Joy & Peace in Believing
We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples [or the weaknesses] of those that are weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Jesus Christ, that you may with one mind and with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, we pray for Your wisdom as we go through Your word today. Lord, as we just sang together, how great are You; we’re declaring Your praises as we ought to, God. We pray that we would be able to fulfill what Your word says right here in Romans chapter 15, Lord, that by Your working in us, we would be one body, and that we, with one mind and one mouth, would honor and glorify You. And Lord, that we would be so transformed by the Spirit of Your grace, that wherever we go, throughout this next week, whether we’re at school or work or in our neighborhood, Lord, that the people we come in contact with would see You in us; they would see Your attributes, Your character reflecting in us Your grace, Your mercy, Your peace, whether it be self-control, all of these things, God. Transform us by the renewing of our minds, we ask in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”
You can be seated.
Some of you may know the name Joni Erickson Tada; a great Christian woman, author, speaker. At a young age, due to a diving accident into shallow water, she was rendered paralyzed from the neck down. But God has used her life in awesome ways. She tells a story about her husband, Ken, who, one of the things that he has the opportunity of doing is serving with the Special Olympics. And she tells a story about how he is the track-and-field coordinator, and at one of the sessions of the Special Olympics he blew the whistle to call the contestants to the line for the 50-meter dash, 50-yard dash. And they came to the line, and the first two that came to the line, one was a young Downs Syndrome girl with thick glasses, and then another boy, squatty boy with baggy shorts, and they were the first to the line. But the other contestants came to the line, and he blew the whistle, and they all took their ready positions. They’re still there for a moment, and then the BANG of the gun, and they start running down the track. And as they did, the boy with the baggy shorts, she says that he saw some of his friends in the infield, and so he deviated from where he was on the track, and started to run towards his friends. And Ken blew the whistle to try and bring him back to the track, but it was to no avail. The girl with Downs Syndrome, she was in the lead, and as she came near the finish line, she saw her friend with the baggy shorts running, and she ran off after him. She got to him and she gave him a hug and she brought him back to the track, and they ran hand-in-hand the rest of the race. Although they finished last, they still finished the race.
Now that demonstration of kindness is not something that we normally see in such a competitive environment. Can you imagine, in the actual Olympics, that there in the 50-meters or in the hurdles or whatever it is, we always see when we watch these that someone hits a hurdle or someone takes a wrong stride and goes to the ground, and you know for certain there is no way that the other contestants are going to stop, even if they’re on the same team. They’re not going to stop and try and help them to their feet to run the last leg of the race, to finish the race. That would never happen in such a competitive environment.
The reality is, we live in a competitive environment every single day. We live in a world that, sadly, requires strength and shrewdness and cunning, because only the strong survive. Obviously the scientific evolutionary theories of natural selection, most often called “survival of the” what? [fittest] Obviously that concept in science has huge social implications. It doesn’t just stay there in science; it begins to find its way into every aspect of our lives. This idea of “survival of the fittest,” this idea that only the strong survive. And so we all understand that we live, especially here in the United States of America, in a very competitive environment. You don’t even need to play the game to be competitive. You know the Chargers are playing the Cowboys today at 1:25 pm. It’s a home game. There are some people in our church, in our community, that they’ve never even played football, but boy are they competitive when it comes to the Chargers. Right? We understand this idea of living in a dog-eat-dog world, in a place where only the strong survive.
But the fact is, the kingdom of God and His church is to be different. The kingdom of God and His church is to be different in every single way. Now not only is our society constructed around this mindset of survival of the fittest, but it is also wholly committed to the philosophy of self-fulfillment, of fulfilling your desires, your needs, your wants. But again, God’s kingdom and God’s church are to be a sanctuary from this worldly ideology (I guess you could call it idolatry too). It is to be a place where we come and that is not to be the ruling mindset here in the world in which we live, in the Body of Christ. Consider just how far removed and otherworldly the church is to be from this world system.
Look at verse 2 of Romans chapter 15: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. That is totally different than the world in which we live. Of course, verse 1, Paul says, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of those who are weak, and not to please ourselves.” That’s the mindset of the world, most certainly is contrary to verse 1. We don’t live to please other people; we live to please ourselves. We don’t live to come alongside the person who’s fallen by the wayside; we live to be the winner in the culture in which we live. And yet the Body of Christ is to be different; it’s to be a place where those are not the ruling characteristics, those are not the ruling philosophies. Instead, in this world that we live in, within the Body of Christ, as members of the kingdom of heaven, we are, if we believe ourselves to be strong – and probably every single one of us here this morning, we would count ourselves as the strong in the faith. When we read, “those who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak,” we say, “Well I’m the strong one, and I know who the weak ones are.” But that’s just so contrary to the world in which we live. “Let each one please his neighbor for his good, leading to” growth, or “for his good,” and for his growth.
Paul the apostle, in Galatians chapter 6, he says in verse 2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We’ve been considering, as we’ve been going through these last several chapters of the book of Romans, what actually is the law of Christ, how that all the law can be summed up in the concept, the idea of love. As we looked at back in chapter 12, and again in chapter 13, and again in chapter 14, we’ve seen this concept coming again and again and again. Jesus there, in the Gospel of John, in chapter 13, verse 34, and 15, verse 12, He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” And there in Galatians chapter 6, Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That is totally different to the mindset, the worldview of our world, the philosophy of our day. We have sayings, don’t we, like: “You gotta get your act together!” Or, “Suck it up, princess!” I happen to like that one. [laughter] Those are the kind of things that rule the philosophy of our day. We look at someone who can’t seem to carry their own load, and we go, “Get your act together! You’re not gonna bring me down! I’m not gonna let you!” Because the ruling philosophy of our day is: You’ve gotta be strong if you’re gonna survive. You’ve gotta be shrewd and cunning, and it’s all about you. But here Paul says we that “are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” So that is to be the ruling mindset, worldview, for us who are a part of the church, within the Body of Christ.
Now, do you realize, the Scriptures call you and I ambassadors of Christ? That means that wherever we go, we are representatives of His kingdom, of His glory, representing His doctrine. Paul, in Titus chapter 2 says that our conduct is to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior;” that the way that we live is to show forth and beautify His worldview, His teaching. You realize that when we gather together as the Body of Christ in a place like this, this is almost like heaven’s embassy upon the earth, the foreign embassy of heaven. You and I, Philippians chapter 3 says are citizens of heaven, but 1 Corinthians says we’re ambassadors of Christ. So our citizenship is with God in heaven, and we are representatives of His kingdom here upon the earth. Whenever we’re not gathered in this place – the embassy, where we come together to get His doctrine, His teaching, His instruction – and then we go from here to carry it forth to the world. And so if we boil that down, what it means is that when people see my life, when they see your life, they are to see, without ever reading the Bible, what God’s teaching is, to see what His kingdom is like. Now that’s a high bar, isn’t it? But that’s what He’s called us to.
And so the question comes to us: What do people think about the kingdom of God by our conduct? What does the way that we live, the way that we communicate with others, what does it say about the doctrine of Christ and the kingdom of God? Would people want to be also citizens of the kingdom that we are citizens of by looking at the way that we live? Now, we live in a nation where there are people from all over the world trying to get here because of what we have here. We know we have some immigration problems in our nation; that’s because people want to be a part of this nation. Are we having a lot of people trying to immigrate to our kingdom, the kingdom of God? Do we live in such a way where people look at the church and say, “I want to be a part of that?” Are there illegal immigrants within our body? Not those that are coming from another nation, but those that are not a part of the kingdom of God here today, because what they’ve seen in my life and your life, and they say, “I want to be a part of that; I want to have a citizenship in heaven.” How is my life reflecting Christ and the kingdom of God?
Would you turn in your Bibles to the book of Philippians; it’s the right of Romans; you have Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, then Galatians, and Ephesians, and then the book of Philippians. Philippians has been called by many Bible teachers, the study of the book of joy. Paul speaks much about joy and rejoicing in this book. Turn to Philippians chapter 2. The church at Philippi was a great church; a church that was near and dear to the apostle Paul’s heart. He had planted that church, and they were a church that seems to exhibit joy and rejoicing. And he is encouraging them to do that even more, and he says this, look at Philippians chapter 2, verse 3: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit.” Now is that not contrary to the world in which we live? “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness,” humility, “of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not out only for his own interests,” now notice it doesn’t say don’t look out for your own interests ever, it says, “look not out only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Why should we do this? Well, verse 5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in” who? “Christ Jesus.” So apparently this is the mind of Christ; this is the way that we see Him live. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in” humility, “lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but He made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself” even further, “and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.” Now in our last section of Scripture that we looked at last week, in Romans chapter 14 Paul was saying there that yes, we have liberty in Christ, we have been set free in Christ. And some people, because of their cultural background or their upbringing or whatever it may be, they don’t recognize that same liberty, so they’ve set certain limiting standards in their life, as it relates to liberty. And you may say, “I have liberty to do whatever this is that you have to do.”
