The Example of Christ (Romans 15:1-7)

The Example of Christ (Romans 15:1-7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24, 2021

Joni Eareckson Tada shares:

My husband, Ken, serves as a track-and-field coordinator for Special Olympics. There is always band music, colorful banners, and flags everywhere. Scattered across the infield are teams of mentally disabled young people.

A few years ago at the games, Ken blew his whistle to signal the contestants for the 50-yard dash. A girl with Down syndrome with thick glasses and a short, stocky boy in baggy shorts were the first to line up. There was a moment of stillness, then a “bang” from the starting gun. Off they sprinted six contestants bobbing and weaving down the track.

Suddenly the boy in baggy shorts began running toward his friends in the infield. Ken blew his whistle to direct him back to the track, but it was no use. At that point, the girl with Down syndrome, who was just a few yards from the finish line, turned around, ran toward him, and gave him a big hug. Together they got back on the track and completed the race arm-in-arm, long after the rest of the contestants had crossed the finish line.

We must run the race not to please ourselves, but to please the Lord. That often means taking time to stop and put our arms around a weaker friend who needs to get back on track.

Have you watched a fellow believer get spiritually confused, and yet you’ve kept on going? Jesus doesn’t seem as preoccupied with “winning” as we do. The important thing is how we run the race. And we are called to run it, bearing with the failings of those who are weak.[1]

We are going to talk about a passage that deals with that subject; we must love and support each other.

My theme today is:

We are to accept others following Christ’s example.

