J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Full of Goodness Part 2 from Romans 15

Part One of this post appear here.

Folks, here is the crazy thing.  Paul told the Romans, “I’m convinced you are full of goodness.”  Paul said that he was convinced that the Romans had a propensity for obedience both inwardly of the heart and outwardly in action and deed and thought.  Paul said, “You have in some way the goodness of God.  It isn’t a shield your eyes or be destroyed goodness, but it is goodness as God calls it our weak flesh.  You may think, “Well I don’t now those guys did it, but I don’t come anywhere close to a goodness so great that other people have to hide in the cleft of the rock so they aren’t destroyed.  And you would be right.  Everyone’s word and thought and deed in this world is still tainted with sin in some way, but by God’s grace, by the fact that He changed you, made you alive again in Christ, you can obey and demonstrate goodness.

That you should make each one of do several things.  You should always be humble because there is no goodness coming from this dead man’s suit of flesh.  If you or I are good in anyway, it is gifted by God.  We should also be patient with others as our tiny measure of goodness doesn’t equal the hide in the rock of goodness of God so we have no place to boast or look down on others.  You get that and, it will change your life.  So how do we grow in this being full of goodness?  Well Paul tells us:  by being filled with knowledge.

Quite simply, by studying the scriptures and trusting the Holy Spirit to make them alive in our hearts, you will grow in goodness.   You can’t have one without the others.  It looks like this.

  • Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
  • Psalm 119:11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
  • Psalm 119:17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
  • Psalm 119:25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
  • Psalm 119:28  My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
  • Psalm 119:42  then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word.

In just these few simple examples out of which there are several dozen more, we see that we will neither grasp, wrestle, or grow in Godliness or goodness without pursing God’s word.  You know, I would guess at least 3-4 times in the last 2 weeks, I have had the same conversation with several different folks.  In those conversations, we’ve talked about some day to day struggles that folks have – I mean big stuff, like how do I get through this day or how do I live this life kind of stuff.  You know what I’m talking about?  It is a lonely, “Life is way more hard than I ever imagined” kind of conversation.  In those moments, quick overly simple answers don’t help.  It doesn’t do me any good to just try to encourage folks with a “do this” or “go do better” kind of advice.  But this is what I have said, and this is what I say to my own heart and what I say to each of you right now.  In the middle of the stresses of our lives, in the middle of your days of work, home, church, whatever, why would you think that you are going to be able to handle those days in any sort of confident, Godly kind of way without preparing your heart first in the study of scripture?  Why do we make a mess of things and then sit confused and angry when we know that we have not prepared our hearts day in and day out in the study of the word.  Why do we get surprised by the fights we get in or lack of patience that we have or the judgmental nature of our heart, when we don’t take time to prepare our hearts in the scriptures.

  • The word of God is your light so you can walk.
  • The word of God helps you live.
  • The word of God strengthens you.
  • The word of God protects your heart from sin.
  • Why would any of you not spend time studying?

We will not be full of goodness in our interactions with one another unless we are also filled with the knowledge of God in His scriptures.  I will say this as well.  If you are not regularly in the scriptures, you will definitively live a solitary and lonely existence because by are choosing not to study the words of life, you are purposefully alienating yourself from your God.  God promises to meet you in His word.  And here is the thing – God has also designed us that if all we do is spend time in the world but don’t actually reach out in relationships with others, we will also be lonely then as well.  As one of your elder candidates has said, “A sponge that isn’t squeezed out gets moldy.”

But if we bathe in the scriptures and hear God’s call within to live out our faith in community, if we do that, we are going to be able to be like the Romans and gently and lovingly instruct one another.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this, “When Christians live together the time must inevitably come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God’s word and will to another.  It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another.”

It is inconceivable that any one here would be in crisis alone.  The intention of the design of the body of Christ as seen in I Corinthians 11 is that if you hurt, I hurt.  If you hurt, we all hurt.  And where we grow with this goodness and knowledge is to form a community that lovingly encourages one another with the very words of life that feed our own souls.

My buddy Greg Norfleet up in Chapel Hill says that there are 6 Truths that can be applied to every single church.

  • Truth Number One:  Someone had a problem, maybe even a crisis in the church this week.  Even here at SK.
  • Truth Number Two:  The church has everything needed in the gospel to help that person or help that person find help.  2 Peter 1.3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence
  • Truth Number Three:  People seek help first from friends, family, or pastors before professional counselors.  I’m all for seeking help from professional counselors, but most of the time, folks ask for help from the people around them first.
  • Truth Number Four:  That person with a problem either got no help, bad help, or biblical gospel-centered help
  • Truth Number Five:  If they don’t get meaningful help, they will either go elsewhere or give up.
  • Truth Number Six:  If they get Biblical-gospel help, they will eventually use it to help others as that is the nature of the Gospel.

Now, how does SK weave itself into those truths?  Well, there are a host of ways.  Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.  We are going to soon start some form of Sunday school classes for both adults and children. Our kids are going to need good and Godly teachers who are committed to teaching them wisdom from the scriptures and modeling what Godly relationships look like.  As members of SK, each of you has taken a vow before God to build up and encourage one another.  Every time we have a baptism, the members of the church stand up and take a vow to help parents encourage and build up their kids.  This is where your life of goodness and knowledge can find ample place to be demonstrated.  Our children and the hopefully the children of this community, need your commitment to teaching goodness and wisdom from the scriptures.

We have another group within our church who desperately need someone to take the wheel in leadership.  Our youth are good Godly kids but they are the most at risk right now, and they are in need leaders.  If you don’t believe me when I say our kids are at risk, here are some startling facts.  Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet.  Did you know the average 16 year old has already seen more pornography than the previous generation saw in their entire lifetime?  And that doesn’t even touch drugs, gangs, sexual promiscuity, violence, self-mutilation, mentoring, and a million other needs that youth have.

We need to demonstrate that God has forgiven us, filled us with goodness and gifted us with the ability to instruct one another by mentoring our youth.  There is a community full of youth we could care for and if we could get this together, the Police, EMS, and Hayes Place would fill this or our next building with youth.  You can demonstrate your goodness and knowledge by loving and instructing them.  Fight Club and Project Runway are significant places where men and women come together to be honest, to be challenged, and to lift one another up.

CE Groups are sometimes hard to get to in the midst of busy weeks, but if you are opting out of one because inconvenience or insecurity, you are missing out on the primary way in which this church lives out this verse.  Like I mentioned earlier, people have problems; they either get no help, bad help, or biblical help.  How you choose to be involved in the life of this church will determine both the help you get and the help you give.  You might think, well I’m in no place to help folks.

“You can tell from Paul says here that being full of goodness does not mean perfection. Because if it did, then there would be no need for you to admonish or instruct each other.  (Perfection needs no instruction)  What fullness means is that God has given you abundant goodness and abundant knowledge to the point where you can overflow with admonitions and exhortations and instructions and warnings and encouragements to each other, so that where one is lacking the other can provide.  So we make progress together toward complete holiness and obedience. And all this with a fullness that God himself provides (see verse 13).”  John Piper http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2006/1769_A_Pastors_Offering_to_God_of_Holy_People/

God does not intend for any of you His children to live lives of solitary, desperate loneliness.

  • He intends for you to be intimately connected.
  • He intends for you to be growing in goodness.
  • He intends for you to be growing in the knowledge of the scriptures.
  • He intends for you lovingly encouraged others
  • And He intends for you to be lovingly encouraged by others.

That might mean you have to head back out of your house after a hard day.  It might mean that you have to get up earlier to spend time in the scripture.  It might mean that you have to take off your mask and be honest with people and ask for help.  But what all that means is that you and I and we will be living in the community in which God has designed us and commanded us to live.

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March 30, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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