that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (15:4b).  As we look at the plan of God in the Bible to give grace and mercy to those who are consistently disobedient, it gives us hope that He will be merciful and patient with us too. As we study God’s word we learn about Him and as we see Him in His truth, it gives us hope for we learn God is not against us but for us (Romans 8:30-31). This is a key ingredient in being ready and unashamed according to the thematic aspects of the letter of Romans. The hope of God makes us ready and unashamed because it helps us face the future and unknown confidently through faith in Jesus in the power of the Spirit. We will discuss the importance of hope in the life of the believer in greater detail below.

Thirdly, by seeing Christ in the word of God, we have a picture of what God intends us to become (Romans 8:29; 15:5-7) – “according to Christ Jesus . . . Therefore, receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” God’s desire from the start is to be created in His image (Genesis 1:26). What would the world be like with people who had the heart of Jesus to love, serve and treat others as He did on earth? It would be a heavenly kingdom. God wants to take His word and work it into us. God uses His word as a scalpel to surgically sculpt us into the likeness of Jesus. In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [42]

God’s desire is to conform us to the likeness of His Son. Paul continues this train of thought in what follows.

Second, a Servant’s Heart Like Jesus Brings Glory To God

Romans 15:8-12 – “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers,9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: 1 “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.”10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”11 And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”[43]

We are to have a servant’s heart just like Jesus. His aim was to bring glory and praise to God, which is what these verses from the Old Testament quoted from the Old Testament by Paul, testify to. Making a church composed of Jews and Gentiles, former enemies who are now united in Christ, is the way in which God has chosen to bring Glory to Himself.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes a pertinent observation here:

Significantly these quotations are taken from all three divisions of the Old Testament—“the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44)—and from three great Jewish heroes: Moses, David, and Isaiah. The first quotation (Rom. 15:9) is from David’s song of deliverance (2 Sam. 22:50; Ps. 18:49); the second (Rom. 15:10), from Moses’ valedictory song to the people of Israel (Deut. 32:43); the third (Rom. 15:11), from both the shortest and the middle chapter of the Bible (Ps. 117:1); and the fourth (Rom. 15:12), from Isaiah’s messianic prophecy (Isa. 11:10).

 

A progression of thought can be traced through the four quotations. In the first, David praised God among the Gentiles (Rom. 15:9); in the second, Moses exhorted the Gentiles, Rejoice . . . with His people (v. 10); in the third the psalmist commanded the Gentiles to praise the Lord (v. 11; cf. v. 7); and in the fourth, Isaiah predicted that the Gentiles will live under the rule of the Root of Jesse (the Messiah) and they will hope in Him (v. 12). The Old Testament never presented the Gentiles as “heirs together with Israel, members together . . . in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:6), but it certainly did see them as receiving blessing from God’s fulfilling His covenantal promises to His people Israel.[44]

We are to receive one another just like Jesus received us. How did Jesus receive us? Jesus received us just as we are. Jesus didn’t require that we clean up our acts before we come to Him to be saved. He received us as is as we put our faith in Him. Jesus knew our hopeless and helpless condition and reached out to us. Jesus took the initiative with us, He didn’t wait for us to come to Him, and He reached out to us in love. Furthermore, Jesus gave His all, His life for us even when we didn’t care about Him; even when we were sinners. That is the way we should relate to people.

The God of Hope

Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  [45]

As we mentioned earlier, the hope of God is a key ingredient in making the believer ready and unashamed before God. God is “the God of hope.” He is the God of hope because it is in Him that we can hope to become like Jesus and that we have a future with the hopeful prospect of Christ’s return. God reveals Himself in nature, in His word, He reveals Himself to humankind by various names. But one of the greatest ways God has revealed Himself to us is as “the God of Hope.”

Hope is the faithful anticipation of good (Greek term ELPIS – Strong’s # 1680 - ejlpiv" eálpis, el-pece´;(to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation; confidence; faith, hope.”[46] We learned about hope when we saw the example of Abraham in Romans 4. All the evidence was against God’s promise coming to pass, but Abraham hoped in God, he trusted in God to faithfully fulfill His word and promise. Such hope is the product of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

God is the God of hope because we can always look expectantly to the future as holding a good end for us when we trust in God. This produces “joy” which is a delightful gladness in God (Strong’s # 5479 - carav chara, khar-ah´; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight; gladness,  great and exceeding joy (-ful, -fully, fulness, -ous).”[47] Joy is a settledness, a certainty, a confident assurance that God is in control. The joy that flows from God’s hope is a confident assurance that God has our future in His hands and is in control of it. “Joy” is a word closely connected to the  “grace” of God. Joy is not merely happiness. Joy exceeds happiness in that happiness depends on happenings, or circumstances in life; joy depends on Jesus our rock who never changes and is always there to comfort and sustain us. Paul is inspired to use the superlative “”all” when he says, “all joy.” God doesn’t just fill us with a little bit of joy, but He fills us up to overflowing with “all joy.”

When we look to the future with anticipation of God’s good, it enables us to weather any present storm in His “peace. ” Peace” is translated from the Greek term EIRENE (Strong’s # 1515 - eijrhvnh eáireµneµ, i-ray´-nay) meaning, “peace; prosperity;  one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again.” [48] We can go through difficult times with God’s peace because we have hope in Him; we have a confident assurance that God is in control.

Faith In God Produces Hope

Paul gives us the key to God’s hope, joy and peace as he says, “in believing.” The key to hope, all joy, and God’s peace is simply “believing.” When we put our faith in God, the God of hope will fill us up to weather the storms of life with His hope, all joy, and peace. The closer you get to God, or you let Him get closer to you, the more hope, peace and joy you will have in life.

The Bible connects hope to our faith relationship with God over and over again. Below are just a few verses that testify to this and should give us great hope:

  • Psalm 38:15 – “For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.”  [49]
  • Psalm 42:5,11 – “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. . . . 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”  [50]

Faith is trusting God in the present; hope is trusting God for the future. That is what God wants to give you. That is the work of the Holy Spirit

Hope By the Power of the Holy Spirit

It bears repeating and should appear self-evident, that hope in God is essential to being ready and unashamed as a believer before God. This hope of God is not something we can work up within ourselves, it is something that we can only receive by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul ends this verse by pointing this out with the phrase, “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Hope is the product of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer. It is the Spirit who bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16). And if we are His children, God will look after us to care for us. It is the Spirit who helps our weakness (Romans 8:26). It is the Spirit who assures us in times when we are too weak to handle the trials and circumstances of life. Hope is something the Holy Spirit works in us. The Holy Spirit is my source of hope and this hope makes us ready and unashamed by serving as a driving force to carry on in our walk in the Lord in the Spirit.

Hope Is Important In Life

Even the secular world realizes the importance of hope. Years ago the Duke University psychology department did an interesting experiment. The objective was to study SURVIVAL and the results show the importance of hope. To do this they took some Norwegian warf rats and divided them into two groups.

 

The first group they put in a large container of water. They also hooked up a spray of water on top of the container. Then they took the rats, one by one and threw them into the container of water. THERE WAS NO POSSIBILITY OF ESCAPE FOR THIS FIRST GROUP OF RATS. The rats placed in this HOPELESS situation were able to swim for 17 minutes before they drowned.

 

The second group of rats were also placed in the large container of water with the spray, except this time, at about the 15-16 minute mark, (just before the rats exhausted their strength) the rats were RESCUED. This process was repeated to see the effect of the rescue on the rats in the second group,  and what they found was that THOSE RATS WHO WERE GIVEN THE HOPE OF RESCUE, WERE ABLE TO SURVIVE 36 HOURS! Just as with these rats, hope is essential to our survival and our perseverance. Without hope there is no reason to go on. Without hope one is likely to just give up and die. But with the hope of God there is every reason to go on in life, no matter the obstacle. With God there is always hope, there is always the possibility of overcoming.

 

You Can’t Live Without Hope

The world is filled with people who are enslaved to their anxieties and worries. There are many in this world that live little better than rats in water that have no hope. They often address their worries and uncertainties with drugs of one kind or another obtained legally or illegally. But there is a better way, and better answer.

In the late 1940s, way before most of us were even born, the United States got involved in the conflict that is known as The Korean War. Korea is located on the border of China and it was a war aimed at stemming the tide of Communism.

As the conflict began to progress, harsh winters and massive numbers of enemy troops began to wear on our own troops. We were fighting in a distant foreign land under the worst of conditions.

As the war dragged on an ominous and unexplained occurrence began to show up. Soldiers were being found dead in their trenches and foxholes with no apparent wounds or evidence of fighting.

Numerous autopsies were performed on these fallen soldiers to try to determine the cause of death. Chemical warfare was ruled out. But as the autopsies were performed a peculiar difference was noted between the soldiers who had died in combat and those who simply expired in the foxholes.

