Your Boldness In Preaching Will Never Rise Higher Than Your Burden In Prayer

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints and believers which were present in the city of Rome. More specifically, today’s selected reading is found in the first three chapters of this New Testament epistle. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the first of thirteen epistles which the apostle Paul wrote during and throughout his public ministry here on the earth. If you take the time to read those epistles you will find that four of them were written to individuals, while the other nine were written unto actual churches. It’s truly unique and interesting to read the New Testament and encounter the awesome truth that the apostle Paul would write a total of thirteen epistles which are found within the New Testament portion of our Scripture, and of those thirteen epistles there would be nine which would be written unto churches. Provided you take the time to examine and look at those four epistles which were written unto the individuals you will find that one was written unto Philemon, one was written unto Titus, while two others were written unto Timothy. Of the other nine epistles which were written unto actual churches you will find that there were certain churches which would receive two epistles and letters from the hand of the apostle Paul. Both the church which was in Corinth, as well as the church which was in Thessalonica would each receive two letters from the hand of the apostle Paul, while the churches in Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Rome would each receive one letter which would be written unto them. What’s more, is that if you take the time to study these epistles you will find that the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints, as well as the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome were the longest of the epistles which were written by the hand of the apostle Paul as both would contain sixteen chapters. The second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints would be a close second behind these two epistles as this epistle would contain thirteen chapters. What’s more, is that in all reality the Corinthian saints would have a total of twenty-nine chapters written unto it by and from the hand of the apostle Paul. How incredibly interesting it is to think about the fact that this same apostle which would bring the gospel unto the Gentiles would also pen letters to many of the churches which he helped establish that he might provide further instruction and encouragement unto them.

            In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in the epistle which was written unto the Roman saints it is necessary that you read and consider the final words of the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It would be in the final verses which were written in this New Testament book we find the apostle Paul finally reaching and finally arriving in the city of Rome, and it would be in the city of Rome the apostle Paul would spend the rest of his life until the appointed time of his death. Once the apostle Paul arrived in Rome—not only would he never see any of the churches again, but neither would the apostle Paul see the city of Jerusalem, nor the Temple of the LORD which stood in the midst of the city. Upon his arrival in the midst of the city of Rome the apostle Paul would find himself in this city for the rest of his natural life until the time of his death when he too would become a martyr for the faith and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly unique and interesting when you truly take the time to read the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome, for it is truly something powerful to think and consider that not only would the gospel ultimately reach the city of Rome and the capital of Rome itself, but there would also be a church and body of believers that would be established in the midst of the city. It would be very easy to spend our time focusing on churches which were established in Ephesus, in Corinth, in Phillipi, in Thessalonica, in Colossae, in Galatia, in Antioch, and in all the other places the apostle Paul would visit, and to completely and utterly forget that there would indeed be a church that was established in the midst of the city of Rome itself.

            Stop for a moment and think about how truly powerful and awesome this reality actually is, for it is something absolutely astonishing to think about the fact that upon  the arrival of the apostle Paul in the city of Jerusalem there would at some point be a body of believers, and there would at some point be a body of saints, disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ which would be present in the midst of the city. Before His departure and ascension unto the right hand of the Father Jesus emphatically exclaimed and proclaimed that His disciples and followers would be witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth, and by the time the New Testament book of Acts draws to a close we find the apostle Paul himself coming unto Rome having appealed to Caesar when he stood trial in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be this appeal to Caesar that would ultimately seal the apostle Paul’s fate and journey in traveling unto the city of Rome, and it would be the apostle Paul’s appeal unto Caesar that would ultimately be the catalyst that would send him unto Rome itself where he would be until the time of his death. We know for certain that this journey of the apostle Paul unto the city of Jerusalem would indeed be a necessary and critical part of the divine plan and will of the Lord Jesus the Christ, for not only would the Lord Himself appear unto Paul and declare that just as he faithfully attested to and witnessed concerning Christ in Jerusalem, so also would he bear witness within the city of Rome; but while on the ship in the midst of the storm which came upon the sea an angel of God came and stood by the apostle Paul and emphatically declared unto him that there would indeed be no loss of life for anyone upon that ship, as the Lord had given all those aboard into the hands of the apostle Paul because the apostle Paul was destined and purposed to come unto Rome. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth, for it brings us face to face with the incredible reality that the uttermost parts of the earth would at the end of the book of Acts include Rome itself, as it would be the apostle Paul who would come unto this ancient and capital city. Although he would come bound as a prisoner, and although he would come accompanied by Luke, and perhaps other of his companions which were previously with him, he would indeed come unto the city of Rome—not as a free Roman, nor as a free man, but as a man who was bound. What’s more, is just as the apostle Paul had gone unto the city of Jerusalem bound by the Spirit, so also would he come unto the city of Rome actually bound in chains.

