Romans 15:30
St. Paul has been stating his plans as regards the future, and especially regarding his intended visit to Rome. There is much that is uncertain. But one thing was a certainty to him. "I am sure that, when I come to you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." Had Paul any grounds for this expectation? Was his confidence warranted by facts? Let us see. About two years after this he came to Rome a prisoner. What was his chief occupation then? Preparing his defence? No. "Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him ' (Acts 28:31). There were two elements in his confident expectation.

I. HIS CONFIDENCE IN THE BLESSING OF THE GOSPEL. "The fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." St. Paul felt that the best blessing he could bring to any city, or any people whom he visited, was the blessing of the gospel. Four features in the gospel have made it a blessing to the world.

1. It is a gospel of love and mercy. This was a new message to the world. What a contrast to the cruel gods of heathenism is the merciful God whom the gospel proclaims!

2. It is a gospel of salvation. It not only shows us the evil of sin and the guilt of it, but it tells us of a Saviour. Here is its transcendent superiority over the best of the heathen religions. Not only so, but the Saviour of whom it speaks is a Divine Saviour. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through him.

3. It is a gospel of everlasting life. What hopes it opens up! What a stimulus it gives us to exertion to remember that they that are faithful unto death shall receive the crown of life that fadeth not away! It teaches us that this life is eternal in its consequences, and thus exercises a purifying and elevating influence upon the lives of men. What comfort it brings to the bereaved to know that the grave does not end all, but that there is another and a better life beyond! The hope of the agnostic has recently been expressed in a popular novel, 'John Ward, Preacher.' The heroine expresses her hope for the future by speaking of it as "an eternal sleep." Where is the stimulus to exertion there? Where is there any comfort for the bereaved? When death is drawing nigh, the dying Christian and those who are to be left behind can appreciate the blessing of that gospel which has brought life and immortality to light.

4. It is a gospel of light and guidance. It points out to us the path of duty. It gives us not only wise precepts, but the personal example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here also it transcends all human systems of religion and morality. The best of human teachers have not been free from imperfection and sin. Christ alone can truly say, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." He alone has the right to say to us - a right vindicated not only by his Divine authority, but by his perfect character - "Follow me." The influence of Jesus Christ and his example is one of the most precious blessings of the gospel. In the year 1876 the centennial of the United States was celebrated. General Grant was then president. The editors of the Sunday School Times wrote to him, requesting him to give them a message for children and youth in their centennial number. In his reply he said, "My advice to Sunday schools, no matter of what denomination, is - Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties, write its precepts on your hearts, and practise them in your lives. To the influence of this book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future." He, too, had confidence in the gospel, and in the blessings which it brings to the individual and the nation.

II. HIS CONFIDENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN'S POWER TO COMMUNICATE THIS BLESSING. The apostle's words express not only his belief in the blessing of the gospel, but also his confidence that he can and will communicate that blessing. "I am sure that, when I crone to you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." And yet it was not a confidence in self, in his own lemming or eloquence. It was a confidence in Christ. He knew whom he had believed. Twenty-five years he had been serving him, and he had more than once proved the Divine power of Christ's presence and help. Our power to communicate the blessings of the gospel depends on two things.

1. A personal knowledge of the gospel.

2. Constant communion with Christ. A life of prayer is indispensable if we would live a life of usefulness. These two things, personal knowledge of the gospel and personal communion with Christ, will make us independent of time and circumstances. They impart strength and confidence. It was all the same to St. Paul how or when he went to Rome. As if he said, "No matter how, no matter when I come to you, one thing I am sure of, that I shall bring the rich blessing of Christ's gospel with me." As a matter of fact, he came there as a prisoner, but even thus he brought a blessing. Whether we are rich or poor, learned or unlearned, we shall be sure to carry a blessing to the circles in which we move, if only we have first of all experienced the power of the gospel in our own hearts, and then realize our constant dependence upon Christ. There are two ways in which we can communicate this blessing.

1. By our Christian character. The Corinthian Christians became living epistles (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3). Their changed life was a remarkable testimony to the power of the gospel.

2. By our personal testimony. If we know by personal experience the preciousness of Christ and the blessings of the gospel, let us be more ready to proclaim them to others. - C.H.I.







Now I beseech you... that ye strive together with me in your prayers.
Observe —

I. THE APOSTLE'S REQUEST — that they would pray for him. Especially for —

1. His protection.

2. The success of his mission.

II. THE ARGUMENTS HE USES.

1. For Christ's sake; for the love of Christ, that His cause might be promoted, etc.

2. For the love of the Spirit, wrought in us, exhibited to us.

III. THE ANTICIPATED RESULT.

1. A prosperous journey to Rome.

2. The mutual joy and edification of all.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The apostle of the Gentiles held a very useful and glorious office; but when we consider his struggles, we do not wonder that he was sometimes in great sorrow of heart. He was so now. So he wrote to his brethren to pray for him. Does it astonish you that a man so rich in grace should do so? It need not; for such always feel most their dependence upon God's people. The larger a man's trade, the more he is dependent upon those around him. The apostle did a great business for his Lord, and he felt that he could not carry it on unless he had the co-operation of many helpers. "He did not want what are called "hands" to work for him, but hearts to plead for him. In a great battle the general's name is mentioned; but what could he have done without the common soldiers? Wellington will always be associated with Waterloo; but, after all, it was a soldiers' battle. Every minister is in much the same condition as Paul. In the text there is —

I. PRAYER ASKED FOR. Here is —

1. A request to the people of God for prayer in general.(1) He asks it for himself. It reminds us of Carey, who says, when he goes to India, "I will go down into the pit, but brother Fuller and the rest of you must hold the rope." A man cannot be charged with egotism if he begs for personal support when he is labouring for others.(2) He asks it of his "brethren." He seems to say, "Shew this token of your brotherhood. You cannot go up with me to Jerusalem, and share my danger, but you can by your prayers surround me with Divine protection."(3) He asks them to "agonise" — that is the word, a reminder of the great agony in Gethsemane. The apostle felt that an agony alone was too bitter for him, and he therefore cries, "I beseech you," etc. Now, as the disciples ought to have sympathised with the Saviour, but did not, I trust that the unfaithfulness to the Master will not be repeated upon His servants. "When the uplifted hands of Moses are known to bring a blessing, Aaron and Hur must stay them up when they are seen to grow weary.(4) He asks, "for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake." What an argument! As you cannot repay what you owe to Christ personally, repay it to His servant by your prayers. But he adds another argument. "For the love of the Spirit." If the Spirit of God has indeed loved you and proved it by quickening and sanctifying you; if He has created a love in you, which is stronger than mere natural affection, then pray for me. Why do you think the apostle at that special time asked these brethren to pray for him so?(a) He was going up to Jerusalem, and the Jews would seek to slay him; but he believed that God could overrule all things. We believe this; therefore let us pray that all opposition to His gospel may be overcome.(b) He was afraid that the Jewish believers would be cold to him, and therefore prays that the Spirit may warm their hearts, so that the offerings from the Grecian Churches might foster a sense of hearty fellowship. Do you not also believe that there is not only a Providence that shapes our ends, but a secret influence which moulds men's hearts? Therefore we urge you to plead with God that we also may have acceptance with His people.

2. A statement of the apostle's desires in detail. We should pray for something distinctly. Some prayers fail from want of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anyhow. Paul gives his friends three things to pray for:(1) That he might be delivered from them that did not believe in Judaea. He was delivered, but not in the manner he hoped for. Against all oppositions from without let us pray.(2) That his service which he had for Jerusalem might be accepted of the saints. This also was granted.(3) That he might come unto them with joy by the will of God; and might, with them, be refreshed. This petition also was heard, but not as Paul might have desired. He did come to them according to-the will of God, and may have been on his way to Spain, but certainly he was on his way to prison, as he had not purposed. Therefore pray for a blessing, and leave the way of its coming to the good Lord who knoweth all things.

