The Triumph of the Gospel

July 18, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Romans 16:17-27 |


The Triumph of the Gospel | Romans 16:17-27
Brian Hedges | July 18, 2021

I want to invite you to turn in your Bibles to Romans 16. This is the very final sermon in a very long series through the book of Romans. It’s taken us quite a while; in fact, I think I’ve done about five shorter series through the book of Romans over maybe a decade so it’s been a long time since we were in Romans 1. But for the last 12 weeks or so we’ve been looking at Romans 12-16, which is really Christianity applied; it’s all about the application of the gospel to our lives.

Many of you will know that one of my favorite books is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and if you’ve ever read Lord of the Rings you know that in the third book, The Return of the King, when you get to end, it’s kind of anticlimactic, because it just feels like there’s an ending and then there’s another ending and then there’s another ending. It just takes a while. Even the movie feels this way. If you ever saw the movie, for the last 45 minutes it’s like, “When is this thing going to end?” The book is even worse. It feels kind of anticlimactic after this huge, epic adventure.

Some people may feel that way with the book of Romans, because the body of the letter actually ends in Romans 15:13 with this beautiful benediction we looked at a few weeks ago, and then you have a chapter and a half of travel plans and greetings and benedictions and doxologies, and then more instructions, and then another doxology. It seems like it takes a while for Paul to get to the end.

However, unlike Tolkien, this is God’s inspired word, and there are some real gospel treasures for us even in these closing 11 verses of Romans 16. I want to read it, and then I want you to see this morning how this closing of the letter really ties into the whole theme of this letter, which is, of course, the gospel of Jesus Christ. But let’s read Romans 16:17-27.

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
“I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.

“Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

This is God’s word, and that’s the end of the book of Romans.

What does it teach us? As you can see, this passage begins with a warning, then it includes a promise and a blessing in verse 20; then there are some greetings, and then it ends with a doxology. I’m not going to spend time on the greetings this morning, but on the rest of it I want you to see that it really does tie into the theme of the gospel, which is the theme of this letter. Paul begins the letter in Romans 1 calling himself an apostle who has been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I just read in our assurance of pardon, he declares—it’s basically the theme verse of Romans, Romans 1:16—that the gospel is the power of God for salvation.

Then, as you work through this letter, this letter shows us our need for the gospel because of our sin and our disobedience and our unrighteousness and how that subjects us to condemnation and the wrath of God. That’s the need for the gospel (Romans 1:18-3:20).

Then Paul talks about the revelation of the righteousness of God through faith in Christ and how that is supremely displayed in the cross and the resurrection of Christ, as Christ was delivered over for our trespasses and he was raised for our justification. That’s Romans 3-4.

Then he talks about the benefits of the gospel, that includes justification by faith in Christ and peace with God and hope in the glory of God and freedom from the bondage of sin and freedom from the law and from the condemnation of the law and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit transforming our lives (Romans 5-8).

Then he defends his gospel as he talks about God’s mysterious purpose according to election and God’s purpose for Israel and his plan to bring in the Gentiles (Romans 9-11).

Then in this series, as we’ve seen, he talks about the application of the gospel to our lives. The gospel calls us, the mercies of God call us to live lives of worship and of devotion to God, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to him. The gospel calls us to live lives of devotion to one another in love and in service in the church, and then to respond even to outsiders in the world—persecution, as well as living under a fallen human government. We are to do all of that as citizens of God’s kingdom, and we are to do it with love for our fellow men.

Then, of course, the gospel calls us to lay down our rights and our liberties and to serve one another. It defends the liberty of the Christian and at the same time tells us never to use our liberty to hurt one another, but in love we are to serve one another and care for one another. That’s Romans 14-15.

Then Paul talked about his travel plans, and it’s all about the gospel. He wants to take the gospel to Spain and he wants the Romans to help him; that’s the rest of Romans 15.

Here we are at the end of the letter, and in these closing paragraphs Paul still has the gospel on his mind. In fact, he refers to the gospel in verse 25, but really, everything he says ties into this basic theme of the letter. I think we can break it down in this way; I want you to see three things this morning: the threat to the gospel, the triumph of the gospel, and our response to the gospel.

1. The Threat to the Gospel

That’s the warning that you see in verses 17-19. It’s kind of interesting; this almost seems to sneak out of nowhere. Nobody’s really expecting this. In fact, some of the commentators who doubt the integrity of this epistle think that someone added this later on. There’s not really good evidence for that.

