The Witness to the Universal Lordship of Christ at Stake

(Rom. 15:1-13)

Today’s lesson falls in the overall outline of Romans in the following way:

Theme: The Faithfulness and Righteousness of God (1:16-17)

I. The Need for God's Righteousness (1:18-3:20)

    II. God’s Gracious Provision of Righteousness (3:21-8:39
      III. Israel’s Temporary Rejection of God’s Righteousness in Jesus Christ (9:1-11:36)
        IV. Practical Applications of God’s Righteousness in Life (12:1-15:13)

             Complete Surrender to God (12:1-2)
             Proper Exercise of Spiritual Gifts (12:3-8)
             Love for the Church (12:9-13)
             Love for Persecutors (12:14-21)
             Christian Citizenship (13:1-7)
             Primacy of Love (13:8-10)
             The Nearness of the Day of the Lord Motivates Us to Live Righteously (13:11-14)
             Care for the Weaker Christian (14:1-15:13)
              The issue: Witness to the Universal Lordship of Christ at Stake (15:1-13)

        (1) Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, for his edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written: "The reproaches of those who reproached Thee fell upon Me." (4) For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

        According to verse 1 who has the primary responsibility to create peace in the conflict between the weaker and stronger Christians?

        According to verse 1 how does the stronger Christian create peace between himself and the weaker Christian?

        One of the most touching episodes in the book The Lord of the Rings occurs towards the end when Frodo is so overwhelmed by the burden of the ring that he can go no further. Sam cannot carry the ring for Frodo because the burden of carrying it has been entrusted to Frodo, not to Sam. Sam though shouts out: "I can't carry the ring for you, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you!" He then lifts up Frodo on his back and carries him to the entrance of Mount Doom. It is the perfect picture of the way a Christian should treat his brother in Christ. We can't carry out the tasks given to others; however, sometimes we can carry them.

        Fill in the blank to see what must be true of a person before we carry him: "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those ____________ ________________ and not just please ourselves." According to Paul in Gal. 6:2 and 6:5 Paul commands us to do what? Do these 2 commands contradict each other? How does Romans 15:1 help us reconcile Gal. 6:2 6:5?

        According to verse 2 we are to "please our neighbor for their ___________, for their ____________________." Is it possible to please our neighbors in any other way? If so, is it bad to do that?

        Just who is my neighbor? A friend basically raised this question when he asked, "Who is my brother?" If I am to love my Christian brothers, am I to love all those Christians in Corsicana the way Paul is speaking about in these passages? According to Jesus in Luke 10:29-37 (the parable of the Good Samaritan) who is my neighbor?

        In verse 3 how does Paul motivate us to please others, to help others?

        Notice how Paul always focuses on Christ. Paul is not simply pulling principles out of thin air. He is looking at the situations in his churches and relating the life of Christ to them. In many ways Paul is the first to come up with the principle: "What Would Jesus Do?"

        Verse 4 is important for a dialogue that is going on between us and our Church of Christ friends. Our brothers in the Church of Christ claim that the OT has been done away with, that we now live only under the teachings of the NT. They base such claims upon passages like Rom. 10:4. Their problem is that they have equated the Law with the OT. To be sure the Law as a means of getting right with God has been done away with. (From our earlier study of Romans we saw that God NEVER intended for it to make us right with Him.) Yet the OT is bigger than just the Law. The Law forms only a part of the OT. It is loaded with examples of people who lived lives of faith (Heb. 11). Moreover, if the NT has done away with the OT, then why does it quote it so many times (over 100 times in Matthew and in Mark alone)? In many cases the NT has fulfilled the OT; however, many times when the NT quotes the OT, it does so in order to show us how to understand the OT properly. In Rom. 15:4 though Paul is saying that the OT was written for our instruction—to show us how to live! If the OT has been done away with, then Paul doesn't know it.

        According to verse 4 our perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures should give us what?

        Reflect on how perseverance can lead to hope. You have 2 soldiers going into battle. One is just out of boot camp, while the other is a seasoned veteran. The first has never seen fire, while the second has been in numerous battles. Which one do you think will despair more easily, the fresh recruit or the seasoned veteran? Why did you pick that one?

        In the same way there's no real excuse for the seasoned Christian to despair. We need to look back upon our past and see how Jesus has come through for us time after time. If He has come through for us in the past, then He's not going to drop us in the present. Fortunately, He's not fickle like the rest of us. His past faithfulness guarantees His future faithfulness.

        According to verse 4 what in addition to our perseverance gives us hope? How does this give us hope?

        When it is all said and done, God did not love Moses more than He loves you. Jesus did love Peter, James, and John but not more and not less than He loves us. If He came through for them, then He will come through for you.

        (5) Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus (6) that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        Paul concludes this section with a prayer. According to v. 5 how do you receive perseverance and encouragement?

        According to v. 5 why does God give us this perseverance and encouragement?

        According to v. 6 once we've become of "one mind," what else are we supposed to do?

        The unity of the church is critical for Paul. Paul has proclaimed that Jesus is the universal Lord. One piece of evidence in particular supports his claim that Jesus is Lord—the unity of the church. If Jesus is Lord of your life and is Lord of my life (like all Christians claim), then we should all get along. Why? Because He will not tell you to do something and tell me to do the exact opposite leading to strife. His lordship will necessarily produce harmony between us. When Christians fight, we know that it is because at least one of the Christians is not following Jesus. The world though does not see it this way. What they see is that Jesus really is not Lord. The disunity of the church then undermines its claim that Jesus is Lord—something Paul finds abhorrent. How serious is he about this? In 1 Cor. 6:1-7 (especially v. 7) Paul says that things have gotten so bad in Corinth that one Christian is suing another Christian in a public pagan court. Even if it means being wronged by your brother, what does Paul command us to do?

        It would be interesting to hear directly from Christ about the break-up of the Church into 3 main factions: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and then Protestantism. Moreover, look at the fragmented nature of Protestantism: over 30,000 different denominations in Protestantism alone. Such fractured-ness seriously undermines the Christian claim that Christ is Lord.

        (7) Wherefore accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (8) For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on the behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers (9) and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will give praise to Thee among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Thy Name." (10) And again He says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people." (11) And again, "Praise the Lord all you Gentiles and let all the peoples praise him." (12) And again Isaiah says, "There shall come the root of Jesse, and He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles hope." (13) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

        According to v. 7 what is ultimately Paul's solution to the conflict between the weaker and stronger Christians?

        According to the end of v. 7 why should we accept one another? (Reflect for a moment on what he says here.)

        According to verses 8 and 9 what 2 groups of people has Jesus served?

        Paul's point is this: if Jesus has reached out to reconcile these 2 groups which are so hostile to each other, then who are we not to reach out to those different from us? What verses from the OT is Paul quoting in Rom. 15:9-12? Who wrote these verses (the Holy Spirit is not the answer looked for here)?

        Paul is looking to the future in which David, Samuel, and the other OT writers will stand among the Gentiles and praise God for His mercies and salvation. Paul claims that when Christ returns, we shall experience the kind of unity spoken of in these verses. Paul's argument then is that the future should be governing our actions right now. If we believe that God one day is going to bring righteousness to the whole world, then right now we should seek to bring righteousness into our world. If we believe that God one day is going to bring peace to the whole world, then right now we should seek to bring peace into our world. According to the NT the only appropriate way we can show that we believe that peace is coming is by trying to create peace right now. The only appropriate way we can show that we believe that God is going to bring unity to the world is by trying to create that unity right now.