Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Chiefly They Of Caesar’s Household
Temple Baptist Church - 12-26-2012
A. As Paul wrote from prison in Rome, Nero was the Emperor of the Roman Empire. As the emperors practiced incest to keep their royal (gods) bloodline pure, some became “mad” or insane. Nero was one of the more notable ones. Tacitus, a Roman historian and Senator wrote this about Nero:
“An Emperor's crimes provoke the wrath of the gods. Nero has seized control of Rome and the crown. He is willing to destroy anyone that gets in his way. No one is safe - not even his scheming mother. As its new Emperor sinks to insane levels of brutality, Rome becomes a hell of corruption, depravity and vice. But dark omens hang over the city. Has the power-crazed Nero gone too far?”
B. It meant something to those of Rome when Paul wrote, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus.” Confessing Christ as Lord and Saviour meant either a death sentence or a life sentence. Nero’s insanity was almost beyond human comprehension. My mind goes to a 20 year old who can, without any show of conscience or mercy, execute over a score of innocent children plus their teachers. Nero was a monster!
C. In our text, we find the sentence, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.” There are three things I find in the words “chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household:”
1. The power of the gospel as Paul, while imprisoned, won souls to Christ in a city gone mad. The power of the gospel is no better described than here. God can save anybody anywhere! The gospel still works and is powerful to save.
2. The dedication of the saved in a terrible circumstance. To confess Christ was a deadly thing and, yet, these new believers in Christ were neither ashamed nor afraid to give their allegiance to their Lord Jesus Christ. Today, new “converts” will not even come to the church and get baptized, much less lay their lives on the line for their Lord and God.
3. The wonderful gratitude that is expressed to Paul’s supporting church. “Chiefly” means that, while others sent their regards, the Roman believers sent more. I believe that they expressed their gratitude to those who sacrificed in sending the missionary with the glorious gospel of Christ.
D. In verse 17, Paul said, “I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” I want to look at this phrase for a few minutes tonight to set in a right perspective the importance and rewarding of missions.
1. The Importance of Missions - Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
a. We all know the importance of soul winning because everyone of us are the result of someone, somewhere, and at some time who gave witness to another. Even if you were saved in a church service, someone witnessed to your preacher and won him to the Lord or someone witnessed to someone who witnessed to your preacher, who in turn preached the gospel unto you. Without the burden to win others to Christ, none of us would be here in church tonight.
b. We all know the importance of sending because the work “both” indicates that our witness is to be in every place at once: in our city, our county, our state, our country, and in every place in the world at the same time. That can only accomplished by our involvement in both soul winning and sending the missionaries.
c. We all know the importance of sacrifice because, without the finances that we give, the missionary could not survive—especially in our day. In Paul’s day, missions giving was important but he could also “make tents” while in foreign countries. Today’s missionaries, for the most part, cannot work in foreign countries. Without our money to send, they could not go and, if they went, they could not sustain themselves for long.
2. The Imperative of Missions – Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
a. Every creature needs a preacher. Salvation cannot come through any other means. The declaration of nature will point one to a Creator but it takes a preacher or the Word of God to win them to Christ. I do not understand all that I know about this but I do know that God is just, holy, and righteous. People who do not hear die without salvation and hell becomes an eternal reality in their lives.
b. Every creature deserves a preacher. If Christ died for all (and He did) then all need to hear! I despise the doctrine of Calvinism! It portrays God as a dictatorial, unloving, and unjust God. My God is a God of love and is not willing that any of His creation perish. In the First Mention Principle concerning this fact (Genesis 4), when Cain’s offering was rejected—God gave him a second chance—then blamed Cain’s sinfulness for his rejection, not election.
c. Every creature will die sometimes. I knew of a missionary who went to the Indians of Mexico and began to lead them to Christ. One of the converts lost his parents just previous to the coming of the missionary. His question was this: “Why did someone not come sooner so that my family could have heard the gospel and been saved?” Time is of the essence as people for whom Christ died die without Christ!
3. The Involvement of Missions - 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: (14) But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: (15) As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
a. We cannot “go … both” without the help of the missionary and the missionary cannot “go … both” without us. You see, we win Jerusalem while he wins Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part. We cannot go and he cannot stay! It takes both the “giver” and the “goer” to get the job done.
b. As we labor in missions as either the “giver” or the “goer,” it is God that gives the increase! We are labourers together with God for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
4. The Incentive of Missions - Philippians 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
a. In the sharing of missions there is an equality in souls. We may not be able to win as many as we like here but we share in the bountiful harvest of those who are in more fruitful fields of labor. Some missionaries are in difficult fields where fruit is a rarity but, as they tithe to the local church and personally support missionaries elsewhere, they reap the bountiful harvest also.
1 Samuel 30:10, 24 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor. (24) For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.
b. In the sharing of missions there is an equality in rewards. As is the sower, so is the waterer; as is the waterer, so is the reaper! Fruit abounds to both the sender and the goer in the realm of missions and that reward is according to the labor of each individual. Some give more out of their abundance while others can only give less out of their poverty but the reward is the same.
1 Corinthians 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. (9) For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
Daniel 12:2-3 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (3) And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.