Sermon: Portraits of Risk Takers, Ground Breakers and Fellow Servants Romans 16:1-23

Portraits of Risk Takers, Ground Breakers and Fellow Servants

Romans 16:1-23

Truth Taught- Paul commends his fellow servants to us so that we will see their example and join in by loving and serving Christ with all our heart as they did.

 

Introduction

If we’re not careful we can forget that the Bible contains many accounts of regular people. The people we read about can take on almost a superhero aura and we can lose sight of the fact that they were people like us.

It may be that in our subconscious we begin elevating the people in the Bible to something more than human so that we won’t have to follow their example. After all God can’t expect me to do the things Superman does, right?

What if these people were postal workers, nurses, teachers, construction workers, salesmen, factory workers, hair stylists, stay-home moms? Well then, we’d be pressured to do what they did, and our excuses would be removed.

Here is a list of 36 or so common everyday people with an uncommon passion for Jesus Christ. These were some of Paul’s friends and some of his soon to be friends. These are folks who were not any different from us. They were everyday common people, some had means and some didn’t. Some were skilled and some were not. Some were male, female, Jewish and Gentile; they were different from each other in many respects, but they had one common denominator . . . the Lord Jesus.

As I read this section, notice with me the Apostle’s love and active relationship he had with each and every person mentioned. These were not just names to him but dear, beloved saints of Christ who meant the world to him. These were his companions, comrades, and friends. These were the ones who came to his rescue when he was in great need. These were the ones he could and did depend upon. These were his friends.

I’m so thankful that in much the same way we share similar relationships here.

My prayer for us is that as we get just a quick glimpse of these first century Christians, we will be encouraged to also be risk takers, groundbreakers and servants of Christ.

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Sermon: Paul’s Plans and Ours Romans 15:22-33

Paul’s Plans and Ours

Romans 15:22-33


Truth Taught – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9)
Prayer

Romans 15:20–33 (ESV)

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.”

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

  1. Gospel Passion

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.”

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you.

23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

I haven’t come to see you yet because I have had more important things to do. I’m not sure but I think this would probably only work for Paul. My desire to come to see you has not been fulfilled because I have a greater desire. What was his greater desire? To preach the Gospel and plant churches where Christ has not been named. For Paul, God’s call was to be a frontier missionary. God used him in a mighty way to begin Christianity because most places Paul went were places where Christ’s name had not been heard. He desired to visit Rome, but God had different plans for Paul. Priority number one was for Paul to plant churches where there were none.

Now, he believed that he could, at some point, visit them because, as far as he knew, his pioneer missionary efforts had been fruitful, and churches were started where there were none.

since I no longer have any room for work in these regions

24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain,

He’s at it again. I’ll come to visit you because I have no more work where I’m at, and you’re on the way to my next missionary journey.

While it may sound a little awkward, Paul was right. God had called him to a task. It was a hard task, one only he could do. His work didn’t involve visiting with friends for long. As much as he longed to see them in Rome, God had other things in mind.

In order to go to Spain (Paul’s next adventure) he needed to stop on his way to visit with those at the Church in Rome to be refreshed by them and to lend them aid. He needed resources to go the Spain. These were plans Paul had made but would they come to pass? I think they will but not in Paul’s timing and not in the way he thinks.

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Sermon: Grace Community Church, You are Ready for Gospel Ministry

Sermon: Grace Community Church, You are Ready for Gospel Ministry in 2019 and Beyond

Romans 15:14–21

Grace Community Church, You are Ready for Gospel Ministry

in 2019 and Beyond

Romans 15:14–21

Truth Taught – In Paul’s estimation the Christians in Rome were ready for Gospel Ministry and so are we.

 

Introduction

Are you ready for Gospel Ministry in 2019? The Apostle Paul tells us we are ready. We have been prepared for Gospel Ministry for our communities and family. Beloved, God says we are ready.

