Southern Christian University

James A. Turner


Romans #5


Please read all the references. They will help you to get a fuller understanding


I believe that when our time was up the last time, we were in the tenth chapter of the book of Romans and I think down to verse thirteen.  "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Joel 2:32)."  This has been a much-misused passage of scripture.  Some just remove it from the text and then teach entirely different from what is given here. Many preachers have quoted Romans 10:13 and left the impression that all a person has to do to be saved is just say, “O Lord I know that I am a sinner and I repent. O Lord save me.” But notice what is involved in calling on the name of the Lord.  "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed”?  Think of the thousands of people that are being deceived by television preachers who conclude their lessons by calling upon unsaved people to say this little prayer with me, “Lord Jesus come into my heart and save me.” 


How terrible it is for preachers to lead astray innocent people!  But of course, those unsaved people have some responsibility.  They have Bibles, and they ought to be reading and studying their Bibles for themselves.  But there are very few people in our American society today that do much of that, including, I am afraid, many church members.  Many of them do very little study any longer.  But in order for a person to call upon the name of the Lord in such a way as to be saved, he must hear those basic facts of the gospel.  He must hear about the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ.  And then he must obey those facts in a form.  You remember that Ananias said to Saul of Tarsus, "And now, why tarriest, thou?  Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16)."  The full sense of calling on the name of the Lord means taking those steps of obedience to obey the Lord. 


Verses fourteen through seventeen, "How then shall they call on him whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  Even as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!” But they did not all harken to the glad tidings.  For Isaiah saith, “Lord, who hath believed our report so belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."  So a person cannot have Bible believing faith without hearing.  So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  Verse eighteen "But I say, did they not hear?  Yea, verily, their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.  But I say, did Israel not know?  First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation. (the Gentiles). With a nation void of understanding (the Gentiles) will I anger you.  And Isaiah is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; (the Gentiles) I became manifest unto them that asked not of me.  But as to Israel he saith, all day long have I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people." 


It is bad to be disobedient just on the basis of not having faith, but John 3:18, reads "He that believeth not on me is condemned already because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God."  I believe it is John 6:36 where faith itself is spoken of as a work.  Jesus says, “This is the work of God that you believe on him that sent me.”  A gainsaying people would be a people speaking against the commandments of God.  The people of Israel, as a people, became so rebellious that they spoke against the prophets that were sent to them, and killed a lot of them.  Of course, when they spoke against the prophets, the messengers that God sent to them, they were speaking against God. 



Chapter Eleven,

 "I say, then, did God cast off his people."  Here he is talking about the Jewish people, and his answer is, "God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin."  Do you remember that the first king, King Saul came from the tribe of Benjamin?  Verses two through four, “God did not cast off his people which he foreknew, or know ye not what the scripture saith of Elijah?  How he pleaded with God against Israel.  Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what saith the answer of God unto him?  I have left for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal."  Now, a passage like this, I am afraid that many times in Bible classes at church, that they just run over them very quickly.  But there is much more to it and we need to turn back and get the whole story from the Old Testament.  I wish we had plenty of time where we could turn back and go into detail about this.  Please turn, some time soon, and read chapters seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen of I Kings to get the full story.


James says, “Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another that we may be healed for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  Then he said, “Elijah was a man of like passions as we are and he prayed that it might not rain.  And it rained not for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit,” (James 5:16-18) Do you think we would avail if we were to pray, “Lord, don't let it rain for three years and six months?”  I think not, but the prophet, Elijah, had a good reason for praying that prayer, and God answered his prayer.  It was during the time of the old wicked King Ahab of the northern kingdom.  Elijah was a prophet to the northern kingdom, and Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was in the business of killing the prophets of the Lord, and Obadiah had hidden a hundred of the prophets of the Lord in two caves and fed them with bread and water to keep them from being killed.  And so Elijah prayed this prayer that there might be a test on Mount Carmel to determine whether Jehovah was God or whether Baal was God. 


