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Msindisi Newsletter # 137

April 7, 2016

SALVADOR & DIANNE’S MSINDISI MONTHLY

NUMBER: 137 April 2016  

PO BOX 1481

VRYHEID 3100

KWAZULU NATAL

SOUTH AFRICA

+27 (0) 728311008

+27 (0) 723843786

Email:  msindisi@gmail.com ,

salv.di@gmail.com

KwaZulu Mission Website: http://www.kwazulumission.com

KwaZulu Mission Facebook page: www.facebook.com/kwazulumission

Allegiance Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/allegiancethemovie

Hi all

We having a great day today as the weather has suddenly changed !!!! It’s much cooler and we have had some rain. With the celebration of Phumulani and Siphwe wedding the supply of water was halved so we all are grateful for the tanks to be topped up.

Let’s start with their wedding. The month was busy with preparations, cleaning up the kraal, collecting food and going for fittings etc. The night before was spent peeling sacks of butternut, potatoes, beetroot. The cows had been slaughtered the day before that for her family and for food for the wedding. No ancestral worship took place. In the middle of these proceedings we got a call that a young boy had been involved in a fight and needed to be taken to the local clinic, after we arrived, still no ambulance was available so we ended up taking him into Vryheid to the hospital. He had a fractured skull and was in alot of pain.

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Guests attending the wedding

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Wedding guests

Phumlani and S’phiwe decided to do their official marriage at home affairs early on in the week and then have the community celebration on the 26th. Sal was asked to bring the teaching, while Celani was MC. The day arrived with clear skies and many people coming to share in the celebration. I have to say at this point that the Zulu women are incredible, hard working ladies; the preparation for the food alone is huge as they cater for anybody who decides they will come. No invitations go out, it is open for all. Take away containers are used for plates for those travelling but otherwise everyone brings their dishes and plates from home from within the family to help serve. The wedding was extended over 2 days as on the day of the wedding the bride’s family said they were tired after celebrating the night before and they wanted to stay over and continue to celebrate the next day as well. There was much dancing, singing, eating into the small hours of the morning for several days. By the Monday people were starting to leave and go back to their homes. We also hit the road on the Monday for Ballito.

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Cutting the Cake

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Phumlani and S’phiwe

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The Married Couple

We drove down in convoy with a friend to help her find her way to a course she was attending in Umlanga. Then returned back up to Ballito. As you can imagine that night we both had no problem sleeping.

The time we had in Ballito was mixed with some Rest and Relaxation. Sal met up with Graeme again and went over what he had completed concerning the editing of the DVD. We are so grateful for his input and now things have moved into another gear. The trailor is nearly completed and the website should be up and running in the next month thanks to Alistair Gordon from Bread of Life. We have been approaching people to see if they are interested in showing it at their local fellowship or in there community. The Facebook page is now showing the introduction of the 4 people and their stories. You can find it on www.facebook.com/allegiancethemovie

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Hamilton Buthelezi is a Zulu who was raised outside Jozini in KwaZulu Natal. His grandmother was a sangoma and his grandfather and father were Inyangas. Hamilton felt sure he was destined to become a sangoma. All the signs were there and he showed amazing aptitude in ancestral things. He would even dream of things before they happened. Deeply entrenched in ancestral beliefs, Hamilton was challenged by a dream that was to change the whole course and direction of his life. Today Hamilton pastors the Swedish Evangelical Church in Louwsburg, KwaZulu Natal. Hamilton is played by Banele Mavuso and Mthobisi Buthelezi. Banele is a student at Inkanezi Yesizwe Combined School and Mthobisi is currently working part time and seeking full time work opportunities. This is their acting debut.

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Karabo Lotsholo became a born again Christian about 6-7 years ago. He grew up in a Tswana family outside Pretoria in a township called Ga-Rankuwa. Raised single-handedly by his mother he was raised to follow ancestral traditions. After a great emotional conflict of seeing the failings of ancestral traditions he became convinced that Jesus is the only way to God while working at BMW Rosslyn, where he still works today. Karabo is played by himself. This is Karabo’s acting debut.

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Munyuradzi Mujuru is a Shona who grew up in and around Harare in Zimbabwe. He has Batchelors, Masters and PhD in Chemistry. He currently is a lecturer at the University of Limpopo. Mujuru’s family has been deeply entrenched in ancestral traditions. His family is also well known for its connection to the instrument called ‘Mbira’ (African Piano) which can be played either for ancestral ceremonies or in a popular style with no connection to ancestors. His father, uncles and aunts were mediums who would be channels through which the spirits would manifest. This story explains his background and how he gave his life radically to Jesus while at boarding school and the grace and strength he received from the Lord to remain true to Him. Mujuru is played by Mthandeni Dlamini, Sabelo Dlamini and Mesuli Mhlongo. Mthandeni and Sabelo are brothers and they are currently students at Inkanyezi Yesizwe Combined School in the rural area, Alpha Village, near Vryheid, in Northern KwaZulu Natal. Mesuli Mhlongo is currently studying a Batchelor of Pharmacy at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and is also from a rural area outside Vryheid. This is first acting debut.

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Jean’s actual name and identity has been concealed for security reasons. She has gone to be a missionary in Moslem lands. This recent move is a testimony to the Lord’s hand on her life. Coming from a childhood where she was continually fearful of her father, she reached out for help to the spiritual world where she believed she was in contact with spirit guides and spirits of the dead. She got deeper into the occult until she came to experience the power and the peace of God to which she was drawn at a time when she fought tooth and nail against the idea of becoming a Christian. It was in the knowledge of God’s great power and love for her that she bowed her knee to Him and it was in the abandonment of herself and her focus on Jesus that she found her freedom from fear. Jean is played by Lindy Els and Nicole Els. Lindy and Nicole are sisters. Lindy is at a primary school in Vryheid and Nicole is studying a Batchelor of Social Work at the University of Pretoria. This is their acting debut.

The translation work is still in progress, with the Zulu recording still needing to be completed however David Nathan and his team will be working on that very soon.

We want to thank all those who have helped in so many ways so far, it truly is a work of the Lords. We praise and thank Him for you all.

Running along side the wedding and DVD has been the on going routine of ministry. Sal continues to bring the word to the fellowship on Sunday’s now, as Phumlani has stepped down, bible studies on fri afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. The Friday cell group is meeting whenever possible also. Due to school holidays last month we did not teach at Care bear preschool or Victory school but will do so this month.

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Home where we do the evangelistic Bible study on Sundays

Sal is getting ready for his visa renewal application which is due to be submitted at the end of April. So it’s the usual paperwork requirements of police clearance, doctor certificate, x-ray reports etc. This will be submitted when we return to Ballito at the end of the month.

Di has started to help Khethwie with driving lessons. She has had 2 so far. Learning to drive will help her and the family plus the community. Celani shop is now plastered on the inside. She will be plastering the exterior and painting both in and outside.

Phew … Think that’s all for now. Even though our lives are busy our eyes are fixed solidly on the person of Christ to whom we labour. It is Him and Him alone who enables and directs our path.

1 Timothy 4v 10. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.

Prayer Needs

– We still ask for your prayers concerning people who are called to join the work.

– gratitude for the rain and the Lords grace with Phumulani and Siphwe wedding.

– the visa application for Sal’s renewal

– DVD editing and future viewings

– the up and coming fellowship of fellowships meeting that is at the end of the month

– Persecuted believers

Do pray you are all well, we love receiving your news also. If we can be of any encouragement or if you have any specific prayer needs please let us know.

God bless

SEVENTEEN

THE SACRIFICIAL LIFE IN ACCEPTANCE

ROMANS 15

Romans 15 is really a concluding chapter to the whole epistle. God is good and made everything good but we messed it up. When I preach the Gospel in public I often bring up the question, ‘how can a good God allow evil to exist in the world?’ This is a question many people ask. However, what they do not even recognize when they ask this, is that most of the evil that we read of in the newspapers is not a product of natural disasters but is caused by people. If God is good we would have to measure everything against Him. And that includes our morality. Therefore, because God is good, then everything He does is good and everything He says is good also. God gave our ancestors, Adam and Eve, a commandment. God gave the Jewish people a law. If God is good then that law must also have been good. So when we decide to go against that good law are we therefore performing good? When we go against that which is good we create evil. Our ancestor, Adam, brought evil into the world and we have accelerated its growth. When someone stabs you in the back, mocks you, cheats on you and ridicules you; should that person expect to suddenly become your best friend? But that is what we are like with God! We live the way we want, in defiance of His law, and then we expect Him to turn round and say, ‘It is OK, I forgive you anyway!’ Sin separates. It separates us from God and it separates us from one another.

