Losing Your Riches. Who can you trust when it comes to the big questions of life? Learn to discern from Paul's teaching in Romans Chapter 16 verses 17 to 20.
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Romans chapter 16 Part II Losing Your Riches Rom.16: 17-20
- Vigilance- if you knew there was a pickpocket in the Riverwalk/Armature works- you’d be careful.
- Pouring gold into a sack with holes: You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”Hag.1.6
- No mention in the letter- this was prevention- as he saw ahead what he would suffer, he saw ahead what the church in Rome would eventually face.
- Legends- of magical bags. Use that image- faith that holds the gold of what you know to be true in Christ.
1. The Holes in Life: V.17
- In China- knock on the door, an invitation to the police station. Obvious danger! But the deepest problem Christianity has had for 2000 years has been more hidden and from the inside of the church, not the outside. It’s from people who look and sound like you do, like fellow believers, maybe more dynamic, charismatic and gifted even.
- but they cause divisions- history of the church. Child of divorce- division is painful. Not always because of error per se - but agendas, power, etc. Often it could be stamped out with the first sparks, but when people refuse to confront situations then it’s a forest fire you are dealing with.
- Nothing destroys the Gospel witness better than division - living history- 300 souls on an island- all at the same church- division- for years- then a national split replicated on the island.
- Obstacles = sckandalon – today- what would you say are some of the biggest threats to the church? A past generation- the largest one was moralism. Or for others it was legalism. Then as a reaction to that, it was cheap grace. Still today one of the worst is the prosperity gospel. But each generation the fight can change. Like defenders on a castle wall we’d be crazy defending one wall when the attack has changed and they are at another part of the wall.
What then happens? The gold is lost
- This is following Jesus Christ as Lord over everything in your life.
- It includes all the things Paul has talked about in this letter. The error implies truth- a bent stick means you have an idea in your head of what a straight stick looks like. Yet today the whole idea of absolute truth is mocked. Blood has been spilled over doctrinal fights. Is it worth it? God is saying truth does count - otherwise there is a danger of creating holes in your pockets!
- then a future blessing for working alongside him in Spain. Many today are de-churched- had the upbringing- rob from yourself and your future children. “When church becomes optional for you, it will become unnecessary to your children.”
2. Tearing Open the Holes in Life
a. Why bag gets torn:
- They aren’t serving Christ v.18. may have been drawn to him initially. But eventually it's about what he can give, or what his name can give rather than serving for who he is.
- They are serving their own appetites v.18 Philippians 3:19 ‘their god is their stomach’). The expression is used ‘in the sense of serving oneself, of being the willing slave of one’s egotism
- The prosperity Gospel- all about money – is obvious. But a more subtle shift- other appetites…Young people leave for college- come home with intellectual questions- the reality is started sleeping around. The strong connection between false teaching and physical appetites!
b. The way the bag gets cut:
- Deceive the naïve with smooth talk and flattery v.18 simple people.
- Smooth = The Greeks themselves defined a chrestologos as "a man who speaks well and who acts ill. He is the kind of man who, behind a facade of pious words, is a bad influence, who leads astray, not by direct attack, but by subtlety, who pretends to serve Christ, but in reality is destroying the faith." W.Barclay
- Philosophers and moralists also distanced themselves from populist public speakers who sought to flatter their audiences; if a preacher tells you only what you want to hear and not what you need to hear then switch off online or on the TV. If the message is always sweet- it’s probably a diet of sugar.
- They are brilliant communicators. But there is a discrepancy between charisma and character- that has to be joined at the hip or charisma will lead to pride and pride means Christ’s glory is no longer the motive, their own glory is the only concern. You can see this across life, e.g., in school, the most popular kid might also be a born liar. He or she might even steal from you! Girls- beware of charisma in a boy with no character. He will take from you what he wants and leave you with a broken heart.
- Spiritually- similar- the simple - Not well taught- vulnerable- Red blood cell church- power churches! But no white cells in the body- are susceptible to spiritual diseases.
3. Sewing the Holes shut
- watch out be prepared. Expect it. Don’t be surprised by it. v.17. strong word: Chrysostom – “to be exceedingly particular about, and to get acquainted with, and to search out thoroughly.”
- Often shown up in a lack of willingness to suffer for Christ- need the focus on his glory- where he reigns right now, what he will take us into one day. Otherwise- no counterbalance to suffering for him in this world. The Cross won’t feature much, at least not as a legally recognized substitute for paying your unwanted moral bills. So a false teacher will not quickly suffer. A deceived person could. But a deceiver – unlikely!
- Study the real thing vs.17 cf. counterfeit bills. Spot what is contrary to the teaching you have learned.
- Watch your lifestyle: Be wise about what is good v.19 cf. Adam/Eve- grasping for knowledge = deciding good and evil for themselves…being true to yourself as we would say today!
- Be patient in Hope v.20 Victory of Christ is portrayed here. Peace is victory over evil- foot stamping! Nature of truth to dispel darkness. Shine a flashlight down a dark road and suddenly you see all the possible dangers along the way.
Conclusion: There is gold on this Communion Table- come…buy without money. Better than money- treasure in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy. Here are the symbols of our greatest treasure- Christ- the Pearl of great price- easy for the world to miss- defeat, wounds, the triumph of his foes- blood and broken body. Yet here we share it with one another- because he feeds us. He is our treasure. He is our life. Eat
 John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 400.
 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ro 16:18.