Name Christ Everywhere!

Romans 15:14-21 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

    “Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand.”


Early on in ministry, for several reasons, I found myself in charge of just about every aspect of ministry. As I’ve matured, and as the churches I’ve been a part of have matured, it’s been an increasingly and somewhat surprisingly great joy to see so many others use their gifts to build up the church in ways I never could. It is clearly God’s design for churches to be healthiest when they aren’t dependent on the gifts of any one person, or even any small group of people. Instead, God’s design is for churches to be healthiest when every member functions according to their Spiritual gifts for the glory of God and the good of the whole.

I love that in many ways, Missions Week is that. Missions Week is mainly put on by a group of men and women who have been gifted by God with the burden to see Jesus named in every corner of the earth and with the desire to see us joyfully join them in it. They work throughout the year to think carefully about missions, teach regularly on missions, promote missions among us, send missionaries into the field, and support the missionaries who have been sent. Missions Week is one piece of that larger ministry to and through us.

As always, therefore, I’m very thankful to the missions team for all their hard work in inviting us into what they’re working on all year; year after year. It is our collective prayer and aim that God would see fit to use this week to give all of us greater clarity in what God’s Word says about missions and a greater desire to engage in missions.

That’s what all of missions week is about. This sermon has a narrower focus, though. For it, my prayer and aim is twofold. First, I mean to help you understand the Apostle Paul’s life mission as articulated in Romans 15:21 (to preach the gospel where it has not already been named), where it came from (directly from God, and also from an overflow of the gospel he was proclaiming), what it cost him (every earthly comfort), and how he was able to joyfully endure the steep cost (through faith in the surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ). And second, I mean to call all of us to join him in his mind, heart, and actions in increasing measure.

That is, I hope and pray that the Spirit of God would be pleased to use this sermon/text (in conjunction with all of Missions Week) to help us focus especially on naming Jesus in the parts of the world where He has not yet been named. Right off the bat, then, before I pray and as we work through the text, I want to welcome you to Missions Week by asking you to consider whether or not the Jesus you’ve placed your faith in is worth it. Is your understanding of Jesus worth messing up your plans for? Spending your money differently for? Putting yourself and your family at risk for? Giving your life for? Let’s pray that we would all see that He is, x1,000,000, He is!

PAUL’S MISSION (16, 19-20)

The first thing I want to help you all see is Paul’s mission. In other words, I want to begin by answering the simple question of what Paul had primarily given his life to. He tells us in our passage for this morning. Having expressed his pleasure in the authenticity of the faith of the Christians in Rome and the manner of their lives (full of goodness, understanding, and the ability to teach), Paul reminded them of his life’s work.

16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit…

Paul had given his entire life to proclaiming the good news of salvation and life in Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Other apostles (chiefly, Peter) spent their lives proclaiming Christ among the Jews, but Paul was specifically charged to do so among the rest of the world.

This is a staggering and somewhat surprising expression of the love of God. While most among Abraham’s children believed the Christ would be a political and military ruler who would lead Israel back to a place of great prominence among the nations, Paul’s life’s mission showed that God’s love would be expressed differently. Rather than a powerful king like David who would rule for the prosperity of Israel, the Christ would lay His life down for the prosperity—the salvation—of the whole world.

The last few verses in our passage (19-20), though, help us see that Paul’s mission was a bit more focused still.

19 so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”

Isaiah 52 and 53 promised a future Suffering Servant who would bless God’s people. Here Paul identified Jesus as the promised Suffering Servant. What’s more, he also understood himself to be a part of the fulfillment of the final part of the Suffering Servant prophecy of 52:15. By proclaiming Jesus (primarily) among the gentiles and (primarily) where Jesus had not been named, people who had never been told of Jesus were indeed able to see and those who had never heard of Jesus were indeed able to understand!

What a remarkable thing this is, Grace Church. God’s love, through Jesus, extended (as it was always intended to do) beyond Israel to the very ends of the earth and Paul was a chief messenger of it. Oh, how glad the world must have been to hear this news, right (we’ll come back to that in a bit)?!