And this other person says, “No, I have a limiting standard in my life. I cannot do that.”
And so what does he tell us? Well go back to chapter 14; look at verse 1 again, Romans 14, verse 1: “Receive one who is weak in the faith.” How many of you remember back to grade school, playing a game at recess – kickball or whatever it may have been. And you’re the captain of the team, and now you have the opportunity to choose the team. Ever been in that position? How many of you were ever the last person picked? Look at that – more people that were the last person picked than captains. Interesting. We all remember that, don’t we? If you’re the captain of the team, you want to make sure that you’re choosing people that are going to make you win, because we live in a competitive environment. It’s drilled into us from the youngest ages that, even when you see four, five, six, seven, eight, nine year olds, even at the youngest ages they already have that competitive mindset drilled into them. We bring this into the church, don’t we? When we become Christians, we don’t come into the church as perfect; we’re not immediately cleaned and ready to go. We’re still being sanctified, so we bring in this competitive mindset within to the Body of Christ. And there, we have a hard time, just in our nature, with that exhortation – Receive those who are weak in the faith. That is: Accept onto your team those who you would otherwise go, “N-o-o, not that one.” Receive those who are weak in the faith, and “not to deputes over doubtful things.”
Now carrying that same line of thinking, he says here in chapter 15, not only do we receive those who are weak in the faith, but those “who are strong ought to bear with their weaknesses, and not to please themselves,” but for their good, for their edification, we are to seek to please them. Yes, we have liberty in Christ. Yes, there may be others within the Body of Christ that might be counted as weaker in their comprehension or the application of the faith, but out of a heart of love, and as we are continuing to be transformed more and more in our Christlikeness, in our character, then we are to receive those who are weaker in the faith, and we are to bear with their weaknesses, and we are to seek to please them. Now, we’re not to seek to please them just so they can stay in their place of weakness. Notice what he says: for their good and for their edification. So for their good and for their growth, we are to seek to please them. We receive them, and we want to build them up, so that they would be growing in their faith, that they would not stay in that place of weakness any longer. The faith of Christ is not about pleasing myself, rather about pleasing my neighbor for their good and for their growth.
Now, when was the last time, or has there ever been a time in your life where you intentionally set out to deny yourself – your own pleasure, your own whatever it may be, go beyond yourself – for the good and the growth of another person? Has that ever been the ruling character of your life? Now when I think about that question, I have two objections that come to my mind immediately, two objections: Number one – If I live like that I will get trampled on; people will walk all over me. If I do what the Scriptures are telling me to do, people are going to walk all over me. The second objection – No one else is doing it, why should I do it? Why should I live like that; no one else is striving to live like that? Look at the world in which we live. “You don’t understand,” you may say. “Pastor, you don’t understand the environment that I work in, the place that I go to school at. If I live this way, I’m going to get walked all over, and no one else is doing it, so why should I?”
And the reality is, yes, that may be a possibility; that may actually happen. And if the purpose of our Christian life is self-preservation and comfort; if the purpose of our Christian life is self-preservation and comfort, then you need to recognize that you’ve put your faith in a false gospel. You’ve put your trust in a gospel that’s not actually going to be able to save you. Not only have you put your trust in a false gospel, but secondly, Christ is never glorified by that life. You see the recognition about the Christian faith is that the Christian life is not about “me,” it’s about Christ. That’s why it’s called Christian faith, right? Now of course we know, in our world, that there are churches that are completely focused on “ME” – ME church. But the reality is the Christian faith is about Christ and Him being glorified, Him being honored, Him being lifted up.
