When some people come to Christ they passionately follow Him for a lifetime. No one is exempt from testing and temptation so they experience hardships just like everyone else, but in their case hardships dont destroy their faith, they actually seem to draw them closer to Him. But there are others for whom thats not true. They may start out in a flurry of zeal, but over time when crises or temptation arrive, they turn away disappointed with God, or maybe just bored. Why is this? Is it that some people dont hang on to God tightly enough, or is it that God doesnt hang on tightly enough to them? People have always debated this question, but today as we come to the very end of Pauls letter, as we listen to him pray for those wholl read what hes written, we hear his answer. Of course the doesnt explain all the subtle choices that take place in a human heart, but he does reveal why hes confident that those who read his letter and believe its truths will endure. No one who leads anyone to Christ should be without this information.
What does Paul say? (Ro 16:25-27)
vs25-26: Having completed his letter to Rome, Paul kneels before the Father to pray for those who will read this letter (Eph 3:14-21). He commits us to the power and wisdom of God, confident God will use the truth he has presented to cause us to stand firm in our salvation (Ac 20:32). By the phrase my gospel he means Gods plan of salvation as he has just explained it to us, rather than as the false teachers (vs17-20) were trying to explain it. His gospel is the good news that Gods righteousness cannot be earned, but rather is given as a gift to those who repent and believe (Ro 10:8-13). And now that Jesus Christ has been revealed, all our preaching and faith are focused on Him (Ro 1:1-4).
vs25-27: He is the Savior about whom the prophets wrote, but for thousands of years no one understood what they meant (1Pe 1:10-13; Heb 1:1, 2). Now, says Paul, this season of silence has ended because God has commanded that this ancient mystery be revealed, not only to Israel, but to all Gentile nations so that they too might become obedient to Christ by faith (Ro 1:5; 2:13-16).
v27: In this prayer Paul commits us not only to the power of God, but also to the wisdom of God. He places us in the hands of the only wise God whose wisdom is so great it cannot be discovered by the fallen human mind, it must be revealed (1Co 1:18-25; 2:14, 15). And because God designed the gospel, Paul is confident it is able to save us. God knew what needed to be done to rescue weak people like us. His wisdom knew He must send His Son to suffer and die. Then in his final statement Paul declares that because of all this God is worthy to be glorified to the end of this present age and throughout the eternity which follows. The final word he adds is Amen, which is a one-word prayer meaning I pray this will be so!
Lets listen to Pauls prayer once more and hear it as these Roman believers must have heard it:
I bow my knees before the Father and commit you to Him who is able to save you and keep you saved. Because I have told you the truth about the gospel and the Person and work of Jesus Christ, Im confident God will reveal to your heart what Ive said and remind you of these things all the rest of your lives. The fact that the Messiah had to suffer for our sins and rise from the dead is a truth that has always been present in our Scriptures, but which no one in all the previous generation understood. Yet now because the eternal God determined that the time was right, sent His Son and the true meaning of these prophetic writings have at last been revealed, so now people living everywhere on earth can hear the good news and choose to repent and believe. Yes, I bow my knees before the Father and place you in His hands, because He alone had the wisdom to know how to save us, He alone knew He must send His Son Jesus. Because of this He deserves to be glorified forever.
Pauls prayer reveals the faith in his heart. Hes confident God will use the truths hes presented in this letter to establish the faith of those who believe. Hes certain that because hes given them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth God will take his words and bless them. Paul is confident because of these three facts:
1) He told the truth about the gospel. He didnt distort the facts or soften its demands. He didnt compromise with legalism or leave people helpless in the face of temptation. He introduced them to the righteousness of faith and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Those who chose to obey what he taught would experience a profound change inside. They would have the resources they needed over condemnation and temptation.
2) He proclaimed the truth about Jesus Christ. He didnt compromise to avoid controversy. He presented the real Jesus, the divine Son of God and the human son of David (Ro 1:3, 4). He proclaimed His crucifixion and resurrection. He proclaimed Him ascended to heaven, and coming again to judge the earth. So if people believed in the Jesus he presented they were actually born-again.
3) Because the original seed was good, God would nurture it and cause it to grow in each heart. Paul had done his part, which was to tell the truth, now he is able to rest in faith knowing that God would do His part, which is to reveal that truth and remind believers over and over again for the rest of their lives.
Lets put ourselves in Pauls shoes. When we lead someone to Christ what must we tell them so we too can be confident God will establish them?
They must be told that eternal life is a gift God gives to people. It is not something that anyone can earn or deserve.
They must be told that no matter how good they have been they have not been good enough to deserve to go to heaven. And those whove lived bad lives must be told that God still loves them and is able to forgive their past and give them the power to live a new life.
They must be told that God is just and will someday judge their sins if they dont accept His plan of salvation.
They must be told that they need to repent of their rebellious attitudes toward God, of living independently without Him, and of being selfish. They must be told that this means complete surrender to Him and bringing their lives into submission to His word.
They must be told that there is only one Savior, Jesus Christ. God alone knows how to save people and He says there was only one way He could do it: He had to send His Son to die for our sins and then raise Him from the dead. They must be told to put their full trust in Jesus, believing that His death completely paid for their sins, all of them, even the ones they havent done yet, and that they must continue to trust Him for forgiveness for the rest of their lives.
They must be told that the Holy Spirit will come and live inside their body, so that He can strengthen them, guide them, heal them, comfort them and use them to serve God forever. They must be encouraged to receive Him by faith. They must welcome Him into their hearts. They must be taught how to listen to Him and draw on His power daily.
And then we prayerfully trust them to Gods care, knowing that He is able to keep us from stumbling, and to make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy
Our part is to tell the truth, but when we do we can be confident God will do His part, which is to use that truth to keep that person standing firm in their faith until they see Him face-to-face.
1) Have you ever led someone to Christ? What did you say to them?
2) Who led you to Christ? When did you know for certain that you are saved?