Romans 16:24-26 – “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. ¶ Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
One great desire revealed in all the writings of the apostle Paul was the edification of the believer. This point is particularly evidenced in the fourth chapter of his epistle to the Ephesian church. In verse one he beseeches these saints that their walk (manner of life) should be “worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Simply stated, the life choices of the believer should not detract from the gospel message that is to be both received and shared with others by the saints.
In verses eleven and twelve the apostle tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These men are given for the specific purpose of (1) “the perfecting of the saints”, (2) “for the work of the ministry” and (3) “edifying of the body of Christ”. These three work together to the goal of a “perfect man”. This “perfect man” is clearly distinguished in verse 14 as one that is not childish; not one to be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”.
This enlightens us as to the meaning of the “edification” and “perfection” of the saints. To edify another is to build them up, to provide the things necessary to bring them to a state of maturity. And Paul makes it clear that this is a responsibility for all members in the “whole body.” Every member of this body of Christ contributes to this edification process (Ep 4:16).
While it is true in verse fourteen that there is a doctrinal element in this process, it is equally true that the edification is a symbiotic process to effect the “worthy walk” that Paul beseeches believers to in Eph 4:1. He states this without ambiguity in verses 17-19. As the believer is edified it becomes possible to “put off concerning the former conversation” and to “put on the new man” that God has made us to be in Christ. This new man is righteous and truly holy; everything that we are not when left to our own devices.
The remainder of the chapter illustrates the ways in which this new man is manifested in our lives. Our character and demeanor is transformed in an incredible way. The life of the believer, to whom God has imputed righteousness, now demonstrates God’s righteousness in practical and very visible ways. Having lives that are characterized by holiness, an even temper, industriousness, and generosity. And the acme traits of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness which round out the qualities of what Paul defines as a perfected saint. It is “aligning our earthly walk with our heavenly position.” The perfected saint is the embodiment of the established believer.
When the apostle Paul purposed to visit the church at Rome it was with the express design to establish the believers there. In the salutary first chapter he expresses his desire to impart to them a “spiritual gift” (Rom 1:11-12). In the complimentary close of the epistle it is clear what he means by this. The spiritual gift is the doctrine and the instruction necessary to establish the saints to a worthy walk. The Roman epistle is a treatise on the justification and sanctification of the believer; which he addresses in detail in the first eight chapters.
Then comes Romans 12:1-2. In dramatic fashion he “beseeches” these saints to holy service; which is readily demonstrated by the remainder of the chapter to be righteous character. Patience, prayerfulness, kindness, industriousness, generosity, hospitality, empathy, humility, and forgiveness are hallmarks of the consecrated saint. And this service is to be rendered not only to other believers but to our enemies and persecutors as well. Without doubt this could only be accomplished by an “established” believer” and would certainly be beyond the ability of a novice in the scriptures and in the faith.
Romans 16:24-27 it is quite clear how the grace of God works to establish believers. It is according to three pillars (foundations). (1) Paul’s gospel (possessive “my” employed here), (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the Mystery, which was previously hidden but now known, and by (3) the scriptures of the prophets. It is not enough to know the gospel but the entire Bible in order to be establishes (mature, fully developed). All scripture is given by God to the end that believers be established. These three elements work together to that end. In the supply of God’s grace, we are empowered to walk worthy of the Lord. None of the three stand alone. Each supports the other and together they comprise the instruction for the perfecting of the believer.
The full details of the three pillars is far beyond the scope of a short devotional article. Fellow Supply of Grace contributor Joel Hayes has authored a book entitled Empowered by His Grace in which much of the substance of these three pillars is clearly laid out. I highly recommend it for your study.
The journey to establishment begins with the gospel and the details of justification. The preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery is the embodiment of our identification with Christ and our empowerment by the grace of God for a walk that is pleasing to God. The scriptures of the prophets give a detailed history of God’s dealings with mankind and lay the foundation to understanding God’s will, which He has purposed in Himself to gather together all things in Heaven and Earth in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you like to know what your part is in this big project that God has in mind?
Sounds like a lifetime of study. Indeed, it is. Let’s get on with it.