II. THE BLESSING GIVEN.

1. Paul, with all his anxiety to gain the prayers of his friends, cannot finish without a benediction upon them.(1) "Now the God of peace." What a blessed name! In the Old Testament He s the "Lord of Hosts"; but that is never the style in the New Testament.(2) "Be with you," not only "peace be with you," but, better far, the source and fountain of peace. When "the God of peace" makes peace with Himself, and so keeps our minds at peace within, He also creates peace with one another.(3) "With you all," not with some of you, with Priscilla and Aquila, but with Mary, Amplias, etc. Unless all are at peace, none can be perfectly quiet. One brother who is quarrelsome can keep a whole Church in trouble.

2. Paul seems to imply that this will be the result of their prayer. If you will but strive together with me in your prayers, then the God of peace will be with you. We may view it as the reward of such prayer, or as a necessary condition and cause of true prayer.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE OBJECT OF THE APOSTLE'S REQUEST — the prayers of the people. Observe the importunity of his spirit, and the fervency of his manner. Ministers need the prayers of their people, if we consider them —

1. As men. They are men of like passions with ourselves, and are surrounded by manifold temptations.

2. As Christians. They want refreshing with the same water, and stand in need of the same heavenly food as you do.

3. As officers of the Church — as stewards of the mysteries of God.

4. Their work — to negotiate matters with others on behalf of God.

5. Their danger. They are on a hill, and far more the objects of observation than others. A failure in an ordinary member is a serious matter, and is often attended with distress; but a failure in a minister is attended with more serious consequences.

6. Their responsibility.

II. THE PLEASING EMERGENCY ON WHICH HE FOUNDS IT.

1. "For the Lord Jesus Christ's sake." The honour of Christ is bound up with the success of the ministry of the gospel. So the apostle appealed for prayer, not for his own sake, though he might have put it upon that ground, but for his Master's.

2. "For the love of the Spirit."(1) The love which the Spirit has wrought in us. Love to God, to ministers, to souls, is but a feeling which has been wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.(2) The love which the Spirit has to us. We are in the habit of underrating this love. We dwell on that of the Father, and the Son; but we seldom dwell on the love of the Spirit. And yet that love is most manifest. He strives with us, bears with us, checks us in our wanderings, and creates us anew.

III. THE SPECIFIC END WHICH HE HAD IN VIEW.

1. Mutual joy. Ministers sometimes come in fear and in sorrow.

2. Mutual improvement. "That I with you may be refreshed."

(J. Beaumont, M.A.)

The love of the Spirit
I. THE IMPORT OF THE EXPRESSION HERE USED. It may mean either the love, of which the Spirit is the author in the heart of the believer; or the love of which the Spirit is Himself the object; or most probably, the love which the Spirit bears to them that believe.

II. "THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT" AS A MOTIVE TO CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE. The Spirit shows love, as much as the Father or the Son; and the love of the Spirit is as much a motive to duty as the grace of Christ itself. As the love of Christ is displayed chiefly in an external work, so the love of the Spirit is exhibited in His internal operation on the soul. In order to illustrate this love; consider —

1. The absence of anything on our part fitted to attract that Holy Agent. "Not of works, but of His mercy, He saves us by the renewing of the Holy Spirit." That the Spirit of God should dwell in a holy mind may be well believed; but what manner of love was this which impelled the Spirit to inhabit such a mind as that of the natural man!

2. The fruits of the Spirit; "love, joy, peace," etc., of what high value are these!

3. The happiness imparted by the Spirit. The word of promise has no power to comfort until it is applied by the Spirit of promise. If we abound in hope, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is emphatically the Comforter; no true joy without His influence; and He is the grand and only preparation for eternal happiness.