As we think about the Gospel and Gospel Ministry, we must know what the Gospel is and what God’s goal(s) are for the Church in sharing the Gospel with others.

1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (ESV)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

What is God’s goal as we share the Gospel?

It seems there are two main thrusts. First, it’s God’s desire to save those who have never heard the Good News that Jesus came to save sinners. Second, the people who have never heard come from two types. We have those from other cultures and nations who have never heard the Good News, and we have the next generation that has never heard the Good News. In both examples, other nations and other generations, we must include those who have never heard it accurately.

God’s goal is to create a new society made up of all nations and all generations coming together under the banner of Jesus Christ. Christianity is not just for certain people but for all people from all cultures and generations.

Revelation 7:9–10 (ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Now, I want to say that this last Sunday of the year I am so blessed to be your pastor, and as I was reading this section this week, my thoughts kept going from the text and the Church in Rome that Paul was writing to, to you here at Grace Community Church. None of us are perfect. I do believe, however, we are all very capable of being used by God to share the Gospel and instruct others. We are very capable of being used by God to bring other cultures and other generations to Jesus Christ.

We must never forget that the Gospel is the power of God to save sinners and to bring them into His kingdom.

Romans 1:16 (ESV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

As we think about a Gospel Ministry, we must have the proper motivation. There is a humanistic way of looking at the Gospel. It is the power of God to save us. However, the Gospel message is not first and foremost meant to keep people from going to hell. We are not saved from hell; we are saved from our sins. Salvation’s purpose is to create a people who will make up a worshipping community for King Jesus for all eternity. We pray for our lost friends and family in hopes that they don’t spend an eternity in hell, but the Bible teaches us that there is a greater, more consistent, more God-honoring motivation. Jesus is worthy to have a people to worship Him. Gathering a worshipping people is a greater more biblical motivation than simply not going to hell when we die.

Revelation 5:12 (ESV)

12 saying with a loud voice,

       “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

       to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might

       and honor and glory and blessing!”

Two centuries ago the Moravians were a band of amazing missionaries. They were not like missionaries today who won’t go to the hard places nor go anywhere without proper funding. No, these missionaries went to places that they knew they would never come back from. One account is of two young men boarding the ship to take them to the deepest darkest regions of remote Africa. There was an island off the coast made up of slaves. These were people who had committed crimes or for other reasons were made to work as slaves. In order to have permission to enter this remote island they had to sell themselves into slavery never to return home. As the ship left the port, and their families waved goodbye, and as the ship got smaller and smaller on the horizon, one of the young men shouted to his family . . . May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering. That cry became the motto for Moravian Missions. They believed Jesus was worthy to have worshippers even from the criminals who lived on that island.

Prayer

Romans 15:14–21 (ESV)

14 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.”

  1. GCC, You are ready

14 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

a. GCC, you yourselves are full of goodness

Our church like the Church in Rome has been shaped by grace. We are not good by ourselves, but as God is working in us to make us like Jesus, we are good. We’re good in the sense of knowing how to treat others who are like us and also those who are not like us. Remember what God told us about loving others and caring for them?

Romans 12:9–13 (ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

It’s so good to pastor a church that knows how to love each other and others. You do a wonderful job in this area . . . you’re ready for Gospel Ministry.

b. GCC, you are filled with all knowledge

You don’t know everything; neither do I. This is the perfect tense, which means we are knowing more and more all the time. Beloved you are filled with the knowledge sufficient for the task of sharing the Gospel. You are full of goodness. You are full of the knowledge needed to share the good news.

c. GCC, you are able to instruct one another

I see this often in the life of our church. You are equipped to instruct one another. We don’t know everything but we know enough, and when we are equipped with true love for others, we can then instruct each other with truth.

All this is true of the Roman Church that Paul wrote to and I see this in you as well.

