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joyful man December 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Romans 15:8- 16:27

A Christian Welcome!

It is the holiday season. Families will come and visit our homes and churches. How will they be received? How do we think they would like to be received? Perhaps today’s lesson will help us be more welcoming. If you were the stranger in a church or home, how would you wish to be received?

The Apostle Paul was a stranger to the Christians in Rome. It is true that the Roman believers had heard about his ministry, and their ministry encouraged him, but still they had not met each other. Oftentimes people, even Christians, are wary of those they do not know. That is why Paul went to such great extents to explain himself and his ministry of the gospel. He was not a charlatan, and he did not wish to take advantage of them. He was coming with the true gospel. He wanted them to gladly receive him. He looked forward to their meeting when he could impart the gospel to them personally and not just by letter.

The true gospel (good news) that Paul shared was that, though we are sinners separated from a holy God, He wants to be with us. He wants to forgive our sins, give peace to our souls and give us spiritual life so that we may spend an eternity of bliss with him, our loving God and creator (more...). To do this, God sent Jesus his own Son into the world. Jesus was not only a great teacher, but he offered the Jews salvation. The Jewish leaders, however, did not welcome him, and they even plotted his death. After Jesus died by Roman crucifixion and then arose from the dead three days later, he told his disciples to go to the whole world, to both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), and proclaim the saving grace of God (Acts 1:8). The good news Paul shared with the Romans is that salvation is now for both Jews and Gentiles. Though they have different heritages, they are one in Christ. Now Paul instructs the Romans, as he did the churches in Asia, to “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God,” (Romans 15:7 NIV). God brought salvation to the Jews to fulfill promises made to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God brought salvation to the Gentiles to show his mercy, even as he predicted in Old Testament prophecies (2Samuel 22:50; Psalm 18:49; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1). All are now one in Christ. Paul wanted them to welcome each other and live in unity.

Can we welcome others who are not like us? Perhaps they do not have the same culture, heritage or nationality. Does that matter? No, we Christians are to be welcoming to all our brothers and sisters in Christ. And, if others are not Christians we will do well to remember that the gift of salvation is for everyone.

How do we wish to receive a welcome when we go amongst strangers? First, we must acknowledge that our reputation will precede us. Because of this we should follow the example of Paul. First, we should let our hosts know who we are and what connections we have to them so that we may not seem such a stranger (Romans1:1-16). Second, we should speak positively of our hosts, compliment them, and believe the best about them (Romans 15:13-14). Third, we should let them know why we are coming. Paul did this in Romans 15:14-29. What is our motivation? If we have honorable intentions people will most likely receive us.

How do we get our hosts to accept our friends? First, we should tell them the positive characteristics and deeds of our friends and why they should be welcomed. Second, we should tell them that our friends send their greetings. It is difficult to resist those who already accept you, though you are a stranger to them; it is natural to want to reciprocate a welcome reception. This is the approach Paul used in Romans 16.

Paul ends his letter with a request that the Roman believers join with him in his Gospel ministry by praying for him, (Romans 15:30-33). He had prepared the way for his arrival and wanted them to join him in anticipation of their meeting. Will we extend a proper Christian welcome to those who are ministering for Jesus Christ?

Lessons to live by:

  • Christians are to welcome their brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of their culture, heritage, nationality, or other differences we may have with them. And, if others are not Christians we will do well to remember that the gift of salvation is for everyone (more...).
  • To receive a positive welcome, it is important to speak positively of our hosts and have an honorable reputation that they will respect.
  • To receive a welcome, ask for it.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (NIV)

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