Instead, I think it’s right to read this as a legitimate warning from Paul to the church of Rome, and it’s a warning about the danger of false teachers, who will bring division into the church. Notice how he begins it in verse 17. He says, “I appeal to you, brothers [that includes, of course, the women, so brothers and sisters], to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught. Avoid them.”

It’s a call to watchfulness because of the threat of false teachers and the threat of division in the church. We don’t know exactly what the false teaching that Paul had in mind was; what we know is that it was contrary to the gospel. He says it was “contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught,” and of course, that doctrine is the doctrine of the gospel. So there’s false teaching contrary to the gospel, and it brings division into the church, and Paul says, “Avoid these people.”

He doesn’t tell us much about the doctrines themselves, but what he does do is he describes them in their character and in their motivations. He says two things about them in verse 18. First he tells us that they do not serve Christ, they serve themselves. Look at verse 18a. He says, “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.”

Listen, brothers and sisters; this is the tell-tale sign of a false teacher. They are not God-centered, they are self-centered. They are not in it for the glory of King Jesus, they are in it for themselves. They have their own agendas, they are slaves to their own desires, their own appetites. They do not serve our Lord Christ. This isn’t done for Jesus, it’s done for themselves.

It’s very similar to what Paul says in Philippians 3 when he describes the enemies of the cross of Christ. He says, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with their minds set on earthly things.” That’s basically the idea here. They don’t serve Christ, they serve their own appetites.

This is always a threat to the church. It’s certainly a threat when you have teachers and leaders in the church who are driven by their own selfish agendas, but it’s a threat with any of us. If we are in the church seeking a name for ourselves, seeking glory for ourselves and driven by our own selfishness rather than service to Christ, that’s a threat, that’s a danger; so Paul warns against that.

The second thing he says about the false teachers is that they deceive the naive with their persuasive words. Look at the second half of verse 18. He says, “. . . and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

This is the problem with false teachers: they are so persuasive. They sound so good. They are such good communicators. They’re able to camouflage the deception with very attractive, smooth talk, with flattery, with persuasive speech. Paul is warning the Romans against this. He does not want them to buy into this; instead, he wants them to have discernment. That’s what the call here is for.

You see that in verse 19, which includes both a commendation to the Romans and also a call to discernment. He says, “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you.” Remember that Paul actually had not met most of the believers in this church, but he knows them by reputation, so he says, “I rejoice that I know of your obedience, of your faithfulness, of your love for the Lord.” But, he says, “I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” I like the way the old Philips paraphrase puts it: “I want you to be experts in good and not even beginners in evil.” He wants them to flourish in their understanding of goodness. What is that? Well, it’s all the good that is included in the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of the gospel; but it’s God’s goodness.

I think that would embrace even goodness in creation, goodness in the created world. He wants them to flourish in goodness, but he wants them to be innocent when it comes to evil. He does not want them to be participants in evil.

It’s similar to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:16, when he said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

It’s a call to discernment because of the threat to the gospel from false teaching, a threat that can lead to division in the church.

Now, many of you have probably heard the story of Ulysses and the siege of the city of Troy. This comes from ancient Greek literature. For ten years Ulysses and his men tried to conquer the city of Troy, and they just couldn’t, until finally somebody came up with a brilliant plan.

The plan was to build a large, hollow, wooden horse in which they would hide a few soldiers, and they would leave it as a gift for the Trojans, for the city of Troy. Then Ulysses and his men went away for a brief period of time; it seemed like they had withdrawn from the city.

Sure enough, the Trojans took the bait. They saw this large horse, they brought it into the city, and then at night, when everybody was asleep, Ulysses’ men crept out of the horse, they opened the gates, the Greeks came in and devastated the city. Ever since then, the phrase “a Trojan horse” has represented infiltration, deception, subversion in the church.

In fact, we even use this today, don’t we, when we talk about computers? You may have a virus that’s called a Trojan horse, and it’s a virus that works to destroy your computer from the inside out.

False teaching and division is Satan’s Trojan horse in the church! It’s what he uses to bring division into the church and as a threat to the gospel. Paul is calling the Romans therefore us to be wary of this, to be on our guard.

How do we discern this? John Stott in his commentary suggests three very helpful tests, and he puts these in the form of questions. They have to do with—it’s basically a biblical test, a Christological test (that is, a test in relation to the person of Christ), and a moral test. These are the questions. Ask this of any doctrine, of any teaching, whether it’s theology or ethics practice—whatever it is, ask these three questions:

Does it agree with Scripture? That’s first. Brothers and sisters, this is our standard, right? This is our standard, and everything has to be in submission to Scripture. Does it agree with Scripture?
Number two: Does it glorify the Lord Jesus Christ? Teaching that does not glorify Christ is off base.
Thirdly, does it promote goodness? Does it lead to that which is good rather than to that which is evil?