4. This love is displayed in His continual operation on the heart, amidst so much opposition, and so much ingratitude.

III. IMPROVEMENT. Surely we should —

1. Show returns of love to this Spirit of love.

2. Show ourselves meek and docile to such a Teacher and Guide, and prize His influence.

3. Vindicate His character from all low notions of His person, dignity, power and importance.

4. Pray in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, war after the Spirit.

(R. Hall, M.A.)

Consider this —

I. IN THE FORMS OF ITS EVIDENCE.

1. The dictation of the Holy Scriptures. "Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Had His influences been withholden, there would have been no Bible; and without the Bible think of the hopeless wretchedness in which we should have been plunged.

2. His teachings. For however incomparable the blessed Book may be of itself, yet in the spirituality of its particular meanings, it can only be understood and realised through the same power that produced it. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."

3. His work in relation to the Saviour who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, anointed by Him and filled with Him without measure.

4. His offices which He fills, and the provisions which He makes for us, answering to the spiritual necessities of our nature. Convincing of sin, converting, witnessing, sanctifying, comforting, etc.

II. ITS OBJECT. Not that His own happiness may be advanced by it, nor that it was forced into exercise by any worthiness of ours. No; as it sprung spontaneously out of the law of His own nature — for "God is love" — so it disinterestedly devoted itself to the promotion of our present and immortal good.

III. THE EFFECTS IT SHOULD PRODUCE.

1. Love begets love; and surely we should do Him all the honour we can.

2. A humble and unreserved dependence upon Him.

3. An excitement to our prayers.

4. A sincere purpose, an energetic endeavour, to avoid all that will vex and grieve the Holy Spirit.

5. A full display of the graces of the Spirit in our lives.

(T. J. Judkin, M. A.)

The Bible is emphatically a revelation, and not an argument; its teachings are dogmatic and absolute. You look in vain in the Bible for anything like an elaborate argumentation to prove the doctrine of the Trinity. The inspired writers everywhere take it for granted. Deny it, and there are profound mysteries which perplex us all. A truth also equally clear in the Scriptures is this, that the Three Persons of the Godhead are equally interested in the great scheme of human redemption.

I. HIS RESTRAINING LOVE. All men are everywhere wicked in heart and life, tyrannised over by the sin which dwells within them. They might be worse; men feel that they are not left to the uncontrolled power of the evil passions; they are conscious of an opposite power. Even savages and cannibals — the most degraded and ignorant of our race — testify that they are conscious of some power beside an evil one acting upon them. And hence the idea obtains in a large portion of the heathen world that there must be two divinities — a bad and a good divinity; and this is the only way in which they can account for the great truth of which they are conscious. It is not the mere fruit of fancy. And this is also true of ourselves. How many evils have been averted, how many bad passions have been restrained, how many schemes of wickedness have been overthrown by the direct action of the Holy Ghost on men's minds, no man can possibly tell. A gigantic scheme of wickedness is concocted by half-a-dozen persons; but previous to its consummation, one of the company has a strange sense of uneasiness which he cannot help, and he is restless by day and night. His wife or his nearest friend observes there is something on his mind. But the restlessness grows upon him, the man is miserable. Now, what ails the man? Who has caused him to stagger in his fiendish enterprise? No human voice reasoned with him; it is the Holy Ghost in love that acted directly without any human agency upon that man's conscience and heart. A man is studying to commit murder. The would-be murderer lies under the shadow of the tree waiting for his intended victim. By and by he hears the sounds of human footsteps — a strange irresolution paralyses him — and instead of springing forward to execute his purpose, he falls back powerless. Again I say, what ails the man? What has acted upon his mind? No human being has reasoned with him; but he is so acted upon by the direct agency of the Holy Ghost. Oh! just think for a moment what would have been the state of the world now if all the evil passions of men had been carried out to the utmost.

II. THE LOVE OF THE SPIRIT CONVICTING. The provisions of redemption are ample, and there is no want that we can feel, but what is filled by Christ Jesus. But there are difficulties that stand in the way. Man does not feel his need of these provisions, man is not conscious that he requires a Saviour, he does not entertain the same views of sin that God does, and he thinks he can do without redemption. "Oh!" he says, "sin is only a harmless gratification of human passions, over which I am not responsible, which were born with me into the world." And so men do not see any grandeur and reality in the scheme of redemption. Man plays gaily and foolishly on the verge of an awful precipice in a blindfolded condition, and knows not the terrible death under his feet. If you would make him watchful, and to turn away from the verge of that danger, you must convince him there is danger. Man will never seek liberty until he is convinced of his bondage; he will never seek or appreciate the remedy until he is made conscious of his disease. Who is to awake his mind and give him this sight, and thus prepare him for the reception of mercy? It is the Holy Ghost, and He, out of love to us, has made suitable provision for bringing home to individual consciences the sense of sin and danger. He has embodied for us God's thoughts, which man could never have discovered, and has raised up men to commit these thoughts to writing, and has raised up a succession of men to apply these truths. He does not, for instance, convince the drunkard of drunkenness, or the blasphemer of blasphemy. That is not the mode in which the Spirit operates on human consciences. But He convinces men of the sinfulness of their nature, that sin is in them; generally speaking, the light is shed inwardly, and the man sees himself, not his life, and he is horrified. If the Holy Ghost awakens within you a sense of sinfulness, He does not rest there, but reveals to you at the same time a remedy, and that you must perish, not because you have sinned, but because you reject the only Saviour from sin. It is a rough process, and God has rough mercies as well as tender mercies. But there is another difficulty in the way. Even when man is convinced of his sin and danger, Jesus is not the first remedy that he repairs to, as a rule. There is something so humiliating in being saved by another, that a man will try a variety of ways before he submits to God's way. He will give up a bad habit, hope to reform himself, and thus divide the glory of salvation with Jesus by doing a little for himself; and it is the Holy Ghost who follows the sinner in his wanderings, drives him out of these false refuges. It is the love of the Holy Ghost, as though driving a man into the only path which will lead him into immortality and blessedness.

III. THERE IS THE FORBEARING LOVE OF THE SPIRIT. A mother displays a vast amount towards her child, when she watches the sickly infant by day and by night. No doubt that is a high manifestation of love, because it is shown while the child is not capable of appreciating that affection, but it is not the highest. That child grows up to youth and manhood, and he becomes a profligate, and, not only neglectful, but positively cruel. She cannot cast him out of her heart, she yearns for him still, and nothing would rejoice the mother more than to see the lad return. And such is the love of the Holy Ghost. It is a love which survives ingratitude, insult, rebellion, blasphemy. He presents Himself to you again and again, not for the purpose of asking a gift, but of conferring one. If you were in a condition of temporal distress, and a neighbour heard of it who knew nothing about you, and out of pure benevolence offered to alleviate your sorrow, you would feel you were not capable of saying — "I will not accept his offer, but prefer to remain in my condition." And if you did refuse his offer of assistance, the benefactor would not be very likely to offer himself another time. No, humanity would say, "such a wretch as that deserves no relief; let him alone." And this is the conduct of some of you towards the Holy Ghost. His forbearance is Divine, but it has limits.

IV. HIS CONDESCENDING LOVE. Now the work of Christ has relation to the Lawgiver; the work of the Spirit has relation to the law breaker. Jesus Christ had to offer a demand to the satisfaction of the Lawgiver, but the Holy Spirit has to come and make the sinner willing to accept of the provision. The blessed Saviour had no difficulty in persuading the Father to accept of His substitution on behalf of humanity. But here lies a sad truth. When the Holy Ghost comes to man, He finds it difficult to persuade man to accept of the provisions of Christ, and yet He condescends to repeat His visit. You admire the condescension of a man like Howard, who penetrated distant countries, and exposed himself to rude insults, who entered hospitals and prisons, and visited the guilty and degraded. But what shall we say of the condescending love of the Holy Ghost, when we remember the theatre He has selected for His signal action, for His most powerful operations. It is a stupendous exhibition of the condescending love for that Spirit to come down and live for hundreds and thousands of years in the vilest place in the universe — the heart of humanity.

(R. Roberts.)

That I may be delivered
How different is this from the language of Ignatius, who seemed rather to call for the prayers of his brethren, that he might be honoured with a crown of martyrdom, than to be preserved from his enemies. Christians ought to be willing to give their lives for Christ rather than deny Him or refuse to do any part of His known will. But it is not only lawful but dutiful to take every proper means for their deliverance out of danger. If even an apostle, in the cause of Christ, was so desirous of preserving life, what shall we think of those who profess a spirit of indifference respecting it, which would wantonly throw it away?

(R. Haldane.)

I. DELIVERANCE FROM THEM THAT BELIEVE NOT. Because —

1. They hate the truth.

2. Interpose difficulties.

3. Prevent success.

II. ACCEPTANCE WITH THE CHURCH. Because —

1. It encourages zeal.

2. Makes labour delightful.

3. Insures prosperity.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed
(inaugural sermon):

I. ON WHAT GROUNDS? I have come — "by the will of God."

1. In planning his own movements, Paul exercised Christian common-sense. Thus his work was distinguished from that of Peter, etc. (Galatians 2:9). Thus he abstained from Jerusalem and Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:23), and varied his plans. But he ever consulted the will of God, and found it sometimes identical with his own, and sometimes not (2 Corinthians 1:17; Acts 16:7). He was sure he ought to see Rome (Acts 19:20), and long desired it (ver. 23), and prayed for it (Romans 1:10; Romans 15:30). Yet he found that God's will was different from his as to time and manner.

2. The will of God is that which He sees best to be done, or to be, for all creatures. Every star that shines is an embodied will of God. But there is a higher region of intelligence and love. Nature is blindly obedient. Far above it are the hosts that are little miniatures of God. Christ could ask for nothing more than that, as in heaven, so on earth, God's will might be done.

3. Now, it is the privilege of a Christian not only to have the written will of God in general, but to be able also to ascertain God's will as to our separate movements. This was afforded to Israel by the "pillar of cloud and fire," and is not less so now. Let a man do three things — clear his heart of self-will; use his best judgment, aided by counsel; and pray. And is it presumptuous to believe that through the blended circumstances, the many counsels and prayers, I am here by the will of God?

II. WITH WHAT PURPOSE? Note —

1. The sphere within which the effect of the ministry is to be sought. The pastor aims at an effect on the spirit of man. When the six days have run you down; when your spirit is weary, dull, and almost without holy thought or desire, you need, and I hope, will find rest and refreshment here.

2. The identity of the preacher's experience and his hearers'. I preach not a Saviour that I do not need myself. "With you" I come to "be refreshed"; with the same nature and needs, and to the same supply. In this identity lies one of the chief charms of the ministry.

III. IN WHAT MOOD? "With joy." There is in the responsibilities of the ministry much to oppress. Yet I do come with joy —

1. That there is such refreshment provided for weary souls.

2. That I am permitted the honour of ministering the same, and to stand in the happy relationship which never fails to rise out of a faithful ministry.

3. That the Lord Himself will be with us.

4. In hope of the final joy of the Lord. Conclusion: All this turns on one condition. Paul did not hope for it in his case apart from prayer (vers. 30-33).

(S. Hebditch.)

I. NEEDED.

1. The Christian is often —

(1)Weary.

(2)Hungry.

(3)Thirsty.

2. This arises from —

(1)The labour and conflict of life.

(2)The world's spiritual barrenness.

