Romans Chapter 14
KLMX June 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím going thru Paulís letter to the Roman church, as Iíve been doing for the past couple of years, and today weíre in Chapter 14. As always, Iíd like to ask Godís blessing on this message, that it might glorify him, and reflect the truth and light that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Yesterday, I worked thru this passage:
Romans 14:1-3 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. (2) For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. (3) Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
I discussed all kinds of things about Christian liberty including Biblical cautions not to abuse that liberty for the entertainment of the flesh. If you missed that message, please check out the church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org. Iím a little slow at updating the site and getting messages up, but if you go there, you can find my email address and you can send me an email encouraging me to hurry up! Iíd love to hear from you!
I didnít cover the last part of v. 3 and weíll start with that one today. It says that we should be careful not to judge or despise others "for God has received him." The next verse, one of my favorites in the Bible and one that I quote frequently, expands this thought:
Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Now many Christians think that if another person doesnít believe exactly like they believe, then the other person is maybe not a real Christian. There certainly are many points of disagreement- methods of timing of baptism, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, marriage after divorce, and many many more. My opinion is to take Romans 14:4 to heart. If a person claims Christ as his savior, then that person is not my responsibility. As a pastor, I have responsibility for the flock which God has given me and I have responsibility to share the burdens of other Christians when the need arises, and I some responsibility to point out false doctrine. But, I am not the other personís master and I donít have the power to judge them. Nor do I have the power to make them stand for, as the passage says "God is able to make him stand." Therefore, if a person claims the name of Jesus Christ on their behalf, then whatever they believe, or however they act is between them and God.
I can have full confidence that if a person, including me, is truly walking with Christ but is in error, that God will call it to their attention. Numerous verses cover that, including:
Hebrews 12:5-8 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM; (6) FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." (7) If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (8) But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
And then thereís the great promise of:
Romans 8:29-31 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Thereís more, though. I donít think, though, that any single person is 100% correct in their theology. One of my favorite quotations comes from an interview I heard with RC Sproul. RC Sproul is one of my greatest theological influences and that fact itself testifies to the application of Christian liberty. You see Dr. Sproul is a Presbyterian and practices infant baptism via sprinkling, while Iím a Baptist and believe in baptism of believer by full immersion. Interestingly enough, one of my other top 5 theological heroes is James Montgomery Boice, another Presbyterian! And at First Baptist Des Moines, we have a plural elder leadership that is surprisingly Presbyterian in nature. But, I am a Baptist! Charles Spurgeon, another of my top 5, ensures that. Anyway, Dr. Sproul made the comment that John Calvin believed that no theologian was more than about 80% correct. I found that interesting because Sproul agreed with Calvin. So, if two of the theological giants of the world think that theyíre only about 80% right at best, then where does that put the rest of us? It certainly should keep us humble, which is the point of the illustration.
Both Peter and James emphasize this.
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."
James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."
And actually, we covered this same topic just a few months ago in Romans 12, where Paul says:
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah and Job say:
Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? (2) For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.
Job 22:29 When they cast you down, and you say, 'Exaltation will come!' Then He will save the humble person.
Well, this is quite the cloud of witnesses- John Calvin, RC Sproul, Peter, James, Paul, Isaiah, and Job, all testifying that one should remain humble. Oh, then thereís the example of Jesus himself who:
Ö being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8)
I guess that last one really seals the deal, if there was ever any question.
The point of all this humility is to ensure that we keep in mind the reason for Paulís instructions regarding one another. That reason is, as we just saw, "God has dealt to each a measure of faith." Since God is the one dealing the faith and since He is the master, not us, and since all members of the body have different functions, weíre to not get all high and mighty when dealing with those of seemingly lesser faith or with those who seem to be incorrect in their theology. Correct one another in humility, acknowledging that it is God who grants repentance. And, speaking of theology, hereís what Paul says next:
Romans 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
I think this verse has application to those who observe the Sabbath on Saturday and those who observe the Lordís Day on Sunday. One observes one day, another observes another day. Both should observe it to the Lord, though, and not simply because one day is more convenient than another.
Letís grab a few more verses:
Romans 14:7-9 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. (8) For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. (9) For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
This again points to the theme of Romans 14:4- the master makes us stand. If a person truly calls Jesus Christ "Lord" then that means that they obey Him as such. As Paul says "if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord." Christ is our Lord and master, and therefore he is also Lord and Master of our fellow Christian. We are not. So, when I meet someone who has a different theology than I do, and if they want to discuss it, I will. But itís all in Godís hands as to what happens- whether they repent, or whether they continue to hold to their beliefs. If they continue to hold, then I have to assume that God has a plan for that, just as He turned the mistake of Josephís brothers into good.
v. 9, which says "for to this end Christ died and rose again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living" is interesting. Itís clear that Paul isnít forgetting the reason for his writing and that reason is Jesus Christ. Christ died and rose again, thereby demonstrating His power over both death and life. For that reason, as Paul says, "He might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
I think weíll wrap it up here today. Tomorrow weíll continue on with Romans 14, so join us here on KLMX at 9:45 am.
Romans 14, Part 1
Romans 14, Part 3