The hearts of those who had been shot or hit with shrapnel were contracted and blood had pumped throughout the major arteries to the body’s organs and out of the body through the wounds. These had bled to death. But those who had died in the foxhole, their hearts were full of blood and rather than blood being throughout the body, it was centralized around the heart itself. The conclusion was that those who died in the foxholes died of heart failure, their hearts just stopped, gave out, gave up. The official finding? Those who died in the foxholes of no apparent combat related cause, HAD SIMPLY LOST HOPE.

God wants you to hope in Him. When we hope in Him, we won’t give out like the soldiers in the Korean War did. When we hope in God we’ll be ready and unashamed to minister the gospel and be filled with His joy and peace in the circumstances of life, no matter how hopeless they look. Hope is only as strong as what it is based on. When you hope in God, then all things become possible to those who trust in Him (Mark 9:23). That is God’s desire for you.

Therefore, God is my Source of Hope.  My experience in God’s hope is all joy and peace. It is faith in God that activates this hopeful outcome in me. The Agent who gives me this hope is the Holy Spirit. But there is an even greater blessing of God’s hope.

The Hope of Jesus

Experiencing God’s hope is another way that the Spirit conforms us to the likeness of Jesus. And when we learn of the hope of God, the prospect of future good in God’s will, we learn to be like Jesus. The Spirit teaches us about Jesus by putting us in or allowing us to experience situations where our only hope is in Him. This is what it means when in Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 12:1-6 – “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 1 “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”   [51]

Jesus went to and was able to bear the cross because of  “the joy that was set before Him.” He knew what the cross was going to achieve, the salvation of the lost and newness of life in the Spirit, eternal life. The cross was the greatest burden of all time, but Jesus was able to endure it because of hope. Jesus faithful anticipated the good that the cross would bring and so was able to endure the suffering of it. Joy is the assurance of being right with God, of being in the center of God’s will. Joy is being at peace with God. Joy and hope go hand in hand.

Been in any difficult or seemingly hopeless situations lately? Perhaps the Spirit is trying to teach you how to set His joy before you so that you can endure your circumstances victoriously. Don’t despise God’s teaching you these great lessons about His Son. Appreciate them and cease the day and opportunity to have the Spirit conform you to the likeness of Jesus.

From the Pit of Hell to Hope in God

Romans 15:3 is the last verse of the doctrinal and practical aspects of his epistle and he is inspired to end it with reference to the power of the Spirit. Paul started with humanity in the pit of hell and has now, through the gospel of Christ, brought the believer to the point of hope in God. Paul has brought us the full length of the spectrum of the possibility of humanity. He has brought us from the lowest low to the highest height available to us by God’s grace. He has showed us what it means to be ready and unashamed and how we might become ready and unashamed, an instrument of God’s righteousness.

Bring Glory To God By Fully Preaching the Gospel

Romans 15:14-21 – “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God,16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation,21 but as it is written: “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand. For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. ”   [52]

Paul expresses his confidence in the Roman believers; he instills confidence in them by complimenting them and their faith - “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” He points out their being “full” and that fullness is the product of the fruit of the Spirit in them (15:14). Paul wanted all believers to experience all that the Spirit had for them. An example of how Paul prayed for the fullness of believers is found in his letter to the Ephesians where he was inspired by God to write:

  • Ephesians 3:14-21 – “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  [53]

What he has shared he has shared according to the grace God gave him and the power of the Holy Spirit (15:15-16). Paul glories in God not himself (15:17 – “Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God.”). He knows he is not a product of self-help but a product of the grace of God. Elsewhere he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”  [54]

Paul was first and foremost, exclusively a “minister of Jesus Christ” a servant of Jesus Christ (15:16). Paul had no reason to take credit for what someone else had done in and through him. That should be our perspective and attitude as well.

Paul didn’t go around trying to take credit for what God had done through others. He said, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed . . . .” (15:18).  He didn’t have to do that; God had indeed done great things through him, to His glory. Paul didn’t look to build on someone else’s work, but wanted to be used by God to do a fresh work of God. Paul’s objective was that the full gospel was fully preached throughout the world and have God get the glory (15:18-21). This is in line with what God inspired Paul to write in another epistle where it talks about who is really doing the work and what the proper foundation, the only foundation that can be laid. Paul wrote:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 – “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  [55]

Paul knew that all that he did was “by the power of the Spirit of God” (15:19). He wasn’t interested in building on anyone else’s “foundation” (15:20). Besides, there were too many who hadn’t even heard of Jesus for the first time! (15:21).  Ministry ceases to be ministry unless the glory is going to God. Whenever a ministry is person-centered or built on a person to bring attention and glory to them, it ceases to be ministry and becomes a showboat and entertainment. Guard against this and don’t’ rob God of His glory.

