Romans 15 Part 1
1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For 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 former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Fellowship - Association based upon the sharing of something in common. Believers have fellowship with one another on the basis of their common fellowship with God, their participation in the blessings of the gospel and their common task of mission. True fellowship is demonstrated in concern for, and practical commitment to, one another.
What has happened to Christian fellowship in today’s society? We will join civic organizations, fraternal organizations, make scheduling commitments for sports, and basically pledge ourselves to everything EXCEPT what has the most eternal impact and consequences. We use excuses to try to justify our actions, and unfortunately it seems we will use small issues among believers in the church as excuses also.
But we find that this is not something new. In the Roman church, there was a difference of opinions in food - vegetarians vs meat eaters, drink - wine vs abstaining, honoring specific days vs all days equally belonging to God. Paul referred to these as weak or strong in faith. Regardless, those who are strong in the faith have the “obligation” to care for the needs of those weaker in the faith and NOT to use our faith as a way to please ourselves. We are NOT to speak down to, or try to abrasively convince the weaker that we are right and they are wrong. Pleasing ourselves is thinking too highly of our own beliefs / faith. We, as humans, will never reach the point that we have “arrived”. This is where we find Paul continuing his address to the believers in the church of Rome.
1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
What does it mean to have the “obligation to bear with the failings of the weak”?
We are not to only tolerate one another, but we are to also serve one another “please” others. We are expected to help, or bear the burdens, of the weaker in faith. Now, this does not mean we are to bend over and do everything that anyone wants, but to be considerate over the things that they feel may call them to stumble.
Today, those who are “weak” might be those who judge others unfairly, grumble, complain, criticize, are legalistic in behavior and who only thing “certain” parts of God’s Word pertains to them. But Paul calls us to support them, carry them, protect them just as a parent would a child. So, how do we create this attitude in today’s church? “Let every one of us please his neighbor” - we have to put our own wants and desires aside and look to please our neighbor. How do we please them? When we see something that may be a stumbling block to a brother or sister… WE DON’T DO IT! Instead we look at what should be done to build up the faith of like-minded believers.
What model do we have in scripture that points to denying ourselves?
The believer has the greatest pattern in all the world for denying self and living for his neighbor: Jesus Christ Himself. “For even Christ pleased not himself.” If we look at His ministry, he endured the hostility of a sinful world and took on the sin of the world and made it possible for all of us to attain salvation - a restoration of our relationship with God the Father. Christ did not live to please Himself. He did not pray, “Father, remove this cup of sacrifice and denial from me—no matter what.” He prayed: Matthew 26:39
Matthew 26:39 (ESV) “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus Christ is the believer’s pattern for pleasing others instead of self. The serious believer no longer asks if questionable behavior is right and moral, but if is it good for his brother. Will this thing edify and build up his brother?
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
How do we become strong, mature Christians?
Through the study of Scripture. It has been written for our instruction (direction, guidance) so that we can learn what God wants from us, as Christians - how to live, how to act, how to treat each other, etc. Through the study, it gives us an ability to endure this life and all the things that life brings with it by being encouraged with what we read in Scripture and gives us HOPE. (One of the three main elements of Christian character) Christ is the SOURCE of the believer’s hope, because it is in his second coming that the hope of glory will be fulfilled.
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What should a church work towards to strengthen itself?
A strong church should be working towards harmony. How can a church—a church with so many diverse personalities—achieve harmonious feelings and one mind? The believer secures his strength or endurance and comfort from both the Scriptures and God. If he wishes to stick—to endure to the end—he must study the Scriptures and pray, asking God to give him strength and endurance, and comfort and consolation.
Now, note the point. If we know the endurance and comfort of God, then we are bearing the weaknesses of each other; we are constantly supporting and helping and caring for each other. We are living in harmony and being of one mind.
What is the pattern Christ gives through His life?
The believer could have no greater pattern than the pattern of Christ Himself. Christ was always working to bring men together with God so that they could have the endurance and comfort to live through all the trials and sufferings of life.
The purpose for harmony between believers and within the church is striking: that we might glorify God—all of us together—with one mind and one mouth. God longs for our worship and praise. It is the very reason He created us and saved us. Note a significant point: a divided church cannot worship God. This is exactly what is being said. A church has to be of one mind and mouth to worship God. If a people are not of one mind and mouth, God is not glorified; He is not worshipped.
The point is clear. Every one of us must work for the harmony of the church so that we may be of one mind and fulfill the very purpose for our existence: to glorify God.
7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
What does it mean to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us?
In a strong church everyone accepts one another. There is no discrimination whatsoever in a strong church. The word receive means to receive a person as a friend; to treat as the closest of friends with the most caring kindness. Believers are to receive one another in the closest of bonds.
Christ received us, and note why: that God may be glorified. Therefore, believers must receive each other so that God may be glorified through their lives and church. Just look at how far Christ went.
Christ received the Jews and ministered to them. He did it for the truth of God: to confirm and fulfill the promises made to the Jewish nation. Think how discriminating, prejudicial, and judgmental the Jews were; yet Christ came to them and received and ministered to them. Why? For the truth of God—to fulfill the Word and praise of God.
Christ received the Gentiles and ministered to them. He came to bring them the mercy of God, that they might praise God for His mercy. Remember He received and ministered to the Gentiles when they were living a promiscuous and indulgent lifestyle.
Believers are to receive one another even as Christ has received us. No person is too prejudicial or critical, too weak or base for us to receive. The point is that Christ received and ministered to the most prejudicial and judgmental (the Jews), sinful and base (the Gentiles) people in the world; therefore, believers can receive one another. No one is too far gone to be rejected and cast away.
We are to receive (welcome) each other, as Christ also received (welcome) us. We are to receive (welcome) each other for the glory of God.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
What three characteristics does God fill a believer with?
In a strong church everyone is filled by the God of hope. God is the “God of hope” … the Author, the Foundation , the Builder, and the Finisher of our hope.
The things mentioned cannot be possessed apart from God, and we can possess them only as He gives them to us.
a. There is joy: an inner gladness; a deep seated pleasure. It is a depth of assurance and confidence that ignites a cheerful heart. It is a cheerful heart that leads to cheerful behavior.
b. There is peace: peace comes through believing. No man has peace apart from God.
c. There is hope. to expect with confidence; to anticipate knowing; to look and long for with surety; to desire with assurance; to rely on with certainty; to trust with the guarantee; to believe with the knowledge. Note that hope is expectation, anticipation, looking and longing for, desiring, relying upon, and trusting. But it is also confidence, knowledge, surety, assurance, certainty, and a guarantee.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. Romans. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1996. Print. The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible.