Calvary Road Baptist Church

“COURTING FOLLOWERS”

Romans 1.7-12

 

One of these days you younger ladies may find yourselves in a position to decide whether or not to marry a young man who proposes to you. And whether you say “Yes” to the guy or not will depend a great deal on the strategy he employs in seeking to win your hand in marriage.

You fellows, you had better pay close attention to what I’m about to say, because if you do not there may come a time in your life when you are powerfully interested in marrying a young woman who has not the slightest inclination to marry you. And why will she not marry you? Because you did not pay attention to what the pastor said on May 22, 2016. That is why.

You happily married fellows, especially you happily married fellows who ended up marrying the woman you set your sights on, not the ones who ended up marrying a woman who selected you rather than you selecting her, you can confirm what I am about to say about wooing and winning your bride. Hey, there is a way it has to be done. From the woman’s perspective, things have to happen in the sequence I am about to share with you. And if they do not happen in this sequence things can really get bollixed up, and you have a real mess to try and straighten out.

First, ladies, you have to know the guy. Right? I mean, somehow and in some way, the guy must figure out a way to make himself known to you. And as he is introduced to you he must in some way accomplish the task of making sure that what you know of him is accurate and true. That is if he is a reputable guy. If he is not a reputable guy, he has the opposite problem. Why is it not terribly important for him to learn much about you initially? Hey, ladies, if he did not know enough about you to know that he was attracted to you he would not be trying to get your attention right now, would he? That is why most men who have successfully courted their wives did most of the talking initially. You wives, he already knew enough about you to like you. What he was keen on accomplishing was getting you to know the straight facts about him. But no more than that. One step at a time. Take it easy. First, just get the truth out to you. Only then, if he is wise, will he continue on.

What is the next thing a wise young man will try to accomplish with you, you ask? He will communicate to you how much he knows about you and how well he already knows you. Girls, if he does not do this, then you need to tell him to shove off. You see, if he is interested in you without knowing anything about you, then you can mark it down that he is either a gadfly who just scoots from one girl to another and is never serious about any of them, or he has been attracted to you only because of your appearance. If you are so unwise as to be interested in someone who only cares what you can do for him, which is what physical attraction entails, and who does not really know anything about you except that you are pretty in his estimation, then you deserve the grief you are asking for.

Okay. The young man has made sure that you know him. Then he makes sure that you know that he knows you, otherwise he would not be interested. Right? Now he sets about the task of showing you that not only does he know things about you, but he is interested in your welfare. Notice what I said. He makes sure that you know that he is interested in your welfare. Not that you know what wonderful role you will play in his welfare. There is a time and a place for that, but not yet. Then, after he knows that you are fully persuaded that he has your best interests at heart, and only then, can he express his concerns, his feelings, for you.

Girls, when you get married you agree to follow a man’s leadership; the guy is really trying to sell himself to you as your leader. He wants you to agree with him that the best thing in the world for you is for him to be your leader, to be your provider, and to be your husband. To be sure, it is a wonderful thing for him; otherwise, he would not be knocking at your door. Right? But his job is to convince you that he is a good leader for you and that God will be well-pleased for you to follow his leadership. The reason it is not your job to do any of the convincing is that the job of persuasion is the job of the leader. Those guys who marry women who have chased them are marrying women who will want to be the leader. It is the leader’s job to persuade at this point.

You might be thinking at this point, “Pastor, how do you know that this is the way I ought to insist that my future husband wins my heart?” Because this is the way the Apostle Paul won the hearts of the Christians in Rome. Think about it for a moment. Is not Paul attempting to do the same thing with the Roman Christians that an intelligent and wise young Christian man attempts to do with a Christian woman he wants to marry? Sure. He knows quite a bit about those Christians. Further, he is convinced that it is God’s will that they join for the cause of Christ. Now it is his job to convince the Romans of that.

So, what does Paul do? First, he introduces himself. Not that they do not know who he is. But he introduces himself to make sure that what they think they know about him is true. That is what Paul did in Romans 1.1-6. Now, in Romans 1.7-12, which is my text for today, Paul communicates three things to the Romans. What he communicates lets them know that he knows them, #1, that he is concerned for their welfare, #2, and that he has very strong personal feelings for them, he loves them, #3.

There are a great many brokenhearted young men who have tried to win the heart of some sweet young thing by going about it differently than I have outlined here. As well, there are many leaders without followers who went about trying to enlist those in their cause without following Paul’s course of action. Girls, you are not a football team who needs to be beaten by a hurry up offense. As well, believers are not going to respond to a leader’s persuasion if they think he wants to use them to help him succeed. They will respond to a leader whose goal is to do great things in their lives. They will respond to him if they think he is good for them. They will not respond just because he thinks he is good for them.

Let us examine how Paul woos the Romans in a spiritually appropriate manner so that he might win them to his cause. Let us see how he convinces them that his leadership is good for them, as well as being good for the cause of Christ.

 

First, PAUL COMMUNICATES WITH PRECISION

 

Verse 7: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Notice how Paul lets the one he is courting, the Christians in Rome, know that he knows them.

First, he makes it very clear that he knows who they are. There is a time to be direct, and there is a time to be cautious. When showing them that he knows who they are Paul is very direct in his communication. These are the believers who live in the largest city of that time, the crossroads of the Empire. That is a very significant detail about them.

He also makes it very clear that he knows what they are. They are the beloved of God, the called of God, the saints of God. There is a great deal in those three words; beloved, called, and saints. It says a great deal more than most people recognize. I previously spent considerable time showing that being the beloved of God resulted in them being the called of God, which resulted in them being the saints of God. May I also state that implicit in Paul’s recognition of what these people are is the acknowledgment that he would not want anything to happen to them that a loving God was not for, and that was contrary to their calling, and that would violate or desecrate their reputation as saints of God?

 

OKAY. PAUL HAS COMMUNICATED WITH PRECISION. NOW HE COMMUNICATES ABOUT, OR WITH REGARD TO, PRAYERS AND PRAISE

 

8      First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

9      For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

10    Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

 

If a potential leader of a group of followers first indicates his knowledge of those he wants to persuade to follow him, his next task is to effectively communicate his concern for their well-being. And how does Paul show that concern for the Romans, and that his concern for them is nothing new, is a long-standing concern? I mean, he did not just start liking them to get something out of them. Paul shows his concern for the Romans by relating to them the contents of his communion with God.

First, he thanks God for them:

 

Verse 8: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”

 

Do not think that Paul wrote this after thanking God one time for their testimony. Oh no. Paul is telling these folks that it is a habit of life for him to thank God for their testimony. He does this all the time. He is constantly praising God for the worldwide impact of their Christian lives and testimonies. Wouldn’t you want a man who wanted to be your leader to feel this way about you? I would. Notice that he thanks his God through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is just a hint of what he later writes in First Timothy 2.5-6:

 

5      For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6      Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

He thanks God through Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest, the Mediator we have access through to God the Father.

Second, he prays to God for them:

 

Verse 9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”

 

Notice what great truths Paul mentions in passing as he informs his readers that he prays for them: First, since no one in Rome can verify that he is, in fact, praying for them he calls God to bear witness that what he is saying is true. Second, he indicates that he serves God in his spirit in the Gospel of His Son. Here the apostle is mentioning something that he will spend several chapters expanding on later in this letter. When we serve God, we serve God with our spirit. And finally, he notes that he has a constant and ongoing prayer life. Isn’t it great that our God is not a God of empty formalism? Isn’t it great that we do not have to put on special clothes, or go to a special place, or assume a special posture to commune with our God? Isn’t it great that we can pray anytime, anywhere, we want? Isn’t marvelous that we can come boldly to the throne of grace?[1] Let me tell you; you don’t have to come right out and say that you want God’s best for me once I know that you are asking God to bless me. Because I know enough about the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer’s prayers to know that if you are praying for me, the Spirit of God is making sure your prayers are for the right things.

Third, Paul indicates that he has specifically asked God for permission to journey to them:

 

Verse 10: “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.”

 

This statement accomplishes two objectives: First, it explains why Paul hasn’t yet visited them. If you are a servant, you cannot do whatever you decide to do when you want to do it. You have to ask permission. Paul is reminding the Romans that the reason he has never visited them is that permission has not previously been granted by the Lord, even though he has asked. Second, he is again communicating how much he cares about their welfare. Remember, he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, a man tremendously blessed of God. That he wants to go to them indicates he wants God’s blessings on them because he knows that God blesses others through his anointed life and ministry. We had seen that when it was appropriate to be direct Paul was direct. In verse 7, he directly acknowledged who and what they were. In verses 8-10 he is somewhat less direct. The reason? When one is concerned about another’s welfare one does not tell them so much as one shows his concern. Paul showed them as best he could by relating to them that his ongoing communion with God about them was one of praise and thanksgiving, was one of prayers on their behalf, was one of repeatedly asking permission to visit them. If the Romans do not know by now that Paul has their best interests at heart, they will never know. And if you are contemplating following someone’s leadership, is the man’s prayer life a consideration? It better be if you are not foolish.

 

PRECISION. PRAISE AND PRAYERS. NOW PAUL COMMUNICATES HIS PASSION

 

How can you love someone you have never seen face to face? If you ask that question you are not a Christian. Consider for a moment. I love Jesus Christ, Who I have never seen. Don’t you? Loving someone is a choice made. Paul loves the Romans. And though he does not say “I love you” to the Romans, he does describe “I love you” to the Romans:

Does not verse 11 appear to be a description of love?

