In Proverbs 31:4-7 Lemuel passes on the warnings of his mother concerning the importance of kings and others in authority to avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, lest in a state of intoxication their ability to make right decisions be impaired.
There’s no question that alcoholic beverages have deceived and destroyed many lives; but what’s so dangerous about drinking wine in moderation? After all, Jesus miraculously changed water into wine at a wedding feast. He instructs us to use bread and wine in observing the Lord’s Supper. I don’t deny that many Christians around the world drink wine responsibly and in moderation. I am also aware that health studies show that red wine is good for our health. Nevertheless we must not ignore the plain warnings of Scripture of the deceitfulness and danger of intoxicating beverages, including wine. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1
Reasons why I do not drink wine and other alcoholic beverages.
Before I give my reasons, please understand that my total abstinence does not make me a better Christian than those who drink wine in moderation. Though beer and wine are not temptations to me, I have my struggles with ice cream and certain pastries that can be more harmful to my health than wine. I am an ongoing recovering addict from some of those rich foods.
Nevertheless, I will give you my reasons for avoiding wine and strong drink for your own consideration.
1. Although Israel drank wine and used it in their feasts, I am not an Israelite. I am a born again Christian and have an intimate relationship with Christ as part of His bride. In The Song of Solomon 1:1-2 the bride says of her husband, that His love is better than wine. In 4:10 the Husband, says of His spouse, that our love is better to Him than wine. Whereas Old Testament Israel perhaps needed a little wine to give them cheer and help make life bearable; as a Christian, wine is something I do not need to give me cheer, nor do I need rich foods and entertainment to brighten my day. With Christ I enjoy a continual feast.
2. I enjoy grape juice. If I started drinking wine, I imagine I could acquire a taste for it and thoroughly enjoy it. If that happened, I might have as much trouble drinking in moderation as I have trouble eating chocolate or certain flavors and brands of ice cream in moderation. I don’t want to take that chance. I do not trust my sinful flesh nature, nor should any Christian. Read the warnings about this in Romans 7:14-25
3. As Paul said in I Corinthians 6:12, so I refuse to allow my body to come under the control of anything, good or bad. If I crave anything, that is a caution flag warning me to bring it under control. If I crave something, I try to avoid it. This is what Paul is talking about in I Corinthians 9:24-27. Be warned of those things you MUST have in order to be happy and content. If your meal is ruined because you cannot have a cup of coffee or a can of soda or anything else, than perhaps you have a craving that needs to come under control. If you or I have a certain TV program we just MUST see or our day is ruined, that is a sinful craving. If you or I MUST have a glass of wine with a meal or the meal is ruined, that is an inordinate affection or desire and Colossians 3:5 warns about allowing that to rule our lives.
ANYTHING THAT WE MUST HAVE IN OUR LIVES IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY AND SATISIFED, HAS BECOME A LUST. THAT IS A SIN!
When Israel was traveling through the wilderness on their way to Canaan, they lusted after the cucumbers, leeks and garlic of Egypt and despised the manna God was providing them. Read Number 11:4-10 and see how this attitude displeased God.
II Samuel 23:14-17 tells the story of how David, while in battle with the Philistines, sinfully craved a drink of water from a certain well in Bethlehem, his home town. Three of his brave soldiers jeopardized their lives to bring him a cup of that water. He became so convicted of this that he refused to drink it, but poured the water on the ground as a sacrifice to God.
4. If some people in Old Testament times took a Nazarite vow, which included abstaining from wine and even grapes, in order to please God; it seems to me that as a Christian, I ought to abstain from wine and other alcoholic beverages.
5. Aaron and his sons as priests were forbidden to drink wine. We as Christians are a kingdom of priests. See I Peter 2:9-11. It seems to me it would be right for us to also avoid wine.
6. Kings and judges were commanded to avoid wine lest they should forget God’s Law and pervert judgment. Remember, that was Bathsheba’s warning to her kingly son Lemuel, n Proverbs 31:4-5.
7. Pastors, elders and deacons are all warned to not be given to wine. II Timothy 3
8. I am free as a Christian to drink wine, but I refuse to enjoy that freedom lest by my example I should cause a weaker brother to stumble. Romans 14
9. Personally I cannot think of one good reason to try to acquire a taste for wine and start drinking it, so I won’t.
10. I expect in Christ’s Kingdom in my glorified body, I will feel free to enjoy drinking wine with Christ, but until then I choose to abstain. Luke 22:18
As I hold these standards for myself, I refuse to condemn or think less of my brother in Christ who does not see it my way. Romans 14:21-23
There’s no question that Paul was successful in his ministry. What made him a success? What makes any pastor or any servant of God a success in God’s eyes? We’ll find the answer in the passage before us, Romans 15:13-33.
Let me begin with a simple Biblical principle which you and I must never forget. Our calling and responsibility is to GO with the Gospel and PROCLAIM the Gospel. God’s responsibility is to DO THE SAVING. You and I cannot save anyone. We cannot change anyone’s heart. Only God can do that. I’m glad I learned that principle early in my ministry. It has taken immense pressure off of me to attempt to try to do what only God can do.
Here are the six secrets of Paul’s success, secrets that will work for any servant of God in any age.
I HIS CONCERN FOR THE SPIRITUAL WELFARE OF OTHERS.
His dual concern was for the salvation of sinners and for the maturity of the saints. Romans 15:13, 9:1-3, 10:2, II Corinthians 5:13-15, Galatians 4:19. That concern results in a two-pronged ministry; that of preaching the Gospel to the lost and teaching and edifying (building up the saints) in the truths of God’s Word. As you read through Hidden Treasures you will soon note that this is also my dual concern.
II HIS CONFIDENCE IN WHAT GOD WAS DOING IN THEIR LIVES
Paul, in Philippians 1:6, writes of his confidence in God’s ability to complete what He alone had begun in the hearts of those who trusted in Him for salvation. That confidence has taken the pressure off of me to attempt to do what only God can do. My responsibility is to preach the Gospel to the lost and to take every opportunity to feed God’s people the Word wherever and whenever I have the opportunity. God does the saving of sinners and the edifying of the saints. Hence this Hidden Treasures web site. His responsibility is to do what I cannot do: save people and cause them to grow and mature as saints. What an unnecessary load that takes off my shoulders!
III. HIS CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS DIVINE COMISSION
In Romans 15:15-20 we learn that this consciousness resulted in holy boldness. 15:15, direction, 15:16,20, and Holy Spirit power to do what he never could have accomplished in his own ability. 15:17-19 What an encouragement this has been to me as a preacher, once a bashful, timid boy who was afraid to stand up in front of people and talk.
IV. HIS CONSIDERATION OF GOD’S WILL
In this same passage in Romans 15 Paul writes of the importance of seeking and knowing God’s will for himself.
Someone once asked a ship’s captain how he guided his ship safely into a harbor. The captain pointing to some harbor lights replied. “See those three lights out there? When those three lights appear as one light, then I know I am right on course to enter the harbor.”
The three lights for you and me as Christians are;
1. God’s Word Romans 15:21
2. Our circumstances Romans 15:22
3. Our heart’s desire Romans 15:23
When seeking God’s will about anything, all three of these factors must line up as one. There must not be any contradiction. Paul always desired God’s will and His will has always been my primary concern as a Christian.
The Psalmist had the same concern for God’s will. See it in Psalm 37 and Psalm 40:8. Is that the deepest desire of your heart?
V. HIS CERTAINTY OF RESULTS
Paul speaks of this certainty in Romans 15:24-29. He was always ready to preach the Gospel, assured that it was powerful enough to accomplish God’s will. There was never a hint of depression or of self-pity. It was not a self-confidence in his ability; but in the power of the Gospel. We see that same assurance of success in Philippians 1:12-14 and II Corinthians 2:14.
VI HIS CALL FOR PRAYER PARTNERS
That call is found in Romans 15:30-33. Note the use of the word beseech.
That word is found three times in Romans.
In Romans 12:1 Paul beseeches us as Christians to consecrate and present our bodies, our lives and our strength, to God for His use.
In Romans 15:30 he beseeches Christians to be prayer partners with him for Jesus’ sake, striving together with him in prayer as he ministers in his dangerous situation in Rome.
In Romans 16:17 he beseeches them, warning them to recognize and mark or identify publicly the dangerous false teachers who were straying from the doctrine Paul, by divine inspiration, had taught them.
He gives them two reasons for praying. First, for Jesus’ sake. He died for a lost world. The least we can do is to pray for our lost world. The second reason we are to pray is for the love of the Holy Spirit. Our human love can’t get us concerned enough to pray, but the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and controlling us can enable us to pray with burdened hearts.
How are we to pray? Romans 15:30 describes it as striving together with Paul. Colossians 4:12 describes effective prayer as laboring together with Paul.
For what should we be praying? In Romans 15:31-32 he request his brothers and sisters in Christ to pray that he would be delivered from the unbelieving Jews who rejected Christ. As he himself had been a persecutor of Christians before he was saved, so now he was being persecuted by the Jews who rejected and hated Christ.
He also asks them to pray that his ministry and message would be accepted by the saints, the Christians in Jerusalem, when he returned to them.
Finally, he asked them to pray that God would enable him to return to Jerusalem by the will of God and that together they would be spiritually and physically refreshed.
He concludes by asking that the God of peace would be with them. May God help us as we study the prayers in the Bible to learn to pray in the will of God.
As we move into the concluding 15th and 16th chapters of Romans note that Paul is winding up this great doctrinal epistle with some concluding concerns for Christ’s Church. He loves the Church and desires God’s best for her. Paul’s God-inspired desire of blessing for the Church at Rome and for Christ’s universal Church then and today is book-ended between two benedictions. The first benediction in Romans 15:5-6 and the second in 15:13. Let’s consider now Paul’s desire for The Church of Rome and for Christ’s Church today as we consider Romans 15:5-13. His desire could be summarized in one thought, spiritual unity of all believers in Christ.
Consider this theme of spiritual unity using the following outline.
- A Pastor’s Burden.
- The People’s responsibility
- God’s Provision for His Church
- God’s Purpose for His Church
I A Pastor’s Burden
Paul’s burden and every true pastor’s burden is that the Church enjoy Christian unity, peace and joy as it is edified (built up) through the preaching of God’s Word. A false pastor ( a wolf in sheep’s clothing) does not feed the Church God’s Word. Rather, his desire for the church is to milk the sheep for all the money he can get, leaving the flock divided, distressed and in danger of Satanic attacks.
Note in John 17 that the unity of believers was the concern of Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep just before He left His disciples to die on Calvary’s cross.
II The People’s Responsibilities
The responsibilities of the Church are summarized in Romans 12:1- 15:4. We’ve already dealt with them in the previous studies in this Roman’s series. They can be summarized in receiving one another with our strengths and weaknesses and being concerned for meeting the needs of others, thus glorifying God.
III. God’s Provision for His Church
God’s provision for the stronger Christians in His Church is found in Romans 15:4-5. Patience is needed for getting along and working with weaker Christians. Comfort and consolation are needed by weaker Christians who don’t always understand why other Christians, who although they preach the Gospel, do things and believe things differently from them. God’s hope, joy and peace, spoken of in verse 13, are needed by all of us for getting along with others.
In Ephesians 4:3 Paul teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit working in the lives of yielded believers which enables us to enjoy that unity as we are yielded to His control.
IV. The Purpose of this Unity
In Romans 15:6 we learn that the purpose of the Spirit’s unity is that God would be glorified as we, His Church, are a united witness to a lost world. That was also Jesus’ concern in John 17:20-21 just before He went to the cross to die for our sins.