Those are three good tests, three good questions that we should be asking.

2. The Triumph of the Gospel

There’s the threat to the gospel, but though this threat is always present for the church, we also have hope in the triumph of the gospel. That’s the second point, the triumph of the gospel. It’s just in verse 20, which includes both a promise and a blessing. The promise is this: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Here’s the blessing: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Now, that’s a very short verse, but one that we should not pass over too quickly, because in that first half of the verse, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet,” in that sentence is compressed a theology that really encompasses the storyline of Scripture.

Do you remember all the way back into the book of Genesis when you had the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, in the garden? You remember how they fell? Do you remember how sin entered into humanity, into our world? Sin came through the deception of the serpent, right? It begins this theme of a conflict between the forces of darkness and the forces of good, of light; the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of God in conflict with one another.

You may remember the protoevangelium, the first promise of the gospel in Genesis 3:15. It’s after Adam and Eve have sinned; God now comes to the garden and he speaks, and these are his words to the serpent. He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Most of the commentaries, at least the ones I’ve looked at, agree that when Paul says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet,” that it’s probably an allusion back to Genesis 3:15, because the serpent is to be understood as Satan, the adversary, the enemy of God, and when Paul says, “The God of peace will soon crush [him] under your feet,” he’s looking ahead to the final triumph of God over darkness and over evil.

You have the greatest expansion of this theme in the last book of the Bible, Revelation 12, where you have this cosmic warfare between heaven and earth. You may remember this, the story of a woman who’s about to have a child, and there is this dragon that is ready to devour the child as soon as it is born. Revelation 12:7-11 says this—it’s the cosmic scene of spiritual warfare—it says, “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” That verse is why we connect the serpent in Genesis 3 with the devil and with Satan and with the dragon in Revelation.

He’s thrown down, “the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” He was thrown down to earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Now listen to this, verse 10: “And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God, and they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word their testimony, for they loved not their lives, even unto death.”

Passages like that show us that the triumph of God over evil through Christ, through the gospel, is a triumph that will ultimately and finally be consummated when Jesus comes again, but it has been decisively won already through Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. They triumphed over him through the blood of the Lamb, because of what Christ did on the cross. In other words, this triumph comes in stages. While the decisive victory has already been won, we are still in a battle, and we are waiting for the final consummation.

Now, if you’ve been around Redeemer for a while you’ve probably heard me share this story before, but it will be new to a few of you. When I lived in Texas during my first pastorate, we were located in Texas “big country,” okay, which is kind of the Abilene area, and it’s basically ranch land, it’s a dry, barren wasteland, and it’s rattlesnake country. There are lots and lots and lots of rattlesnakes.

There was an old widow in our church whose name was Merlene. She was not in great health, so she rarely came to church, but I’d go visit her and talk to her, and she would just entertain me with stories of all the rattlesnakes that she’d killed over the years. One year she killed over 40 rattlers on her farm. This was a tough old lady, okay?

I was talking to Merlene one day, and she told me about a day when she came across a rattlesnake, and she didn’t have her hoe with her to cut off its head. She wouldn’t waste a bullet—she didn’t shoot snakes, she’d kill them with a hoe. She wasn’t going to waste a bullet on a snake. She didn’t have her hoe, so this is what she did: she took a big rock, a big boulder, and she dropped it on the snake and pinned it to the ground. Then she went back to her barn, she got her hoe, and she came back and she cut the head of the snake.

Ever since she told me that, I have thought that’s a great picture of what Christ has already done and what he will yet do. In his cross and resurrection, he has defeated Satan. The decisive victory has already been won. Satan is defeated; Jesus won. In a very real sense, the snake is pinned to the ground, but he’s still alive, and if you get too close to him he’ll bite you. Therefore, you have to be careful, you have to be wary, right? You be wary of the enemy.

But there is coming a day when, just like Merlene came back a second time with her hoe and took the head off that snake, there’s coming a day when Jesus will return and he will win the final victory once and for all, where Satan will be ultimately and finally defeated. That’s our hope! It’s the hope of the triumph of the gospel, and that’s what Paul means when he says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

I think one of the applications for us is just for us to think about the need for progressive victory over evil and darkness in our own lives in this present age. You may remember in Wesley’s Christmas carol “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” there are these lines:

“Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head—”

Bruise in us the serpent's head! Because the problem you see, it’s not just Satan out there, it’s the influence of darkness in our own hearts and lives. So the question is, where in your own heart and life do you need to stomp on the head of the snake? Where in your own heart and life is there a need to overcome evil with the power of the gospel?

