UNITED BY LOVE FOR OUR SAVIOR – ROMANS 14:1-15:13 – PART III

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.” 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 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 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, 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 (to the Jews) on 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 YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.” 10 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 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, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:1-13)

Paul continues his plea and exhortation for unity among believers “so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (V. 6) This portion of the passage on unity among weak and strong believers (Romans 14:1-15:13) includes the call for unity among Jewish and Gentile believers as Paul appeals to OT Scripture and quotes Moses, David and Isaiah to show the Jews that God always planned to include the Gentiles in His plan of salvation so that “ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” (V. 11) God promises that people from every nation and language group (dialects) will one day praise Him.  “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-10) As we unite as believers today across all nations and in spite of all of our differences (weak versus strong believers, even among Christian Jews and Gentiles “into one new man” Eph. 2:15) then Jesus’ prayer will be answered: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23)

This kind of unity among believers in one nation, or one church, or even in one family, is what the devil continually seeks to destroy as relational unity is a reflection of God (the Triune God – Three Persons/One God) and a witness to the lost. Adam blamed Eve (and even God) and Eve blamed the serpent and Cain killed Abel, and on it goes in this “present evil age.” (Gal. 1:4) As one man jokingly (but truthfully) said as he began his testimony: “I grew up in a dysfunctional race – the human race.”  And that dysfunction (sin) has divided mankind ever since the Fall. Mankind can only come together and unite in love in and through Christ: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18-19) This is the hope we have and the mission God calls us to, reconciling people to God (through Christ) and people to people, in and through Christ. Let’s look at verses 4-7 as it relates to this hope/vision for love and unity among God and His people.

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, (about God’s purposes for our lives) so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 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 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” (Vv. 4-7) (A general comment about verse 4: it’s difficult to have true biblical hope without reading the Scriptures. If we’re not regularly reading God’s Word it’s like watching a basketball game and only seeing the opponent’s side of the court. We continue to see them (the world, the devil, and the flesh) score points and don’t see what God is doing on the other court.  Unless we are regularly reading His story (and by the way we win) we can’t rejoice in His victories throughout human history and see the ultimate victory when Christ returns.)

The clearer our vision for what God calls us to (relational love and unity in diversity to the glory of God), the stronger our hope and perseverance toward that goal. “Where there is no revelation (vision) the people cast off restraint.” (Prov. 29:18) God has given us His Word to teach us about Himself and especially about relationships through the beauty of the relationship among the Trinity. He made us in His image to be in loving relationships with Him and each other. Both the Ten Commandments in the OT and the Great Commandment in the NT are about relationships with God and each other. The last words shared by many who perished on 9-11 were relational; “I love you” to spouses, children, etc. They were not saying, “I sold a big deal today”, or “I scored a touchdown today”, or “I won the beauty contest today.” Yet this is what the world and devil push us to seek after and talk about. Then we become workaholics, sex-symbols and egotists. This self-focus and personal achievement focus pull us away from God’s clear vision in Scripture for self-sacrificial relating of which Jesus was the perfect example. (See Philippians 2:5-11) Following Jesus’ example (see Philippians 2:1-5) gives us hope and this enables us to persevere in our love and service to God and man.

Ken Boa wrote about this in his book, Conformed to His Image: [“I believe there must be some continuity between the relationships we develop with people on earth and the corresponding relationships we will experience in heaven.  There are always consequences to relational intimacy and distance; those who have developed rich relationships with people through other-centered love and sacrifice will be enriched by those relationships forever.  As Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica: “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation?  Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).  Similarly, in the parable of the unrighteous steward, Jesus exhorts His followers to “make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).  That is, when we nurture relationships by leveraging our temporal assets of time, talent, and treasure into the spiritual good of others, there will be people who will welcome us into heaven.  In addition, Paul comforted his readers by affirming that in the resurrection, they would once again be with the people they loved who have died in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  The more we love and serve others in Christ, the richer our relational rewards. Just as there is a continuity between earthly and heavenly relationships with the people of God, so those who cultivate a growing appetite for the experiential knowledge of God in this life will presumably know Him better in the next life than those who kept God in the periphery of their earthly interests.  As A. W. Tozer put it, “every Christian will become at last what his desires have made him.  We are the sum total of our hungers.  The great saints have all had thirsting hearts.  Their cry has been, ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?’  Their longing after God all but consumed them; it propelled them onward and upward to heights toward which less ardent Christians look with languid eye and entertain no hope of reaching.”  I can conceive of nothing more significant and compelling than the beatific vision of the living God, and if our capacity for this vision relates to faithfulness in this life, every other concern should pale in comparison.”]

“Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.”                                (Psalm 73:25)

Questions for Discussion and Application

Does the hope of being rewarded with deeper and more satisfying relationships with people in heaven motivate you to sacrificially love and serve people in this life? See 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20 and Luke 16:9.

Does the hope of being rewarded with a deeper and more satisfying relationship with God in heaven motivate you to make Him your first and supreme love now? See Psalm 73:25.

Chapter 15:1-13 Christ is our example http://bibleviews.com/romans.html

V. 1 How does this verse relate to the preceding chapter? Should we do everything we want to do?  

V. 2 What should we do?

V. 3 Whom should we imitate?

V. 4 Is there value in Old Testament Scriptures?

V. 5-6 What should be the results of our lives?

V. 7 See how this verse relates to 14:1.

V. 8-9 What did Christ do, and why?

V. 9-12 Who are called to receive benefits of the promises? When was this calling revealed?  

V. 13 What blessings do we receive?

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