  1. The example of Christ (verses 1-4)
    1. Witherington III: Origen offers a telling comment on this section of Paul’s discourse: “Eating meat and drinking wine are matters of indifference in themselves. Even wicked people may abstain from these things, and some idol worshipers, in fact, do so, for reasons which are actually evil. Likewise quite a few heretics enjoin similar practices. The only reason abstinence of this kind is good is that it may help to avoid offending a brother.”[2]
    2. Let’s read verse 1 (Romans 15:1): We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
    3. Remember that in context Paul has been talking about conscious issues. Paul has been encouraging them to respect their conscious and respect the conscious of each other.
    4. The conscious issues they are dealing with seem to be either Jewish dietary laws or food sacrificed to idols. Paul had said that as Christians they are free to eat the meat, but if their conscious is not comfortable with it then follow their conscious.
    5. Paul has encouraged them to respect each other.
    6. In Romans 14:13 Paul said never to put a stumbling block in front of another.
    7. So, now Paul continues this discussion.
    8. Paul says “We who are strong…” What does he mean? The strong are those that feel free to eat without following Jewish practices. Paul includes himself among the strong.
    9. Paul says they have an “obligation” strong term, they have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak.
    10. It seems that the lack of a true understanding of the weak is viewed as a failing. The weak feel that they must follow certain dietary laws because they do not know better.
    11. Paul says that they are not to please themselves.
    12. MacArthur: to bear: The word means “to pick up and carry a weight.” It is used of carrying a pitcher of water (Mk 14:13), of carrying a man (Ac 21:35), and figuratively of bearing an obligation (Ac 15:10). The strong are not to simply tolerate the weaknesses of their weaker brothers; they are to help the weak shoulder their burdens by showing loving and practical consideration for them (Gal 6:2; cf. 1Co 9:19–22; Php 2:2–4).[3]
    13. Look at verse 2, Romans 15:2: Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
    14. So, instead of pleasing ourselves, each of us is to please his neighbor, why? For his good. Of course, “his” could also be “her.”
    15. We are to be about building up our neighbor.
    16. In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus answered “Who is my neighbor” with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
    17. Now, verse 3, Romans 15:3: For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
    18. So, now we have the example of Christ.
    19. Christ did not please himself. Now, he quotes the Old Testament with “as it is written.”
    20. That is a quote from Psalm 69:9.
    21. Reproaches of those who reproached God fell upon Him.
    22. MacArthur: “Reproaches” refers to slander, false accusations, and insults. Men hate God, and they manifested that same hate toward the One He sent to reveal Himself (cf. Jn 1:10, 11, 18).[4]
    23. Let’s look at verse 4, Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
    24. So, he gives the example of Jesus and then talked about former days. Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.
    25. Through endurance and encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope.
    26. Do you ever think about endurance?
    27. Do we endure through hard times while walking with the Lord?
    28. The Christian life is a marathon, not a short race. We must have endurance to keep going.
    29. Endurance gives us hope. Enduring through difficult times gives us hope.
    30. Also, encouragement of the Scriptures gives us hope.
    31. Are you in the Bible?
    32. The Word of God is endorsed here for our encouragement.
    33. Do you have hope, do you need hope?
    34. Read the Bible and focus on endurance.
  2. Paul’s prayer for the people (verses 5-7)
    1. Verses 5-6 read, Romans 15:5-6,: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2. Let’s break down these two verses. Now, Paul has a request: May the God of endurance– remember we just talked about endurance- and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another. So, Paul considers it important that we are in harmony with one another. That is why he has been saying not to argue over dietary issues.
    3. Paul continues, and this is VERY important. Live in harmony with one another, IN ACCORD WITH CHRIST JESUS. That is very important. They are to live in harmony with each other in Christ.
    4. To use another church metaphor, Christ is the groom, and we are the bride.
    5. But Paul is not finished yet. We are to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus with the purpose that with one voice we glorify God the Father.
    6. MacArthur: God and Father: This expression emphasizes the deity of Christ. Jesus is not an adopted son of God; He is of the same essential being and nature as God. This is such an important connection that it appears frequently in the NT (2Co 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; Col 1:3; 1Pe 1:3).[5]
    7. Isn’t that powerful? Are we united in harmony?
    8. In Harmony we worship the Lord (Rev 7:9-10).
    9. We come together and worship the Lord with one voice.
    10. I love it when I can look out on the congregation, and everyone is worshipping the Lord with one voice.
    11. Now, look at verse 7, Romans 15:7: Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
    12. We might say, “Any friend of his is a friend of mine.”[6]
    13. This verse wraps it up.
    14. Welcome one another.
    15. Christ has welcomed you.
    16. Christ welcomed you for the glory of God.
    17. Some translations say “accept one another to the glory of God.”
    18. ESV Study Bible: Such mutual acceptance will bring great glory to God.[7]
  3. Applications:
    1. We who are more mature in our understanding must bear with the failings of the weak.
    2. This is about conscious issues. This is NOT about specific things that the Bible is very clear.
    3. In matters of conscious we must not flaunt our freedom. We must love and support one another. This is very clear. We have an obligation to bear the failings of the weak.
    4. We must all think of how to build up our neighbor (verse 2).
    5. Our neighbor includes our enemy (Luke 10:29-37).
    6. We must really think of how to build up our neighbor. Do we do this? Do we really think about how to build up others?
    7. Christ did not please Himself (verse 3).
    8. We must be in the Scriptures (verse 4).
      1. Are we lacking in our Bible time?
      2. Are we meditating on the Scriptures?
      3. Are we ruminating on the Scriptures?
      4. Are we studying the Scriptures in Sunday School/small groups, etc.
      5. Those of you who are not in Sunday School, why not? Are you in a small group to take the place of Sunday School? Someone once told me he did not like any of our adult classes. My thought was, “So you are saying that no Sunday School is better than a class you do not like.”
      6. We must be in the Word and in the Word with the community of Christians.
    9. We must focus on persevering in the Christian life. We must focus on endurance (verse 4).
    10. Are we living in harmony with other Christians? Do we realize how much it glorifies God when we worship in unity (verses 5-6)?
    11. We must welcome others as Christ has welcomed us (verse 7).

Dr Witherington III shares:

Philip Hallie’s Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed recounts a story of the transforming, subversive power of shared living—what the author terms a “kitchen struggle”:89 Nineteen hundred years after Paul wrote Romans, André Trocmé, a Huguenot pastor in the village of Le Chambon in the Haute-Loire region of France, underscored the recognition of commonality. Refusing to ostracize the Jews of France despite their religious “otherness,” he affirmed, “We do not know what a Jew is. We know only men.”90 Pohl asserts, “When, by acknowledging difference, we only endanger, then we must only acknowledge our common human identity.”91 Trocmé’s commitment and that of his village to such a way of living made Le Chambon the safest place in Europe for Jews during WWII. Through the subversive practice of Christian hospitality, a kitchen conspiracy of goodness, this small, impoverished village of three thousand in occupied France saved an estimated five thousand Jewish refugees from the Nazi extermination camps. Like the Israelites before them, the Huguenots of Le Chambon recalled their own history of persecution and realized that Christian faith demanded a refusal to participate in oppression and violence, always the first fruits of focusing on differences.[8]

Prayer


[1] Devotion 05.26.2021

[2] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 345.

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:1.

[4] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:3.

[5] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 15:6.

[6] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 261.

[7] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2182.

89 Philip Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (New York: HarperPerennial, 1994), p. 9.

90 Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, p. 170.

91 Pohl, Making Room, p. 83.

[8] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 348.

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