So strong was Paul’s priority to minister to those who had yet to hear of Jesus, that it affected his priorities toward others. He said, “For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you” (15:22). In other words, Paul followed the leading of the Spirit in ministering to new peoples in new territory spreading the word of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wasn’t a sightseer; he was a minister of the gospel. He must do first things first according to the Spirit’s leading.

Journey in Prayer and the Power of the Spirit

Romans 15:22-33 –“For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you,24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain.29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you.33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”  [56]

Paul’s ministry has been busy and it has kept him from visiting the Roman church (15:22-24). But now an opportunity to come and see them has arisen and he is hoping to finally after “these many years” come and see them. Notice how the hope of God drives Paul on in his mission (15:24). He is going to Jerusalem to deliver an offering and then he intends to go to Spain by way of Rome (15:25-28). When he comes to Rome, he will do so in the fullness and blessings of Jesus (15:29). Paul “begs” the Romans to journey in prayer with him; they can join him on his journey in prayer though they could not go physically with him (15:30-32). Paul gives a benediction of peace in God (15:33).

Conclusion

 

In this chapter God has revealed Himself as “the God of peace and comfort” (15:5), “the God of hope,” (15:13), and “the God of peace” (15:33). Paul has also referred to, “the love of the Spirit,” (15:30) and Christ who did not live to please Himself but to serve and save the lost (15:3,7,8). These qualities are what God desires to work into us. The fellowship of believers is the environment in which God works these qualities into us by the Holy Spirit. When we surrender to Him to mold and shape us, we will not only learn to live in peace with our brethren, but we will be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. That is God’s hope for you.

 

There is a tradition about the last days of the apostle Paul’s life that tells us about the sanctifying process of the Spirit to transform us to the likeness of Jesus. 

 

“A wealthy merchant traveling through the Mediterranean world looking for the distinguished Pharisee, Paul encountered Timothy, who arranged a visit. Paul was, at the time, a prisoner in Rome. Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man, physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They talked for hours. Finally the merchant left with Paul's blessing. Outside the prison, the concerned man inquired, "What is the secret of this man's power? I have never seen anything like it before."

Did you not guess?" replied Timothy. "Paul is in love."

The merchant looked bewildered. "In Love?"

"Yes," the missionary answered, "Paul is in love with Jesus Christ."

The merchant looked even more bewildered. "Is that all?"

Smiling, Timothy replied, "Sir, that is everything." [57]

 

Folks, there is a great truth there. Being vulnerable to others and having a servant’s heart may seem to be too risky for us. But what needs to be done is that we need to fall in love with Jesus. We need to fall in love with Jesus so that nothing else will be as important to us than our relationship with Him and how we can please Him.

 

You may say, “Well, I’m not a very loving person. In fact I just don’t like people. My dislike of people is like a big boulder in my life.” If that’s the case there is one last story that you should consider before we end this study.  

 

There is a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He
grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he
decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went
to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder
until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was
gorgeous, breath-taking.

A neighbor asked, "How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an
elephant?"

The man answered, "I just chipped away everything that didn't look like an
elephant!"

If you have anything in your life right now that doesn't look like [Jesus],
then, with the help of God, chip it away!  [58]

 

Got any elephants on the front lawn of your heart? That elephant can be a big boulder in front of the door of your heart. But The Spirit can take that boulder and change it into something beautiful. You need only surrender to the Master Builder. Let The Spirit chisel away at your flesh with the word of God until you become like Jesus in all your ways (Hebrews 4:12). It just may be the fellowship of believers that God uses to chisel away at your flesh (Hebrews 10:24-25). The way He will do that is by having you live God’s word and be Jesus to others. That will make you like Jesus. That will bring glory to God.


 



[1] When Paul first wrote this epistle he didn’t write it with chapter and verse divisions. God’s word is inspired, but these divisions are not, they were added by translators to assist the reader in locating parts of God’s word. And so, the chapter division between Romans 14 and 15 should probably have been at 15:3.

 

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[17]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[21]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37] We should note here that when we talk about being conformed to the likeness of Jesus we are not talking about becoming a “god,” or “God.” That is a false teaching and trick of the devil that is as old as the Garden of Eden – Genesis 3:5. Being conformed to the likeness of Jesus means becoming as much like Him as a human non-God can. And this is something He does in us. WE will never be “gods,” or “God.” 

[38]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[47]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[48]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57] G. Curtis Jones, Illustrations For Preaching And Teaching, Nashville: Broadman, 1986, p. 225.

[58] Adapted from James W. Moore, Some Things Are Too Good Not To Be True, Nashville: Dimensions, 1994, p. 32.