Though it has sadly become a dirty word in evangelical circles, every bit of scripture that can be applied to anyone’s life is in some way related to “doctrine.” Although you could classify all scripture loosely as “doctrine”, even if we use a common evangelical understanding of “doctrine” it could be easily shown that you cannot learn about how to be a good husband, or how to avoid anger, or how to have joy, or how to fight depression, or how to parent your kids, or how to vote, unless you learn about “doctrine.” So it is not a surprise that when Paul writes his deeply application-oriented letters to different people and churches, that he focuses heavily on doctrine. In fact most of his letters are front loaded with doctrine and only afterword does he move to application. Paul’s letter to the Romans is no exception. Today we are going to briefly survey how the doctrine in Romans connects with and undergirds how we view fellowship in our churches. Continue reading Doctrine, Fellowship, and You, Oh My!
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.”
My focus for this post is from verse 25. What I wish to draw from this text is Paul’s purpose for staying alive. Whatever this ambition is, to him it was worth staying alive and suffering more, rather than going to be with the Lord. Being that death is “much gain”, this task must be of incredible importance to Paul.
So for what reason is Paul remaining? He says it is for the church’s progress and joy in the faith. Before elaborating on the meaning, there are a few things I wish to point out from our text, and the book as a whole, concerning working for the progress and joy of our brothers’ faith. Continue reading True Fellowship: Increasing One Another’s Faith and Joy