A Call to Struggle for the Gospel Romans II Series  Romans 15:22-33
A CALL TO STRUGGLE... REALLY? strive together with me… (v.30b, ESV) join me in my struggle… (v.30b, NIV)
A CALL TO STRUGGLE... REALLY? The Nature of This Struggle It is to struggle [wrestle/strive/fight] FOR THE GOSPEL to be preached, lived, and obeyed in all peoples. It is for EVERY CHRISTIAN to join in together. It is an avoidable struggle for which we are called to VOLUNTEER (which requires a counter-cultural lifestyle). It is a part of the necessary PAIN and JOY in the Christian life and mission.
But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:8 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:9
A CALL TO STRUGGLE... REALLY? The Background of Paul’s Current Struggle (in Romans 15) Paul’s holy ambition has always been to preach the gospel where the name of Christ has never been heard. Paul has finished his work in all the regions around him— from Jerusalem to Illyricum—with his ministry of the gospel. Paul now plans go to Rome, then eventually to Spain. Paul’s travel plan is delayed by one last crucial task—i.e., delivering the offering of the Gentile churches for the poor among the Jerusalem church.
A CALL TO STRUGGLE... REALLY? TODAY’S FOCUS: “How should we respond to the call to struggle for the gospel?”
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 1)We are to respond to the call by going & sending to strive for the gospel globally as well as locally. 22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. (vs.22-24)
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 1)We are to respond to the call by going & sending to strive for the gospel globally as well as locally. Paul’s struggle was centered on God’s calling to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. This call requires us to respond by enlarging our heart for the gospel not only here locally but also globally. Therefore, we ought to move out of our comfort zone and participate in what God is already doing by going and sending.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 2)We are to respond to the call by giving to the poor as a part of the whole gospel. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. (vs.25-29)
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 2)We are to respond to the call by giving to the poor as a part of the whole gospel. Giving and caring for the poor was important & urgent enough to detour from Paul’s passionate travel plan. Giving to the poor includes both to poor believers [Paul’s case here] and to poor non-believers. Why? The whole gospel is NOT cognitive-believism but faith-obedience to the values of God’s kingdom—taking the Jesus truth and do it in the Jesus way so we can live the Jesus life.
If there is a hole in our gospel, in our understanding of the nature of God's call upon us, His followers, it is not because Scripture is unclear about these issues. Rather, it is because we have chosen... to pay little attention to God's unmistakable message to bring the whole gospel to the whole world. Richard Stearns
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 3)We are to respond to the call by praying for the frontier Christian workers. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints. (vs.30-31)
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 3)We are to respond to the call by praying for the frontier Christian workers. The primary way to join in this struggle together is prayer—not just mere passive prayer but fervent “wrestling/battle-fighting” prayer! Why? The ministry of the gospel involves a war—fierce battle in the spiritual realm; GOD ONLY CAN cause repentance and faith in people and give supernatural boldness and power to those who strive with the gospel. Paul’s prayer request was twofold:  deliverance from the unbelievers’ harm and  acceptance of the offering for the poor by the Jerusalem.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms… 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:12, 19-20
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 4)We are to respond to the call by refreshing one another joyfully in our struggle for the gospel. 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (vs.32-33)
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THE CALL TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL? 4)We are to respond to the call by refreshing one another joyfully in our struggle for the gospel. The struggle for the gospel can be strenuous and difficult so we all need to be refreshed and encouraged. What does it mean to be refreshed by one another? It means to “be mutually encouraged by each other's faith” (Romans 1:12b). This means two things for us:  we need to seek to be refreshed by other believers; and  we need to intentionally refresh/encourage other believers—in good times and bad.
15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me. 2 Timothy 2:15-17
Responding to the Call American society does not talk much about calling anymore. It is more likely to think in terms of career. Yet, for many people a career becomes the altar on which they sacrifice their lives... A calling, which is something I do for God is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive. A career is something I do for myself; a calling is something I do for God. A career promises status, money or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering—and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility. - John Ortberg
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR EVERYDAY LIFE 1.Live counter-culturally by CHOOSING TO STRUGGLE FOR THE GOSPEL. Don’t let “comfort” drive your lifestyle. Embrace this struggle as a normal way of life. 2. Pray FOR THE MISSIONARIES AND PASTORS fervently and faithfully. Pray for them specifically as a way to join in their struggle. Let them know that you are praying for them. 3. Seek to REFRESH AND ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER in your struggle for the gospel. Don’t struggle ALONE—struggle TOGETHER for the gospel. Make it a goal to refresh one another as a way of life.