Message: In Romans 16 Paul greeted and affirmed several people by name
for their work in spreading the gospel. After he greeted them all he gave them
a strong warning about people who caused dissensions and obstacles contrary to
the gospel they had learned. It occurred to me while reading this that I forget
so easily that they didn’t have a bible to refer to and read like we do. The
gospel was preached to them and these letters were carried from place to place.
Copies were made but they didn’t have the access that we have to study and read
it. They were living it out together and dependent upon each other to keep
themselves aligned in truth. We have the whole gospel in the form of letters
not only from Paul but from other trusted sources in the early church. We are
able to compare them and study them, but even with that availability we still
have to be careful about who we listen to and who we allow to influence our
lives. I have heard the gospel skewed in such sneaky ways that it amazes me.
Scriptures taken out of context to align with a personal agenda can sound true
because there is a familiar element of truth in it.
Command: Be faithful in sharing the gospel,
and watch out for those who would try to manipulate or teach anything contrary
to the truth.
Promise: If I read the word I will be faithful
to share it, and able to discern anything falsely conveyed.
Warning: If I don’t know the word for myself it’s
easier for me to fall victim to a contrary teaching. I am also more likely to
spread that contrary teaching or make my own misinterpretations.
Application: What really hit me today is the
privilege we have to be able to read and
study the word for ourselves. If we read it in context without a personal
agenda, and we stay connected with other believers that are grounded in truth
we will not be fooled by someone with smooth words and an agenda. If we don’t
know the truth for ourselves, we will fall for a lie, and if we fall for a lie,
we will spread that lie. My challenge to myself is to approach my daily bible
reading with a heart to learn something new and free of any pre-formed ideas,
but also stay connected with other people who are grounded in truth. I have
seen how easy it is to use Scripture to back up our own desires and ideas-even
without an intent to manipulate. I’m asking God to show me what I need to hear
and not what I want it to say, and I’m asking him to give me discernment when
someone uses scripture with the intent to divide or manipulate.