            It is truly something unique to think about and consider the narrative of the apostle Paul in coming unto the city of Rome, for the apostle Paul would ultimately come unto the capital city of the Roman Empire itself. Having begun his journey within the city of Jerusalem which would be the birth place of Christianity and that first and initial place of the release of the Spirit, the apostle Paul would ultimately and finally reach that destination and that place he was destined and purposed to go. I would dare say that when the Lord spoke unto the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus when He would encounter him—although He would indeed proclaim unto the apostle Paul that he would be His witness unto and among the Gentiles, He would not reveal the end game, nor the ultimate plan He had for the life of the apostle Paul. It is something worth noting and pointing out that when the Lord revealed how His disciples and followers would be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth, He never revealed that the gospel would come as far as the city of Rome itself, nor that there would be a body of believers which would be established there. What’s more, is that when the Lord appeared unto the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus—although He would reveal unto Him that He would be a witness for Him unto and among the Gentiles, He would never reveal unto him that he would ultimately come unto the city of Rome. Despite the fact the apostle Paul would indeed be a Roman citizen by birth, there is not a doubt in my mind he ever imagined—much less thought, anticipated and expected that he would come unto the city of Rome. The truth of the matter, however, is the apostle Paul would indeed and would ultimately come unto the city of Rome having received confirmation from both the Lord Jesus Himself, as well as an angel of God who would appear and stand next to him aboard the ship as it was tossed in the midst of the storm. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the eleventh verse of the chapter:

            “And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: AND SO WE WENT TO ROME. 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. AND WHEN WE CAME TO ROME, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israe I am bound with this chain. And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of tee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging, to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are full of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. AND PAUL DWELT TWO WHOL YEARS IN HIS OWN HIRED HOUSE, AND RECEIVED ALL THAT CAME IN UNTO HIM, PREACHING THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND TEACHING THOSE THINGS WHICH CONCERN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, WITH ALL CONFIDENCE, NO MAN FORBIDDING HIM” (Acts 28:11-31).

            It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the final words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts, for it helps set the stage for the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome. It would be the words found in the final verses of the final chapter of this New Testament book that would help us to understand the awesome and powerful truth that there would indeed be a church—there would indeed be a body of believers—that would be established within the city of Rome itself. In the final two verses of the final chapter of the book of Acts we find the beloved physician Luke writing how Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him. What’s more, is the beloved physician Luke would go on to write how the apostle Paul preached the kingdom of God, and taught those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ, and did so with all confidence without any man forbidding him. In all reality, I would dare say that these words are absolutely significant when you think about the gospel and witness which came unto the city of Rome, for the Lord Jesus would give the apostle Paul a full two years in the city of Rome in order that he might preach the kingdom of God, and that he might teach those things concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ. Oh I absolutely love how the beloved physician Luke included the word “whole” when writing of the time frame the apostle Paul would indeed remain and abide in the city of Rome, for this word “whole” denotes and speaks to the fact that the apostle Paul was given a witness within the city for two full and two complete years. Pause for a moment and think about this awesome and powerful truth, for what we find within these verses is the wonderful reality that for a full two years the Lord Jesus the Christ—together with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit—gave the apostle Paul a witness in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. For a full two years the apostle Paul would preach the kingdom of God, and would teach those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence and no man forbidding him. How truly awesome and astonishing it is to think about the fact that the Lord Jesus the Christ would indeed bring the apostle Paul unto the city of Rome that he might bear witness of Him there in the midst of the city, and the Lord Jesus would give him a full two years of teaching and preaching without any hindrance, nor anyone rising up against him.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the final verses of the final chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, and I am brought face to face with the incredible truth that it was absolutely necessary for the apostle Paul to come unto the city of Rome, for it would be there in Rome where I would dare say the apostle Paul not only reasoned among the Jews which were there, but would also reason unto and among the Gentiles which were there as well. We dare not think and believe for one moment that the apostle Paul preached unto and reasoned with the Jews alone, and that he did not also at the same time preach unto the Gentiles which were there. I would dare say there was a tremendous mix of both Jews and Gentiles which made up the body of believers and saints there in the city of Rome, for Luke was sure to include that there were some Jews which believed the words which the apostle Paul had preached and spoken unto them concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ. Oh it is something truly remarkable to think and consider that the gospel which would begin being preached in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would ultimately and eventually come unto the city of Rome itself where it would be preached among both Jews and Gentiles. Oh I would love to know what the church in Rome actually looked like, and what the church in Rome was like in the midst of the city of Rome. It is something unique and worth thinking about and considering when you take the time to consider the final words found in the final chapter of the book of Acts, for the words which we find there bring us face to face with the awesome reality of a church and body of believers being established in the midst of the capital and chief city of the Roman empire. How absolutely powerful it is to think about the fact that not even Rome itself was exempt from the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ, and the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus must needs be preached and proclaimed there. Even though Rome was the most powerful city in the earth during those days, the message of the kingdom of heaven and of God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would indeed come unto it.

            The more I think about and consider this reality the more I can’t help but be drawn to what the beloved physician Luke wrote in the thirty-first chapter, for within this final verse of the entire book he would write how the apostle Paul preached the kingdom of God in the city of Rome, and would do so for a full two years. Stop right there and truly take the time to think about and consider what is being said, for it’s one thing for the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven to be preached and proclaimed in the city of Jerusalem several hundreds of miles away from the city of Rome. It was one thing for Jesus and John the Baptist to preach and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and it was one thing for the twelve apostles, and even the other seventy to preach and proclaim the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, however, it was something else to preach and proclaim the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the city of Rome. I have often been fascinated with and by the fact that despite the fact that John the Baptist, Jesus the Christ, the twelve apostles, and perhaps even the other seventy preached a new kingdom being manifested in the midst of the earth it was never challenged by Rome in Judaea, nor in Jerusalem, nor even in Galilee. Nowhere in any of the four gospels do you and will you find that Rome rose up to challenge the Lord Jesus the Christ, nor the twelve apostles, nor perhaps even the seventy. Rome itself never rose up against the early Church and those first believers in the midst of the city of Jerusalem when they would preach the kingdom of heaven—this despite the fact that Rome was the dominant world power during those days. Jesus would come preaching and establishing a kingdom in the midst of the earth, and He would do so within the Roman Empire, and in all reality right under their noses. Please note that this is in no way to suggest that He did it in secret, for once Jesus was publicly manifested in the midst of the earth there was nothing secret nor concealed about His message, nor the kingdom He came to preach.

            I have to admit that this reality of the apostle Paul preaching the kingdom of God in the midst of the city of Rome is truly and utterly astonishing when you take the time to think about it, for what we find within these words is the kingdom of God—the same kingdom which the Lord Jesus the Christ came to establish in the midst of Jerusalem, in the midst of Judaea, in the midst of Galilee, and those cities, towns and villages—would ultimately come unto the city of Rome itself. WHEN THE KINGDOM COMES TO ROME! WHEN THE CITY SPREADS THROUGHOUT THE EMPIRE! WHEN THE KINGDOM SPREADS THROUGHOUT AND RISES UP IN THE MIDST OF AN EMPIRE! It is truly something worth noting and thinking about when you read the words found in the final verses of the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for the words we find in this passage of Scripture point to the absolutely incredible and powerful truth that the kingdom of God would ultimately make its way unto the city of Rome itself. Rome which was the capital city of the Roman Empire during the days of Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church would itself experience the manifestation of the kingdom of God, and would indeed experience the teaching and preaching of the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ. Oh I cannot escape the fact that not even Rome itself was immune, nor was it exempt from the manifestation of the kingdom of God, nor the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ, for the Lord Himself would bring the apostle Paul unto the city. What’s more, is not only would the Lord Jesus bring the apostle Paul unto the city of Rome, but He would also give him the space of two full years preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. This is truly something worth thinking about and considering, for we know the apostle Paul would spend eighteen months in Corinth, and we know the apostle Paul would spend two full years in Ephesus among the Ephesian saints, however, what we are finding and witnessing right now is the apostle Paul being given two whole and two full years in the city of Rome that he might preach the kingdom of God, and might teach those things concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found in verses fifteen through seventeen of the first and opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Romans and you will catch a glimpse of the awesome and powerful ministry the Lord gave the apostle Paul in the midst of the city of Rome:

            “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto Salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:15-17).

            What makes the epistle written unto the Romans so incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that it was written towards the end of the third missionary journey of the apostle Paul, for the apostle knew that there was a group of believers and followers of the Lord Jesus the Christ there in the midst of the city. The apostle Paul write this epistle and this letter unto the saints which were at Rome, for the apostle Paul sought to not only teach, but also to instruct the Jews and Gentiles which were present in the midst of the city. Perhaps one of the most striking realities found within this epistle written unto the Romans is that there would be language that would be directed to the Jews themselves—a reality that would appear to be directly linked and connected to what we find in the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It would be in the final verses of the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul calling unto himself the chief  of the Jews that he might speak unto them concerning his journey and arrival in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. You will find and read in the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that the apostle Paul reasoned together with the Jews in the midst of the city of Rome concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, and would expound unto them the truth and gospel concerning Jesus—both from the Law of Moses, as well as the prophets. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this truly awesome reality, for it brings us face to face with the fact that when the apostle Paul wrote the epistle written unto the saints which were in Rome well before he would actually come unto the city of Rome itself. This epistle which was written unto the saints which were in Rome would be written based on and according to a report he had heard about the faith of those which were present in the midst of the city. Undoubtedly the apostle Paul would hear of a body of believers, and a body of saints, disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ in the midst of the city of Rome, and he sought and desired to write a letter unto those believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus which were there. It’s important that we recognize and understand that at this point in time the Roman persecution of Christians hadn’t yet become what it would during and under the reign of Rome, which would ultimately reach its climax and pinnacle in the year 70 A.D. when Nero would blame the Christians for the burning of Rome—an accusation that would not only lead to the persecution of Christians, but would also lead to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem together with the Temple of the LORD.

            Oh we must needs recognize and understand the truly powerful truth surrounding the epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome, for the words which are found in this epistle brings us face to face with the truth that the gospel would indeed come unto Rome, and it would indeed come unto Rome before the apostle Paul himself would come to it. What’s more, is there seems to be words in the final chapter of the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that speaks to and suggests that there were indeed believers which were present in the midst of the city of Rome, for we find that when the apostle Paul together with those who were with him came unto Puteoli they found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days. In the latter portion of the fourteenth verse we find that the apostle Paul and all those which were with him went toward Rome, and as they journeyed unto Rome there would come unto them brethren—presumably and quite possibly undoubtedly from the city of Rome itself—which would meet them as far as Appii forum, and the Three taverns. These words are truly captivating when you take the time to think about them, for these words bring us face to face with the fact that there were indeed believers and saints of God found within the city of Rome by the time he actually came unto them. In fact, the apostle would make mention of the saints which were at Rome in other of his epistles when he declared how he earnestly desired to come unto them. In order to truly understand the powerful presence of the saints and believers which are found in the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul it is necessary to not only read the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of this book, but also the words which are found in the opening chapter of this book. Before we begin delving into this book I invite you to first begin in the fifteenth chapter of the epistle and then turning and directing your attention back to the first and opening chapter:

            “And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of the Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: but as it is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been make partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen” (Romans 15:14-33).

            Pause for a moment and consider the words and language that is found within this particular set of verses, for within these verses we find and discover the apostle Paul writing unto the saints which were at Rome—and not only writing unto them, but writing unto them concerning his express desire and intention of coming unto them. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words which are found in this fifteenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome that there was indeed a spiritual body of believers which were found present within this capital city of Rome, thus indicating that not only the persecution which broke out against the Church in the city of Jerusalem, but also the scattering of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ forced believers within and throughout Judaea, Samaria, as well as perhaps within and throughout the far reaches of the Gentiles. Scripture isn’t entirely and altogether certain how and when the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ first and actually came unto Rome, however, we can in fact be certain that before the apostle Paul would himself come unto the city of Rome bound as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus the Christ that not only had the gospel in fact come unto the city of Rome, but there had also been a body of saints and believers which were present in the midst of the city. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly tremendous fact, for when you stop and consider the narrative and language that is found in the New Testament epistle which was written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome it would come what was most likely a full three years before he would actually arrive in person. There seems to be every indication in Scripture that the apostle Paul heard of the faith of the saints which were present in the midst of the city of Rome, and with this epistle sought to strengthen, instruct and encourage them. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words we find in the epistle written unto the Roman saints suggests a profound and deep desire within the heart of the apostle Paul to come unto the saints which were at Rome that he might encourage and strengthen them.

            What makes the desire of the apostle Paul to come unto the saints which were at Rome so incredibly astonishing is when you think about the words which he wrote in this fifteenth chapter, for the apostle Paul would write how there was no more any place for him in those parts where he had traveled and preached the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven. Not only this, but you will also find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring that he had a desire within his heart “these many years” to come unto him. There were no less than three distinct references within these verses concerning the desire of the apostle Paul to come unto the saints which were at Rome, for the apostle Paul earnestly and eagerly desired to come unto them that he might instruct and encourage them in matters concerning the kingdom of God and concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul knew that he would go unto the city of Jerusalem to deliver an offering of the Gentiles unto the poor which were present within the city, and he eagerly desired that after he delivered that offering he would in turn be able to come unto the saints which were present in Rome while journeying unto Spain. Undoubtedly the apostle Paul felt compelled—perhaps even burdened—to go unto Spain, and during and along his journey unto Spain he would stop by Rome that he might have a witness unto and among them. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that when the apostle Paul desired to come unto the saints which were at Rome he undoubtedly thought he would do so as a free man, and yet it’s something truly worth noting and pointing out that in the final verses of the final chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul indeed coming unto Rome, however, his journey unto Rome would not be as he thought, desired and even expected. There is not a doubt in my mind the apostle Paul thought and believed he might come unto Rome on perhaps another missionary journey on his way unto Spain, however, what Scripture actually reveals is that the Lord Jesus had something entirely and altogether different planned. The apostle Paul would ultimately and inevitably come unto the city of Rome and unto the saints which were present within the city, however, he would come after having suffered tremendous opposition, affliction, and suffering in the city of Jerusalem. It would be his journey unto the city of Jerusalem that would ultimately lead to his journey to Rome—not as a free man, but rather as a man who was bound in chains. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the opening verses of the first chapter this New Testament epistle:

            “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which He had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: by whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name: among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 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” (Romans 1:1-7).

            “First, I think my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 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; making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I Purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:8-17).

            AMONG WHOM ARE YE THE CALLED OF JESUS CHRIST! TO ALL THAT BE IN ROME, BELOVED OF GOD! CALLED TO BE SAINTS. YOUR FAITH IS SPOKEN OF THROUGHOUT THE WORLD! WITHOUT CEASING I MAKE MENTION OF YOU ALWAYS IN MY PRAYERS! MAKING REQUEST, IF BY ANY MEANS NOW AT LENGTH I MIGHT HAVE A PROSPEROUS JOURNEY BY THE WILL OF GOD TO COME UNTO YOU! FOR I LONG TO SEE YOU, THAT I MAY IMPART UNTO YOU SOME SPIRITUAL GIFT! TO THE END YOU MAY BE ESTABLISHED! THE MUTUAL FAITH BOTH OF YOU AND ME! OFTENTIMES I PURPOSED TO COME UNTO YOU! THAT I MIGHT HAVE SOME FRUIT AMONG YOU ALSO, EVEN AS AMONG OTHER GENTILES! I AM READY TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO YOU THAT ARE AT ROME ALSO!

            It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that the apostle Paul had not only heard of the faith of the saints which were in Rome, but also desired to come unto them—not only that he might preach the gospel unto them, but also that he might have some fruit among them. The apostle Paul made it very clear from the outset and beginning of this epistle that he had a great desire to come unto and come among the saints which were at Rome—not only because he had heard of their faith which he made mention of in his prayers, but also that he might preach the gospel unto and among them. The apostle Paul earnestly and eagerly desired that he might come unto and come among the saints which were at Rome, and desired oftentimes to do so, however, he was prohibited from doing so. Before and until he would actually come unto the saints which were at Rome he took to writing an epistle and penning a letter unto them which would prayerfully encourage, strengthen and instruct them. What we must realize and recognize within these opening verses is not only the desire within the heart of the apostle Paul to come unto them, and not only the desire of the apostle Paul to preach unto them, but also the commitment of the apostle to pray for them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the fact that before the apostle Paul actually came unto the saints which were at Rome he without ceasing made mention of them always in his prayers. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this incredibly powerful truth, for it shines a tremendous light on an oftentimes overlooked reality and practice within the hearts and lives of those who would seek to be ministers of and for the Lord Jesus the Christ.

            As I sit here this morning I cannot help but think about and consider the tremendous and intrinsic link and connection between prayer and preaching. There would be those among us who would like to think that there is somehow and some way prayer and preaching can be separated, and yet the truth of the matter is that until and unless you are willing to pray for others you dare not, and perhaps must not make any attempt to preach unto them. There would be those who would think and believe they can preach unto and among others without devoting and committing themselves to prayer, and yet the truth and underlying reality is that prayer is the heart, the soul and the very foundation upon which preaching is built. I find it absolutely astonishing to think and consider the words which are found in this passage, for before the apostle Paul would ever preach unto and among the saints of God which were at Rome he would first make mention of them in his prayers. What’s more, is that not only would the apostle Paul make mention of them in his prayers, but he would “without ceasing” make mention of and for them in his prayers. There is something truly unique and powerful about someone who would commit and devote themselves in prayer for others before ever even coming unto them. There is something incredibly unique about a willingness to commit and devote oneself to praying for others whom you have not met, but whom you have only heard about. What you find within the opening chapters of this epistle is the apostle Paul hearing about the faith of the saints which were at Rome—a faith that was spoken of throughout the whole world—and the apostle Paul would continually make mention of these saints in his prayers before their Lord Jesus Christ and God His Father. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how the apostle Paul sought and desired to come unto them to preach the gospel, and yet before he would ever preach among them he would first pray for them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this powerful truth, for what we find and what we read here is the apostle Paul’s willingness to pray for these saints before he would ever be granted the opportunity to preach unto and among them. So many times there are men and women among us who desire to preach unto and preach among others, and yet they are completely and utterly unwilling to pray for them. Not only this, but such individuals are unwilling to make continual mention of these individuals within their prayers.

            WOULD YOU PREACH BEFORE PRAYING? WOULD YOU DARE TRY AND SEPARATE PREACHING FROM PRAYING? The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome reality that although the apostle Paul earnestly desired to come unto the saints which were at Rome, and despite the fact the apostle Paul eagerly desired to preach among them and yet was prevented from doing so, he still made mention of them in his prayers. This is absolutely and incredibly captivating when you think about and consider it, for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely awesome and profound truth that the apostle Paul was unwilling to cease praying for the saints which were at Rome—this despite the fact that he had not as of yet  been able to come unto them. The apostle Paul was unable to come unto and among them, and yet he continued making mention of them within his prayers. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth and reality, for there are countless men and women who have every desire to preach unto and among others, and yet they are absolutely and entirely unwilling to pray for them. What’s more, is that not only are they unwilling to make mention of them in their prayers, but they are also unwilling to not cease making mention of them in their prayers. Can I be bold and declare that it’s one thing to make mention of others in your prayers, however, it is an entirely different thing to make mention of others within prayers without ceasing? It is one thing to perhaps offer up a casual and perhaps even cavalier prayer before and unto the LORD concerning and regarding others, however, it is something else entirely and altogether to actually pray continually for them.

            As you read the opening chapter found within the New Testament epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul you will notice what would become one of the staples and hallmarks of his epistles—namely, the emphatic declaration of his commitment, his devotion and his fervency in prayer for the saints and for the churches. You cannot read the words which were written within the epistles Paul wrote unto the churches and not encounter the powerful truth that he continually made prayers for the churches without ceasing. What makes these words even more intriguing when reading the epistle written unto the Romans is that when this epistle was written it was the only epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto a church and congregation he had not come to personally. The first chapter alone signifies and suggests the fact that although the apostle Paul would indeed make mention of the saints in Rome in his prayers without ceasing, he had not actually seen them face to face. Please don’t miss this, for it further highlights and underscores the commitment, the dedication, the devotion and the fervency of the apostle Paul in prayer for saints whom he had only heard about in reports, and yet whom he had never met or personally interacted with. How absolutely powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would continually and daily make mention of these saints in prayer day after day, night after night, and regularly and routinely throughout his life and ministry. How incredibly astonishing it is to think about the fact that the apostle Paul would pray for this people whom he had not personally met, and whom he had not personally interacted with as he had the saints in Ephesus, the saints in Philippi, the saints of Thessalonica, the saints of Corinth, and even the saints in the churches in the region of Galatia. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out how the apostle Paul had never met any of these saints which were at Rome, and yet because of the report he heard concerning them he would diligently, passionately, zealously and fervently pray for them continually. The apostle Paul was not willing to allow these saints to go without being clothed and saturated in prayer, for he would devote a specific place within his prayers for this church and congregation.

            In all reality, I would dare say that perhaps the single greatest reason the apostle Paul was able to come unto and among the saints which were at Rome was because of his willingness, his devotion and his commitment to pray and intercede for them. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostle Paul was given an open door unto and among the saints which were at Rome—not only because as we see in the final chapters of the book of Acts the Lord had called him to bear witness of Him in Rome, but because of his willingness to pray for them. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truth, for what we find here is an awesome and powerful declaration and statement of the apostle Paul’s willingness to preach unto and among the saints which were at Rome, and yet how he was prevented from doing so. The apostle Paul was unable at that time to make his way unto and among the saints which were at Rome, and if you study the chronology of the time this epistle was written and the time he would actually be in Rome you will find that three years would pass. It is estimated and believed to have been the year 60 A.D. when this epistle was written by and at the hand of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome, and it is also estimated the apostle Paul finally and actually made his way to Rome three years later in the year 63 A.D. Pause for a moment and consider how much prayer and how much intercession the apostle Paul would have clothed these saints and this congregation with. Stop and think about the fact that the apostle Paul would spend three years continuing to labor among other churches, and continuing to labor among and with other saints of the most high God, and yet during that time he would faithfully pray for the saints which were at Rome. It was this fervency and intensity in prayer which the apostle Paul would reference in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints when he spoke of the daily concern and care for the churches.

            I find it increasingly incredible to read the words found within this epistle, for what we find in the opening chapter is not only an apostle who was desirous of coming unto and among the saints of God in Christ which were at Rome that he might preach unto and among them, but the apostle Paul would also continually and daily make mention of them in his prayers. Oh there are many men and women among us who desire to preach, and who desire to preach unto and among churches, and unto cities, and unto towns, and unto villages, and perhaps even unto nations, and yet they are absolutely and entirely unwilling to commit and devote themselves to prayer. Such individuals think and believe they can somehow engage themselves in preaching without and apart from praying—and not only praying, but actively and actually interceding for and on behalf of those whom they desire ministry among and ministry within. The apostle Paul earnestly and eagerly desired an open door of ministry among the saints of God in Christ Jesus which were at Rome, and yet while he perhaps waited for that opportunity to present itself and come unto him he would faithfully pray and interceded for them. Oh this begs the question whether or not you are indeed willing to commit and devote yourself in prayer for others while you are perhaps waiting for an effectual door to be opened for you unto and among them. Are you willing to regularly and routinely commit and devote yourself to prayer for those whom you might have a desire to engage in ministry unto and among while you wait for an opportunity to minister unto and among them? Are you willing to intercede and pray for those whom the Lord Jesus the Christ has called you to preach unto you while waiting for that door to be open unto you? I absolutely love how the apostle Paul was willing to commit himself in prayer and intercession for these dear saints which were in Rome while he continued to faithfully labor unto and among those whom he had been called. What’s more, is I would dare say that one thing the apostle Paul would not do was neglect the ministry unto and among those churches he had been called to faithfully serve and labor among. We would think that the apostle Paul would have somehow allowed himself to slack on his ministry, his labor and his service unto and among the churches unto which he had been given a door of ministry, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are two temptations found within this first and opening chapter of the New Testament epistle—two temptations which although they are not implicitly and explicitly stated and declared are nonetheless presented before and unto us. The first temptation is to neglect praying and interceding for and on behalf of those whom we perhaps have desire to minister unto among, and perhaps even those we desire to come and tarry, dwell and abide with them. The first temptation is to cease making mention of others in prayer while we are perhaps waiting for and desiring an opportunity to come unto and among them. There is a temptation and tendency to somehow neglect our responsibility, our task and our assignment in prayer while we are perhaps in a period of waiting and tarrying. We must needs recognize and understand this powerful truth, for it brings us face to face with something which must needs be considered. Oh how many men and women neglect and ignore their responsibility in prayer and intercession for and on behalf of others while they are perhaps waiting for an effectual and fervent door to be opened unto them? How many men and women fail to commit and devote themselves to prayer for and on behalf of others? Oh we must needs recognize and understand this temptation, for it is a temptation we can and will be faced with in our lives as the enemy and adversary can and will seek to bring us to the place where we enter into that place where we cease and fail to pray and intercede for others night and day.

            With all of this being said there is a second temptation within this passage we must needs recognize and understand—namely, that it is entirely and altogether possible for us to while we are perhaps waiting for and desirous of a door to be opened unto and among others before and among us, we neglect the ministry and the work that is before us. There is a great temptation before us to while we are waiting for a door to be opened before and unto us among others that we neglect, ignore and shirk the responsibility that is before us. It would have been very easy for the apostle to neglect the responsibility that was before him among the other churches unto which he had been given an opportunity to minister unto and among, and such would have been a great tragedy in the sight of the living God. Oh dear brother, dear sister—there is not a doubt in my mind that two of the greatest temptations and tragedies we face within our lives is neglecting and ignoring the work and assignment that is before us, and failing to commit and devote ourselves in prayer for those to whom we might have a passion and burden for. Even as I write these words I am finding myself being convicted by them as there is a specific people group and a specific nation I have had a tremendous longing and desire to come unto, live in and minister among, and yet I have not faithfully prayed for or interceded for them. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have failed to devote and commit myself in prayer for those whom I have such an incredible and tremendous desire to live and dwell among. I know that I have failed in praying and interceding for those to whom I have such a tremendous longing and desire to live among and dwell with. Time and time again, day after day, and night after night I have failed to pray for those to whom I have desire for, and those to whom I feel called. I must acknowledge my sin and my transgression in failing to pray for those whom I desire to preach unto and minister among. I know that I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory in this matter—a reality which is aptly expressed in the third chapter of this epistle. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this epistle in the latter portion of the third chapter:

            “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make voice the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:14-31).

            It is those words which express our having sinned and fallen short of the glory of God that brings me face to face with my sin and transgression before the Lord Jesus Christ in ceasing to make mention of the saints of God in my prayers. It is these words that bring me face to face with the tremendous and astonishing truth that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God according to the words which the prophet Samuel spoke unto the house of Israel when he emphatically declared, “God forbid I should sin against the LORD In ceasing to pray for you.” The words which Samuel declared unto the house of Israel must be understood and acknowledged within our hearts and our lives, for Samuel viewed an absence of prayer and intercession for and on behalf of others as a sin and transgression before and against the LORD. Samuel realized and recognized that just as important—and perhaps even more important than prophesy itself was the commitment, the dedication, the devotion and the fervency of prayer and intercession for and on behalf of others. There is not a doubt in my mind that Samuel recognized and understood just how necessary and just how powerful prayer truly was, and that prophesy and prophesying without and apart from prayer is utterly and completely meaningless. Could this perhaps be one of the means and one of the ways to understand Jesus’ words in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew when Jesus spoke of those who would come before Him, saying, “Lord, Lord,” and would speak of the many great wonders they did, of the demons and unclean spirits they cast out, and even of them prophesying? Jesus would declare unto them He never knew them, and the question I have to ask is how do you get to know Jesus? How would these individuals truly get to know the Lord Jesus the Christ? The answer is actually both simple and profound, for the way to truly know the Lord and for the Lord to know us is not only through prayer, but also in loving the Lord in keeping and obeying His commandments. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the absolutely astounding truth that we truly know the Lord through prayer when we enter into our secret closet, and through the expression of our love for Him by and through our obedience of His words and commands.

            Jesus would declare unto those who would come unto Him in that day and declare that He never knew them, and I can’t help but be absolutely convinced that He did not know them, for they did not invest the time, the effort and energy in prayer in the secret closet before the Father who sees in secret. The prophet Samuel recognized and understood the importance of prayer, and the apostle Paul recognized and understood the importance of prayer, as the prophet Samuel would equate failure in praying for others as sin and transgression before the LORD. What’s more, is the apostle Paul realized and recognized the tremendous importance of praying and interceding for and on behalf of the churches of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and how true and effectual ministry and service for the kingdom of heaven comes through and by prayer and intercession in the secret close of prayer. Oh that would truly take the time to understand this, for there will be those who will have engaged in wonderful ministry and works within the earth—even works which were done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—and yet He will declare unto them He never knew them. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Jesus could declare that He never knew these individuals, and could even declare them to be workers of iniquity because they sinned against both He and the Father—not only in failing to devote and commit themselves to prayer, but they also did not express, demonstrate and manifest their love for Him through their obedience to His words and His commands. There is not a doubt in my mind that being one who worked iniquity and one whom the Lord Jesus did not know can be directly linked and attributed to a sinful and iniquitous failure to commit and devote ourselves in prayer for others. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that we haven’t merely been called to pray for those whom we have labored among, nor have we been called to pray for those whom we know and those whom we have had interactions with. The apostle Paul continually prayed for the saints which were at Rome—this despite the fact that he had not yet personally come unto and among them.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative that we encounter and come face to face with the tremendous temptations we face within this life—not only to slack and shirk the responsibility, the work, the task and the assignment that is before us, but also the temptation to fail and refuse to pray for others. Please note that this prayer for others not only touches those whom we are desirous of engaging in ministry with, but those whom we are presently laboring and toiling with, and even our enemies and those who persecute us. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is in what ways have we been called to pray and intercede for others today, and in what ways have we been called to labor within our current and present generation and situation. What has the Lord Jesus called us to do in this generation, and who is the Lord Jesus the Christ calling us to pray and intercede for today? We must needs recognize and understand the tremendous importance and power of these questions, for these questions bring us face to face with the condition of our own hearts, and our willingness to pray and intercede for those to whom we have been called. Oh that we would be willing to recognize and understand those ways in which we might very well have sinned against the Lord in failing to pray and intercede for others, and failing to make mention of them in our prayers. If there is one thing the opening chapters of this epistle reveals to me it’s not only the tremendous need to pray and intercede for those before and around me, but also the emphatic declaration that not only am I without excuse before the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but I have also been called to live a life absent and free from judging others. Oh there is a great and powerful emphasis before me today to recognize and understand that instead of being one who casts judgment and one who judges others, I have been called to pray and intercede for others. It is in the second chapter of this New Testament epistle you find the apostle Paul warning against the danger and temptation in judging others—a danger and temptation that is easy to succumb and give in to when we are not devoted to prayer and intercession for others. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that we can very easily be given to judgment and judging others when we are not faithfully executing ourselves in prayer and intercession for and on behalf of others. It is with this in mind I now present you with the words the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of this New Testament epistle:

            “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation, and anguish, upon every soul man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another)in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 3:1-16).

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preaches a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou not commit adultery? Thou that abhorest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:17-29).

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