It’s His concern for His Church today that we may have an appreciation and understanding of the value and purpose of each Christian. Let’s not be so quick to write off Christians who differ with us as being weak and of no value to Christ and His Church. How we need to learn to value and appreciate one another with all our differences.
Let us learn to recognize and receive fellow believers as brother and sisters in Christ and learn from them, whether they are weak or strong spiritually. We’re going to love one another throughout eternity. Let’s start learning to do that now.
I conclude with Paul’s benediction for us in Romans 15:13. “Now the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
In the light of our previous study of Romans 14:10-12 concerning the Bema Judgment of Christians it should concern us how we relate to weaker brethren; that is, Christians whom we believe are misled concerning Bible doctrine and who are over-influenced by Satan and his world system.
By weaker brethren I am not speaking of those who deny the Bible as the inspired, infallible Word of God and who deny salvation through the shed blood of Christ. They are not weaker brethren, but enemies of Christ and are of their father, the devil. John 8:34-44.
How can we help our weaker brethren?
Receive them as brothers. Romans 14:1
Don’t argue with them over non-essentials. Romans 14:1
Don’t despise them for their perceived weakness, Romans 14:3
Don’t judge or condemn one another for these differences. Romans 14:3-4
Remember that none of us live to ourselves. We’re all interdependent on one another. We can’t make it alone as Christians. We need the prayers and encouragement of each other. Romans 14:7
Don’t stumble and offend a weaker brother by our conversations and actions. Romans 14:13, Matthew 18:6
Be charitable and loving in our relationships and dealings with one another. Let love rule. Romans 14:15
Guard your reputation. Romans 14:16 Dr. Bob Jones Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, used to tell us in chapel, “Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is how others perceive you.” Your reputation is important for your testimony’s sake.
Focus on the essentials of Scripture, the Gospel, salvation through the shed blood of Christ.
When it comes to Christ’s Kingdom, yes, there is a promise of a coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ. At the same time, there is a spiritual truth for every Christians to grasp. The Kingdom has already begun in the heart of every Christian. Christ reigns now. Matthew 5:3,10,20, Luke 17:20-21, Romans 14:17, Colossians 1:13, I Thessalonians 2:12, and I Corinthians 4:20. Let’s focus on these concerns that edify rather than the picky differences of opinion that divide.
Endeavor to try to keep peace in God’s family. Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:3,13.
Here’s one with which I especially have problems! Keep your personal opinions to yourself. Don’t burden down other Christians with you convictions of right and wrong. Romans 14:22 Live by your convictions.
Bear with, that is, put up with the weaknesses of others. Romans 15:1 Christ is our example in this matter. Romans 15:3 He did not live for self-fulfillment and for self-satisfaction. Rather He lived and died for others.
May God help us as Christians to live by these Kingdom Concerns.
In the 14th chapter of Romans Paul warns us concerning our relationship with weaker brethren and of the danger of judging them and determining their spiritual state He warns us in verse 7-12 of our eventual meeting with Christ at the Bema Judgment Seat when Christ will judge accurately.
Let me pause at this time to define several judgments everyone should understand. Then we will focus on The Bema Judgment.
Because this is such a crucial topic to your future, I urge you to take the time to read the Scriptures along with my comments.
Christ bore the judgment for our sins on Calvary.
We read in I Peter 2:24 how Jesus took our judgment and bore the penalty for our sins in His own body on the cross.
We are saved when we understand this truth and by faith trust in Jesus’ sacrifice of His blood on the cross as the full penalty for our sins
Romans 8:1-4 and John 5:24 assure us that because of His sacrifice we are forever freed from the penalty for our sins. Do you understand this judgment and are you resting fully in His accomplished work on the cross? As Jesus died, He cried out, “It is finished!” There is no further penalty or payment you or I must make for sin. Jesus paid it all. If you are trusting in Jesus, your war with God is over. The full penalty has been paid and according to Romans 5:1 and Colossians 1:20 He has signed the peace treaty with His own shed blood and reconciled us to Himself.
Now you can build on that foundational truth as you learn to know God and learn how to live for His glory through His Word, the Bible. That’s what Christian growth is all about. Find a church where this Gospel is clearly preached and where the Bible is faithfully taught and learn how to walk with God as a Christian.
The Bema Judgment
The Bema Judgment is a judgment reserved only for Christians. It takes place after Christ returns to earth to catch up into Heaven all who are trusting in Him for salvation, including the living and the dead. This Bema judgment has nothing to do with a penalty for sin. That was borne by Christ as He died on the cross two thousand years ago.
The Bema Judgment is somewhat like the Olympics where winners of athletic contests are given medals for their physical accomplishments. This judgment concerns rewards for living for and serving Christ. faithfully. Some Christians will receive rewards. Others will suffer loss of rewards. But none will pay the penalty for their sins. That was accomplished by Christ on the cross. We will learn more about this Bema Judgment later in this message.
The Great White Throne Judgment
The great White Throne Judgment is yet to come at the end of time. It is only for unbelievers who refuse to trust Christ to save them from sin and Hell. Its terrifying description is given in Revelation 20:11-15. Thank God that no Christian will ever face God’s wrath at that judgment for their trust is in Christ who bore the wrath of God in our place for our sins in His own body on the cross.
The Daily Self Judgment of Christians
There is one more judgment for Christians and that is our daily self-judgment as we become aware of our sins and failures and confess them to God as sin. When God convicts you of sin, don’t make excuses for them or try to lessen your guilt by calling them a weakness, or excusing them because other people’s sins are just as bad or worse. Instead of trying to make excuses for your sins, simply confess them to God and I John 1:9 promises us that “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It’s as we “walk in the light (of God’s Word) as He is in the light that we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleasnses us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:7
Christians will never go to hell for those sins, but unconfused sin will cut fellowship with God and result in physical, mental and emotional suffering in this life right now. I Corinthians 11:20-34 warns us as Christians to confess our sins daily, especially as we come together for the Lord’s Supper or Communion. To take Communion as though you were right with God when in reality there is unconfessed and unforsaken sin in your life is an extremely dangerous matter. Read David’s genuine confession to God in Psalm 51 in which he pours out his heart in repentance after he had committed adultery and murder. In spite of these awful sins, God, looking at his heart, described him in I Samuel 13:14 as “a man after His own heart”.
So having considered these other judgments, let’s focus now on the Bema Judgment.
FACTS CONCERNING THE BEMA JUDGMENT
The Judge is Jesus Christ who died and rose again as our Saviour and who lives in Heaven today as our Lord and who, according to Revelation 22:12, is returning to reward those who faithfully serve Him now. How dare we who are Christians attempt to judge the faithfulness of other Christians or attempt to lord it over them! In Matthew 7:1-5 we are warned to never judge other’s motives. Leave that to God who alone can read and discern hearts and motives.
The Bema Judgment Seat is not a judgment of condemnation. We who are trusting Christ for salvation will NEVER face a judgment of condemnation and be cast into Hell. That, according to Romans 8:1 was borne by Christ on the cross. Rather, this judgment concerns Jesus’ rewards for faithfulness to Him as Christians.
Romans 14:10-13, I Corinthians 3:10-15, II Corinthians 5:9-10 warn us that in this judgment we as Christians will give an accounting of ourselves to God. In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus encourages us to face persecution for Him with the assurance that we will be greatly rewarded. Even Moses, as well as other Old Testament saints who lived in Old Testament times lived and suffered in the light of future reward. according to Hebrews 11:24-40
When we give an accounting of ourselves before Christ, that will include an accounting of our time, strength, talents, financial resources and use of spiritual gifts entrusted to us as His stewards, as taught in Luke 12:35-48.
In that passage are some troubling truths we dare not overlook nor ignore. Though it is clear from Scripture that Christians will NEVER be condemned nor sent to hell for their sins, for Jesus took the full condemnation for our sins in His body on the cross; yet there is clear teaching that the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ involves not only reward for faithfulness, but pain and sorrow and loss of rewards for unfaithfulness. Christians, we will be sorry and shed bitter tears for ignoring God’s will for our lives and living only for ourselves. Jesus talks about being beaten with stripes. Whether that is literal or figurative, I am sure it will be painful and tears will be shed. Later, in the eternal state, all tears will be wiped away, we read in Revelation 21:4.
I Corinthians 4:1-5 referring to the Bema Judgment, declares that this judgment of Christians will be based on our faithfulness to Him. Here we are taught that we as Christians have no business attempting to judge the hearts or motives of fellow Christians. Only God can read hearts and judge correctly.
In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 we are taught in 7:1-2 to NEVER judge nor condemn others as individuals. Government alone through the court system has the right and the God-given responsibility to condemn and sentence law breakers. In fact, according to Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13:1-7 human government has the God-given responsibility to avenge victims and put to death those guilty of capital crimes.
Keep in mind, aging, faithful Christian, we are warned in II John 8 and Revelation 3:11 that it is possible after a life of faithfulness; to ruin our testimonies in old age and lose the rewards we could have received.
WHAT WILL THE REWARDS BE?
The rewards we receive in Heaven are all described as crowns. These crowns indicate that we will rule with Christ over the world in the Millennial reign of Christ. See Revelation 5:9-10 II Timothy 2:12
The Crown of Righteousness Christ is our righteousness and our only glory. II Timothy 4:6-8, Galatians 6:14,
The Crown of Glory I Peter 5:1-4 This crown is given to faithful elders and pastors. Why to them? Because to such there is little glory in this life. Rather, for the faithful pastor, it is a life of suffering, heartache and shame.
The Crown of Life James 1:12, Revelation 2:10 This crown is given to Christians who endure temptation, love Christ and are faithful to Him to death.
The Crown of Rejoicing I Thessalonians 2:19 This crown is actually the people whose lives we have touched for Christ. I believe this will be one of the most surprising and amazing crowns we will receive in Heaven. I look forward to meeting you, my presently unknown reader of Hidden Treasures and those to whom I have ministered over the years. May God use you in a greater way than He has used me.
The Incorruptible Crown The Christian life is a race. Death or the Rapture is the finish line. The Bema Judgment is the throne of Christ before whom we will one day stand to receive our crowns or suffer the greatest loss of our entire lives as castaways. I Corinthians 9:24-27
ALL FOR HIS GLORY
Because Christ is the only One worthy of glory, one day, faithful Christians in Heaven will have the glorious privilege of casting their crowns at His feet. Revelation 4:10-11
As we move into Romans chapter 14 the topic before us concerns the relationships of stronger and weaker Christians to one another. All of us are at different stages of spiritual maturity. Most of us who have been Christians very long consider ourselves stronger than we probably should. We all tend to think we have a better understanding of Scripture than others. Be cautious concerning such an attitude.
WHO IS A WEAKER BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST?
We are all weak in some areas of spiritual understanding or practical living. That’s one reason we go to church and sit under the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Because all of us are sometimes blind to our areas of weakness, we need to learn to esteem and prefer one another to ourselves, as we learned in Romans 12:10. Because we are often blind to our own faults and weaknesses, Paul challenges in Philippians 2:3 to esteem others as better than ourselves.
That’s quite difficult for most of us who have been Christians very long. We each tend to think we have a more accurate understanding of Biblical truth and that we are stronger Christians and know the best methods of church polity and worship.
In Romans 14 we’re going to identify two kinds of Christians who needed to recognize and receive those they considered as weaker Christians.