It’s so amazing how Paul’s perception of this church has changed. When he began this letter, he was on the Gentile Christians hard because they were playing around with the Gospel and not treating their Jewish brothers and sisters correctly. He was on the Jewish Christians because they felt superior to the Gentiles. The reason he is speaking differently to them is because he knows that when they read God’s Word (Romans) they will change. I’m confident that as we read God’s Word we too are changing.

Noutheteō (to instruct/admonish) carries the ideas of encouraging, warning, and advising. It is a comprehensive term for counseling. In this context, it refers to coming alongside other Christians for spiritual and moral counseling. Paul is not referring to a special gift of counseling but of the duty and responsibility that every believer has for encouraging and strengthening other believers.[1]

  1. GCC, See Paul’s Heart

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.”

Here, Paul explains his ministry with the prayer that we will copy what he did.

a. The Acceptable Sacrifice

Paul served figuratively as a priest

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 Since the sacrifice Jesus made, the OT earthly priesthood has been done away with because Jesus is now our High Priest. There will never be any more God-acceptable sacrifices. Here, Paul tells us that he also performed a priestly function. He uses symbolism to try to explain how he saw his own ministry.

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Jesus is our High Priest, and like Paul, all Christians in a very real sense are priests as well.

1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)

you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

As Paul ministered figuratively as a priest the gospel of God to the Gentiles, he did so in order that his offering of believing Gentiles to God, as it were, might become acceptable to Him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In faithful fulfillment of his unique apostolic calling, Paul’s supreme offering to God was a multitude of Gentiles, who by virtue of the Holy Spirit’s power had been sanctified and thus made acceptable for fellowship with the Father.

Like Paul, every believer who is instrumental in winning a soul to Jesus Christ presents that convert, whether Jew or Gentile, as a priestly offering to the Lord.[2]

b. The Whole Counsel of God

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;

Everything Paul did, he did through grace and the power of God. That’s why he wrote that he was proud of his work.

Colossians 1:28–29 (ESV)

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

c. You Will Be My Witnesses

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.”

Paul quotes Isaiah 52 here in verse 21. His point is that we should be willing to share the good news with everyone. We are not all called to be evangelists, but we are all called to be a witness.

We pray this year that GCC will be a witness to others of the amazing work God is doing in our lives. Through fervent prayer and an active Gospel Ministry those who perhaps have never heard the good news effectively will come to an understanding of the Gospel of God.

Grace Community Church, You are Ready for Gospel Ministry in 2019 and Beyond.

*Resources Used:

Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by Douglas Moo

Romans by John Stott

Romans by John MacArthur

Outline of Romans by Steel and Thomas

.

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 15:14). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (p. 331). Chicago: Moody Press.

Sermon: Love Bears All Things Romans 15:1-7

Love Bears All Things

Romans 15:1-7

Truth Taught – Walking together in unity requires us to focus on caring for others and not so much on pleasing ourselves.

 

Introduction

God desires His people to love each other and walk in harmony. Unity asks us to give up something for the good of others. If we all are out for ourselves there will never be unity. When we are seeking to serve others then unity and harmony are possible.

What would the church look like if everyone began to follow Philippians 2?

Philippians 2:3–8 (ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

When we are sacrificing for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are following Christ because that’s what He did.

I want to pause just for a moment and explain that walking in unity requires that we be unified on the truth of God’s Word first and then caring for one another second. It is possible to be unified on false doctrine. We could walk in perfect harmony in a lie. We would be unified in untruth and this would not glorify God. Other religions, for example, are unified on doctrine but it’s not truth. The result is a mass unified multitude believing a lie and condemned to hell.

We must be unified on the truth and then walking in unity of the Spirit. Beloved, when we are, we are singing a song to God with one voice in perfect harmony. We are walking in Christ and we are fulfilling prophecy as well.

Jeremiah 32:38–39 (ESV)

38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.

Our Lord also knew that through His eternal work of redemption that He would build a people who walk in harmony.

