On Saturday morning, we wrapped up our study of Romans by discussing chapters 15 & 16. I said that compared to the rest of the book, chapter 15 is pretty straightforward and easy to understand with its emphasis on accepting one another and pursuing unity. I commented that we often skip chapter 16 because it is just a list of names. I pointed out the words Paul uses to describe some of these people—beloved, fellow workers, chosen, hard worker, risked their lives, approved, and fellow prisoner. Some are named and some are unnamed. Some of us may have ministries that are not remembered by people, but God sees what we do and will reward us for our service.
I concluded the session by asking what lessons they learned from Romans. I encouraged them to remember Paul’s balance in the book. Doctrine is not merely something to learn (1-11). We must put it into practice (12‑16). We must guard against false teachers who seek to divide the church and lead people astray (16:16-18).
In the class, we had one person going through a divorce not by his choice, and two alcoholics. You never know who you are teaching and what their needs are.
After finishing the discussion yesterday in Romans 12 on not seeking revenge but allowing God to bring justice for us, one said, “Mark, where were you in 2013 to explain this to me? I did something stupid and I am still paying for it today.” The truth hit home.
Igor and his wife, Lena, appear a happily married couple today, but it is only because of grace. Igor was a medical doctor who became an alcoholic and lost his license to practice. He divorced his wife and left his family. His wife and son, Vanya, who is the pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Anapa, prayed for him for 12 years. He came to faith in Christ, remarried his wife, and is a faithful servant in the church. They have been remarried for 10+ years. His salvation and their marriage is a testimony to grace and the power of prayer.
We are now at the midpoint of the trip. Tomorrow we will worship at Holy Trinity Church in Anapa and drive to Krasnodar. On Monday, we will drive to Elista in Kalmykia. The second class begins anew on Tuesday.
Thanks for praying. I’m in your debt.