In a church context, and in this context that Paul writes, it’s especially those kinds of sins that lead to division in the church; it’s the cliques, the silos, the party spirit. Like in Corinth, “I’m of Paul,” “I’m of Apollos,” “I’m of Cephas,” and so on. It’s that kind of attitude. Paul doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want divisiveness in the church, and it’s especially the self-centeredness and the lack of love and service for Christ. We are to put those things to death as we seek to glorify Christ, and we do that through the power of the gospel as we look back to what Jesus has already done and as we look forward to his final victory over evil.

I love those words of Luther from “A Mighty Fortress”:

“And though this world with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.”

What is that word? It is the word of the gospel, it is the truth of Jesus Christ.

We see the threat to the gospel, but we also see the triumph of the gospel. That’s our hope, the hope that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet.

3. Our Response to the Gospel

Finally, go to the last paragraph here, verses 25-27; we see our response to the gospel. In a word, the response is worship. It’s glory to God. Glory be to God because of what he has done for us through the gospel.

But Paul says more than just “glory be to God.” His doxologies are always loaded with theology. I think of it sort of like this: have you ever been exploring or on a vacation and you see some new, wonderful sight in the natural world? Maybe it’s a view, a vista in the mountains. You just have to stop and take it in. Or if you’ve ever seen the Grand Canyon, you just stop and you wonder at the whole for a minute, and then you start to notice particular aspects of the beauty of this landscape. I remember when I saw Victoria Falls in Africa years ago; just the spectacle of wonder. It just provokes this sense of awe, and then you see and you notice all of the specific details and the beauty of this sight.

Well, that’s what Paul is like in his doxology. There’s awe and there’s wonder, but as he expresses it he can’t help but share details. Actually, the details here in verses 25-27 are something like a summary of the main themes of his letter to the Romans. I want to read through it and just point these out, and I’ll use the phraseology here from John Stott; I think it’s very helpful. He points out how Paul, as he worships God, he attention to the power of God, the gospel of Christ, the evangelization of the nations, and the praise of God’s wisdom. Just notice each one of those things briefly.

(1) First of all, the power of God. Verse 25: “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ . . .” Who is this God that we worship? He is the God who is able; he has power; and he’s able to strengthen you. That is, he is able to use his power to empower you, to strengthen you.

That word “strengthen” is actually a technical term, or almost a technical term, that carries the idea of nurturing new believers and of strengthening and establishing the church. It’s a word that Luke uses over and again in the book of Acts to describe the work of the apostles in strengthening the church. In Acts 14, when Paul returns to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, it says he was “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Strengthening the church.

Paul says, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” How is it that God strengthens us? He strengthens us through the gospel, in accord with the gospel. It’s the word, the truth of God that strengthens and establishes the church. So it calls attention to the power of God.

(2) Secondly, to the gospel of Christ, also verse 25 and verse 26. “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed through the prophetic writings and has been made known to all nations . . .”

What is this gospel? Well, it’s first and foremost the preaching of Jesus Christ. You remember how Paul said to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” So it’s the preaching of Christ, but notice how he describes it. He describes “the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” What is that?

We know from other passages in Paul what he means when he talks about this mystery that has been revealed, this mystery that has been made known: it’s the mystery of the fullness of God incarnate in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1-2). It’s the mystery of the Gentiles who are made fellow heirs and fellow partakers with Jewish people in the family of God, so that you and I are brought into the family of God; God’s plan of salvation isn’t just for Israel, it’s for the world (Ephesians 3). It is the mystery of Christ’s love relationship with his church (Ephesians 5).

This mystery has been made known, it’s been revealed; what once was kept secret is no longer a secret, because through Christ, his ministry, his incarnation, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, his gift of the Spirit—through Christ now God’s plan is revealed. It’s also the plan to unite all things in heaven and earth under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10). That’s the mystery, and it’s been made known.

Notice also that Paul says, “It has now been disclosed, and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations.” What are those prophetic writings? The Old Testament Scriptures.

Paul says in Romans 3:21-22, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

It reminds me of what one theologian—I don’t remember who this was, maybe Augustine—described the Old Testament as a very well-furnished but dimly lit room, so that all the furniture’s there, but you can’t see things clearly. Then, in the New Testament, with the light of the gospel, there’s fuller revelation and we can understand what’s there.