First, the new Christian coming from Jewish background. His conscience was weakened by holding on to the ceremonial system of the Old Testament Law. He was offended by and looked down on the new Gentile believers who saw no problem with eating meats forbidden by the Old Testament ceremonial law and by failing to observe the special days proscribed by that Law.
And then there were the Gentile believers. They had their weaknesses also. They were calloused and unloving as they looked down on and despised the new believers coming out of Judaism with all their Jewish “baggage” just as many Christians today look down on and despise as “legalistic” Christians who simply desire to please God by doing what they believe to be right and avoiding what they believe to be displeasing to God. The Jews judged their Gentile brothers in Christ and the Gentile believers despised their brothers in Christ coming from Judaism.
This still goes on in churches today. We tend to judge or despise those who do not meet our criteria for being “good Christians”. Do we fail to understand that all we are and all we have is by God’s grace? Do we understand that in Christ we are free from the Old Testament Ceremonial Law? Read of that wonderful truth again in Romans 8:1-4.
At the same time, we love God’s moral law, His standards of right and wrong taught throughout the Bible from both the Old and New Testament. Like the Psalmist, that Law is written in our hearts and we delight to do His will. The fact is that if we are Christians, the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts and He gives us the desire and the enablement to fulfill God’s Law as we are surrendered to Christ, whose Spirit dwells in us as Christians. Read Romans 8 again until you fully grasp this vital truth.
Though all of us have areas of weakness, we are growing stronger if we are in the Word as we learn in I Peter 2:2 and I John 2:12-14. But the Christian who ignores God’s Word is growing weaker and more susceptible to the snares of Satan. He is carnal or fleshly rather than spiritual, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 3:1-3.
How can you recognize a fleshly, weak Christian? He boasts of his supposed spiritual gifts and yet does not know how to use them to be a blessing to others. Read I Corinthians 4:7-10 on this. He is full of himself and proudly and judgmentally looks down on others, as described in Romans 15:1. On the other hand, Jesus is “touched by the feelings of our infirmities”. Hebrews 4:15
HOW THEN ARE WE TO DEAL WITH WEAKER BRETHREN?
We are to receive them warmly. Romans 14:1 God’s love flowing through us is the secret of interpersonal relationships with other Christians.
We are not to argue with them. We can discuss doctrine freely and lovingly with strong, mature Christians. But be cautious about arguing with a weaker Christian.
Don’t despise or judge another Christian. Romans 14:1-3
Be settled in your mind as to how God wants you to think and live. Romans 14:5 But at the same time, be open to growth and change. We change as we grow. I’ve been saved seventy years now and throughout those years, even to this day, I am constantly changing and growing in grace and in the liberty which we have in Christ. See II Corinthians 3:18 on this truth.
Give God thanks for everything. Romans 14:6
Live for others. We’re members of churches for others; not just for ourselves. Romans 14:7
Live for God’s glory. Romans 14:8
Remember this as you seek a church home. A healthy growing church will always have weak saints who are in the process of growing stronger and maturing as saints. Get involved in such a church, but avoid churches that are ingrown and have no interest nor desire to reach out to others.
IF THE FOUNDATIONS BE DESTROYED
( A message I preached July 3, 2011 shortly before I retired in November)
Satan is shaking America in a series of moral earthquakes, which result in economic earthquakes, including debt, devaluation of our currency, depression and despair. These continue to grow in ever-increasing intensity on the moral Richter scale, as evidenced by the increasing rebellion towards God and His Word and the resulting immorality and violence over the past century.
Psalm 11:3 warns of the destruction of any nation whose moral foundations are destroyed. The very foundations of America are crumbling. Looking at things from our earthly perspective, all seems hopeless.
As America has become more immoral and violent have you shared the desire of the Psalmist to flee from all the sin and turmoil and live with your family alone on some desert island or in some mountain sanctuary far from trouble, where all is rosy and peaceful? I have and it wouldn’t surprise me if at times most of us have had that desire.
