Sunday, November 28, 2010
Romans Chapter 14
vs. 1-4- acceptance
- accept all believers. This is a good section for those young in Christ. In order for the church to grow, you have to take in new people. Those new people are not always going to be from a church background. Many of us did not grow up in church. Which means... that we don't know the protocol coming in. Who knew you were supposed to dress up? Or had to bring a certain translation of the bible? Or couldn't ask questions during a sermon? Or were supposed to stand during worship?
- The idea is that we are not to be judgmental of each other. Let God worry about the heart... and if their heart is right... then God will gradually clean up the rest... the inside will bleed to the outside. Don't worry about the outward appearances of things. Eventually God will convict them if things need to change. But it's not our job to worry about it. It just causes strife and if they're not strong and meet resistance from you in the church of all places... then their faith will crumble... maybe... maybe not... however... they may grow bitter... and bitterness and strife are things that will kill a church from the inside out...
- This does not mean that you let sin prosper in the church. Those young in the faith or those coming to church who are unsaved (yes there are those who are unsaved sitting in your pews...) should not be placed in a leadership position or a position to teach doctrine (I Timothy 3:6-7). If there is sin in their lives that is open and blatant, then eventually, the topic will have to be broached (whether young or old in the faith), but I would advise, if only for the sake of keeping yourself humble and obedient to the authority over you, that you take a pastor or elder with you and that you pray before you go. To approach a church member by yourself with no witnesses can be inviting slander to your own witness. (Matthew 18:15-17) Prayer is essential. You have to be careful that you are not just being judgmental (Matthew 7:1-5) and that the subject really does need to be brought up for the good of the other person. And you must be ready to forgive that sin and not hold it over them just as God forgives and forgets... (Luke 17:3-4)
- Galatians 6:1-16
- I Corinthians 8
- John 13:34-35
- Ephesians 2:14-18
- Colossians 2:11-23
- What does is mean to be weak (immature) in faith?Are there areas where you are weak in faith? How can you go about strengthening your faith?
- Are there those in your church who have come to you with questions because they are young in the faith? Have you answered lovingly?
vs. 5-12- It's personal...
- vs. 5 talks of the Sabbath. The Jews kept our Saturday as Sabbath. While the newly converted Gentiles kept our Sunday because it was the day Christ was supposed to have arisen from the the grave. Paul is saying that any day is fine. Whatever you do, do it to honor God. Regardless of what the world thinks of proper procedure... if it's done in the right heart and God is in the process... then He will honor an honest and open heart before Him.
- We don't live for us anymore. We live for Christ. We die for Christ. We belong to Christ. We answer to Him and no one else. If you pray and God says make a move... then you move... if He says stay... you stay.
- So don't condemn each other. Don't look down on each other. God is the final judge. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord. We give a personal account to God.
- footnote- “Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. While the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities that are expressly forbidden by Scripture (adultery, homosexuality, murder, theft), it should not create additional rules and regulations and give them equal standing with God's law. Many times Christians base their moral judgments on opinion, personal dislikes, or cultural bias rather than on the Word of God. When they do this, they show that their own faith is weak; they do not think that God is powerful enough to guide His children. When we stand before God and give a personal account of our life, we won't be worried about what our Christian neighbor has done.” (I Corinthians 5:10)
- II Corinthians 5:1-10
- Galatians 2:17-21
- Colossians 3:1-15
- Philippians 1:20-30, 2:1-11
- Matthew 25:31-46
- Acts 17:30-31
- Revelation 20:11-15
- If you stood before God today, what account could you give of your life? Who have you been living for? How have your days been spent?
vs. 13-19- We're building a house... a kingdom... the foundation comes first...
- Live in such a way to not cause another believer to stumble in their faith.
- footnote- “Both strong and weak Christians can cause their brothers and sisters to stumble. The strong but insensitive Christian may flaunt his or her freedom and intentionally offend others' consciences. The scrupulous but weak Christian may try to fence others in with petty rules and regulations, thus causing dissension. Paul wants his readers to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to other's needs. Because we are all strong in some areas and weak in others, we need to constantly monitor the effects of our behavior on others.”
- footnote- “At the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), the Jewish church in Jerusalem asked the Gentile church in Antioch not to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul was at the Jerusalem council, and he accepted this request, not because he felt that eating such meat was wrong in itself, but because this practice would deeply offend many Jewish believers. Paul did not think the issue was worth dividing the church over; his desire was to promote unity. So he concludes, “if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.” Paul's practice was to honor, as far as possible, the convictions of others. Believers are called to accept one another without judging our varied opinions. However, when the situation has to be faced, how should we deal with those who disagree with us? Paul's response is that all believers should act in love so as to maintain peace in the church.”