Before we move on to where Paul’s mission came from, what it cost him, and why he continued anyway, let me ask you now to pause and prayerfully consider your mission in life. What is it? We are all living out of a mission. By God’s design, we are all driven primarily by something (and that’s our mission). Perhaps it’s to be as comfortable as possible. Perhaps it’s to be as rich or successful as possible. Perhaps it’s to be a good mom or dad. Perhaps it’s to be kind to others or do as much good as possible. Perhaps it’s to maximize your own happiness. Perhaps you’ve never thought in such concrete terms; you just sort of do what seems right as things present themselves to you. Perhaps it’s something more biblical like honoring God.

One of our aims in missions week is to help you consider whether or not your life’s mission needs to be recalibrated. Are you spending your life as fully as possible for the cause of Christ? That will look differently in each of us, according to our God-given gifts and burdens. But all of us are called to live as fully as possible within those things for the cause of Christ. Specifically, would you consider whether doing so ought to include a greater measure of working, like Paul, to bring the gospel to places where it does not yet have a foothold?


With that, and as you consider your own mission, it’s good to ask where Paul’s mission came from. In the opening lines of this letter (1:5) Paul answered that question, “through [Jesus] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…”. Paul’s mission to proclaim Christ throughout the entire unreached world came directly from Jesus.

Paul repeated this truth at the end of v.15 and into v.16 in our passage as well, “because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God…”. Paul’s mission was graciously given to him by God.

And so it is for you and me. Every one of us are made by God for a mission. And every one of our missions has been given to us by God in His Word. It is not up to us to create our own. Above all the Word tells us, our mission—all of ours—is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But God’s Word also tells us that we glorify God and enjoy Him now in particular ways. Giving ourselves to missions is one such way; including giving ourselves to the particular mission of naming Jesus where He has not yet been named. Again, the heart of this Missions Week is to help all of us consider if and how we might give ourselves in increasing measure to that.


We read in v.19 that Paul had proclaimed Jesus “from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum.” His point is that throughout all that region he “fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ.” He proclaimed Jesus among the Gentiles in every place that Jesus had not yet been named there. That’s awesome.

Again, this was the love-driven mission of God, for Paul, to bless the world. The world must have loved God and Paul for this, right? If you reconsider your own mission and therein give yourself in greater measure to proclaiming Jesus into the far corners of the world, you should expect to be welcomed and thanked and honored, right? Well, perhaps. Perhaps, that’s what God would do through your ministry. I imagine, however, that it’s more likely that if you join in Paul’s mission, you will have to pay a similar price and receive a similar response.

From the moment he trusted in Jesus and accepted the call on his life, Paul was in a near-constant state of severe persecution and suffering, or at least the threat of those things. The kind of life Paul lived was about as far from the kind of life most people draw up for themselves and kids as is possible.

To help you see what I mean, we’ll do a brief flyover of Paul’s life in the book of Acts (which mainly comes from a list put together by another Free Church pastor) and then look at Paul’s own words in 2 Corinthians.

At the beginning of Acts 8, Paul (his name was Saul then) was working hard to persecute every follower of Jesus. He was a Pharisee (the same kind that Jesus kept having conflict with in John) who believed that Jesus was a blasphemer and God was honored by shutting down His followers.

The opening line of Acts 8 is, “And [Paul] approved of [Stephen’s] execution [by stoning, for proclaiming Jesus]”. By the beginning of Acts 9, however, while on the way to do further damage to the disciples of Jesus, the resurrected Jesus revealed Himself to Paul and Paul was subsequently converted to faith in Jesus in dramatic fashion and sent on mission by Jesus.

In 9:19-20 we read, “For some days [after his conversion] [Paul] was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.'”

From that point on, for over 30 years, Paul stayed on mission and consequently never knew another moment in his life in which he was free from suffering or the threat of suffering.

  1. The Jews plotted to kill him in Damascus (just three verses after his conversion) (9:23).
  2. The Twelve were initially afraid of him and rejected him when he tried to join them in Jerusalem (9:26).
  3. The Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) sought to kill him in Jerusalem (9:29).
  4. He was persecuted and run out of Antioch (13:50).
  5. An attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat Paul and stone him (14:5).
  6. He was in fact stoned and left for dead in Lystra (14:19).
  7. He was opposed by believing Jews who insisted that Gentiles must obey the law to be saved (15:1-2).
  8. Paul was forced to separate from his close friend and co-worker, Barnabas (15:39).
  9. He was dragged before a Philippian counsel, attacked by a crowd, beaten with rods by the magistrates, and thrown into prison (16:19-24).
  10. He was cast out of Philippi (16:39).
  11. Jealous Jews in Thessalonica formed a mob of wicked men that tried to attack him before forcing him to leave the city (17:5-7, 10).
  12. The same jealous Jews followed him to Berea and forced him out of there too (17:23-24).
  13. He was mocked in Athens (17:18)
  14. He was the victim of a coordinated attack and taken before the tribunal in Corinth (18:12).
  15. In Ephesus, he was opposed by a man named Demetrius to the point that the city became enraged with him (19:23-41).
  16. He was plotted against by the Jews in Greece (20:3).
  17. Jews from Asia tracked Paul down in Jerusalem and stirred up a crowd which seized him and dragged him outside of the city gates, yelled at him, beat him, and sought to kill him (21:27-36).
  18. He was arrested and detained by the Romans and stretched out to be flogged (22:24).
  19. He was put in jail (23:10).
  20. More than forty Jews made a plot against him and bound themselves by an oath to neither eat or drink until they had killed Paul (23:12-22).
  21. He was detained by Felix for more than two years in Caesarea (24:22-27).
  22. He was shipwrecked on the island of Malta (27:41-44).
  23. He was bitten by a viper (28:3-5).
  24. Paul was placed on house arrest in Rome for two years (28:13-15, 30).

How’s that for a response to the love of God shown through the sharing of salvation for the world in Jesus? But that’s not all. There’s more. Paul himself described what his life was like (including some of what we just saw from Acts) in 2 Corinthians 11. Just consider Paul’s own words as you consider the cost of his mission.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 [Compared to other followers of Jesus, I have endured] far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

I asked you earlier to consider your mission in life. I told you that we are all made by God to be on mission. And I asked you to consider joining Paul in his mission of proclaiming Jesus where He has not yet been named. But so as not to hide the cost Paul paid for accepting and holding fast to his mission, I shared with you the unvarnished truth of Paul’s suffering.

And so now, I ask you again, will you join him? Will you consider giving yourself to the cause of reaching the unreached? Will you consider praying that your kids will and encouraging them toward pioneer missions? Maybe the better question to ask is, is there anything you can think of that would make that kind of mission worth it?


Again, then, why would Paul willingly pay that price for over three decades, and ultimately with a martyr’s death? In a sense, answering that question is why Paul wrote his letter to the Romans. In the first eleven chapters of the letter, Paul described the gospel of Jesus he believed and proclaimed. And then the rest of the letter describes what it looks like to live in light of the gospel. In other words, Paul understood his chapter-fifteen mission to reach the unreached as the necessary outworking of the chapter-one-through-eleven gospel. Grace, the good news of Jesus Christ is such good news, that no cost was too high to pay! Do you know that gospel?!

Paul wrote that that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (1:16), salvation from the death and wrath of God that is upon all of us for our sin. (3) The gospel of Jesus was not new. Even though so many had missed it, it was woven and promised throughout the entire OT, planned from eternity past and promised from the beginning. The gospel is the good news of salvation not for people whose sin made it impossible to even want salvation. Paul explained that the heart of the gospel is the fact that God has made a way for mankind to be saved apart from keeping the law; by grace, through faith, in Jesus who died in our place!

(4) Paul continued to expanded on the good news, teaching that in Jesus we are not only forgiven by God, but also (5) that we have perfect peace with God because of the gospel. While we were united with Adam in sin and death, through faith we are now united with Jesus in righteousness and life. (6) Our old slavery to sin is gone. We’ve been set free from its mastery and are now free and empowered to do the good works we were made for. We are also dead to death and alive to God in Christ.

(8) Grace, in Romans Paul taught that the gospel is the good news that there is no condemnation for anyone who is in Jesus. God did for us what our own obedience could never do. Jesus provided us with the righteousness we need. And the Holy Spirit of God lives in us to empower us to live as God intends as His beloved children. (9) And all of this comes from God’s sovereign choice to save a people for Himself according to His perfect wisdom and love; not because of anything in us that makes us able or worthy.

(10) What’s more, as if all of this wasn’t overwhelmingly good already, the gospel is for people of every tribe, tongue, and nation; to anyone and everyone who will confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead.

All of that was to help you see something simple, but important: The gospel is the greatest news of all time. It is such good news that to believe it is to know that it is worth any cost to receive and give away. We simply don’t really understand the gospel of Jesus if it (that is, if He) is not our greatest treasure.

That is exactly what Paul meant when he wrote, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

And it is exactly what he meant when he wrote Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

If I told you that this building was on fire, the only reasonable response would be to get out quickly and help others do the same. It would be inconvenient and a bit scary, but nothing else makes sense.

If I told you that you have cancer, the only reasonable response would be to go see an oncologist. That would definitely be inconvenient, painful, and expensive, but again, nothing else really makes sense.

If I told you that someone had hidden a great treasure for you on the back of a mountain in Montana, the only reasonable response would be for you to begin an expedition to go get it. You might need to learn some new skills (like orienteering, mountain climbing, etc.), you’d probably need to step away from your job for a while (thus, taking on some significant financial risks), you’d possibly be putting yourself in a danger you wouldn’t otherwise know, and your friends and family might think you were crazy for believing me. And yet, if the treasure is truly great, nothing else would make sense.

To be clear, the heart of what Paul was describing in our passage includes all of that and more. It includes a life that is far less convenient than what we might otherwise live. It includes danger and fear that we might not otherwise experience. It includes the need to work hard at learning new things that you might not otherwise need to learn. It includes a financial cost and risk that makes living the American Dream much less feasible. And it includes relational difficulties that a “normal” life likely wouldn’t incur. And to be clear, in Missions Week and in this sermon in particular, we’re asking you to move in that direction; because it’s the only thing that makes sense in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

People need the gospel. They cannot be saved without it. “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:13-15). Being sent will cost you, but in the gospel, you already have a treasure far greater than any inconvenience, even death itself!


So what do we do with all of this? Let me close very briefly with a few practical steps you might take in response to this sermon; that is, in light of the supreme treasure of the gospel.

  1. Learn the gospel. You probably know it, but I promise that there are greater depths to plumb. If you are to be increasingly moved by the gospel into the world, it will be because you are increasingly learning the glory of the gospel. Spend time, real time, learning the gospel.
  2. Believe the gospel. Knowing the gospel and believing it are two different things. Our lives constantly reflect not only our understanding of the gospel, but more significantly, our belief in the gospel. It’s one thing to be able to explain its basic tenants. It’s another thing entirely to trust fully in them; to truly live as if every one of them were truly true. Fight with God’s help to grow in your belief in the gospel for every area of your life.
  3. Share the gospel. Share it with those around you and watch the power of God change minds, hearts, and lives. Marvel at God’s kindness and goodness. Learn it’s power by faithfully sharing and watching it work!
  4. Take the gospel. Share it where you are and take it where it isn’t. Again, that’s the heart of missions week this year. It’s what we most want you to consider growing in. Begin praying about and working towards taking the gospel to places it doesn’t already exist. Consider Engage Global or working with Marty this summer.
  5. Support the takers of the gospel. Renew your commitment to and actual supporting of our sent missionaries. Regularly read their newsletters, pray for them, check in on them, visit them, and financially support them.
  6. Pray the gospel. All of this is only possible with God’s help. Honoring God in our learning, believing, sharing, taking, and supporting those who have taken the gospel are all gifts from God. Pray for yourself, those in our church, those who we will share with, and for those at the ends of the earth to receive and grow in the gospel in faith. God is perfectly spreading His kingdom throughout the earth, through the Church’s discipleship of the world. Pray that God would grant you sufficient understanding, faith, love, urgency, courage, and awe, to join God in that.


Grace, the gospel is the good news that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Jesus died because we have all fallen short of God’s glory. You will not go to heaven because you get missions (or anything else) perfectly right. Jesus died for your missions-apathy as much as for your lust and anger. But because you are going to heaven, because the gospel has taken ahold of you, God is already working a missionary heart in you. Let us, therefore, with God’s help, name Christ everywhere, no matter the cost, in the certain knowledge that the gospel is the power of God to save and worth every cost!