Not Just Your Personal Savior

Bible Book: Romans  15 : 1-13
Subject: Others, Love for; Fellowship

In 1969, Country singer Tom T. Hall released a song entitled Me and Jesus. Aside from the bad grammar, the song also espoused some bad theology.

In the chorus, Hall sang:

"Me and Jesus got our own thing goin’,

Me and Jesus got it all worked out,

Me and Jesus got our own thing goin’,

We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about."

Sadly, there are probably a lot of believers who might never have listened to Tom T. Hall, who would nonetheless adopt his idea of Christianity.

Some people view their salvation as something purely between themselves and Jesus, as if the only person Jesus has saved is them, and they are the only ones who matter.

Some of the language we use in the church today even reflects this. We talk about Jesus as our “personal” Savior, and having a “personal relationship with Jesus”.

While I understand what is behind those phrases, I also recognize that an isolated, individualized Christianity is not what Jesus died for.

Jesus alone can save you, but He does not and has not saved you alone. There is a whole host of people He has saved along with you, and your relationship to Him includes your relationship to them.

Coming to Jesus for your salvation also means coming into a relationship with the other people who are believing upon Him for their salvation.

He is not just your personal Savior; He is the Savior of His whole Body – the Church. He saved you individually that He might include you with everyone else He has saved.

As Paul nears the conclusion of this great letter, he takes the truth of the gospel he has written about so powerfully, and he applies it very practically. He teaches how someone who believes that gospel interacts with everyone else who has believed it.

Paul has already taken the individual sinner to the foot of the cross and pointed him up to Jesus as his only hope for salvation. Now, in a way, he says to all those justified, believing sinners, “Look around. You are not the only one here.”

How does Jesus as our Savior, not just your Savior, affect how you live with and love others? Let’s look at this text and consider together that:


What Paul was talking about in chapter 14 bleeds over into chapter 1We recognize this when we see the reference to “the strong” and the “the weak” in verse one.

But, Paul doesn’t simply instruct the strong on how they are to treat the weak, or vice versa. He goes further, and points to Jesus as the example to be followed in how we relate to one another.

Could there be anything – anyone – more compelling than Jesus? If He cared for others, should we not also?

Notice how Jesus is put before our eyes as an example. We are pointed to:

A. How practical following His example is

Verse one is an instruction for strong believers, but as it connects with verse two, the teaching is really for all believers. It says, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.”

Rather than just doing whatever I want to do, and whatever will make me happy, I am to consider what I can do that will help please someone else, and build them up, even to the extent of carrying on myself their personal struggles.

Selfishness is buried under a desire to bless others and help them grow in grace.

To hammer home this practical, personal ethic, Paul does not merely tell us that it is the cordial and correct thing to do. He tells us that it is the Christ-like thing to do.

Look at verse It says, “For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”

Paul quotes David from Psalm 69, but he points to Jesus. He essentially says to us, “Even the Lord Jesus, who had every right to seek His own pleasure, took your sins and failures on Himself, in order to help you and give you grace.”

The principle is this: Don’t look so much at your brothers and sisters for motivation and inspiration for how you should treat them. They may not give you much incentive. Look to Jesus!

If you are following His example, you will see exactly why you are to care for them, and how you are to do it.

Jesus isn’t just the Lifeguard who jumps in to save me when I am drowning. He is the one who teaches me how to swim in a sea filled with others learning how to swim alongside me.

He points us not only to how practical following the example of Jesus is, but also then:

B. How powerful following His example is

In verse 3, Paul reached back into Psalm 69 to point us to the example of Jesus. In verse 4, he pauses to make a point about the Scriptures.

He says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

This is such an important truth! The Bible is not just about getting you out of hell and into heaven. It certainly teaches that, but it also teaches you how to live on earth until you get to heaven by following the life of Jesus.

And when we all seek to follow Him in practice, something powerful happens. Verse 5 is written as a prayer, but it is a prayer that is answered as we follow the example of Jesus in our relationships with each other.

Paul writes, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.”

We are not naturally likeminded. Just as we all have our own set of eyes, so we all see things a bit differently, and think about the world from our own unique perspective. This can cause us to grow impatient with one another.

But, when we all are following the same model, and looking to the same Master, it is amazing how our diversity can become unity.

In fact, verse 6 says this: “That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I once visited an exhibit in an art museum that was an audio exhibit, rather than a visual one. A large room had a collection of speakers arranged in a circle.

A choir had been recorded, and each individual voice was recorded on a separate track, and played through one of the speakers. As you walked around the room, you could lean in and hear one, individual voice singing through one speaker – a bass here, a soprano there.

However, as you sat down in the middle of the room, what you heard was the unity of a single piece of music being sung.

When we show care for one another by following the example of Jesus, we produce a single song sung by a chorus of voices, and the lyrics tell the glory of God and the story of Jesus.

Salvation is not about singing a solo for Jesus. It is about joining a choir that sings for Him. We are reminded of this not only as we see that Jesus has shown us to care for others, but we learn also that:


Look at verse Paul summarizes our care for each other by saying, “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”

How we welcome and love one another is supposed to be a reflection of the way we have all been welcomed and loved by Jesus in the gospel.

And how exactly did Jesus welcome all of us, as different and diverse as we are? How does His salvation connect us when we would otherwise be disconnected? Again, Paul points us to the dynamic of Jew and Gentile as a way of showing how Jesus interconnects us all in salvation.

We are pointed here to:

A. What the ministry of Jesus confirmed

Look with me at verse It says, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers…”

Jesus submitted Himself to the covenant and constraints of Abraham and His descendants. Though He lived before Abraham, He became a son of Abraham and kept the Law perfectly, where neither Abraham nor his offspring ever had.

In other words, Jesus became a Jew, and in living out that life, He proved to be the perfect Jew; the one who could rightfully inherit all that was promised to those people.

I met a very interesting British family on a flight recently. They were Jewish, and their little girl sat beside me on the plane.

She was very bright, and her mother informed me that though she was being raised Jewish, she did read the New Testament and knew a lot about Jesus.

For her part, the little girl spoke up and said that she didn’t really like the New Testament, or Jesus. She actually said, “I feel like I am not being true to my Judaism.”

I didn’t really want to get into a theological debate with a little girl, but my response was simply this: “You know Jesus was a Jew, right?”

The life and ministry of Jesus was perfectly Jewish, even though the religious leaders didn’t think so. What they didn’t know was that He was fulfilling for them what all their religious efforts had drastically failed to do.

But His life and ministry were not just about saving Jews. No, He lived and died and rose again to connect a whole lot of non-Jews to the covenants and promises of God to His people.

Paul points us not only to what the ministry of Jesus confirmed, but also:

B. Who the mercy of Jesus called

Verse 9 continues the thought of verse 8, and says, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy…”

Jesus came and lived a wholly Jewish, and at the same time, perfectly sinless life. And by His death on the cross for sinners, and by His resurrection as Lord, He extended the hope of salvation far beyond the boundaries of Israel.

In fact, part of what He fulfilled by the ministry of His life was what the Jews had failed to do – reaching out to the Gentile world on behalf of God.

Verses 9 – 12 cite quotations from every part of the Old Testament, the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets. Each of them speaks of Gentiles being included in the worship of God.

Jesus is preached among the Gentiles, and they sing to God. They join in rejoicing in His grace and promises, right along with the people of Abraham.

Verse 11 is a quote from Psalm 117, and it says, “Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.” Everybody is called into this chorus of praise.

Verse 12 jumps to a quote from the Prophet Isaiah (Is. 11:10), which predicts the coming of Jesus and His rule over all the nations of the earth as people like us – who are not Jews – place our trust in Him.

What is Paul’s overall point? Jesus has wonderfully and powerfully combined the different people of the world by His saving gospel. He has joined them – as different and diverse as they are – in a unified body of people who praise His name and glorify God.

If His salvation has so connected such diverse people together, then surely – surely – He can help us to get along within the small circle of our local church.

If He can bring Jews and Gentiles together, then surely He can help you to get along with and connect to the sister who lives in the same city as you and sits across the aisle from you on Sunday.

In fact, part of why He saved you was to connect your life to hers, and to integrate you together as His people.

The sun in the sky is not your personal light bulb. It can certainly help you to see the world, but it is big enough to share with others, and big enough to help you see them too.

The gospel is big enough, bright enough, and powerful enough to help you get along with those who are standing with you in its light.

We are pointed further to this truth as we see also in this text that:


Verse 13 is another prayer request from Paul. He prays on behalf of his readers in Rome, saying, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

If you read that verse by itself, without knowing what Paul has been talking about, you might think it just has to do with living out your own, individual Christian life.

That is the kind of verse someone might even claim as their own “life” verse, and write inside the cover of their Bible, as if that was God speaking just to them.

The reality is, however, all of the wonderful things Paul prays for in that verse are things given to help us with relating to each other. This is a prayer request for how we get along together in the gospel.

In that light consider this verse and recognize:

A. The resources we have in Jesus

Through Jesus and the gospel, we are given access to the “God of hope”, and that God of hope can fill us – not just give us a sip or two – but fill us with joy and peace, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But don’t mistake these resources. God does not give out individual, single servings of bottled joy and peace.

There is a well of those resources around which we all as believers gather and draw. We share them together in Jesus.

In other words, joy is not something you have by yourself, that you horde up at your house and enjoy quite apart from everyone else.

Likewise, peace is not something you have in isolation. In fact, it is something you can really only share with other people with whom you are at peace.

If you do not have joy when you are with other believers, what would make you think any joy you do have apart from them is the joy that Jesus has given?

If you are not at peace with your brothers and sisters in Christ, why would you think any peace you may feel sitting on your couch at home is the peace of God, given through His Spirit?

The joy and peace and power of the Spirit are given to each of us for the sake of all of us. Those resources are part of what prepares us all for heaven, and helps us to get there together.

The church is not an armada of a billion little sail boats all trying to capture enough wind to sail to heaven. We are all on board the same massive vessel of grace, and everything Jesus gives us, He give us to help us on our journey together.

We all got on board that vessel the same way, and for that matter, we stay on board together the same way as well.

In this prayer of verse 13, we are pointed not only to the resources we have in Jesus, but also:

B. The relationship we have to Jesus

Don’t miss the statement Paul makes in the middle of that prayer. All of the things he asks the God of hope to give us, He gives us “in believing”.

It is only in our believing upon Jesus – our relating to Him by faith – that we have hope, joy, peace, and the power of the Spirit.

As we care for one another, and live out our salvation together, this is the basis on which we not only relate to Jesus, but also to each other.

I may not agree with you on every single thing, and you probably won’t agree with me on every thing either. In fact, I haven’t always agreed with myself!

What we do agree on, however, is that Jesus alone can save us. His death for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead are the only hope that any of us has.

If I believe that, and you believe that, then together we can both look to Him and love one another the way He has loved us.

Neither of us has a monopoly on Jesus. He has the monopoly on us. He is not just my personal Savior. He is not just your personal Savior.

He is our Savior, and relating to Him by faith requires me to relate to you as well, with joy, peace, and hope until the day we see Him together in eternity.

Through the years I have heard some things said in church that sounded good, and at the time, I might even have said “amen”.

However, as I have read what God’s Word says, it has stepped in and messed up some of the testimony theology I have heard, and even said.

I have heard it said before that if I were the only person alive, Jesus would have still come and died for me.

I understand the individual love of Jesus for me. I do. But, the truth is that He didn’t just die for me. He died for you too.

And if I really understand the breadth of His love, not just for me, but for you too, He will never be just my personal Savior, and I will never live as if He is anything less than your Savior too.