Psalm 97-99 Romans 16
“Brothers and sisters, I ask you to look out for those who cause people to be against each other and who upset other people’s faith. They are against the true teaching you learned, so stay away from them.” (Romans 16:17 NCV)
Romans 16 begins with a long list of greetings from Paul. Each of these people were co-workers in Christ who had labored for the sake of the gospel. Each of these people were trusted because of their service to the Lord. If you wanted to work for God, you could trust these people. That’s why it’s interesting that After Paul commended all these workers, he issued a warning about those who caused disruptions in the faith. There were people there, in the church who were causing division and upsetting others in the faith. If you were in Rome and wanted true teaching, you’d go back to these people Paul had commended.
Knowing that a letter from Paul would be read aloud in the church, I can’t help but wonder if, among those in the congregation hearing the letter, were people who had been at odds with those Paul commended. I can imagine a few people in the congregation quietly slipping out the back when they heard Paul commend one they’d been disputing and hearing these words just before they could escape. Throughout the whole book, Paul had been talking about the need to be unified in Christ. I believe that the people Paul commended were those who continued to teach about the liberty we have in Christ, while those who disputed with them wanted to subject Christians to the Law. That battle still goes on today. There are some who claim the name of Christ but just can’t comprehend that they don’t have to do something to earn salvation. They won’t say the words out loud, usually, but by everything the do and say, they’re proclaiming that God’s free gift of salvation comes when you accept Christ and <fill in the blank here.> You might fill in that blank with a religious exercise, like baptism; a behavioral issue, like stop cussing; or even a service issue, like helping out in a soup kitchen. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things – but none of them are necessary for salvation. None of them are helpful to establishing a relationship with God. People who teach that adding anything to the grace of God are divisive and will upset the faith of others. Stay away from them and stick to the true grace of God.
Lord, I don’t know why it’s so easy to disbelieve Your teaching on grace. Perhaps it’s our American spirit of wanting to earn everything. Remind me daily that I can do nothing to earn salvation, nor can anyone else. Remind me that it’s all because of grace.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved