Unity in ChristFebruary 21, 2017 Devotions from Dale's Desk
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The book of Romans contains magnificent truths that Paul shared with the church. He said some very encouraging things as well as some difficult things. He taught them much solid doctrine revealing God’s ways and instructing them in living out the Christian life. The love Paul had for the church is evident. He said he prayed for them without ceasing and was looking for a way in the will of God to come to them. He wanted to impart spiritual gifts to them and to encourage them and be encouraged by them. He closes his letter in chapter sixteen by offering a number of personal greetings as he mentions people by name.
Some of the names Paul mentions are ones we have seen before and know something about. Others are more of a mystery to us and we can only speculate on their identity. Paul not only greets them by name, but he uses phrases about several of them. He calls them ‘fellow workers” in Christ Jesus. He calls them “beloved” ones in the Lord who “labored” for him. He notes that they are “in Christ, approved in Christ.” He is sure they are “in the Lord”, that they are “chosen” by Him. He calls them “saints.” He recalls that their “obedience is well known.”
The phrases Paul uses of the Romans seem to be descriptions of every believer in Christ. All those who have come to know Christ are “beloved.” John reminds us that “so loved” us that He gave His only begotten Son and that we are to behold “what manner of love” that God has bestowed upon us.
All believers are “in Christ.” Paul declares that believers have been placed “in Christ”, baptized into Christ, and uses the phrase “in Christ” repeatedly.
All believers are “approved” in Christ. There is, therefore, now “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus.
All believers are “chosen” in Christ. Paul tells us that “He chose us in Christ” before the foundation of the world.
All believers are “saints.” In almost every letter, Paul refers to the believers as “saints” and notes that the Spirit intercedes for the “saints” according to the will of God.
All believers are “fellow workers” in Christ Jesus and “labor” for the Lord because it is the Lord who works in them “both to will and to work” for His purpose.
We can rejoice, beloved, in that two thousand years after Paul wrote greetings to the Romans and described the change wrought in them, we have unity with them. We have that unity because the same gracious God Who worked in them has worked in us. The same Spirit Who changed their hearts has changed ours as well. There is unity in the Spirit among the believers of all ages because the God of all the ages has redeemed a people for Himself in every age.
So, we come to the same place Paul to at the end of chapter sixteen: “to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen