Able to Instruct (Romans 15:14)
Topic: Romans Passage: Romans 15:14
Able to Instruct
(One Body: Each Part Working Properly)
August 28th, 2016
I. In Planting
How do things grow? That's an important question, isn't it? Most things in this world grow without any help from us. But there are still many things, from our crops to our kids, that grow through our involvement. So that makes the question vitally important: how do things grow?
Think about a plant for example. There are three things that, in most cases, will help a seed grow into a mature plant. The first is the sunlight, the second is water, and the third is the soil. Anyone who studied biology in elementary school and grew a plant in a styrofoam cup can tell you that.
But think with me for a minute about how that connects to the most important growth of all: spiritual growth. For any genuine follower of Jesus, spiritual growth should be a central desire, a key goal, a core ambition. God, through Peter, instructs us in this very way:
...take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (II Peter 3:17b-18)
So how does growth in grace and a knowledge of the truth, how does spiritual grace connect to what a plant needs to grow? Well, in one sense, a Christian also needs three basic elements in order to grow in his or her faith: like sunlight, they need that which comes from above: the Holy Spirit. And like water, they need that which feeds: the word of God.
But what about this idea of soil? Is there a parallel in the Christian life in regard to what is essential for growth. Let's answer that question this morning by turning to one verse,
II. In Print: “To Instruct One Another” (15:14)
Paul is nearing the end of his incredibly dense, but still practical letter to the Romans, when he writes these words to the disciples of Jesus in Rome. Romans 15, verse 14...
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)
Did you see them there? Did you hear Paul describe there our three elements for spiritual growth? We know from this letter and from Paul's other letters that if his Roman readers are “full of goodness”, it must be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. We are not good apart from God's Spirit (Romans 3:10-12). This goodness is the fruit of His Spirit.
And the “knowledge” that Paul speaks of here, how can that be anything but the word of God. The word of God in the OT, and the teaching of the Apostles that would later be preserved in the NT, these were the very things Paul and the other apostles used to establish and strengthen the First Century churches.
So there's the sun, there's the water, and in the finals words of Romans 15:14 we find...the soil. If like the Romans believers, I am “filled with all knowledge”, how does that water also saturate the soil? It does so as WE “instruct one another”. Do you see that?
Now there are countless “one anothers” in the NT, right? Even just before this in Romans: “live in harmony with one another” (12:16), “honor one another above yourselves” (12:10), and above all, “Love one another” (13:8). But for a moment about what it might mean for you to “instruct one another”.
Are you, are we “instructing one another”? When is the last time you instructed a brother or sister in Christ? Is it something we plan to do? Is it something your prepare yourself to do?
Now some might say, “I'm no instructor. You're the teacher, Pastor Bryce, you and other people gifted in that way.” Some might point to James 3:1, where we read...Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)
But when Paul uses the word “instruct” in Romans 15:14, does he have the gift and office of teaching in mind? I don't think so. In fact, he distinguishes his role in the next couple of verses. Yes, they are...
...able to instruct one another.  But on some points [Paul states] I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God  to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles... (Romans 15:14-16a)
So if gifting and recognized roles are not what Paul has in mind, what is he saying?
I believe what can help us here is looking at how this word “instruct” is used in other places. Just listen to some other verses where we find this same Greek word:
Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. (Acts 20:31)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (I Thessalonians 5:14)
In English, many think about the word “admonish” in the same way they think about the word “rebuke”. But while the word Paul used can mean “warn”, that sense does not fit many the context of many of these passages.
This Greek word literally means to “put in one's mind”. We might say, “to make mindful of”. And so in Romans 15, Paul is talking about reminders and encouragements to serious application of the truth. Through Paul, God is calling you to not only help your brother or sister have His word in their mind, but to actually be mindful of it.
This is the soil. God's people, the church, your brothers and sisters in faith are the soil in which you grow. Through our mutual instruction, through our mutual reminders, our mutual encouragements and exhortations, and yes, sometimes through our mutual warnings, the Holy Spirit brings the word of God to us, and helps us follow the word of God, in a powerful way.
