Saturday, May 23, 2009

Romans Chapters 9- 16

Chapters 9,10 and 11: Faith is the greatest factor

Just because you come from a religious family, or you have a religious heritage, does not mean you have any advantage in entering God’s kingdom. It does not matter if you you come from an entire line of rabbis, preachers or priests, that will not get you into heaven any quicker. You become a child of God by faith and not by your physical heritage descent or ancestry. Human efforts will get us no where- it depends on God’s mercy and compassion. God makes no distinction between race, religious or cultural background. That gives no advantage or disadvantage. What you believe and profess is what matters. Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. As you can read in the old testament, the Jews were entrusted with the prophets and the law and God’s covenant. Now, a relationship with God is available to all who accept and believe.

Chapter 12: The Qualities and Personality of a Believer

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.

Be careful to not be so full of pride- to think more highly of yourself than you should. All of us our important to God and we all have our purpose. God has endowed us with gifts- different from each other but essential nonetheless. Some of us teach, preach, encourage, serve, lead, donate etc. As believers in Christ, when we are together with other believers there is an expectation that we should act in accordance with God’s will. As God has shown love, we need to as well. Above all else, we must show love to one another and “outdo one another in showing honor”, love, mercy, patience and goodness. “Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud…. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil… do not avenge yourselves….do not be conqured by evil, but conquer evil with good.” Additionally, we need to submit to authority, whether it is Godly or worldly. For example, we must obey the laws of the state and government. We must pay taxes and whatever legal or financial obligations required of us when living in this world. Yet we should never forget that love is our biggest obligation. All the commandments are easily summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Chapter 14 and 15: Don’t argue about doubtful issues. Romans 14:1

Perhaps you feel that you can eat whatever you want with a clear conscious, such as pork. Yet maybe there is a new believer in your church, perhaps a convert from Judiasm or Islam that says he can not eat pork. Perhaps he may even go so far as condemning you when he sees you eating a piece of bacon. Don’t argue about it with him. Go ahead and eat bacon with a clear conscious. If he tells you it is wrong, simply explain that it isn’t but don’t get into a heated debate. Let the new convert who is weaker in his faith avoid bacon; don’t force him to eat it. But if you notice he becomes extremely disturbed by watching you eat bacon, then don’t eat it in front of him for the sake of his conscious. The same thing applies to anything else such as the observance of special days. As long as we act in a clear conscious convinced that what we do is the right thing and to the glory of God. Romans 14:5 Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. At the same time, we should still be considerate of each others feelings.

Everything is declared clean by God. But even if your conscious is clear and you know you are right, that is not an excuse to make a weaker believer in the faith feel bad. “Do you have faith? Keep it to yourself before God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But who ever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14: 22 This means that if you have a clear conscious, then go ahead- eat it, drink it or do it. But if your conscious bothers you, when you do something you believe is wrong, then you have sinned. Another thing to keep in mind is there are many cult like groups such as Mormons and Jehovas Witnesses who have many man made rules adding to the word of the bible. They say it is wrong to do things that God has not declared wrong. Do not listen to these people. They should keep their so called man made rules
to themselves.

Thos of us who are stronger in our faith have a greater obligation that we avoid fruitless disputes and debates. Rather we should try to lovingly address and bear the weakness of those weaker in their faith. We should accept one another as God has accepted us. We should act to the glory of God rather than stirring up dissention and arguments amongst each other.

Chapter 16: Paul’s closing remark- avoid arguments!

As in the tradition and format of Paul’s other letters, this letter closes with some encouraging remarks to some specific believers and members of the early church. Paul ends this letter with a stern warning against trouble makers who seek only to stir up arguments. This verse sums it up: “Now I implore you…watch out for those who cause dissentions and pitfalls contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” Romans 16:17

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