That is why God separated the Jewish people from the other nations and made them special. He did it that He may give them His law and then He could have communion with them through the Tabernacle and the sacrifices, which were all a picture of Messiah. He was the fulfillment of everything that God required in order that the gap might be bridged. Not only did Jesus reconcile the believing Jews to the Father but Jesus also brings reconciliation between them and we who are physically Gentiles. We are not only reconciled to God but we are also reconciled to Israel, who under the dispensations of the Patriarchs and Moses had been made separate to us. In the last chapter, Paul showed us how the unity between Jew and Gentile, was to be experienced in Church life when sensibilities between their practices were difficult to over come. And that is what Paul builds on in verses 1 – 13. Then in verses 14 – 21 Paul explains his reason for writing this letter. Lastly from verses 22 – 33 Paul deals with his desire to see Rome and the obstacles that had been and would be in the way.

VERSES 1 – 13:

JEW AND GENTILE: ONE IN MESSIAH

Paul is building on the whole argument that not all are strong in faith. Paul looks at the perspective of those Jews who had come to accept Yeshua as their Messiah but still carried a legalistic mindset and, thus, he summarizes the whole of the last chapter in the first verse of this one. We who are strong, meaning strong in faith, (as opposed to those weak in faith (Romans 14: 1)), are to bear the weaknesses of those without strength. This is not only a ‘bearing with’ or a putting up with the weaknesses but it means to actually bear those weaknesses also. If we turn to Galatians 6: 1 – 2 we can see that Paul is dealing with people who are caught in sin.

1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

What is our immediate reaction to be when people are caught in serious sin? I am not talking about people who are sinning, as many people sin secretly, but I am talking about those caught red-handed. Perhaps these people have been sinning for some time. What is a Church to do when someone is caught red-handed? Is it simply to ex-communicate them? Do they purge them out of the congregation? A Church must do something because sin cannot be allowed to continue. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We do not simply kick such a person out but we help that person. Who is supposed to deal with it? Is the whole Church to get involved? No, not the whole Church but, as Paul says, those who are spiritual. When you go into battle, who do you put out there in the thick of it? Do you commission a novice with no training? Would you put a novice in charge of a delicate operation? Would you put a private in charge of other men and put their lives in his hands? No, of course you would not! So when someone is caught in a sin, you do not get a new convert to deal with it. A new convert has so much to learn, to grow in and to experience as a believer. He or she has to grow in spiritual wisdom. It is an exciting journey of spiritual discovery. But the work of restoration is a work for those who have grown strong in faith. As Paul says in Romans 15: 1 ‘We who are strong are to bear the weaknesses of those without strength.’ Those who are spiritual are to restore such a person, in a spirit of gentleness. This is what Paul means in the Galatians 6: 2, when he says ‘Bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.’ Bearing their burdens with them is an act of love and sacrifice. Love is the heart of Romans 12 – 16. Truth and love are not mutually exclusive. We are not only speaking of love as something that conveys our sentiments to another, but as Romans 12: 1 – 2 shows us, love is only made possible when we live sacrificely. What is it that we are laying on the altar? Not just ambition, not just pride, but here Paul tells us we are not just to please ourselves.

We are to put self interest on the altar as part of our living sacrifice. Denial of self seems so unnecessary when I have to refrain from something that is not evil in itself. What if I have the freedom, in Christ, to do what for someone else may be a cause of stumbling? Am I always to bend over backwards for other people’s weaknesses? It does not seem theological or doctrinal anymore but more of a matter of personal sensibilities. But this is what Paul is dealing with. It is wholly theological because living to please oneself is letting self rule instead of God. Thus, even if I have no problem with something, at some point I must forego it for the benefit of someone else. I need to consciously lay self interest on the altar as part of presenting my body as a living sacrifice. Remember when we looked at Romans 12: 3 – 8. The whole point of living a sacrificial life in ministry is seen from Ephesians 4: 11 – 14 in that we are building each other up into the image of Christ and we are being fitted together by what every joint supplies. As 1 Corinthians 3: 10 – 16 shows us, we are a temple of the living God and we have to build each other up on the right foundation, which is Christ.

That is what Paul has done in this letter. He has given us a doctrinal foundation of the Truth. Then, from Romans 12, onwards he is encouraging his readers to build each other up according to the foundation and according to Truth. That is why Paul tells us, in verse 2, that we are to please our neighbour to his good, to his edification. We are not to please our neighbour simply for pleasing’s sake. We are not to fall for every whim a person would have us to comply to, simply because we are Christians.

In the UK there are people who prey on unsuspecting and naïve young people. They may give that youth a story about how they need to go back down south for a job interview but they have no money for the coach or the train. I fell for this trickery once when I was 17 and gave the guy 40. But that money did not help the guy out because it offered no conviction and kept him thinking he could continue to travel this path of dishonesty. We are to please each other for our good and edification. We are to promote godliness and to lay aside our freedoms in order to promote that godliness. This is what Paul is saying. This undoubtedly will bring suffering into our lives. When we lay our rights down, it is a real sacrifice. Think of Moses; do you think it was easy for him to lay aside the riches of Egypt in order to identify with God’s people? God’s people are ridiculed by the world and yet we have to limit our freedom and be identified with what the world would only deem, ‘nut jobs’. Because of love we bear reproach for the sake of Christ. Look at verse 3.

3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”

Here Paul quotes from Psalm 69: 9. David, who prophetically speaks of Christ, shows how he was alienated from those close to him and was mocked. But what was the cause of this reproach? ‘For zeal for your house has consumed me?’ Jesus sufferings, in terms of his passion week, came into effect after Jesus cleansed the temple because zeal for God’s house consumed him. Because Paul championed the Gentile cause, concerning their inclusion into the Body without circumcision, other Jews rejected him and persecuted him. Why was he rejected? It was because zeal for God’s house had consumed him. We often think that suffering for Christ is a personal affair. When I read Hebrews 12 in 2001 I was agonizing over the fact that I am called to suffer. But here is what I did not realize studying this chapter of Romans. Our suffering is also connected to our love for the Body of Christ. When zeal for God’s house consumes us, then we will bear reproach or suffer for it. You do the right thing for Christ’s sake and for the sake of your fellow believers, and unbelievers reproach you. You may get little thanks and you may feel alienated from the rest of the world. Being alienated from people becomes a very lonely affair. Therefore, if we are made more separate to the world, we need to hold some things in mind.

Verses 4 – 6. 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Firstly we need the input of the scriptures. These things in the Old Testament were written for our instruction. Paul has already demonstrated that when he looked at Abraham’s example, of being justified by faith while uncircumcised, in Romans 4. The scripture gives us hope and we looked at this hope in Romans 8. But it is not only scripture that we need but we also need one another. The more alienated we become to the world the closer we need to draw to one another. We need to be part of a family, of community. We were made by a relational God who created marriage. And God told the couple he made to form a big family, hence the formation of a society. We worship a God of fellowship and therefore, when we are more estranged from the world, we need to be more familiar with each other. The way to do this is not simply to open up with each other about everything or to manufacture a relationship through our own devices but we are to be of the same mind. Being of the same mind is a gift from God and He must grant it to us. It is God’s work in us through the Holy Spirit that brings unity between us. And the Spirit does that through the administration of the Truth. As Jesus prayed, in John 17: 20 – 21, unity would come to those who would believe through the Apostles teaching. Is it any wonder why Paul chooses to pray for the unity of the Roman believers in Romans 15? Paul has already set out the fundamentals of our faith and explained the Gospel as a basis for our unity and fellowship with one another. In our agreeing with Paul’s doctrine we come into a unity and fellowship with God Himself and with one another. Thus Paul may pray that God would grant them to be of the same mind because they all have a basis for that unity.

Our salvation is based on what God has done, not what we do. Our Christian living is a response to what He has done. We saw this in the very first chapter of this book. We looked at the mystery of godliness. And here Paul continues in saying that we are to accept one another, with all our flaws, idiosyncrasies and weaknesses because Christ accepted us. It does not mean that we accept and tolerate sin but instead of simply pointing the finger, we are to help those who are in these situations. Jew has to accept Gentile and Gentile has to accept Jew. The reason that Paul gives for the salvation of the Jew is to confirm God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The salvation of Jew does not serve the same purpose as salvation for the Gentile. There is distinction between the two groups in this regard. The reason Paul gives for the salvation of the Gentile is to glorify God for His mercy. From verses 9 – 12 Paul quotes from Psalm 18: 49, Deuteronomy 32: 43, Psalm 117: 1 and Isaiah 11: 10. In the first quote David is speaking about the time when he ran away from Saul. He was rejected by his own people but then he was made captain over Gentiles; they submitted to him and therefore David would praise God among the Gentiles. But is that not a living example of Paul’s teaching in Romans 11? He says that because of Israel’s rejection, salvation has come to the Gentiles. But, as we read in that chapter, this does not mean that the church has replaced Israel and so Paul’s second quote says that the Gentiles are to rejoice with God’s people. They are not to rejoice in place of God’s people. It is neither a replacement of God’s people as a nation, nor a replacement in terms of God’s purposes for Israel, but the salvation of Gentiles is a fulfillment of those purposes. This Paul demonstrates in his third quote from Psalm 117.

