Sermon – “Famous Faith: Romans 1:8”
The Silent Holocron dedicates Monday space to the sermon that will be preached the following Sunday. Since Stephen has been grossly negligent in posting his sermons, the next few will be “catch-up” posts until we get to Romans 1:18 or thereabouts, where Stephen is currently located.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”
Paul, continuing his introductory address to the Roman church, praises them for the exact thing he has just declared about himself; namely, that the Roman church has received the same obedient faith that was given to him. As such, Paul wants the Romans to know that he is thankful for them.
Paul is quite obviously thankful that, in the place that would claim his life, there are brothers and sisters in Christ present with whom he can fellowship with and be ministered by. Rome at this time (likely the time of Nero) is a hostile, dangerous place to be a Christian. With the rise of emperor worship, it is dangerous to refuse to worship Caesar, more so to preach an exclusive way. What a relief it must be, to Paul, to have members of his spiritual family around him in such an inhospitable place!
Paul is teaching us, the modern reader, that giving thanks to God for fellow Christians is the first thing we ought to do. Whenever we find ourselves away from our church homes and extended Christian fellowship, our first thought should be for our brothers and sisters that may be in that location. Where are they? Will I be able to meet with them? Will they be able to meet my needs while I am away from my primary Christian family? Finding them, then, must bring about thanksgiving and praise to God for them.
Next, Paul gives thanks for the faith of the Roman Christians. Having found those who call themselves saved, Paul discovers that they are indeed those he has previously heard about! Wonderful! I’m around the greatest believers in the Empire!
This thanksgiving teaches us something important. Remember, faith is a gift, and as such gifts must be received with thanksgiving. We should be thankful for God’s gifts. Not only that, we should be thankful when God gives things to other people. Such a concept is counter to our modern culture. Today, we become jealous when someone else gets something beneficial. We want it too!
But such jealousy misses the point. My pastor, Tim Bender, always says that instead of saying, “I’m jealous,” we should say, “You’re blessed!” Perhaps another person’s blessing could end up saving your life or the life of someone important to you. Perhaps that person’s blessing could give you comfort when you are hurting. Perhaps that person’s blessing could indirectly affect your fortunes. We should never become jealous of another person’s gifts. Be content with the gifts God has deigned to give you, and be thankful for them. And thank God that He gives His gifts to all His children.
I was touched once by an infertile couple’s story. This couple struggled for ten years to have children, and when they finally conceived, they gave direct credit for not giving up to God’s gifting of other couples in their support group with children over the years. They readily acknowledged the hurt and envy they experienced when, time after time, God chose to bless these other couples and not them. But it was telling for them when, after God called their number, those couples who had gone before them became their greatest confidantes, coaches, and supporters. Those couples had blazed a path so that this couple might have wisdom and prayer from fellow believers to guide them through their adventure.
Paul, furthermore, is thanking God that the faith of his Roman brethren is famous. They have famous faith! What exactly is famous faith? Famous faith is:
- Obedient faith (Romans 1:5)
- Humble faith (James 4:10)
- Faith that trusts God alone (1 Corinthians 2:5), and
- Mustard seed faith (Matthew 17:14-21)
Such faith can do nothing but advertise itself and its giver. When we are obedient, we are working our faith. When our faith is working, we are humble enough to point to the One who died and rose again for us. When we are humble enough to do that, we trust in Christ alone and His will for our lives as revealed in Scripture. When we trust Christ and His Word, we have powerful faith that cannot be ignored. Mustard seed faith! See the Sermons category in the sidebar for Pastor Tim’s excellent and revealing sermon on mustard seed faith.
I’d like to close this sermon with a few illustrations of what famous faith is and what famous faith is not.
All about ME, baby!
A matter of stopping your negative self-talk and starting to claim the positive fruit God wants in your life!
Denying the Trinity and declaring God wants me to be rich!
Hatred against things I’m afraid of.
(Note: Any and all hatred against homosexuals–and all other types of sinners–is deeply disgusting and thoroughly condemned by The Silent Holocron. The “God Hates Fags” church and its adherents are more accurately described as a cult, as they do not belong to any denomination and preach very un-Christian behavior. Furthermore, they cannot rightly be called a church, as their membership is largely the immediate and extended family of its controlling, tyrannical, bitter pastor. Please pray that God will put a stop to their foolishness.)
Refusing to allow my faith to determine how I act (hypocrisy).
Using my faith to manipulate others into supporting me and my agenda, even though I’m not all that firm in my faith.
(Note: Anyone who seriously doesn’t believe “faith” is being used by politicians to curry favor seriously needs to crawl out from underneath the rock under which they’ve been living. Additionally, anyone who thinks Bush is a serious believer ought to ask themselves why he would, in the days after 9-11, pledge himself to Muhammad and Islam knowingly, if he’s such a “strong believer.”)
Staunch right-wing politics, legalism, and anti-intellectualism running rampant.
Claiming to speak for God.
Famous Faith IS:
Being a student of God’s Word.
Seeking to be a consistent, fervent prayer warrior.
Faithful involvement in the worship and ministry of the church of which I am a member.
Seeking to be conformed to the image of Christ in every part of my life.
Before we leave, I want you to seriously think about this question:
Do You Have Famous Faith?
If you don’t, the only place it can be found is in Jesus. Pray today that God will give you the faith to believe that He is the only Savior, and the ability to place your trust in Him as the only way to God. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)”