Romans Chapter 15

Part 1

KLMX

August 2010

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

The end is near! The end is near! Yes, itís true- the end of our study of Paulís letter to the Roman church is nearing an end. This week, weíre in Chapter 15 out of 16 and, considering that chapter 16 is mostly greetings to fellow church members, the theological teaching will be ending about, oh, Weds or Thursday. Between now and then, though, there is still much to cover. Before beginning today, Iíll ask for Godís blessing on this message, that He might grant you ears to hear and a heart for understanding. May I accurately and rightly explain the word of truth to His glory, through the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now, you should always keep in mind that our chapter and verse divisions were created in the mid 1500ís with the Geneva Bible. Theyíre useful for reference, but donít lose sight of the fact that Paulís writing to the Roman church is a letter. The first part of Romans chapter 15, therefore, is really a continuation of the thoughts expressed in the so-called chapter 14, which we covered a few weeks ago. After finishing his exhortations there, Paul then switches gears. Actually, if I was doing this study over again, I would have covered the first part of chapter 15 with chapter 14, but oh well, hindsight is 20/20 and Iím not sure I could cram all that information into one weekís worth of study!

With all that being said, we should pull a few passages out of chapter 14 so that chapter 15 will be in perspective:

Romans 14:1-4 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. (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.

Romans 14:20-21 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. (21) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

Paulís basic argument here is not offend your brother. People have varying degrees and various levels of faith and weíre always to treat one another in love. Weíre not to drag down the work of God.

Todayís text continues that theme:

Romans 15:1-3 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME."

This text has a lot to say about Christian liberty and how weíre to treat others. Note Paulís language, though- "we are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak". I donít think thereís any question that thereís a better way here, seeing as the strong bear, and weak have scruples. The point Iím getting at is that this is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, Paul is cautioning the strong from getting too high and mighty or, as he said in 14:3- donít despise those of weaker faith. At the same time, though, those of weaker faith shouldnít use that as an excuse. Those weak in faith have scruples which have to be born by the strong. One should desire to grow in their faith and increase in strength in the Lord.

The burden, nevertheless, is on the strong. They are the ones who bear the weak not only because they can, but more importantly, because itís a Christ-like thing to do. After all, no matter how strong an individualís faith may be, Christ is stronger. No matter how strong an individualís faith may be, it is still very weak compared to the glory of God. Iím not making this up- Paul said as much in:

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.

No oneís faith is of themselves, as this passage clearly shows. It says "ÖGod has dealt to each one a measure of faith." What you do with that faith is up to you, but make no mistake that God deals the original measure and we are not to think highly of ourselves.

That the burden is on the strong and that their carrying of it reflects Christ is also obvious from Galatians:

Galatians 6:2-5 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (3) For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (4) But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (5) For each one shall bear his own load.

Of course, the 3rd verse in todayís passage emphasizes that the strong bearing the weak is Christ-like. Hereís todayís passage again:

Romans 15:1-3 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME."

So, there we have 3 places that emphasize the role of the strong in helping the weak and all 3 places emphasize why that should be done- because itís Christ-like. While the weak themselves should desire to grown and strengthen their faith, their presence, rather than being a hindrance, allows the strong to display their Christ-likeness. As with most things of God, the parts work together to produce a greater sum. The Bible itself, for instance, is stronger and more awesome when one is able to step back and look at the whole counsel and the way everything ties and links together.

There is a verse in todayís passage that I want to look at again in order to show you one application of this information. Information is useless unless we can apply it and I find that too often people learn things and just keep them as interesting facts, but never put those facts to work. Hereís the passage I want to look at:

Romans 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

Today, First Baptist Church of Des Moines is a plural elder-led church, but when I first joined it in 1999, it was a congregational voting church. Some unpleasant and, in my opinion, un-Christ-like, things occurred as a result of voting. Every man voted for himself and in at least one case, people who hadnít been to church in quite some time showed up to vote. At some point, I was put in charge of the pastor search committee. While reading along in my Bible, I came across the passage I just quoted as well as:

1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.

As chairman of the search committee, I wrote down every manís name and put it in a hat. I passed this hat around and everyone drew a name. Each person was then responsible for voting for that person. In other words, Joe had to vote for Ernie and Ernie had to vote for Steve and Steve voted for Jim and so on. This was an application of the passage "let each of us please his neighbor for his good" and "let no one seek his own, but the each one the otherís well-being." A funny thing happened. Instead of each person being concerned about his own well-being, everyone suddenly became concerned about what was best for his neighbor. Conversation resulted, misunderstandings were cleared up, and when the pastor search committee finally recommended a candidate, the recommendation was unanimous.

This is one example of application, but just think what the world might be like if everyone applied those passages- "Let no one seek his own, but each one the otherís well-being". It might be a little more pleasant world. And what would happen if we applied todayís passage?

Romans 15:1-3 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME."

Instead of the strong hammering the weak and suppressing them, what if the strong bore with the weak, didnít do things that offended them, and didnít seek to please themselves? What kind of world would we then live in? These things, of course, are not natural to men and in spite of our efforts to claim them ourselves, they can only come thru rebirth in Jesus Christ. The result of this rebirth by the Holy Spirit will result in a personís becoming more and more like Christ-like. Thatís what Romans 8 says, at least:

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (29) 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.

A person who is born again in Christ will be conformed to the image of Christ. Not maybe, possibly, or if, but "will". The person reborn in Christ has the righteousness of Christ laid upon them while any other path results in self-righteousness. Regarding self-righteousness, Paul counts it as "dung" in:

Philippians 3:8-9 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

Christ bore our sins upon Himself on the cross, and He bears our weaknesses and scruples. As people being conformed to the image of Christ, true Christians must do and show the same traits. Thatís Paulís lesson to the church at Rome and his lesson to us today. If youíre a Christian, I hope youíll consider this lesson, take it to heart, and apply it. If youíre not a Christian, I hope that youíll ask God for the gift of Christ applied to your life.

Join us tomorrow at 9:45 am.

Romans 15, Part 2