John 10:16 (ESV)

16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Here is one of the big differences between the church and the world. The world seeks to mandate harmony within our society. It’s often done even at the expense of peace and harmony. The race riots of the 60s, for example, picture how the world handles these issues. Fighting and protesting are doing the exact same thing that the rioters and protestors claim is unfair when they’re the ones at the receiving end. The world attempts to create a façade of unity by seeking to make everyone alike. Whether it’s race, gender, abortion, etc., all are areas where the world seeks a twisted and evil unity.

The church must be different. We must celebrate the fact that we are all different. We come from different ethnic backgrounds, black, and white, Asian, etc. We are different in gender—some are male and some are female. Rather than crushing our individuality and uniqueness, the beauty is when we can be diverse and in harmony in the truth of the Gospel and serve each other in love embracing how we are different from each other and yet in harmony through the power of Christ.

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Sermon: Whatever Doesn’t Proceed from Faith is Sin Romans 14:13-23

Whatever Doesn’t Proceed from Faith is Sin

Romans 14:13-23

Truth Taught- We must at times give up our freedoms to help our brothers and sisters in Christ persevere to the end.

Introduction

In our text today, Paul continues his teaching on how stronger and weaker brothers and sisters within the local church are to interact and encourage each other’s perseverance in the faith. To the weaker, never condemn the one who exercises freedom in Christ. To the stronger, never push your liberty on a weaker brother or sister.

Our text today is written specifically to the stronger Christian, showing them what responsibilities they have toward the weaker Christians. You may have determined last week that you were one of the stronger believers, so today’s text is just for you.

Prayer

Romans 14:13–23 (ESV)

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Turn Onto the Wrong Path

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

The first point Paul makes is that we are not to pass judgment on another believer concerning their strong or weak faith nor their practices or beliefs when it comes to eating, drinking, or special days.

His language is powerful here. KrinowMake a decision about someone or something beforehand, to judge. The word and its derivative is really used twice in verse 13. He says do not make a predetermined judgment about the other brother or sister concerning their faith whether it’s weaker or stronger or whether their eating and drinking is sinful or not. Instead, make a predetermined judgment that you will never place a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of their faith.

So beloved, we must determine that we will never place or be a stumbling block to another believer’s faith. Instead, we must be the ones who help their faith along the path.

What was John the Baptist’s mission concerning Jesus? He was to make His path straight.

Mark 1:2–3 (ESV)

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

       “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who will prepare your way,

   the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight,’ ”

Our goal as stronger believers is to help make the weaker believer’s path straight by not being an obstruction to their faith. The way we do this is by not being a stumbling block to their faith by not doing something that goes against their conscience, and yes, we are our brother’s keeper.

Are you doing anything that would hurt your brother’s or sister’s faith? We are about to discover there is much more at stake than we might think at first.

Beloved, we all have a responsibility to everyone else here.

  1. Our Freedom Should Never Cause Our Brother to Be Set on the Path of Destruction

14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

Let’s look at Paul’s reasoning to discover the real issue. He tells us that all foods are now clean. By clean he means ceremonially clean or holy in and of themselves. Last time we read Acts 10 where God told Peter that all foods are now clean, and all people are now clean so he should not call something or someone unclean if God has declared them clean. So, Peter should eat and go to the Gentile’s house.

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Disciple Hour: Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning

Disciple Hour: Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning

Chapter 4

Sermon: A Case Study in Loving Others Within the Church Romans 14:1-13

A Case Study in Loving Others Within the Church

Romans 14:1-13

Truth Taught – We are to love and welcome all other genuine Christians because God loves and welcomes them.

 Introduction

Our past should never be used as an excuse to sin. In the counseling world especially, we see many instances when the counselee’s sinful behavior is tolerated due to some past tragedy in their life. We must realize that our past has, in many ways, shaped us and has affected us, but we cannot allow it to rule us. In our verses for today we are going to see a group whose past has affected them in such a way as to cause them to be uneasy when plugged into the larger Christian Church. How is the Church to respond to these weaker brothers and sisters?