Someone once said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

I think Paul’s words here show us that the Old Testament Scriptures are Christian Scriptures. We need the whole Bible, because the Old Testament points us to Christ, it is fulfilled in Christ as part of God’s word to us, and so we hang onto those Old Testament Scriptures, read in the light of God’s new covenant mercies, his new covenant promises that have been brought to us through Jesus Christ and through the gift of his Spirit. The gospel of Christ.

(3) The purpose of this is the evangelization of the nations. “It has now been disclosed, and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.” It connects us to the mission and missionary theme of this letter that we saw in Romans 15, and you can see it in Romans 10 and all the way back in Romans 1:5, where Paul says he has received grace and apostleship “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of the name among all the nations.” Our job is to take this gospel to the world, to all the peoples of the world.

(4) All of this is for, ultimately and supremely, the glory of God—verse 27—the praise of God’s wisdom. “To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ. Amen.” That’s our response! Our response to the gospel is to glorify God, to worship God. It’s the only appropriate response when we consider the wonder, the beauty, the glory of the gospel.

This doxology, of course, recalls Romans 11:33-36. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him, that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things; to him be glory forever. Amen.”

Brothers and sisters, these doxologies remind us that there is meant to be an intimate and unbreakable tie, a connection between the doctrine that we believe and the devotion we express, between theology and doxology, between the word and worship; so that any understanding of the gospel that does not lead us to overflow in worship and in praise of this God, who in his wisdom sent his Son to be the sacrifice for our sins, who has sent his Spirit to transform our hearts—if it doesn’t lead to worship, we haven’t understood it yet, we haven’t grasped it yet. The only right response to this book, to the book of Romans and the mercies of God included in it, is to worship God by giving our lives to him as living sacrifices, as Romans 12 says.

This is a real test for us as a church. Do we worship this God who has been revealed and this God who has revealed himself through the gospel?

Let me summarize and conclude with just three brief applications. We’ve looked at the threat to the gospel, the triumph of the gospel, our response to the gospel; here are basically the same three points, but in application form. Three things for us as a church.

(1) Number one, be watchful. There are threats, there is false teaching, and there is always the possibility and the threat of division. I’ve emphasized it again and again, not because we’re fractured and about to split or anything like that, but because as a pastor it’s one of my greatest concerns, to see this church continually together towards one another, uniting around the heart of the gospel and not dividing over the many possible things that could divide us. Let’s be united in the gospel and let’s be watchful of anything that would lead to division.

(2) Number two, be hopeful, because the decisive victory has already been won, and someday Satan will be vanquished once and for all. God’s kingdom will triumph.

(3) Number three, be worshipful. Worship the God of the gospel, the God of peace, as he’s called in verse 20; the God of power who’s able to strengthen you, verse 25; and the God of wisdom, verse 27.

A hymn-writer put it well. Let me end with these words:

“How great the wisdom and the love
That filled the courts on high
And sent the Savior from above
To suffer, bleed, and die.

“His precious blood he freely spilt,
His life he freely gave;
A sinless sacrifice for guilt,
A dying world to save.

“By strict obedience Jesus won
The prize with glory rife.
‘Thy will, O God, not mine, be done,’
Adorned his mortal life.”

Hear these words as we come to the Lord’s table:

“In memory of the broken flesh
We eat the broken bread,
And witness with the cup afresh
Our faith in Christ, our Head.

“How great, how glorious, how complete
Redemption’s grand design!
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine.”

Brothers and sisters, when we think about the beauty, the glory, the wonder of what Christ has done, what God has done to redeem us, the only appropriate response is worship. So let’s worship him.

Father, we thank you for your word, we thank you for this wonderful letter inspired by your Spirit and given to us through the mind and the words of the apostle Paul. We thank you for all of the glory that it contains and the many ways that it enlightens us and points us to the work of Jesus Christ as our substitute, our Savior, our representative, the one who justifies us through his blood. Lord, we worship you and we glorify you.

I pray that as we come to the Lord’s table this morning, that we would come with love for you in our hearts and with deep trust in what you have done for us through Christ and through your Spirit. I pray that we would come in real fellowship with you, that we would come as participants in the body and the blood of Christ, and that we would enjoy union and communion with our Savior. So draw near to us.

Lord, if there are any here this morning who have never believed this gospel, have never really embraced it for themselves, I pray that today would be the day of salvation, and that even now they would turn to you. So come minister to us, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.