God sent Elijah to the brook, Cherith, where the ravens brought him bread in the morning and bread in the evening.  He drank water from the brook until the brook went dry, then God sent him to the widow of Zarephath to take care of him (I Kings 17:8-16; Luke 4:25-26).  After three years, he returned back to the land of Israel and appeared to that good man Obadiah who had hid the prophets, and was feeding them with bread and water.  So as recorded in I Kings 17:1 Elijah went to King Ahab, and said, "As Jehovah the God of Israel liveth before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these three years, but according to my work."  So that brought on a great drought, and they were in danger of even loosing all of the animals.  After three years, Elijah went back, chapter eighteen, and appeared to that good man, Obadiah, and told him to “Go and tell your lord, Behold, Elijah is here.”  Obadiah at first was afraid, but Elijah convinced him that he would be in the land.  When King Ahab saw Elijah, he accused him of being the troubler of Israel because of the famine, and Elijah responded,  "I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of Jehovah and thou hast followed the Baals." 


Then Elijah challenged Ahab for a showdown on Mount Carmel.  Take the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and let them build an altar and call upon the name of their god. They were to put a bullock on each altar, and whoever's God came down and consumed the sacrifice, he would be God.  When it came time for Elijah to build his altar, he had them to pour pots of water on the bullock, and on the wood on the altar, and a ditch around the altar.  And he called upon God to come down and accept the sacrifice.  And God consumed the sacrifice with fire, and also the water around the altar.  And, of course, the people said, Jehovah is God.  And Elijah said, “Take the prophets, all the prophets of Baal, and kill them,” and they did. And, I guess, Elijah, like us, was expecting the people of Israel to turn in a great way, but they did not turn in any great way.  And Jezebel got after him. She sent a message to him that his life would be like the life of one of those prophets of Baal that he had killed by this time tomorrow.  So Elijah ran from Jezebel, and he went to Beersheba and left his servant there, and then he went a day's journey on into the wilderness out of the land of Israel; and he sat down under a juniper tree and wanted the Lord to take his life. 


Elijah went to sleep, and an angel of the Lord woke him up and had a cake baking on coals and a cruise of water and the angel said, “ Arise and eat.”  Elijah ate and went to sleep again, and the angel woke him up again, and he ate again.  The angel told him he needed the food, and he went forty days and forty nights unto Mount Horeb.  And while he was at Mount Horeb, the Lord appeared to him.  He was in a cave, and the Lord said to him, “What doest thou here Elijah?  Elijah said, I have been very zealous for Jehovah, but the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant.  They have thrown down your altars and have slain your prophets, and I am the only one left, and they seek my life to take it away.”  Well, God demonstrated before Elijah with the wind that ripped the rocks of the mountains, but God was not in the wind, then an earthquake, and then a fire.  After that God spoke to him in a still, small voice and wanted to know again why he was there.  Elijah responded like he had already responded.  He sincerely thought that he was the only one left! 


God gave Elijah a new mission. On his way, according to the instruction given here in the latter part of chapter nineteen, he was to appoint Hazael to be king over the adjoining country of Syria, and he was to appoint Jehu to be king over the northern kingdom of Israel and Elisha to be prophet in his stead.  Now, all that Elijah did was to appoint Elisha in his stead.  There is still a longer story about the appointing of those other two.  But what did this amount to?  Hazael of Syria would make war against Israel, and in that war a lot of the people that worshiped Baal would be killed.  And Jehu was to be king over Israel, and he first went and cut off all the descendants of Ahab, including his wife Jezebel.  He had the eunuchs to throw her out of an up stairs window, and then the dogs ate her, I believe, all of her but her hands. 


And then Jehu made out like he was a great Baal worshiper and called all the worshipers of Baal together.  They were going to have a big Baal worship.  Jehu gave instructions, to eighty men that he had to kill them.  They put vestments on them, so that they would not kill any except the Baal worshipers.  And then at the right time he gave command for them to kill all of them.  And so there is a long story behind this.  But even after that, there were seven thousand people who had not bowed their knees to Baal, and we need to think about this Old Testament account.  We are so prone, maybe in a little small congregation and it about dead, and we decide nobody is trying to do anything, and I am the only one left, and they are talking about me!  Do you ever think like that?  We need to stay out from under Elijah's juniper tree or broom tree, as other versions read. Elijah’s attitude was, Lord, just take me on.  I am no better than my Fathers.”  There are a number of other chapters, about the appointment of those other two and what they did. (II Kings 2:1-18, 4:1 to 5:14, 8; 7-15, and chapters nine and ten of II Kings).