- So basically... give weak believers room to grow and space to have learning time with God. If they are seeking, eventually God will reveal truth to them. And you can't force that process. Have you ever tried to open a bud on a flower early? The petals are wrinkled and it's not shaped correctly. Or a baby born prematurely. Their organs may be underdeveloped, they're small, weak, but with the proper care, they'll pull out of it. However, baby Christians are the same. If you try to force them past their mental or spiritual abilities, they will either become very defensive about their beliefs and refuse to let truth speak to them and they will forever be a baby Christian, or, they will get so angry at you or the church, that they will let anger and bitterness take over and it will crush them spiritually.
- build each other up. Teach slowly. Answer questions. Be patient. Don't argue just to argue. If it's a small insignificant thing, don't fight about it. Don't get caught up in discussions that have no answer. Like the date for Christ's return. No one but God knows when that day will be... our job is just to be ready for it... It does not benefit anyone to get into a destructive argument over something that only God knows the answer to.
- Acts 21:20-26
- II Corinthians 6:3-10
- I Thessalonians 5:9-24
- Titus 3:9-11
- What are some insignificant arguments that have come up either in your church or with other believers in general? How did you handle those discussions? If they come up again or if new ones arise, how should you handle them?
- What are some basic things that all new Christians need to be taught? How can you individually or you as a body of believers help present those necessary truths to them?
- Don't tear apart the work of God with your actions against a fellow believer. If you visit a church that thinks everybody ought to wear purple on Sunday, then you wear purple that day in order to not cause strife. It would be wrong to look at that and say “well that's just ridiculous, I'll wear what I want...” and then walk into their church intentionally wearing blue, just to show that they won't get struck down, or make a point of telling them that you think their idea is ridiculous and they should wear blue Sundays instead of purple. (I feel like a Veggie Tales writer... ha ha)
- Real world example. Alcohol. Some people think there's absolutely nothing wrong with drinking a glass with dinner, or one on the weekend, or a game or whatever. Others believe that to even think about letting the possibility of sin into your life is sinning and because alcohol CAN escalate, you shouldn't allow it to have a foothold. Again... not something you should get into a massive argument over with a brother or sister in Christ.
- Paul says to keep it between yourself and God. Philippians 2:12-18 talks about obeying God with reverence and fear and living a life that no one can criticize. If you open up your life and ask God to show you all the places you need to work on and all the things that need to change in your heart... what would you find?
- If your heart is right with God and your heart and mind are in the right place to accept correction... then don't worry about the rest of the people around you. But if God convicts... then you better change something fast. Where there is guilt, there is a need to change.
- This walk is not between you, me, the neighbor, and God. This is a personal walk between you and God. HE is who you have to answer to.
- This is not to say that “if it feels good do it”. There are certain things in life that God has very specifically in His word commanded against. (murder, adultery, premarital sex, stealing, even “smaller” sins like envy, hatred, lust, things unseen because they're in your heart and not expressed, etc.) This is for the gray areas only which Christ did not specifically teach on. The Holy Spirit will guide you if you let Him.
- vs. 23 says “But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” Listen to that still small voice. When doubt creeps in, listen to it. When apprehension starts to take effect, listen. Don't shove God into a corner and only allow Him to speak when you want Him to and how you want Him to.
- Some of us struggle with different temptations than do others. For example... I LOVE chocolate. My brother on the other hand, will hardly ever touch the stuff. It's not something that appeals to him. Now for me, I need to watch how much chocolate I eat. Because I like it. I want it. I desire it. Noah, doesn't have to watch. He never wants it. Doesn't desire it. Wants nothing to do with it. (Now pringles on the other hand... ha ha). But the point is, what is true in your life, may not be true in someone else's. I can lecture Noah for hours on the dangers of eating too much chocolate... but it won't really make a whole lot of sense to him, nor will it impact his life because it's not something he has a problem with. It won't hit home with him. If I constantly lecture at him about how he needs to be careful with chocolate... he's just going to end up really upset with me and he's probably not going to talk to me for a while... ha ha.
- In the same way, be careful not to force your convictions on someone else. Perhaps... God doesn't deal with everyone in the same way... Always speak prayerfully.
- I Corinthians 9:19-23, 10:12-33
- Acts 10:9-48, 24:14-16
- Colossians 3:17
- Ephesians 5:1-20
- Matthew 5:43-48
- Galatians 5:16-26
- I John 3
- James 1:16-27