This is surely what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Ephesians:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph. 4:11-16)
III. In Practice
So the question I believe God is bringing us to this morning is, “If Paul were here today, would he write Romans 15:14 to us and about us?” Are we full of goodness and knowledge and “able to instruct one another”? And even if were are able, are we actually doing it?
Do you want to grow in your faith? To some, it might seem like a strange question to ask in church. Isn't everyone here because they want to grow? Sadly, no. Our churches contain many people who have no interest in growing. They attend because it what they've always done, or they attend to please a spouse, or they attend to socialize, or they attend out of guilt, or they attend and serve in order to feel good about themselves.
But sadly, such people have no real intention or ambition to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
How about you this morning? Is it your desire to grow, to flourish, to mature in the grace and truth and love of God? It should be. There is nothing better. Only in growing can we experience the fullness of God's design for this life, and only in growing can we be assured that we actually have eternal life.
So for those of us who want to grow, what can we do? What more can we do, in addition to the good things we might already be doing? Well, for the next year here at Way of Grace, we will attempt to more fully embody God's design for growth. I'd like to suggest three things we can do, churchwide, to fulfill the vision Paul describes in Romans 15 and Ephesians 4.
First, we are going to memorize God's word together. Over the past couple of years, we've made this booklet available to you, and we will do so again starting next Sunday. We've made some minor adjustments, but it will still contain key verses to take us deeper into our Four Essentials every single month: One Lord, One Body, One Truth, One Mission.
Everyone can memorize God's word. And when we do so, God uses it in powerful ways to change us. One verse or short passage a week, verses from all over the Bible, verses that help us paint a balanced picture of growth in light of God's design.
And we will be putting together a team of 'memorizers', young and old, who will share the word with us on Sunday mornings throughout the year. Please talk with me afterward if you'd like to help out in that way.
But second, building off that first step, this booklet, this collection of verses will also be our guidebook for the messages every Sunday morning. So I will be teaching through every one of these verses over the course of the next year. And after I teach through the verse or passage on Sunday, you will have the rest of the week to memorize and meditate on what God has shown us.
But in light of what God has taught us this morning through Romans 15, we would be remiss if we didn't have this third point: not only are we going to memorize these verses, and learn about these verses on Sunday mornings, but we are also going to “instruct one another” in light of these verses.
Our Sunday Morning NOTES insert will be undergoing an overhaul. It will still contain an outline for you to use for notes on Sunday mornings. But on the flip side, it will now have Growth Group questions for you to use with one another. And there will be a “Pointers for Parents” section as well, so parents can be encouraging their children and young adults in these same truths.
But these changes will only benefit us if we use these resources; and if we actually connect with each other. There is no “one another” if we don't allow each other into our lives. So if you can open your home in order to “instruct one another”, please do so. If you can invite one or two guys out for a meal or for coffee in order to “instruct one another”, please do so. If you can connect with several ladies at the Ministry House in order to “instruct one another”, please do so.
Growth Groups come in all shapes and sizes. The point is not when, where, or how many. The point is “one another”. The point is connection around God's word. The point is “speaking the truth in love”. I don't care how busy you are; we can all do this. We can all make the time. When something is important, we make the time.
My family will be opening our home in this way. Will you? Or maybe you will be meeting together at the donut shop for a month on Friday mornings. Whatever you're doing, please let us know. Contact Joy about what you'd like to do or are doing. That way, we can direct others your way, those who don't know how to connect. The point is not creating a new program. The point is life together. The point is growing in the soil of our church family. I'm excited for the year ahead. I can't wait to see what God does. Let's pray and ask Him to be at work and glorified in our efforts to follow His word.
More in The Essentials: One Body
July 9, 2017When You Don't Come to Church (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
June 11, 2017When You Live Under God's Roof (I Timothy 3:14, 15)
May 14, 2017Soul Care and Submission (Hebrews 13:17)