What Paul seems to be saying is that the church in 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. However, Paul also recognized there were three things they lacked:
I have written to you with a certain frankness, to refresh your minds with truths that you already know, by virtue of my commission as Christ’s minister to the Gentiles in the service of the Gospel. For my constant endeavour is to present the Gentiles to God as an offering which he can accept, because they are sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:15-16)
Now, you would think that a church that knew the Scriptures and was able to teach and counsel each other, and filled with a spirit of goodness and compassion, would hardly need Paul to say much more to them. However, that is the kind of a church Paul was writing this letter to. In fact, the first thing he said was, “I have written you quite boldly, to remind you of them again.”
That should not be surprising. I have been voraciously studying the Scriptures since 1979 and I have heard thousands of teachings, and sat under thousands more sermons from some of the most profound teachers I have known . . . now that being said, even I need to be reminded of things. Shoot, for two years, I have sent out messages via email with my Morning Messages, in my humble attempt to edify and encourage believers and sometimes the Lord inspires me to repeat things. I think all of us forget aspects of our faith—even the most basic principles. I think this is built into our humanity and I think one of the greatest proofs of the fall of man is that we have such a hard time remembering what we want to remember (yet so easily remember what we want to forget!).
Back in Chapter 12, Paul said, “You need your mind renewed by the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 12:2). That is one reason we go to church every Sunday, because we need to be called back to a vision of reality. When we live out in the world, and working every day with non-believers, it is so easy to be sucked into the attitudes of the world around us. It is so easy to get the idea that we are supposed to work toward the day when we can retire and enjoy ourselves. However, that is not what the Scriptures teach. We are in the midst of a battle, a battle to the death, against a keen and crafty enemy and he wants to discourage and defeat us, and make us feel angry and hostile. He also knows how to do it, and he never lets up.
Our life on earth is not designed to be a time of relaxing. Yes, there are times when we must relax and take vacations, when we can slow down a bit. However, you never see the Apostle Paul talking about quitting the battle. I don’t see anywhere in the texts where he even took a vacation. The reality is that as long as we have a life, we cannot quit. This is why every day and every week we must be reminded that we are in a battle and that we have a crafty foe. This life is not all there is, by any means. This is simply school time, a training ground, where we learn our lessons. This life is getting us ready for the real thing that is yet to come.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome