March - Reading 22

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Mar 22, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    First of all, I need to make an ammendment to last night's commentary. I had confused the wine mixed with gall mentioned in Matthew 27:34 with the sponge soaked with wine vinegar in our reading tonight in verse 48. I have read these accounts many times, but I always pick up new details every time I do.
    One thing that intrigued me tonight is verse 52 & 53 where people who were dead were raised to life at the moment of the death of Christ. My NIV notes say that this is possibly a symbolic representation of Christ conquering death by His work on the cross. Here is further commentary from John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament :
    Matthew is the only Gospel that refers to this event.

    Romans has had so much to offer us as believers and the passage tonight had so many points that it is to hard to make a synopsis without quoting the entire passage. It deals with our treatment of each other, of those weaker in the faith, personal convictions, etc. One verse that I would like to point out, however, is verse 12. This is testimony to one of the great Baptist distinctives: soul liberty. Since I alone am accountable to God, the decisions I make must be of my own choosing. Notice that in judgement, it is not cited that God will accuse, rather we will confess!

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday Schooll lesson 1/29/06

    Romans 14:1-12

    As today’s lesson unfolds, one may be reminded of the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Perhaps you have seen this scene played out in your church: the congregation splits into two factions. Those who adhere to a strict code of traditionalism are labeled legalists and those who are broadminded about change are labeled liberals. Perhaps the issue is music or style of dress, or Bible preference or hair length. Perhaps other examples may be popping immediately to mind.

    The setting is not new, by a long shot and Paul recognized how people in groups tend to polarize. In other Epistles he has stated quite unequivocally that bad doctrine must be confronted. That is a given. There are many issues on which the Scriptures are quite clear. However, there are others that remain a bit fuzzier that somehow get taken to a higher level.

    The 14th chapter of Romans continues speaking on the issue of love. The topic is now concentrated to within the church and the relationship the body of believers should have amongst its members. Paul is addressing those who are believers, those saved by grace through their faith. These are not the legalist who felt that Judaistic practices would put God into their debt. Nor are they the libertines who felt that anything goes in the liberty of Christian faith. These were the God fearing members of a fledgling church who were looking to this Apostle to give them direction.

    Paul was probably writing this Letter from Corinth where a much longer discussion on the same topic was taking shape. The Corinthians were in danger of ripping themselves apart because the condition of polarization had gotten so out of hand. Paul refers to one group as the weak and the other as the strong. The goal of the Passage, however, is to exhort them all to be the mature.

    Romans 14:1-4 The Issue of Dietary Laws

    There were those in the Roman church who had certain scruples about the issue of diet. There were certain customs and Laws that they observed out of tradition, feeling that such a course was more pleasing to God. Across the aisle sat those who did not observe the traditions recognizing them as not part of the New Covenant brought in by the Gospel.

    In Corinth, the issue of eating meat is specifically related to that which was sacrificed to pagan idols. While this may have been the case in Rome, it is also possible that Paul is referencing the minority Jewish population who was unable to obtain kosher meats in the city and therefore refrained from eating meat at all. In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul refers to the two factions as “those who live by conscience,” and “those who live by knowledge.”

    The knowledgeable (the strong) have a tendency to belittle the conscientious (the weak). Paul begins this section by exhorting the strong to welcome the weak into fellowship. However, the strong must be careful not to be inviting him in simply for the purpose of debate. The issue of food was non-salvific. Christ had told us that it is not what goes into the body that makes us unclean. Therefore, on an issue such as this, the eating of vegetables was not going to make a man lose his salvation or lead others astray. The strong must retain an attitude of brotherly love for the weak and accept his practice as one that he sees fitting.

    On the other side of the coin, the weak, he who only ate vegetables, must not put himself in the role of judge over those who ate meat. The church was made up of those accepted and adopted by God and it was God who would be the judge of these actions.

    Paul then states a short parable of a household master and his slave. The slave is the strong Christian who is the servant and the Master of the house is God. The slave was accountable to the Master and no other. Therefore, if the Master was willing to let him remain standing, no one else had any right to make him fall. Each Christians accountability on the issue of food was between him and God.

    Romans 14:5-9 The Issue of Holidays and Seasons

    Once again, this issue was likely related to the minority Jewish population in the church who had held onto the ancient Hebrew customs of religious holy days and an observance of the Sabbath. There were also those who had begun recognizing Sunday as significant as Jesus had been resurrected on that day. Others from a Gentile background probably saw no significance in any day over another as every day is the Lord’s day. Once again, this was no issue to create a schism over.

    Paul instead urges the members to all be convinced in their own minds as to what significance, if any, any day had over another. It should be stated here that Paul is not preaching indifference over the issue of observing a day when the congregation would come together. It is likely that the church meetings occurred throughout the week. The point is that if one was convicted to set one particular day aside as special for the worship or the observance of rites to God, then he should be free to practice his own convictions. If one has a certain day that is significant and he uses that day to honor God, no one should criticize the practice.

    Personal convictions are not to be squelched nor imposed. They are ones way of showing personal homage to God. The observances of holidays, if done with an aspiration towards serving God, are appropriate. They are not however, requirements under the Gospel. The eating of nonkosher meat, if done with thanks to God for the provision, is acceptable. The eating of only vegetables from personal conviction, is no threat to ones faith.

    Once sin lorded over the Jew and made the observance of diet and holidays a requirement. Once ignorance lorded over the Gentile and made him an alien to the kingdom of God. Now, however, because of the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we are all the Lord’s. To live to ourselves shows an ignorance of the real meaning of the Gospel. The Gospel is not a license to live in self-gratification and selfishness. Nor is it a club with which we beat others over the head. The Gospel is the saving knowledge given to us by the call of God to become a part of His family. We are His now just as surely as when we die. To make us a part of the family of God was the primary function of Christ’s death. He is our Lord and we are His servants. This high duty is the purpose of our existence when we accept that call with a response of faith.

    Romans 14:10-12 The Judgment Seat of God

    Paul here addresses the weak who felt that their personal convictions made them superior and therefore in a position to judge those who did not follow their ways. Amongst Christians, to pass judgment is to give oneself the position of deity. All too often the weak, the minority, becomes the tyrant in the church.

    He then addresses the strong, the majority, and questions them how they can dare hate one who holds his convictions towards serving God with such high esteem. Belittlement is not brotherly and condescension is not instructional. All of us will one day stand before the judgment seat of God.

    Those who treat each other with disdain will one day go before God as individuals. Paul paraphrases Isaiah 45:23 to make his point. Each individual will give an accounting of his actions here on this earth and those who treated their brother with disrespect will answer to God at the tribunal.

    Sunday School lesson – 2/5/06

    Romans 14:13-23

    In today’s Passage, Paul continues his discussion of argumentation over questionable matters within the church. In the first half of the chapter Paul had pointed out the problem with the church splitting into factions over the specific issues of dietary and holiday convictions. In the Roman church that was Paul’s first audience to this Letter, the Gentiles who had never been under the Mosaic Law, had been saved by the news of the Gospel which did not advocate such restrictions. These Gentiles, the majority, were labeled by Paul as “the strong.” The criticism leveled at the strong by Paul was that they were goading those who did not follow their liberated views into arguments.

    On the other side of the aisle were the minority converted Jews who still held to the convictions of Judaism. For this group, the retention of dietary requirements and holidays was a way of life and a deep seated religious conviction. Though freed from the Law, they continued to observe its requirements. Paul has stated earlier in the Letter that the Law was good, that it was of God, and that its intent was to point to the way of the Gospel, namely, to do what is good for your neighbor. He also states that the Law had been met by Jesus Christ and fulfilled on our behalf. Paul termed this faction “the weak” and leveled the criticism towards them that they were judgmental, a quality reserved for God and His Son.

    Debate among believers is healthy and constructive. We witness debate among the disciples in the Book of Acts. Healthy debate between strong Christians awakens a desire to learn in those less knowledgeable. Debate refines our ability to defend our faith in the world. Debate causes us to reflect and examine our beliefs and convictions and discard the arbitrary while maintaining the good. Argumentation or strife, however, relishes in the defeat of an opponent. It belittles the one we should be trying to strengthen. Argumentation over non-essential issues is destructive and it goes against the primary quality we should endeavor to cultivate – love.

    Paul’s words today are addressed primarily to the strong. In the world it is typically the majority who win out while the minority is forced to tolerate that which they do not believe. In the world, the minority are excluded without thought or concern because they lack a power base. The church, however, is not the world and the minority is as much a part of the body of Christ as the majority. The church’s mission is one of inclusion. Just as our Lord sought to invite all of mankind to the Messianic banquet, so too are we to seek the inclusion of all those called by Christ.

    We all begin our walks towards God at different points. We all have certain convictions on what is worshipful or proper. Paul states that such convictions are acceptable for the individual but it is wrong to impose them on others. But what of those who lack the scruples of the weak? How are they to act in the face of what they know to be unnecessary, self-imposed restrictions? What harm is there in correcting one who is going above and beyond the requirements of the Gospel? What is the duty of the one who recognizes the freedom he has in Christ towards the one who still feels the restraint of conviction? The cost of acting from pride rather than love is higher than one may think at first.

    Romans 14:13-23 Those Who Cause Stumbling

    Just as the first half of chapter 14 is easily compared to the lessons of 1Corinthians 8-10, the second half is an expansion on the thoughts expressed in 1Corinthians 10:23.

    In the first half of the chapter Paul had accused the weak of being judgmental. It is now stated that both factions are guilty of this charge. Instead of judging one another, Paul calls for his audience to instead judge his following points. The improper use of knowledge by the strong can wound the conscience of the weak and become a stumbling block for him. The term stumbling block means literally a stone upon which one trips and falls. When used as a spiritual metaphor, the term generally means something which causes another to sin. The goading of the weak by the strong could lead to jealousies, envying, and even alienation.

    Our efforts should not be for the purpose of promoting disharmony within the congregation but towards the promotion of peace. Therefore, to belittle another on an issue of conviction is contrary to the purpose of the church. It is not done out of love for a brother but out of prideful judgment.

    Paul goes on to state that he recognizes the position of the strong on the issue of dietary law. He is persuaded “by the Lord Jesus” that nothing in the physical world is unclean in and of itself. Jesus had taught that it is what comes out of the mouth that makes one unclean, that is, unable to go before the presence of God (Mark 7:15).

    It is noteworthy here that Paul makes the point that food will not defile a believer after speaking so strongly about the properness of convictions. Paul’s purpose was not to withhold the truth from the weak for the sake of their convictions. To do so would be condescending. To not state the fact of the repeal upon dietary law would have rolled Christianity back to the time before Peter was enlightened by Christ on the matter of Gentile food (Acts 10:11-15). Instead, Paul goes on to point out that uncleanness is a matter of the mind.

    The weak brother is in danger of being injured by the stumbling block set up by the strong. If the strong disregards the weak’s convictions he causes him to grieve. The strong is to remember that Christ died for the weak brother. How little a matter it is, then, to respect his convictions. Christian liberty is something that Paul views as “good” but when flaunted or misused it can be misconstrued as being evil. One who deliberately offends a weaker Christian by going against his convictions is not walking in love.

    Eating kosher or non-kosher meat will not get one to Heaven nor keep one out. Dietary law is not what the Kingdom of God is about. The term “Kingdom of God” usually means the future inheritance in Pauline terms but here is obviously referring to the church of Christ here on earth. What the Kingdom is about is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

    Righteousness is that quality of God we receive through our faith in Christ. It is based on the righteous act of God in sending Christ. It is manifested in the fulfillment of the Law by Jesus. Those who are not righteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1Corinthians 6:9-11). Peace is the harmony we have with God as sons and heirs but also extends to our fellow man (Ephesians 2:14). Joy is that special fruit of the Spirit which enables us to always keep one foot in heaven.

    It is a true catastrophe when the weaker Christian, called and accepted by Christ is destroyed over a matter as trivial as food. Does the strong have freedom? Yes. Does he have knowledge? Yes. What must not be neglected, however, is that he also has a great responsibility towards his fellow Christian. Christian love as expressed through patience and acceptance is both a duty to God and service to man. To sin against a weaker Christian by wounding him is to sin also against God (1Corinthians 8:12-13). As Christians, we are also priest and that puts upon us a responsibility to do those things that are acceptable by God.

    Within the church we have a duty towards edifying, or building up, the brotherhood. This common goal prompts Paul to make a second call for peace, that is, harmony with our fellow Christian. One who is strong in knowledge of the Gospel can be constructive or destructive. Destroying the church, which is the work of god and established by Christ, is a sin, no matter how “right” one may be in their views.

    “Faith” in the context of verse 22 is not the saving faith in Jesus Christ but rather the conviction of what is right and acceptable to God. Neither the strong nor the weak have the right to impose on the other their convictions on what belongs to their personal relationship to God. Instead it is the individual’s conscience and his own guidance by the Holy Spirit that shape his knowledge of what is right and wrong.

    There is a subjective element to sin. As Paul’s paraphrase of Isaiah in verse 11 states, it is with our tongues we will confess at the judgment. We are responsible for our actions and nothing but the dictates of conscience and the Holy Spirit can bring about our own guilt. Each Christian in his walk must recognize the necessity of obeying his conscience. It leads us to the next level of maturity in our faith.

    There are three levels of the Christian life as outlined by Paul. The weak need time to live on that level and develop the knowledge of the Gospel that frees them from unnecessary convictions. The strong have overcome certain scruples and must recognize that they are given a greater responsibility that leads them up to the final level, the level of love. It is to this level that the next chapter points.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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