 

Verse 11: “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.”

 

What could describe love at a distance better than the longing someone has to see the person he loves? But this isn’t a longing to see your beloved because it will benefit you. Oh no. You long to see those you love because it will be beneficial for them. What describes the desire of love better than the urge to impart, the urge to give, the compulsion to bestow? Here Paul’s desire is to give a spiritual gift. This reflects the true delight of love not being loved but loving; not receiving but giving. What are the goals of love, but the welfare and the strengthening of the person loved? What Paul wants for the Romans will result in them being strengthened spiritually. Therefore, though he does not say “I love you” to the Romans in verse 11, he does describe “I love you” to the Romans in verse 11.

And does not verse 12 describe the hope of love?

 

Verse 12: “That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

 

What Paul wants for the Romans is their spiritual gain, and blessing, and strengthening. However, what would encourage him and them more than anything else is their mutual faith. I am not alone in my opinion that the word “faith” in verse 8 and this verse is synonymous with the Christian faith. I am persuaded Paul thanked God that the Christianity of those he wrote to in Rome was spoken throughout the whole world. I also think he will be comforted by their, and they will be comforted by his, Christianity. That is, their Christian lives were so wholesome and vibrant that he knew he would be greatly encouraged by just being around them, and the same thing would be true concerning him being around them. What he is saying is that they would be very good together. They would be mutually beneficial. They would build each other up and encourage each other in the Christian faith. You can just feel Paul, after the awesome spiritual battles that he has waged throughout his Christian life, wanting to hurry up and get to Rome and be with people that he admires and thinks much of, so he can get a spiritual boost from them. He craves being with them. He has a passion for them.

 

I want you to notice that Paul has not yet told the Romans what he wants from them. I want you to realize that he is still in the process of persuading these people to choose to follow his leadership and join with him in a great cause not yet specifically mentioned. Is this not very much like courtship? Sure it is, except for one thing. With courtship much more time frequently needs to be taken. You see girls, you are young women. And women do not like change. When that young man comes along and employs these tactics and this grand Biblical strategy to make you his wife, he will need to proceed oh so slowly. However, when you think about it, you will see that Paul did go oh so slowly. He writes his letter to them, but he won’t arrive on the scene for a couple of years yet. So the Christians in Rome will have a great deal of time to think about Paul, to think about Paul’s concern for them, and to reflect on Paul’s passion for them. I mean, if some guy walks up to you and says, “Hi. I’m Paul. I know all about you. I have your best interests at heart. Oh, and by the way, I have feelings of great passion toward you.” Would you not close the door, pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1? I sure hope you would. If you hesitate because you saw the nice car he drove up in then you have other issues.

Perhaps that is the reason God arranged for Paul to be arrested in Jerusalem and go through the arduous process of imprisonment in Caesarea and appealing to Caesar. Perhaps God knew Paul would rush into things, and there was a risk that he might startle and alarm the Romans, so He intervened and slowed Paul down. During that period the Romans had this letter. They read it and reread it. They studied it, and pondered it, and prayed about it, and considered it. Then, when Paul finally arrived, they had a delegation waiting for him. Acts 28.15:

 

“And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.”

 

Their actions showed that they answered his proposal with a hearty “Yes.”

Girls, if the young man who wants you to be his wife is willing to show you these things in these ways, you are probably not in danger, after prayerful consideration and seeking the wise counsel, of course, to say “Yes.”

Let’s make application to the rest of us. Note how similar Paul’s method of winning the Romans over to himself is to the Lord Jesus Christ’s strategy to win us over to Himself. We’ve heard about Him, but He gave us the Bible so we would know the truth about Him. He knows about us, doesn’t He? That we are sinners, that we are blind to spiritual truth, that we are helpless while thinking we are so strong, that we are hopeless, and that we are Hell-bound. Hasn’t He shown us His concern for us by dying on Calvary’s cross for us? What has He not included in His passionate demonstration of love for you and me? Oh, my friends. We have looked at Paul’s attempts to persuade Christians to follow his leadership in a great endeavor for the Lord. Perhaps more significant than what Paul does in this passage is the parallel of our Lord Jesus Christ’s life and ministry.

Paul wanted to persuade believers to follow him by showing them how good it would be for them. However, the Lord Jesus Christ’s efforts are incomparably more important, for His demonstration of love for us could accomplish something Paul’s demonstration of love never could. For when Jesus Christ convinces you, and you respond to His persuasion, the result is the forgiveness of your sins, the gift of eternal life, and a God-given willingness to follow Him. When you trust Him you do not get a leader only, but a Savior, too.

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[1] Hebrews 4.16

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org