There is a silver lining to the pandemic that I did not expect. In order to continue relationships with others, we have had to utilize social media, especially video conferencing.
My family and I enjoyed a video-conference Thanksgiving dinner together. Each family group prepared a portion of the meal, divided it into separate parts corresponding to the number of groups. Then one individual from each group met at a designated locale with the other representatives and divided the portions. We then met through video conferencing and ate our dinner together.
This was all to protect my wife and me from exposure to the virus. I especially have several of the medical conditions that make me vulnerable to the virus. My family went to great lengths to protect us. This act of love added to our thanks even more this Thanksgiving. What a day in which to live.
Paul was faced with quite different circumstances at the time he wrote his letter to the brethren at Rome. Having received a warm reception on his arrival at Philippi in Macedonia, he was subsequently imprisoned along with Silas. Through God’s direct intervention, they were set free. They greeted and encouraged the brethren who were fearful and praying for them before leaving Philippi.
It seems all was well until they came to Thessalonica. Up to this point, opposition had been from the gentiles. At Thessalonica, it was the Jews who apposed them and dogged their movements until they were forced to leave Macedonia altogether. From Athens, he wrote back to the brethren in Macedonia to encourage them.
It was also from Athens he wrote believers in Rome. Paul had not yet been to Rome, but knew individuals there he met before who served with him in ministry. His letter was to informing them of his plans. He greeted several of them by name in chapter 16.
This is the historical context of chapter 1 of the letter to the believers in Rome. While the book of Romans is primarily doctrine in scope, Paul’s references to the brethren, not as an impersonal gathering of a large number of nameless faces, but those with whom he felt a personal kinship, gives a better picture of what the church should look like today. It is a gathering of co-workers laboring together with one another, using their spiritual gifts to support and encourage each other in ministry.
This is the context of Romans 1:11 when Paul wrote:
For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.
This also gives us a true picture of the nature of spiritual gifts. I have previously published articles regarding what spiritual gifts are and how they should be used. (see) Note the added emphasis that Paul gives in this verse. Spiritual gifts, effectively used, are shared (metadoó – to impart).
This term, found only five times in the New Testament, suggests that spiritual gifts are more than something possessed. It is something we share. In each of the four other texts, it infers giving something someone else needs.[i] It is to be given generously.[ii] Most of all, it involves a willingness to be personally involved with others in ministry[iii].
As my vision for the ministry of teaching and encouraging through this website is fulfilled by my Lord, I rejoice in those, from the passed and present, who are partnering with me in this ministry.
I have a group of individuals who meet with me by video conferencing every Friday morning. We share our lives together. We study God’s Word together. We pray for one another. We enjoy each other’s fellowship. This is clearly what Paul envisioned with the brethren at Rome, and what we now enjoy together over far greater distances.
You who receive my blogs, read them, and provide feedback are also an integral part of this ministry. You share with me new things you’ve learned. You ask me to explain a concept more fully or do more research. Sometimes you correct my mistakes. For all of this, thank you. Please continue. I need your input.
One individual whom I recently met and who has joined our Friday morning group, is Clyde Blakley. He wrote an article regarding Replacement Theology that I will be publishing here soon.
Over the past half century, God has led me into ministries where I sought to encourage and assist churches from Washington, to Idaho, to California and to Colorado. I confess, it was often a lonely ministry because I did not have the pleasure of building lasting relationships before the Lord moved me on.
In my present season of life, I am now able to enjoy reaching back into the past and contacting individuals with whom I ministered, and now renewing those spiritual ties in a new and fresh way. It is a blessing to have the encouragement and support of other gifted individuals.
We need each other. As much as spiritual gifts are meant to edify others in the Body of Christ, they are also meant for our encouragement. It is with joy that I now share with all of you some spiritual gift(s).
[i] Lk 3:11; Eph 4:8.
[ii] Rom 12:8.
[iii] 1 Thess 2:8.