Verse five, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." He is saying that there is a remnant of the Jewish people, and I would guess that that remnant even today might be larger than we think.  According to our thinking, I think we pretty well have the idea that there are no Jews that are Christians.  But if we knew all the facts, we might see things very differently.  Verse 6, "But if it is by grace, it is no more of works:  Otherwise grace is no more grace."  Now, he is talking about works of merit.  When a man works hard during the week, he doesn't have to turn his back to take his paycheck.  It is not grace if he has worked real hard and earned it, but there is no such thing as a man earning his salvation.  "No man is saved apart from the grace of God," but as we have already discussed, a person can get himself out of the bounds of God's love, mercy, and grace. 


"What then?  That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not, but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened.” The election, that obtained it would, be all of those who believed in Christ. According to the account given in (Acts 2:41, 2:46-47, 4:4, 5:14-16, 6:1, 6:7-8) there must have been at least twenty thousand Jews who believed during those early days of the church. “And the rest were hardened,” and again that hardening  was already taking place when Barnabas and Saul went on that missionary journey into Gentile territory (Acts chapters thirteen and fourteen).  Verse eight, "According as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear.  Unto this very day,  (Now, notice it says) God gave them a spirit of stupor.” Well, we discussed that in chapter nine.  When people are stubborn and rebellious to no end, God is ready for them to have a spirit of stupor.  Or as stated in II Thessalonians 2:10 God is willing for them “to believe a lie and be damned, who believe not the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness."  So God was willing for them to have “a spirit of stupor,” but it was because of their unbelief and rebellion. 


Verse eleven, "I say then, did they stumble that they might fall?  God forbid: but by their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy."  From the thirteenth chapter of the book of Acts, you remember how Paul and Barnabas had gone to the Jewish synagogue at Antioch and how they asked them to speak the next Sabbath day.  But the next Sabbath day, it looked like, almost all of the Gentile people turned out to hear them.  And the Jews were moved with jealousy and began to contradict Paul and Barnabas and the word and blasphemed.  And Paul and Barnabas spoke out against them.  They said, “it was necessary that the word of God should first be preached to you, but seeing you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”  The Gentiles were glad.  Men judge themselves unworthy of eternal life by refusing to believe the gospel. 


Verse twelve, "Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness?"  In other words if they come back to a point of faith, they will be a part of the new Israel of God.  The new Israel of God is composed of Jews and Gentiles who believe and obey Christ (Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:1-7).  "But I speak to you that are Gentiles, inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry.  If by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and may save some of them.  For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" But as long as they go the way of unbelief, they are spiritually dead.  They are separated from God, but if they come back to a point of faith, then God will receive them, and that will be life from the dead.  They will be reconciled to God again. 


Verse sixteen "And if the first fruit is holy, so is the lump."  Well, the Jews were the first fruits even under the great commission of Christ (James 1:18). And so he is saying they made up that first holy body.  "And if the first fruit is holy, so is the lump.  And if the root is holy, so are the branches, but if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive. (Gentiles) wast grafted in among them, and is become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree; glory not over the branches.  But if thou glory, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee."  I am confident it would be harder to graft a wild olive branch into a good olive tree, than it would to graft one fruit bearing olive tree into another fruit bearing olive tree.  I believe maybe it is possible for real good grafters to graft pecans on a hickory tree.  But it would be a very unusual to find a grafter with enough skill to do that.  But it is easy for a good grafter to take a seedling pecan tree, and graft another kind of pecan on it, Stuart, paper shell, or whatever he wants on that seedling. 


Verse nineteen, "Thou wilt say then, branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.  Well by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith.  Be not high-minded, but fear for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.” So he is saying to the Gentiles, and we are Gentiles, do not get the idea that you are so much better than the Jews that God just broke them off so you could be grafted in.   If you Gentiles turn away and become unbelievers, he will cast you off like he cast those rebellious Jews off. 


Verse twenty-two, "Behold then the goodness and the severity of God."  Now, there are both sides to God.  And, I think that, I mentioned when we studied from the eighth chapter of Romans, how some just want to dwell entirely on the love of God.  And the love of God, surely, is very, very great, but God is also a God of justice, and his wrath is kindled by rebellion, and we need to remember that.  There is the goodness and there is the severity of God.  "Toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness. (conditional) If thou continue in his goodness."  What does it mean to continue in his goodness?  Continue to read and study his word, and try to live in accordance with it, that is the way to continue in his goodness.  "Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in:  For God is able to graft them in again.  For if thou wast cut off out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree and was grafted in contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?  For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits; that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in."  In the gospel of Luke (21:24), Luke speaks of the fullness of the Gentiles. 


Verse twenty-six, "and so all Israel shall be saved."  All Israel here would be talking about those faithful people of the Jewish people and of the Gentile people.  "And so all Israel shall be saved; even as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the deliver (Christ) and he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  And this is my covenant unto them. When I shall take away their sins."  Please remember that one of the primary differences between the Old Testament law and the New Testament law, when sins are forgiven unto the New Testament law, they are remembered no more, but they never were completely forgiven under the Old Testament law.  "And this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.  As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes:  But as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.  For the gifts and the calling of God are not to be repented of."  In short, God has planned that all of those Jews who believe on him are going to be among his saved people, and that is going to stand.  "For as ye in times past were disobedient to God."  Think of the latter part of the first chapter of Romans about that, and how God gave them up “to their vile passion”. 


Verse thirty, "For as ye in times past were disobedient to God, but have now obtained mercy by their disobedience.  For God hath shut up all unto disobedience that he might have mercy upon all."  Do you remember Romans 3:23, where he is talking about Jews and Gentiles, that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" We need to recognize in a good full sense that there are things that God has planned, and things that God has done, which are beyond our ability to understand.  "How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!


Verse thirty-four “For who hath known the mind of the Lord?"  Well, nobody has, except as revealed by the Holy Spirit going back to (I Corinthians 2:10-13).  "Are who hath been his counselor?"  In other words who has given God advice?  Nobody was capable of giving God advice.  "Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?"  You know as far as one man toward another, you may see a man in a tight and loan him money, or whatever he needs, and expect him to get in better shape down yonder and recompense you again.  But God has never been in need.  He possesses all things (Psalms 24:1).  "For of him, and through him, and unto him are all things."   All creation, everything belongs to the Lord.  We do not actually own anything. God is just allowing us to be stewards of his possessions for a little while (Luke 12:13-21; I Timothy 6:6-10; Job 1:11-12, 1:20-22; Ecclesiastes 5:13-17). "Of him, through him, and unto him, are all things; to him be the glory for ever and ever.  Amen."  In these first eleven chapters, Paul has continued with a continuous theme about the relationship of the Old Testament law to the New Testament law, and that no one can be saved by the works of the law; and the only way of salvation is through faith in the blood of Christ and obedience to Christ. 

Chapter Twelve

All right.  Now, he has finished that theme.  And chapter twelve begins with things, and the rest of the book, that have to do with everyday Christian living.  Chapter twelve, a favorite chapter of many, is surely a great chapter,  "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual service."  Under the law, in the main, they offered up dead sacrifices, didn't they?  But under the New Testament, the children of God are to be living sacrifices to God. When we think about a living sacrifice, we think of doing those things that God has instructed us to do. "Which is your spiritual service.  And be not fashioned according to this world. or be not conformed to this world (King James Version)."  It is easy to be fashioned or conformed to the way of the world, to conform to those peers around us.  "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  All right doing must stem from the heart, and all wrongdoing also first begins in the heart. Proverbs 4:23 reads, "Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life."  Jesus said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man, (Matthew 15:12). All of the actions of a man first originate in the heart. If man never has malice and hatred in his heart, he is not going to up and commit murder, and a person who has not been lusting is not going to commit adultery.  So we need to think on right things, and we need to read things that are worth reading.  We also need to read that which is worth reading, the word of God.  It is not the right thing for us to do, to sit and read magazines, etc. more than we read the Bible. We need to read that which will edify and build us up, and the same thing should be true in regard to watching television.  A man cannot keep his mind in the gutter and live right.  So that transformation takes place by the renewing of our mind. 


In verses three through eight, he is emphasizing first that a person ought not to think more highly than he ought to think, but that he is to think soberly about in what area he can best serve the Lord, and then try to give attention to really serving the Lord in that area.  We are all different, with different abilities, and we need to think seriously about the abilities and experiences that we have; and in those areas where we are somewhat peculiarly qualified to serve, we need to really serve in those areas as much as we can.  Look at it carefully and see if that's not the sense of these verses.  "For I say, through the grace that was given unto me."  He is talking about God's grace toward him to make him an apostle to the Gentiles.  "For I say, through the grace that was given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think."  There is always a danger of some of us doing a little of that, thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.  But the other extreme of that is for man just to say, “well, I am a nobody and I can not do anything.” The one talent man (Matthew 25) was not condemned because he had only one talent, but because he did not use that talent. So we are to think soberly.  "But so to think as to think soberly, according as God has dealt to each man a measure of faith, for even as we have many members in one body."  Do you remember how Paul went into details in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians about how the body of Christ should be like the human body, every member cooperating and working together for the good of the whole body?  "For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office:  So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one to another."  We are to be our brother's keeper,  we are “severally members one to another.  And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophecy."   It does look like from that statement that there must have been some few, in the church at Rome, that already had miraculous gifts.  They could have received those miraculous gifts by the laying on of the apostles' hands, somewhere else, and then gone to Rome.  But remember in the first chapter, how Paul emphasized one of the reasons why he wanted to go to Rome was to give them some miraculous gifts to the end that they might be established.  "Whether prophecy, let us prophecy according to the proportion of our faith; or ministry, let us give ourselves to our ministry; or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth with dilegence; he that showeth mercy with cheerfulness" Prophecy was a miraculous gift, which enabled them (I Corinthians 14:5) to teach. Please remember that the New Testament had not been completed, and there is no indication that any church had a number of the books of the New Testament compiled in one volume. Ministry is not talking about preachers, but those who minister to the needs of others.  Whether it is in times of sickness, or in times of need, or whatever, there are those who are peculiarly qualified to take care of the needs of people and encourage them.  Some of the rest of us are not very good at that, and it looks like to me this passage is saying, consider what you can do well and try to really do well in that area.  Now, this does not mean that one person is to teach and another is to minister or serve the needs of others, and another is to give, and another to rule, and another to show mercy. But it is referring to how each person is to utilize those special abilities that he has. 


We know that Paul laid down the rule that “upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by himself in store as God hath prospered him (I Corinthians 16:1-2).  So on the first day of the week, all of us are under the responsibility of giving as we have been prospered, but there are some people that have real ability, business sense, whereby they can make a lot of money.  Some have peculiar ability to know what to do and when to do, and almost everything they put their hands to turns out well.  And then that may be one of the best ways that they can serve is by really give themselves to investments whereby they make a lot of money, and use that money then to preach the gospel, and other things that we are to do.  But his peculiar ability does not relieve any of the rest of us of the responsibility of giving as we have been prospered.  But for some one of the best ways they can serve the Lord is in that area of using their ability to make money and then using that money properly.  “He that giveth, let him do it with liberality.”  Let him be glad that he has been prospered and be glad to give.  "Let he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."  


Again, all of us are under responsibility to show mercy. James said, in James 2:13 “For judgment is with out mercy to him that hath showed no mercy; mercy glorieth against judgment.  This is a passage that all of us need to keep in mind.  We will do well if we could keep in mind the sense of it.  "For judgment is without mercy to him that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy glorieth against judgment."  Not any of us want to be judged on the basis of justice, do we?  All of us would be condemned if we are judged on the basis of just strict justice.  All of us need mercy!  And this passage is saying that in order to receive mercy, we must learn to show mercy.  “Mercy glorieth against judgment.”  And so here when he says that he that sheweth mercy, do it with cheerfulness, does not relieve the rest of us.  But there are those who have peculiar ability of showing mercy.  It may be that even Paul himself was not quite as merciful toward John Mark as he should have been.  But I guess on the other hand it was good for John Mark to have Barnabas who was ready to show mercy and to have Paul who was a little strict.  Probably both of them had to do for his well-being. 


Verse nine, "Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."  So let love be sincere, and real, and hate the wrong, and cleave to the good. If we hate evil we will turn away from evil. Proverbs 16:17 reads, "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil."  And remember that I Thessalonians 5:22 reads, “abstain from every form of evil or shun even the appearance of evil.”  One of the great dangers is for people to try to see how close they can get to evil without doing evil themselves.  We are to stay away.  We are to hate that way, and depart from it, and cleave to that which is good. 


Verse ten, "In the love of the brethren, be tenderly, affection one to another:  In honour preferring one another."  In short, if we love our brethren, as we ought, we are ready to put aside those things that do not matter in order to please and help our brethren.  We will give them first place.  "In diligence, be not slothful."  Again, we are to be good workers for the Lord.  A man who is lazy cannot serve the Lord properly.  "Fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer."  This is a parallel to the passage in I Thessalonians five, where he says “continue steadfastly in prayer.”  Well, our brethren in the main have said, that we should always be in a prayerful spirit or attitude, but I think if we just think about Acts 2:42, and “they continue steadfastly, in the apostles teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and in prayer.”  I think that passage pretty well interprets what these passages mean.  They observed the Lord's Supper, every time they were supposed to on the first day of each week.  In other words prayer, as I have already emphasized, is to be an everyday part of Christian living.  Some use prayer as somewhat as an emergency device.  "Communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality."  The word “communicating” means sharing or giving to the necessities of the saints.  "Given to hospitality,” means that matter of taking into your home, or whatever needs to be done for people, including strangers (III John 5-8).  I think today that some have the idea that anytime we invite a few of our closest friends over and have fellowship with them, and then expect them to invite us over, that that is hospitality.  Well, that is all right, but that is not the kind of hospitality that this passage is talking about or the statement in Hebrews 13:2, " Forget not to show love unto strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unaware (Genesis 18:1-10, 19:1-4)."  "Bless them that persecute you; and curse not."  There is no place for returning curse for curse or reviling for reviling, (I Peter 3:8-9) but we are to bless them that persecute us. 


Verse fifteen, "Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep."  Sometimes I think we do a better job with the latter part of verse fifteen than we do with the first part.  What do you think?  But we can be much happier if we learn to rejoice with all others around us when they have occasions to rejoice.  "Be of the same mind one toward another.  Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly."  I think I remember hearing, the late Brother A. M. Burton of Nashville, Tennessee, speak at Alabama Christian College. Brother Burton established an insurance company when he was a young man, and the company did well.  He became a rich man, and he got to thinking about this passage, as I remember him telling, and he and his wife decided that they would especially try to reach people, that were poor, the down trodden, and those in need, and they were very successful in doing so.  He was doing some good thinking, was he not?  “Set not your mind on high things, but condescend the things that are lowly.  Be not wise in your own conceits."  Anytime a man is wise in his own conceits, he is going the way of a foolish man. 


Verse seventeen, "Render to no man evil for evil."  Now, that does not come naturally, does it?  That is just a little bit contrary to human nature.  "Take thought for things honourable in the sight of all men."  Do you remember from I Corinthians 8:21 that sometimes it takes more effort to do things honorable in the sight of man than it does in the sight of God.  And so we are to do that which has approval, you know, as being honest and upright before men.  "If it be possible as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men."  Now, when we exhaust all possibilities, we may not be able to be at peace with some because some pretty much stay on the war path, but we are to do our part.  And just think in the area of marriage, if each spouse would do everything possible to keep peace, divorce would almost vanish. Avenge not yourselves beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God.  For it is written, vengeance belongeth unto me."  In other words anytime we try to take vengeance, we are getting out of proper place.  We are trying to take on God's responsibility, that belongs to him.  And, you know, that is pretty hard for us to get fully in mind that we have no right to take vengeance on anyone, and that includes all members of the family. Sometimes one member will “push the button” of another member, and then a tongue lashing battle occurs, but that is wrong. It violates Romans 12:19-20 even though it is in the family.  But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:  For in so doing shalt thou heap coals of fire upon his head."  The first part of verse twenty is a quotation from Proverbs 25:21. “For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head” simply means that when you return good for evil, if there is any humanity left in that fellow, it is going to help to change him, it will help to turn him around.  It may take awhile, but if there is any good thing left in him, after awhile he is going to have a change of heart.  And, of course, it does not mean taking vengeance, he has already told us not to do that.  "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."  We overcome evil with good when we turn around and do something good for that person that has tried to do harm to us.