And so you may say, “Well no one else is living like that, why should I?” Look at verse 3, Romans chapter 15: “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.’” No one else is doing it…well Jesus did. When I say, when I object, “No one else is doing it.” Then who am I following? I’m not following Christ. I’m following the world, I’m following other people. “They are not doing it, therefore I’m not going to do it.” But the reality is Christ did not please Himself.
Now look again, look at verses 1, 2, and 3 again. In verse 1 we are exhorted that we ought to live in such a way that the end goal is not our personal earthly pleasure. Verse 2 says that we are to live with the pleasure and good and growth of others over ourselves in view. So verse 1 says that we are not living for ourselves, we’re living for others; verse 3 says the example is Christ, who lived not to please Himself, and that’s the model that we ought to follow. Of course if you’re not already feeling it well up within you – the objection – maybe you’re not fully paying attention. The objection comes to my mind – But Jesus was trampled on. If I live like that, that means death! He lived that way, and He was crucified. And yes, that is the case.
Notice what the end of verse 3 says, it says, “’The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.’” Paul is quoting from the Old Testament; he’s quoting from the book of the Psalms, Psalm 69. It’s interesting that he doesn’t quote the whole verse, but he applies the second half of Psalm 69 to Jesus. John the apostle, he applied the first half to Jesus. The first half of Psalm 69, verse 9 says, “’Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.’” And John the apostle, in the Gospel of John chapter 2, he quotes that in reference to Jesus. You may remember the story. Jesus had gone to Jerusalem at the beginning of His ministry, and He came into the temple precincts, the courts of the temple, very likely into the court where the Gentiles were, the only place that non-Jews could experience the worship of God. And there Jesus found a place dedicated to selling and buying and exchanging money, it was like a swap meet with exchange rates very, very high. And Jesus went in there, and He turned the tables of the moneychangers over, and He drove those out who were buying and selling. And He said, “This is to be a house of prayer, and you have made it a den of thieves.” And then John applies that, and he says it’s just in fulfillment of Psalm 69 that says, “Zeal for Your house,” God, “has eaten Me up. Jesus, the Son, says, “Zeal,” passion “for Your house has eaten Me up,” and then Paul here quotes the second half, where it says, “’The reproaches of those who reproached You have fallen upon Me.’” The idea is very clear – Those who hated God, reproached Him, their hatred for God fell upon Jesus. It was directed at Jesus because He is God incarnate. Why does Paul quote that in this context here in this passage? I suggest to you, that because he knows the objections that we’re going to bring up: If I live this way, I’m going to be trampled upon. And he says, “Yes, yes, that may in fact be true.” Why? Because you and I are ambassadors of God. The hatred of those who hate God will be directed at you, in the same way that it was directed at Jesus. Now we know that Jesus taught this, didn’t He? In the Gospel of John, in chapter 15, verse 18, He says, “If the world hated Me, know that it will hate you also.” In Matthew chapter 10, verse 22, He says, “You will be hated by all for My name’s sake.” Then He says the exact same thing again in Matthew chapter 24, verse 9. Mark, the apostle Mark quotes it also in Mark 13, verse 13: “You will be hated by all men for My name’s sake.” So Jesus, He told us that this would be the reality, that yes, those who hate God will hate you because you’re an ambassador of God. They don’t hate you just because of you, they hate you because of who you represent.
Now you may have experienced this in some even small level in your life. Maybe you’ve experienced, as I have, coming into an environment where people are sometimes suffering, people are going through trials or difficulty, they’ve had a loved one that has died, a loved one that has been diagnosed with cancer, whatever it is, and you come into the room, you’re a family member, a friend, and you come there and they know you’re a Christian, and they know that you represent God, and they say, they’re so angry at God, so bitter at God, and they now zero in on you with all their bitterness and all their hatred. “I don’t want you here!!!” Not because of who you are, but because of who you represent.
And so Paul brings us back to Psalm 69 because the reproaches of those who reproached God, hated God, came upon Christ, and Jesus told us in the Gospels that “because they hated Me, they’re going to hate you also. Would you turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 5, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 5. Matthew chapter 5, the 10th verse; there Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for” what? “…for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Now because we’re ambassadors of God, we may experience the persecution, the hatred, the reproach of those who hate and reproach God. And so He says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, theirs is the kingdom of God,” they’re citizens of heaven.
Verse 11: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.” The world, because it hates God, hates Christ, will hate the ambassadors of Christ; they will reproach those who stand as representatives of His kingdom. They may trample upon you for humbly following Christ’s example. But when they do, we need to remember that humbly following Christ’s example brings ultimate exaltation and salvation. How do we know that? Well in two of those passages that I quoted from the Gospels, where it says, “You will be hated by all for My name’s sake,” He goes on to say, “but he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Now if that wasn’t there, if the concept and the idea of reward was not there, it would not be worth it. Let me say that again, because I think that you may not recognize the reality of this: If the idea of a reward was not there, then suffering for Christ’s sake would be foolishness. Paul as much as says that in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, when he’s talking about the resurrection of Christ: If Christ be not raised from the dead, and we’re not going to experience resurrection with Him, then all of this that we do for His name is complete and utter nonsense and foolishness. We are of all men most miserable if there is no reward at the end of this.
But we have the sure word of God’s promise – Those who endure to the end shall be saved. There is a salvation, there is a reward, there is an exaltation that comes upon those people who suffer for righteousness’ sake. Jesus said it there in Matthew chapter 5: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Now how many of you rejoice and be exceedingly glad when people are mean to you?! It’s completely contrary, it’s foolishness!! Why would I do that?! Why?! “…for great is your reward in heaven.” Great is your reward in heaven. It doesn’t just say yeah, you might get something. NO!! “Great is your reward in heaven.”
The apostle James, in James chapter 4, verse 10, he said, “Humble yourselves.” Now we live in a culture where that’s completely contrary to everything we’re taught from the youngest ages. “Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He will” exalt you, “He will lift you up.” Now those weren’t just the ideas or thoughts of the apostle James, but he’s quoting Jesus in Matthew 23 and Luke 14, where Jesus says in Matthew 23:12, “he who humbles himself will be exalted.” It does not say might be exalted, it says, “will be exalted.” There’s an absolute certainty that this will come to pass.
Well why does Paul reference the Psalms? Look back again at Romans chapter 15, look at verse 4, Romans 15 again, verse 4. He says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Now Paul takes us back to the Old Testament because those things that were written in the old covenant, in the Old Testament, they were written for our instruction, for our learning. And this why it is terribly unfortunate that many Christians never read the Old Testament, never spend any time in the Old Testament. We know from research that has been done by Barna Research and also by LifeWay Research – these are two Christian research organizations, like Gallup or other ones like that – we know that LifeWay has found, and this was just done back in 2010, I believe, that less than 20% of professing Christians read their Bible on a regular basis. And we know that even fewer of those spend much time in the Old Testament because a lot of times we are instructed that we live in the New Testament, and so therefore people don’t spend much time looking at the Old Testament. But there in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, in verse 11, Paul says, “Now all these things happened to” the children of Israel, in the Old Testament, all these things happened as examples for us. The Greek word “examples” is “typos,” which we get our word type from; they’re types given to us. He says, “All these things happened to them as examples, they were written for our admonition,” instruction, “upon whom the ends of the age have come.” Now, how many of you, speculating maybe, might say, “I think we could possibly be living in the last days?” And a lot of people living in the last days say, “Listen, I’m a New Testament believer, I don’t need that Old Testament stuff.” But Paul says those who are living in the end of the age, they need to learn from what happened to the children of Israel there in the Old Testament.
And then Paul drives it home again here in chapter 15 of Romans, verse 4 – those things that “were written before were written for our learning.” Why? “…that we through the” deliberate study, the patient and loyal study of them, “through patience and comfort of the Scriptures,” the Old Testament, through them we “might have hope.” Now you’ve probably met someone, experienced this before, where someone’s going through difficulty – people are coming against them, trials are facing them. And they come to a point of somewhat despair or despondency, and they say, “I have no hope!! I have no hope.” Well what’s the answer to that?
Paul gives it to us right here. Look again at verse 4: “…whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience,” that is deliberate, patient, loyal study, “through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have…” What’s the result? “…hope.” Hope. You see… Look at verse 5: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another.” He is the God of patience and comfort. Skip down to verse 13 of Romans chapter 15: “Now may the God of” what? “…hope.” So He’s the God of patience and comfort; He’s also the God of, verse 13, the God of hope. Look at verse 33, Romans 15, verse 33: “Now may the God of” what? “…peace.” He’s the God of patience and comfort; He’s the God of hope; He’s the God of peace. That means that these things – patience, comfort, hope, peace – these things come from Him, He is the well, He is the source, He’s the origin of these things.
You say in your life, “You know what, I’m lacking in patience.”
“Well I know where that comes from.”
You say, “Well I’m lacking in peace.”
Well where does that come from?
“I’m lacking in hope.”
Well who is the source, the origin? God is!! So it’s an indication, if you’re lacking in those things, then you’re not connected with Him, abiding in His word, His word abiding in you. You see it falls back on us, not on Him. When we say, “I don’t have this, how come He’s not given it to me?”
Well He is the God of that, and it’s indicative that maybe you have not been where you need to be, it’s not indicative that He’s not been who He is. That’s convicting!! I’ve got to be abiding in His word, His word abiding in me.
“Now may the God of patience and comfort…” Notice that Paul is petitioning God, verse 5, he’s praying to God. He says now may that God, the God who is the God of patience and comfort, may He “grant to you,” the church, “that you would be like-minded toward one another, according to Jesus Christ.” By the good work, by the power of Jesus Christ, that you would be like-minded towards one another. Now this is contrary to who we are by nature because of sin. When we come into the church, we live divided contrary lives, and now God, by His grace, He’s desiring to bring us into a place where we are like-minded towards one another. Why?
Verse 6: “…that you,” body of Christ, “you” plural – we don’t really have a you, unless you live in the South, a you plural, in the South they have y’all. So he says, “Now may” y’all “with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see, why does God want us to be like-minded in Him towards one another? So that we would honor and glorify Him. It’s very sad, but it’s true, it’s a fact that many people who are not in the church look at the church and they say, “You guys are all divided, you’re all divided against one another.” That’s what they see when they see the Body of Christ; but God’s desire is that we would be united in Christ, united in Christ and glorifying Him with one mouth, with one mind.
“Therefore,” look at verse 7. “Therefore,” because this is what Paul’s desire and prayer is, because this is what God’s desire is for us, he says, “Therefore receive one another.” What did we see back in chapter 14, verse 1? “Receive one who is weak in the faith.” Here again we see this teaching. “Therefore,” because God is to be glorified by us, with one mind, one mouth, that we together would be glorifying Him. “Therefore receive one another,” and notice this, “just as Christ also received us.” For what? “…to the glory of God;” receive one another to the glory of God. Receive those who are weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. Bear with those who are weak in the faith, you who are strong, so that they would grow, so that they would also be experiencing the good of Christ. So bring them in so that you all together, with one mouth, one voice would be up to glorify God, receive them in the same way that Christ received you.
Well remember, when we came to Christ, when He welcomed us into the family, we did not come as strong. We were utterly unable to stand on our own, and He received us. How many of you were the ones that were chosen last when you played kickball in grade school? You were the one that Jesus would have said, “Yeah, I receive you. I want that one.”
Now we look at that and we say, “That’s foolishness.” And that’s true, because the Scriptures say, “God has chosen the…foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” He’s chosen the base things, those things that are weak, to confound those that are strong.
So, “receive one another, just as Christ also received” you. Verse 8: “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision,” that is to the Jewish people, “for the truth of God, to confirm the promise made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
‘For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.’”
Now in verse 8 Paul turns slightly in a different direction, although he’s going to, we’ll see in a moment why he’s doing this, because it does fit in with the context. But he turns slightly away from what he has been saying. And he says that Jesus came, God incarnate, we see there in Philippians chapter 2, verse 5, that Jesus became a man. John chapter 1, verse 14, it says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Why did He come?
Now we could answer that question with a lot of different answers in the Scripture, but Paul gives us two here: Jesus came, number one, He came to the Jewish people to fulfill God’s promise to their fathers. He came because He who promised was faithful. What are we talking about? Well back in the Old Testament, in Genesis chapter 12, God said to Abraham, “I’m going to bless you; I’m going to make you a great nation. And in you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” That was a promise about Jesus the Messiah coming and blessing all the nations of the world. And so in fulfillment to God’s promise to Abraham, but not just Abraham, in fulfillment to God’s promise to David, when He said to King David, “There will not fail to be on the throne a king from the line of David,” to fulfill His promise to David, Jesus came. So Jesus came in fulfillment of the promises that God had made to Abraham, to David, to the nation of Israel.
