Romans Chapter XV: Overview:
1-3. Condescension of the weak and the lost is an extreme assault both on the character of our Lord and on His instruction to us! A Christian must never, ever be so filled with pride that he is arrogant and callous toward others! The mature Believer should be able to give up his selfish desires and inclinations for the good of others, so to be an example of Christ.
4. The Bible was written for our benefit and instruction, filled with hope, purpose, and meaning to enable us to live the Christian life.
5-7. Paul prays for love and concord among the Believers for the worship of God, the chief reason to be a church.
8-13. The Scriptures prophesy the coming together of Jew and Gentile in the service and glory of God.
14-16. Paul passionately urges the Christians in Rome (and us, too) that who we are in Christ must be demonstrated in our relating to others.
17-21. We are called to glorify Christ in all that we do! This includes Paul, the Apostle, as well as us as Believers.
22-33. Paul then tells us of his experience and passion as a missionary raising support, that his Call needs to be supported. Paul in modeling, speaking, and writing directs us to the urgency of the gospel and the need of the world to hear it. He desires prayers and respect. We must give the same to one another.
General Idea: The more experienced and mature Christian is called to walk along side new and less mature Christians to help them grow so they can glorify Christ. In addition, Christians are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from their thinking and actions!
a. The mature Christian has the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others with time, love, and patience.
1. The Jewish Christians were trying to force unneeded commands and procedures on the new Gentile converts. They were exercising their own version of lordship, to the exclusion of Christ.
2. Thus, we cannot flaunt ourselves because of our maturity or lack of it.
3. We are to be dedicated to unity rather than to strife and envy.
4. Envy is one of the most destructive forces on earth, and will bring down leaders and ministries faster than imagination can allow!
5. Christ's focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours?
b. In verse three, which is one of the most quoted passages in the New Testament, Paul is quoting Psalm 69:9. Since God was able to deny Himself, it is ludicrous to think that our pride is bigger than Him, so we do not need to be humble!
1. Many Christians act as though this were true!
2. Our Lord suffered for the benefit of others, to the exclusion of Himself.
3. This must be our model and pattern in service to others, and the reason for the importance of being humble (1 Pet. 5).
c. The Scriptures were written for us, for our benefit, for our learning, for our growth (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12), all by divine inspiration!
1. Do we acknowledge God's Word the way we do money? Do we trust others to handle our money, but do not trust them to disciple our soul? All this must transpire by our unity (vs. 1:21-23; 3:23; 5:2, 11; 8:17-30; 10:8-10).
2. From our studying, to our mentoring, to our governing, to our hospitality, to our public encounters, all must be done by one mind and mouth. We must work as a body, maintaining our individual personalities, but having unified vision and purpose to glorify God. If this is not so, the result is chaos and strife, Satan's favorite playground!
3. We cannot glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in the presence of anger and bitterness.
4. We cannot be known for our negatives, for they will accomplish nothing. Our focus must be on the positive.
Glorifying God as a Benediction of Unity (15:7‑13)
General Idea: We as Christians have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model God's redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to the Christian (Gen. 12).
a. We are to be rooted in humility, as our Lord was (Mark 10:45). This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial items, causing many church splits and schisms!
1. We have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that we have well earned.
2. God accepted you. You, in turn, must accept others!
I. A wild animal will tear at another animal's weakness and frailty. Do we do the same with others, and still praise the Lord?
II. Christ bears our stupidities, and has patience with us when we are totally undeserving!
III. We are to seek the good in others, as our Lord did, and be a blessing to others. We are not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others.
IV. It is impossible to be a Christian hypocrite, as it is impossible to be half pregnant. Either you are or you are not. The fruit will show your true colors.
b. The Jews were not selected to be the only ones saved. On the contrary, their responsibility was to proclaim God to the Gentile world.
1. Jesus modeled and preached this. In doing so, He fulfilled prophecy.
2. In the ancient world, all the people groups from northern Europe, to the southern most part of Africa, to the farthest part of China traveled through Israel for trade to Egypt. Israel was a giant "bed and breakfast nook," and the most viable real estate in the world. This is why nations still fight over it today.
3. The responsibility of the Jew was to be Holy and set apart for God, and to evangelize the world. When they did it, they were blessed. When they refused, they went into apostasy and captivity (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:7; 26:2-4; 28:14; 46:3; Ex. 29:45-46; 2 Sam. 7:9; Isa. 40:10; Mal. 3:1; John 1:14; 4:22; Gal. 3:8-16; 26-29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7-10; 13:20; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-3).
4. The primary goal of our Lord has always been to sanctify all (all people groups, tribes, nations, etc.) people from sin (Rev. 7:9).
5. God saved us not to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors wherever we are and whenever we go! Paul uses the Scriptures to prove this point.
c. The people of Babel sought their own strength (Gen 11). God wants us to seek Him, Who is the greater strength and purpose!
d. Hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, no trust in the One who loves.
1. As you were growing up, did your family or any of your friend's families have stern rules on what could or could not be done on a Sunday? If so, how did that make you feel about God?
2. Why would and should a more experienced and mature Christian walk along side new and less mature Christians?
3. What have been your thoughts about our discussions of pride and arrogance? Have you been challenged, or do you feel we are barking up the wrong tree in our emphases?
4. Why does a Christian have the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others in growth with time, love, and patience?
5. What would be some excuses not to do it?
6. How would Christ receive these excuses?
7. In what ways do Christians present their own version(s) of lordship, to the exclusion of Christ (How do we see Jesus--as lord, or Lord)?
8. Why would dedication to unity rather than strife and envy benefit your church?
9. How could you present an argument to your leadership that discipleship is paramount for the church?
10. Have you, or have you known Christians who flaunt themselves or are condescending to new Christians?
11. What would be their motivations for doing so and how would Christ receive that?
12. Why is envy one of the most destructive forces on earth? How can it bring down leaders as well as ministries?
13. Christ's focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours?
14. Since God was able to deny Himself, can your pride be bigger than Him? If so, what do you need to do to be humble?
15. How does it make you feel that our Lord suffered for the benefit of you and others, to the exclusion of Himself?
16. Does this give you hope and encouragement? What about motivation?
17. What are the patterns that you and your church take in serving others?
18. The Scriptures were written for you, for your benefit, for your learning, and growth, all by divine inspiration. How does this or how can this motivate you to get in the Word daily?
19. Do you acknowledge God's Word the way you do money?
20. Do you trust others to handle your money, but do not trust them to disciple your soul?
21. Why can't you glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in anger and bitterness?
22. Are you and your church known for your negatives or positives? If so, what will you accomplish, or what will be your focus?
23. In verse seven, we are asked to accept others. How can you do this and what barriers do you need to get over in order to do so?
24. Are there certain types of people that you just cannot stand? If so, what do you need to do in light of this passage?
25. How can you and your church realize a depth of gratitude for what Christ has done so you can see the lost as opportunities and recognize the call to reach them?
26. How do we as Christians cause church splits and schisms when we exclude one another over trivial items?
27. What do you think is our honest reputation in the world as a Church?
28. If God accepted you, why should you in turn accept others?
29. A wild animal will tear at another animal's weakness and frailties. Do you or your church do the same to others and still praise the Lord?
30. Christ bears our stupidities. What are those for you and your church?
31. What do you think it means for Christ to bear our stupidities?
32. How do you feel knowing that Christ has love, patience, and grace with us even though we are totally undeserving?
33. Is it impossible to be a Christian hypocrite? Why, or why not?
34. Most Christians have a poor understanding of Judaism. The responsibility of the Jew was to be holy and set apart to God, and to evangelize the world. When they did this, they were blessed. When they refused, they went into apostasy and captivity. How does this statement as well as other passages in the outline help you better understand Judaism?
35. What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model peace and unity?
36. Read Genesis 11. Why do you think the people of Babel sought fame in their own strength? How does this relate to this passage in Romans? How does this relate to your culture?
37. Why would having no hope cause you and your church to have no vision and purpose, or not to trust the One who loves?
38. Have you been able to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from your thinking and actions? If not, what do you still need to work on?
39. How can you and your church seek the good in others, be a blessing, and not seek self-gratification over the expense of others?
40. How can your church function collectively, with all of its individual personalities, in unified vision and purpose to glorify God?
God saved us, not to be self-centered, but to be His ambassadors wherever we are and whenever we can!
Liberation and Free Will: Like driving a car in a strange, unfamiliar area, with Christ as a passenger, we, as human beings, spend most of our time arguing, complaining, and debating the destination. Therefore, we end up going nowhere and we end up hating the journey. In addition, we do not have a clue to our destination. If we allow Christ to get into the driver's seat, He will be able to take us where we could never have gone on our own. The journey of argumentation becomes the road trip of a lifetime, filled with wonder and excitement. Even when we hit those potholes, the ride is a joy. Moreover, if we will sign over the "pink slip" of our will to our Lord Jesus Christ, He will take us to places that our wildest imaginations could never fathom. Our ultimate freedom is found in His service and glorification. There is no better way of life!
As far as "free will" goes, of course we have "free will!" Calvin spent most of his writings discussing this fact. He taught that we have responsibility, and duty to faith and prayer, three areas that require free Will. The doctrine of "faith alone" is a demonstration of our Will to choose, and we do choose to accept His amazing gift of grace (to what extent is a matter of debate in Reformed circles). However, we cannot choose it if we do not know about it, and that is the point of this doctrine. Sin, by the way of our false presumptions and pride, or what we think is fun and inviting, is in the way of our choosing. Yet, if we allow His work to continue in us, the Holy Spirit will lift our sin and our Will out of the way. Therefore, we can be saved by God's predestined decree (Grace Alone), and by what Christ has done (Christ Alone). We accept Salvation (Faith Alone), which is revealed by the Word (The Scriptures Alone), for God's glory (Glory to God Alone). (Slogans from the Reformation adhered by Calvinist and Lutherans.)
As Spurgeon said, free will and God's sovereignty are friends. His preordained decrees are also our free choices working out. Hard to understand? Well, remember, God is beyond the confines of time and space, and is infinitely beyond our understanding. He is beyond how He revealed Himself to us, so accept His precepts and trust Him for the joy ride of life!
© 1998, 2002 R.J. Krejcir, Into Thy Word http://www.intothyword.com/