1 Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud him, all peoples! 2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!”

Here the psalmist speaks to the Gentiles as a separate entity from himself. He does not tell the Gentiles ‘Let us praise the Lord’, but he says, ‘Praise the Lord all YOU Gentiles’. But the reason the psalmist gives for (YOU) Gentiles to praise God is because God’s Truth is Everlasting and His kindness is great to US. With the distinction between YOU and US we can well interpret this as meaning that the Gentiles are to praise God because God’s kindness to Israel has been great. Why should Gentiles want to thank God for being kind to a totally different people group to themselves? They are to praise God because of Romans 15: 8.

8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,

The promises in verse 8 no doubt refer to the covenant made with Abraham, that he would have many descendants, that he would inherit the land of the Canaanites and that through his seed all nations would be blessed. This is fulfilled in Messiah. Therefore, we Gentiles are to praise God for preserving Israel and keeping His promises to Israel because out of that comes our blessing of salvation in the Messiah. We Gentiles can, therefore, be saved.

VERSES 14 – 21:

PAUL’S REASON FOR WRITING

And now Paul has gone full swing back to the first chapter. The Roman believers were an example of how Jew and Gentile may be one in Christ, despite their history and despite all the obstacles that would come their way through Jews observing Moses. Paul was convinced that this group of believers were such an example as we read in verse 14. Paul was not glib when he said that he was convinced that they were full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to admonish one another. Paul did not use flattery in order to get a desired response from Believers but Paul would have known all about them because he knew people that they knew. So if these people were such an example of what a good Christian church should be then why did Paul have to send such a lengthy and detailed letter to them? They were filled with all knowledge and were able to admonish one another; so why did Paul have to interfere? We already claimed that we do not know the specific reason as to what drove Paul to write the letter but there are some reasons that he tells us himself in the text.

  • Firstly, he says in verse 15, he wrote boldly on some points so as to remind them. We already said in the first chapter of this book that we need reminding. We get saved by faith, in response to what Christ did on the cross. We move on and then we sometimes forget the foundational principles of our faith. No longer is it about responding to what God says in obedience but now it is about what you and I can do to bring God’s Kingdom about. It is about us taking dominion. Thus, we become the initiators to whom God must respond. Or, we can take a commandment in the New Testament scriptures and we start to impose it in a way that the person must keep it whether they have the faith or not. And suddenly we have gone off track. The just shall live by faith. As Paul said to the Galatians, ‘Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh?’ There are some things in scripture that demand drastic measures, such as unrepentant immorality, and we can read about that clearly in 1 Corinthians. But many other issues demand our patience, our help, time and prayers. We must not only get saved by faith but we must also live by faith. And maybe you have left behind your first love, where God was everything to you and you believed in His leading and care. But then the tribulation that you have experienced as a Christian has hardened you to that experience of the Lord. The good news is that it does not require our works or sacrifices to come back to God. We keep coming back to God on the basis of the finished work of Christ. We come to Him with the empty hands of faith in full reliance of God like we did on the day we got saved.

  • Secondly, as Paul writes in verses 15 and 16, he had written to them boldly because of the grace that was given to him. This goes back to Romans 1: 5 which says that he had received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith from among the Gentiles for Christ’s name’s sake. God had given Paul the authority to speak into these believers’ situation and to lay that doctrinal foundation down afresh. For Paul, this was not a matter of position or status but about obedience. God initiates and we are supposed to respond.

