Romans Chapter 14
KLMX June 2010
1st Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím Bryan Kimsey and today Iím finishing up chapter 14 of Paulís letter to the Roman church. Before beginning, I need to have Godís blessing for this message and I pray that it will glorify Him thru the truth that is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Todayís passage is:
Romans 14:19-23 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. (20) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. (21) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. (22) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (23) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
This is a straightforward passage that doesnít need too much interpretation! I think the first verse really says a lot- "let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." Again, this is reinforced by several other passages, which I brought up a few days ago. But, letís look at them again:
Romans 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.
One from 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.
And another from Philippians:
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Oh, thereís another in Galatians on this theme:
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
All of these passages fulfill the "law of Christ" which can be found in:
John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
And I can be sure that love is the law of Christ because Paul said so back in:
Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
After saying "let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another", Paul says "do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food". This should lead us to wonder what the "work of God" is. We looked at the law of Christ, so what is the work of God? If I search for the term "work of God" in my Bible software, I find this passage:
John 6:28-29 Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (29) Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
So, according to Jesus in Johnís writings, the work of God is to believe in Christ. A little more digging will reveal this passage:
1 John 4:15-16 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. (16) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him, the passage says. Immediately after this passage is another one:
1 John 4:20-21 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (21) And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
And now weíve come full circle. In todayís verse from Romans 14, Paul says:
Romans 14:19-20 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. (20) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.
We saw that weíre to consider one another over ourselves, look out for one anotherís interests, and that love does no harm to a neighbor. We saw that the work of God is to believe in Christ and Christís command was to love one another as He loved us. We see that if Christ is truly in a person, then that person will love his brother. Because he loves his brother, heíd never want to him to stumble and therefore if something that we do might cause our brother to stumble, then we simply wonít do it. I dunno, it seems pretty logical to me.
Unfortunately, though, we see a lot of violations of this concept in our churches and especially between churches. This turns a lot of people away from Christ. Non-believers look at the church, see a lot of bickering, and it turns them away. I canít blame them. It discourages me, too. However, thatís not the way itís supposed to be. I suppose that because the actual Bible is being taught less and less in churches that people tend to know less and less about it. Even when the Bible is taught, preachers tend to pick and pull verses. The great thing about preaching thru a book, like Iím doing here in Romans, is that you have to address ALL of the verses, not just the ones you like. I probably never wouldíve taught on this section of Romans had it not been in my path and I know this has been true in the past, too.
So, here we are, looking at how to treat one another. The command is clear- donít do anything that might make your brother stumble. Be aware of the things you do, the things you wear, the things you sayÖ all of your actions. Do they give anyone cause for stumbling? Paul says:
Romans 14:20-21 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. (21) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
The last few verses in Romans 14 are:
Romans 14:22-23 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (23) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Now, when Paul says "do you have faith? Have it yourself before God", heís not talking about not sharing your faith. A lot of people, even some who call themselves Christians, do not believe in sharing their faith or in telling other about Jesus or even in displaying their faith in public. They have the mantra "my faith is a private and personal thing." But, thatís a clear violation of the whole counsel of Scripture in which Jesus says to shout from the rooftops and to "Go! Spread the gospel!" What Paulís saying is what heís been saying all along in this chapter- to not flaunt your faith in front of those with weaker faith. Recall his first statement from this section:
Romans 14:1-3 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. (2) For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. (3) Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
So what he means when he says "do you have faith? Have it yourself before God" is to not flaunt your stronger faith in front of one who is weaker. Donít do doubtful things in front of them which might cause them to stumble because that is not a loving thing to do. Instead, keep your faith before God. Do those things which edify and build up your brother, not tear them down.
I think the Ministerial Alliance is a good example of this, myself. In the Alliance, we have members from the Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Clayton Gospel Church, the Catholic Church, and Southern Baptist. Pentecostals, Catholics, and Baptists! If we sat down and argued points of theology, weíd quickly find points of disagreement. Well, for that matter, I can easily find points of disagreement between First Baptist Church of Des Moines and other Southern Baptist Churches. Because Paul says in 1 Corinthians "now we see in a mirror, dimly", I think that this side of Heaven weíll always have disagreements. But, we all agree on one point and that is, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the main thing. That is the one point upon which we can all agree. And, as I said at the very beginning of this study, if a person claims Christ, then Iím going to apply Romans 14:4 to that person:
Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
If I have theological differences with a person, but that person claims Christ on their behalf, then that person is in Godís hands and theyíre His responsibility, not mine. Iím most happy to discuss differences and expound on why I think the way I do, but I hope to God I never hammer them over the head with those differences. I pray that I behave in a Christ-like manner toward all men, atheists and believers alike. If we all followed that simple rule, what would the church look like then?
This concludes our survey of Romans 14. Iíll be back on in 5 weeks with Romans 15. May God shine the light that is Jesus Christ into your heart.
Romans 14, Part 4