And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.Romans 15:14
In this chapter of Romans, Paul gives us a little further insight into the church at Rome. Here, in Verse 14, there are three things that he says about this church, three great qualities that they possessed.
First, he says,
I am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness. That is, their motives were right. They had come to the place where they were motivated by a sense of goodness. Certainly, this church at Rome was a responsive church, a compassionate church. It reached out to people who were in need. It responded to those who had hurts and burdens and concerns. This is one of the qualities I most appreciate about a congregation. Whenever a need is shared, there is always a compassionate response.
The second thing that the apostle says is that they were complete in knowledge. That is rather remarkable. Here was a church to which Paul did not need to give any new theology. He acknowledges that they had it already. Though this is one of the most deeply penetrative theological treatises in the New Testament, Paul did not write it because these people did not already know the truth that he was giving them. If you think back through the letter, there were certain themes that the apostle emphasized: One was justification by faith, i.e., the gift of worth in God's sight. This gift could not be earned: It was a gift because of the work of Jesus Christ for us. They also understood the nature of the flesh, the need for sanctification. They knew that even though they had been redeemed, they were still possessed of a fallen body. The flesh was still there, giving them trouble. I still struggle with my own flesh, and so do you. Young Philip Melancthon, the colleague of Martin Luther, once wrote to Luther and said,
Old Adam is too strong for young Philip. These people at Rome understood this truth and they knew that this would be the struggle of their Christian lives. Paul did not have to tell them that; they knew it before he wrote. But they knew also that God is working out a great plan, that he is creating a whole new humanity, and building a new creation. Right in the midst of the ruins of the old, he is producing a new man, and they were part of it. Finally, they understood the great themes of glorification, and of the eternal ages to come.
The third thing the apostle had to say about this church was that they were competent to instruct one another. In a sense, he was saying,
You are able to counsel one another. That is a remarkable thing. This is the answer to all the terrible pressure that is placed upon pastors, who are expected to solve all the problems of their congregations, and to counsel everyone first-hand. That was never God's intention. The plan of God is that the whole congregation be involved in the work of counseling. The whole congregation is to be aware of what is going on with neighbors and friends and brothers and sisters, and do something about meeting their problems. The way this is done is by the imparting of the gifts of the Spirit. So the church at Rome had the right motives, they had complete knowledge, and they had the full range of gifts, so that they were able to do many things within their church community and in the city of Rome.
Thank you, Father, for all the gifts of goodness and knowledge and instruction that you have given to your church to use in serving and loving one another.
Three great doctrines of the faith were known by the church in Rome. Are we being equipped to serve and counsel others with the gifts of godly insight and knowledge?