Who to Greet, and Who To Avoid

Who to Greet, and Who to Avoid      (Romans 16:1-27)         *Verses in NKJV*

– We have been studying the book of Romans for one year, and this is the final chapter.

– In chapter 16, Paul sends his greetings to many of the faithful saints, but also a warning about people that the Roman Christians should avoid.

– Let’s talk about who Paul thinks you should greet, and who you should avoid.

– Read Romans 16:1-16

Point #1. Who you should greet.

– In these first verses, The Apostle Paul lists several faithful people he wants to send his greetings to. These are the people he wants to maintain relationships with.

– We see… a woman worthy as a saint and a helper of many, some who have been saved longer than Paul, the first to get saved in the church of Asia, those who labored much for the Lord, fellow prisoners for the cause of Christ, and the many saints who are with them all…

– Priscilla and Aquilla who “risked their own necks for Paul’s life” and for the Gentile church.

– Paul greets Rufus, likely the same Rufus who is the son of Simon the Cyrenian, the one who carried the cross for Jesus on the way to his crucifixion. Rufus, described as one who is precious to the Lord.

– Paul goes on to send greetings TO the church FROM the friends he is currently serving with now:

– Read Romans 16:21-24

– Some of them are mentioned in the Book of Acts, and are brothers in the ministry with Paul.

Timothy, we know. A young missionary and minister, described by Paul as having “genuine faith.” Possibly even a teenager still, some think, the bible says…

1 Tim. 4:12 & 14, Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity… 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 

– Erastus, Gaius, and Timothy all traveled with Paul to spread the gospel in Macedonia.

– Lucius: a prophet or teacher, a prayer warrior, and one who fasts and seeks the Holy Spirit.

– Jason: Paul and Silas stayed at Jason’s house while they were preaching and teaching in the synagogue in Thessalonica.

Acts 17:5-7, But the Jews who were not persuaded by Paul’s message, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.”

         – Jason faced the mob, and risked social disgrace and ruin for the furtherance of the gospel.

– These are the kind of people Paul surrounded himself with. Those serving in ministry, taking risks for the gospel, those willing to “go where they are sent”, all of them supported Paul in his mission.

– Their pedigree didn’t matter. Prisoners, Jews, Gentiles, young, old, those saved longer than Paul, and new converts too… Titles and position didn’t matter. Heart condition and faithfulness did!

Gal 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Phil. 2:2-4, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

1 Peter 3:8-9, Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Phil 1:27, Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

– Paul’s recognition is important for identifying the kind of people WE should be hanging out with.

– Recognition is great, and feels good, but that can’t be the reason why we serve.

There were many other faithful saints that Paul didn’t mention by name… imagine if they walked out offended that Paul didn’t recognize their sacrifice in front of the group?

– The only one, who you should want to see your faithfulness and sacrifice, is the Lord himself.

Matt 6:1-2, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 

Col 3:23-24, And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 

Don’t misunderstand. It’s okay for others to see your good deeds, but the heart condition should be one wanting God to get the glory for it, not you…

Matt 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

– Ask yourself: Are you being the kind of Christian that Paul would hang out with? Are you keeping company with the kind of people you should be?

– Do those you are in fellowship with encourage you in the Lord, and help you keep the faith? Or are they drawing you away from the church, influencing you to compromise your convictions?

1 Cor. 15:33-34, Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

Point #2. Who you should avoid.

Romans 16:17-20, Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

– This is talking about those who preach a “Frankenstein Gospel” that is made up only of the parts they like, ones that makes sense to them, and fits in with their worldly values.

Hebrews 13:8-9, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace…

2 Peter 3:17, You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;

2 Peter 2:1, But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

– The only thing that matters is if the preacher’s words line up with the word of God. Not their congregation size, production value, their credentials, their influence, or giftings, or who believes in and supports THEM.

Example: (a News One article from 2018) Pastor of a 10,000 member Baptist Church in Harlem said in a sermon that “believing in Jesus was not the only way to heaven.”

– He also added, “There was a time when you would see people in the pulpit say, ‘well, if you don’t believe in Jesus you’re going to Hell. That’s insanity in many ways because that is not what Jesus even believes. And so the key is you believe in God. And whatever your path is to God, I celebrate that.”

– His concerns are cultural divides, social justice, and barriers between human beings based on faith backgrounds. He says, “we have enough in this world that divides us, we need to find those things that bring us together. And if God cannot bring us closer together then something is wrong, not with God, but in how we think we know God and understand God.”

– The article lifted him up as inclusive, being cultural sensitive to the countless other religions, and for showing good Christian virtue. And all those who disagreed with him on Facebook, that called him a false prophet and liar… well, “sounds like a bunch of Trump voters” to them.

– He was named “One of the Lord’s Foot Soldiers” by Newsweek Magazine. Pastor Mike has received numerous honors, accolades, and recognitions throughout media and organizations.

– In the context of today’s culture, this message would probably sound good, maybe even Godly.

 – That’s why we want you to read and know your bibles, so you won’t easily be led astray!

– Just to be clear about what the real truth is:

John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 3:36, He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Proverbs 14:12, There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Romans 3:4, Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar… 

– We preach the whole truth at FVC, so you probably recognized the heresy right away. But imagine if you didn’t go to a church that regularly preaches the bible? Could you spot the falsehood?

Point #3. The book of Romans ends by restating what is most important.

– #1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and #2. God gets all the glory.

Romans 16:25-27, Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

– The book of Romans ends almost in the same manner in which it began…

1. The importance of the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

2. A call to avoid those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Those who “know God”, but don’t glorify Him as God, and those who exchange the truth of God for a lie.

Psalms 115:1, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.

*Gospel message*

– prayer –

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