II. PROVIDED.

1. In the means of grace — prayer, hearing, reading, singing, partaking of the Lord's Supper, and in Christian fellowship (Proverbs 27:17).

2. By Christ Himself. "Come unto Me," etc. (Psalm 23; Mark 6:31).

III. SHOULD BE ENJOYED.

1. The consequences of its enjoyment.

(1)Augmented strength.

(2)Invigorated courage.

(3)Happy feelings.

2. The consequences of its neglect.

(1)Feebleness.

(2)Fear.

(3)Misery.

(J. W. Burn.)

Now the God of peace be with you all
Whatever may be the amount of agitation in the universe, there is one Being without one ripple upon the clear and fathomless river of His nature. Three things are implied in this. That there is nothing —

I. MALIGN IN HIS NATURE. Wherever there is jealousy, wrath, or malice, there can be no peace. Malevolence in any form or degree is soul-disturbing. In whatever mind it exists it is like a tide in the ocean, producing eternal restlessness, But the Infinite heart is love.

II. REMORSEFUL. Wherever conscience accuses of wrong there is no peace. Moral self-complaisance is essential to spirit peace. God has never done wrong, and His infinite conscience smiles upon Him and blesses Him with peace.

III. APPREHENSIVE. Wherever there is a foreboding of evil, there is a mental disturbance. Fear is essentially an agitating principle. The Infinite has no fear. He is the absolute master of His position.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

I.HIS NATURE is peace.

II.HIS PURPOSE is peace.

III.HIS PRESENCE secures peace.

1. In every heart.

2. Among Christian brethren.

3. From foes without.

4. Under all circumstances.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. GOD IS THE ORIGINAL POSSESSOR OF THIS BLESSING, IN ITS ETERNAL AND INFINITE FULNESS. In the Divine nature all is in harmony, because all is perfect. Truth, justice, wisdom, and goodness, are in the nature of things consistent with themselves and with each other. If it were possible for the infinite nature to be swayed by storms of passion, and changed by course of time and events, for the hand that upholds all worlds to tremble — even the destruction of all worlds would be a less calamity than this. But this is the one grand impossibility; "Though we believe not, He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself." And since there is no discord, strife or change in His nature, these must arise from something contrary to it. He can have no delight in them. His works must reflect His character, and He must delight to fill and bless the hearts of His creatures with the image of His own Divine peace.

II. GOD IS THE AUTHOR AND GIVER OF PEACE.

1. Between Himself and His sinful creatures. The first announcement of the gospel was "Peace on earth," its first invitation, "Acquaint thyself with Him, and be at peace." The Word of God sounds, indeed, an awful note of alarm against those who are resting in a false peace. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." But this is only like the cry of "fire!" when you are asleep, and your roof is burning over you; or of "breakers a-head!" when your ship is driving on towards a lee shore. You are told your danger that you may escape it. If you will lay down your arms and fling open the gates to receive your King, He will enter, not as an Avenger or a Judge, but a Redeemer and Friend (Isaiah 1:19). Peace with God's law, or in other words, freedom from condemnation, is the first blessing which the gospel offers. As soon as we believe in it, it is ours (1 John 1:9; Romans 5:1). The cause of this exercise, of God's pardoning mercy, is His love to His guilty child. And the end for which it is bestowed is to bring back the estranged heart, and fill it with love to Him. So the peace which God offers is not merely peace with the law, but peace with Himself.

2. God makes the heart at peace with itself. The carnal heart is at enmity not only with God, but with itself. Pleasure it may have, but not peace. Sin has destroyed the balance of our nature, which only the influence of God's Spirit can either preserve or restore. The love of God being absent, the ruling affection of the soul is wanting. First, the word of Christ applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, brings back God to the throne of the heart, and love to Him becomes the ruling affection. Next, this puts the law of God in a wholly new light. Its condemning terror being taken away by the blood of the Cross, we find that, instead of an enemy, it is a friend. So the schism between duty and inclination, law and love, conscience and will, is healed. Then, as nothing so divides the soul as the multitude of varying aims, and nothing so unites it as to have all its powers absorbed in one practical pursuit; the gospel gives us a single object, and that the noblest to live for — the glory of Christ; and a single hope, and that the most precious and certain — eternal life in inseparable union with Christ and His Church.

3. When the soul is thus at peace with God, and at peace with itself, it is comparatively an easy thing to keep it at peace in the midst of all outward causes of trouble. He could easily, if He pleased, keep us out of the reach of trouble; but He sees it fitter and happier to make us experience His power to give peace in the midst of it. He has given us our hope in Him "as the anchor of the soul," and He will have it proved in the storm. And the greatest triumph of Divine peace is that which our Saviour promises, "These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might have peace" (Isaiah 26:3).

4. The fullest manifestation of God's character as the God of peace is to be revealed and enjoyed hereafter. There is a world of peace. There remaineth a rest for the people of God.

(E. R. Conder, D.D.)

Note —

I. THE TITLE. Mars amongst the heathens was called the god of war; Janus was worshipped in periods of strife; but our God styles Himself the God of peace. Although He permits war sometimes for necessary purposes, and has even styled Himself the Lord, mighty in battle, yet His holy mind abhors bloodshed. Peace is His delight.

1. This is so with all the Persons in the Trinity.(1) God the Father is the God of peace, for He planned the great covenant of peace; He justifies, and thereby implants peace in the soul.(2) God the Son is the God of peace; for "He is our peace," etc. He makes peace between God and man, in the conscience and in the heart, and in the Church.(3) The Holy Ghost is the God of peace. He of old brought peace out of confusion, by the brooding of His wings. So in dark chaotic souls He is the God of peace. When by earthly cares we are tossed about, He says, "Peace be still." He it is who on the Sabbath-day brings His people into a state of serenity. And He shall be the God of peace at life's latest hour, and land us save in heaven.

2. He is the God of peace because —(1) He created nothing but peace. See if in the great harp of nature there is one string which when touched by its Maker giveth forth discord; see if the pipes of this great organ do not all play harmoniously! When God made the angels did He fashion one of them with the least ill-will in His bosom? Go into the Garden of Eden: there is nothing of tumult.(2) He restores it. Nothing shows a man to be much fender of peace than when he seeks to make peace. "Blessed are the peacemakers." God is the great Peacemaker. When Satan fell, there was war in heaven. God made peace there, for He smote Satan. But when man fell, God made peace not by His power, but by His mercy.(3) He is the Preserver of peace.(a) Whenever I see peace in the world, I ascribe it to God. So combustible are the materials here that I am ever apprehensive of war. "Whence come wars and fightings? Come they not from your lusts?" If, then, we desire peace between nations, let us seek it of God, who is the great Pacificator.(b) There is an inward peace which God alone can keep. Is thy peace marred? Go to God, and He can say, "Peace, be still"; for He is the God of peace.(4) He shall perfect and consummate it at last. There is war in the world now; but there is a time coming when there shall be peace on earth and throughout all God's dominions.

II. THE BENEDICTION.

1. Its necessity. Because there are enemies to peace always lurking in all societies.

(1)Error.

(2)Ambition. "Diotrephes loveth to have the pre-eminence," and that fellow has spoiled many a happy Church.

(3)Anger.

(4)Pride.

(5)Envy.

2. Its appropriateness. We indeed ought to have peace amongst ourselves. Joseph said to his brethren when they were going home to his father's house, "See that ye fall not out by the way." Ye have all one father, ye are of one family. The way is rough; there are enemies to stop you. Keep together; stand by one another: defend each other's character.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHENCE IT FLOWS — from the God of peace.

II. HOW IT IS SECURED — by His presence.

III. WHAT IS THE RESULT — peace —

1. Within.

2. Without.

3. With all.

(J. Lyth, D. D.).p

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