But that’s not the only reason that He came. We see there in verse 9, Jesus also came so that the Gentiles, the non-Jews… How many Gentiles here today? Lift up your hands, you who are not Jewish. Look at that!! Jesus came why? So that you and I, you Gentiles, that we might, with the people of God, the children of Israel, “glorify God for His mercy, as it is written…”
Now again he goes back to the Old Testament. Why does he do this? Now I’ve been saying all along, through our study in Romans, that Paul is dealing, one of the problems he’s dealing with in the book of Romans is a division in the early church between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. So he’s just said that Jesus came to save Gentiles, which some Jewish people had a hard time with that. They would have never picked a Gentile on their team. Right? Except that there are a few of them in Jesus’ line. Interesting. So he’s just said that God came to be glorified by Gentiles. Which predominately here today we’re Gentiles. And then he says, “Let me prove this to you from the Old Testament, from the Hebrew Scriptures.” Psalm 18, verse 49, “For this reason,” he’s quoting the Psalms, the Old Testament: “For this reason I will confess to You among the” what? “…Gentiles, and sing to Your name.”
Verse 10, not only does he quote the Psalms, and they say, “Yeah, but that’s the Psalms, you know the psalmist might have gotten it wrong. But we follow the law, the Pentateuch, the first five books.” Okay Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy chapter 32, verse 43, Paul says in verse 10, “And again,” God “says:
’Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!’” the children of Israel. Gentiles and Jews rejoicing to God with one another.
Verse 11, he goes back to the Psalms, Psalm 117, verse 1: “And again:
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!’”
And again…” It’s not just in the Psalms, it’s not just in the law, how about the prophets. Okay, Isaiah chapter 11, verse 10. Verse 12, Paul says, of Romans chapter 15, “And again, Isaiah says:
‘There shall be a root of Jesse…’”
Now King David, his father was Jesse. And so here, the prophet Isaiah says there’s going to be a root in the family tree of Jesse, there’s going to be a root in Jesse, this is Jesus. “’And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope.’”
And so Paul, seeking to deal with this problem between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, in the early church, this cultural divide. The Gentiles saying, “Hey, we’re stronger in the faith because we have liberty in Christ, we’ve been saved by grace, we received His mercy.”
The Jews saying, “No, we have limiting standards, we can’t eat those meat sacrificed to idols.”
There’s all kinds of divisions that are coming in the church because of these things. And Paul says, “No, God has made us one. He wants us to receive one another within the Body of Christ. Not unto disputes over doubtful things, but that we, with one voice, with one mouth, with one mind, Jews and Gentiles alike, that we would together worship and serve and glorify God.”
Verse 13, Romans chapter 15: “Now may the God of hope fill you,” y’all, “with all joy and peace in believing.” “With all joy and peace,” don’t miss those last words, “in believing.” God is the God of peace, He is the God of hope, He is the God of patience and comfort. He is the God from which joy comes, joy and peace. But those things are only laid hold of, not by having Abraham as your father, not by keeping the Sabbath; those things are grabbed hold of by faith.
“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” Why? “…that” you all, “may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
That’s Paul’s prayer: Now may the God of all hope fill y’all with all joy and peace through faith. These things come from God, He’s the source, He’s the origin of patience and hope and comfort and joy, all of these things we see in this passage. He is the source of that, and we lay hold of it by putting our trust in Him. We’re no longer trusting in our own good works. We’re no longer trusting in our lineage. We’re trusting in Him for our salvation. And as we put our faith and our trust in Him, then these things are ours. “…that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
God, make that a reality in our lives. Amen?
Would you stand with me as we pray.
Father, thank You, thank You that You have made it accessible – hope, joy, peace, patience, comfort – these things are accessible to all who put their faith in You, whether we come from a Jewish background or a Gentile background, whether we’re black or white, whether we’re Hispanic, whatever we may be, it’s not just for Americans, it’s not just for Jews, it’s for all people who’d put their faith in You. God, thank You for Your saving power in Jesus Christ.