Today, we’ll discover that God has a wonderful approach to this dilemma that the Church in Rome faced and just about any other Church as well faces or will face. How do we live in harmony with those who come from a different background than we do? Or how do we live in harmony with other Christians who aren’t quite where we are in the minor things of doctrine or tradition?

Paul is not referring to race as in black, white, or any other ethnic marker, but rather he’s referring to differences in background and beliefs that have been embraced since childhood.

The story has been told of an Amish man who was saved. He became a Christian and left the works-based beliefs of the Amish. He understood now that his former beliefs of no modern conveniences were to be brought into the house. He purchased a radio and a car but still kept the car in the barn and only drove it at night and only played the radio when he was by himself. He still had old beliefs that were hard to let go of.

In our text today, we have Jewish folks who were coming to Christ. They had been taught many things since childhood that now, as a Christian, are no longer to be believed and practiced. They were struggling with some of these past means of grace that were not needed because all of God’s grace comes to us through Jesus Christ.

The issue here is what do we do when minor differences are evident between us and other Christians. To be clear, I’m not speaking about disagreements over biblical truth. For example, there are many who call themselves Christians but do not believe the basic tenants of the faith. With those folks we must be very cautious. Our fellowship is greatly limited when we are confronted with a false Christian or one in name only. There are many so-called Christian groups around that are not even close to being Christian. This text is not speaking about those situations. Here, both parties in focus are genuine Christians and a part of the Church in Rome.

Prayer

Before I read the text, there are two things we need to define: What does Paul mean by weaker faith and stronger faith. Now, in the context of the Church of Rome that’s made up of Jews and Gentiles, he refers to the Jews as the ones with the weaker faith and the Gentiles as the one’s with the stronger faith. The strong in faith are those who have grasped that we are free from much of the OT Law in Christ. The weaker Christians are those who have not yet fully grasped the application of the Gospel. The sinful tendency is for the stronger Christians to look down on the weaker Christians, and the weaker Christians tend to sit in judgment or despise the stronger Christians. He’s not speaking down to the Jews but he’s comparing the two. The Christian Jews were struggling with giving up all their traditions and beliefs that they had been raised with, and so Paul writes to them and uses the term weaker faith. The Gentiles, on the other hand, really didn’t have much to hang on to from paganism so they came to Christ and saw Him as completely sufficient for salvation.

Romans 14:1–13 (ESV)

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

       “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,

and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

  1. Welcome Other Christians Because God has Welcomed Them  

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Here, the Jews were having trouble eating anything as food. Previously there were things they viewed as unclean. They viewed things like certain fish as unclean, pork, certain birds, etc. This was a struggle for many Jewish Christians. It’s completely understandable. Peter had this same struggle.

Acts 10:9–22 (ESV)

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”

22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”

This struggle for many Jews had to do with the Gentile Christians eating all kinds of meat while they grew up in a Jewish home only eating certain kinds of meat.

It was probably something like this: The church had small groups of mixed Christians, some Jews and some Gentiles. When they met at the Gentiles house the Jews were served pork chops and when they met at the Jewish home, they were served Jewish food made of vegetables.

Do you see the issue? The Jewish Christians were not saying that abstaining from pork saved them. They were already saved by grace through faith the same way the Gentiles were. The issue was that their faith was weaker in the sense of struggling with former traditions and laws. They knew these things in their head but still down deep had some struggles.

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

The Gentile shows love to his Jewish Christian friends by not serving pork at the Bible study and does not speak down to them but cares for them and loves them. The Gentile Christian does not despise the Jewish Christian and the Jewish Christian does not condemn the Gentile Christian for eating pork. Rather they live in harmony as brothers and sisters in Christ because God has welcomed them both into His family.

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