  • Thirdly, in verse 16, Paul’s perspective of his own ministry is that of a priest making offerings to God. These are not the same sacrifices as on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), or for sin. They are not sacrifices of lambs or bulls but they are sacrifices of people. He is offering the Gentiles to God as his offering. This, no doubt, relates to Romans 12: 1 – 2 which tells us that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices. This is the outworking of a life of faith and thus it can only be a product of the sanctifying work of the Spirit. It is not in the power of the flesh that we are able to do this, but because of a spiritual birth (as we saw in Romans 9). It is because of the spiritual power of the Gospel which is brought about through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Paul knew better than to rely on his flesh. He would not operate outside the bounds of the Spirit’s enabling in his life. Thus it is just like he taught us to do in Romans 12: 3 – 8 concerning serving according to the faith that we have.

In verse 18, Paul writes that he will not speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through him. This was not Paul speaking in false humility but the factual confession that he had no power in himself. It was not merely a boast of inadequacy, making him out to be of lowest regard, but rather it was a true realization of the situation that he was in. When Paul bemoaned the flesh, at the end of Romans 7, you cannot say that Paul was being over sensitive or embellishing the situation but we read a very genuine account of the struggle he had to deal with. Paul was under no illusion. Without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit he could do nothing. He could not even fulfill the ministry that God had set him apart for, which was to preach the Gospel fully to the Gentiles in places where Christ Jesus had not even been named. We could learn from that too. Why do we labor in our flesh? Why do we forget the fact that we are not capable by ourselves to perform His will? Why do we then make a verbal admission that we believe we need God’s empowerment, in order to convince others that we believe the right doctrine? We need not to merely confess our need for Christ’s empowerment but rather we need to have a true and real awareness of our powerlessness without His Spirit.

VERSES 22 – 33:

PAUL’S DESIRE TO VISIT ROME

Remember the mystery of godliness. We submit ourselves to Christ as servants and wait on God to elevate us. He initiates our vindication. He initiates our salvation. He initiates our ministry. He initiates our glorification. He initiates and our part is to respond. Paul desired to go to Rome and Paul would have had every possibility to go there. He was a Roman citizen, he was well travelled, he was a tent maker by profession and so to go to Rome would have been no big deal were it not for one factor… the will of God. Because Paul’s ministry was to preach the Gospel where Christ had not been named, and because Rome had already received the Gospel, though Paul could have gone to Rome he would have been doing it outside the will of God. Paul had to prove himself faithful in the duties God had given him before he would be moved onto the next thing. Now Paul was seeing that he was getting nearer to the end of spreading the Gospel round Asia Minor. Thus his eyes were looking further a field, to Spain. Therefore, going to Rome on the way to Spain would be perfectly legitimate because Rome could be a key player in his support to get over to Spain. But there was one thing that Paul had to do before he could move on and that is found in verses 25 – 26.

25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

We also read about it in Acts 19: 21. In Galatians 2: 10 Paul states that the Apostles requested him to remember the poor, the very thing that Paul was eager to do. Paul was eager to help the poor in Jerusalem. This meant one of 2 things. Either it meant the Jewish sect of believers called the ‘Ebionites’, which comes from the Hebrew word ‘Ebyown’ meaning poor or one who is needy. Or it referred to those Jewish believers who had been made destitute because of their commitment to Christ. If it referred to the Jewish sect then we know that, though this group of believers may have started out as sound, they went astray later because they denied Christ’s deity and compelled Gentiles to be circumcised. It is more likely that it was simply a group of Jewish believers who were made destitute because they believed in Yeshua as Messiah. But why should we Gentiles support Jewish believers financially? Why are the Jews so special? Has Christ not abolished the distinction between Jew and Gentile in Christ?

The answer lies in this; that we are indebted to the Jewish people for our salvation because salvation is from the Jews. Even though in Christ we are equal, outside of Christ we are not and, therefore, we recognize the unique position that Israel holds. We are also thankful for the way God used them to be a blessing to us. But Paul is taking this gift to Jerusalem and he knows the danger that awaits him. Agabus in Acts 21: 11 prophesied of the danger and persecution that awaited Paul in Jerusalem and yet Paul said that he was willing even to die for Christ. Now here is the telling thing. Just because Paul was willing to die for Christ, did not make Paul stupid. He does not pray for martyrdom, but rather (in verse 31) he asks the Romans to pray for God’s protection from those who are disobedient to the Lord. He knows what awaits him so if he is going to face such opposition from Jerusalem how will he fulfill his desire of seeing Rome? Through their prayers he expected to be delivered to them by the will of God. God would be the one to open the doors. God is the one who is to open our doors. Our part is only to hear and obey; trusting that in His time God will open the door.

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