Note the importance of foundations. Foundations are basic and essential. Without solid foundations; homes and institutions are at risk.
Consider some institutions which are fragile and crumbling without sound foundations.
THE HOME AND FAMILY.
When buying a house, if we are wise we are especially concerned about the foundations.
Square feet, sturdy quality construction, ample insulation, quality doors and windows, heating and air conditioning, dependable wiring and plumbing, an intriguing. roomy floor plan, lot, location and price. All these things matter. But nothing matters if the foundation is not solid and firm.
So it is in every area of life. Family is the basic building block of society; not the government, school nor church, but the home. God created a home first in the Garden of Eden. The home needs a solid rock foundation to make it through the difficulties of life.
According to I Corinthians 3:11 Christ is the solid foundation. Homes built on Christ give stability; not only to the home, but to the institutions of school and government. Homes built on Christ, the solid Rock, stand the storms of life, according to Matthew 7:24-27. Such marriages and homes are built on Biblical principles as taught in Ephesians 5.
Over the past century we have increasingly seen the termites of Liberalism and Socialism eating away at the foundations of our homes, schools and the institution of government.
Make no mistake about it. We are gradually becoming a socialistic society as these enemies of God and the Bible use public education, the media and Hollywood entertainment to gain control of our minds.
They accomplish this by fomenting racial strife and class warfare between the rich and the poor.
They encourage us to become more dependent on government for all our needs.
They encourage our allegiance to world government and the new world order through the United Nations while de-emphasizing our national sovereignty.
These termites of Socialism, anti-God and anti-Bible philosophies eat away at the foundations of home and families by promoting same-sex marriages and undermining family loyalty.
SINCE SCHOOLS ARE MADE UP OF FAMILIES, IT FOLLOWS THAT
IF FAMILIES LACK SOLID SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION, SCHOOLS ALSO LACK SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION.
Most of us over age 60 remember the Lord’s prayer and Bible reading in public schools. That’s what I remember in the elementary schools when the worst crime was shooting a spit wad.
Prayer, Bible and corporal punishment have been thrown out leaving young people with no moral compass in the school nor in the home.
The Bible has been replaced by the crumbling foundation of evolutionary theory of beginnings.
A study of our nation’s history and of how the Pilgrims came to this land to further the cause of Christ and protect themselves from an oppressive State Church have been deleted from history books in many public schools.
Students know more about United Nations and the Muslim religion and sexual perversion than they do about Founding Fathers and our founding documents such as The Mayflower Compact, our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
We live in a godless society that has no room for God nor for Biblical moral standards. Children have no respect nor fear of authority. Furthermore, socialism influences a child’s distrust of his parents and teaches that government knows what is best for children,
These socialists thumb their noses at parents by giving immoral, perverted sex education in public schools, by dealing with teen pregnancies and by promoting and providing abortions without parental notification nor consent.
There is a declining percentage of Christian teachers in public schools, and an increasingnumber of teachers who are evil role models and fill our young people’s minds with Socialistic mush and immorality. A growing number of high school graduates today are not prepared for college nor for the work force. They lack a foundation in the basics. When one learns how to live, he is prepared to learn how to make a living.
Rampant immorality and crime are on increase. Many schools have become war zones. Homo-sexual lifestyle, as well as promiscuous sex are accepted norms of society.
OUR GOVERNMENT ALSO LACKS A MORAL FOUNDATION
It follows that if our homes and schools lack moral foundation, our government also lacks a moral foundation. Though founded on the Bible; now it has been barred from national life and government has become hostile tothe Bible and to Christianity as they fight toremove all Christian symbols from public places and from our currency.
Criminals, including murderers, rapists and pedophiles walk free in society and we are seeing an increased rash of horrible crimes against children. But that doesn’t matter, for Liberals are more concerned for criminal’s rights than for victim’s rights. That includes our treatment of captured terrorists.
Liberalism has taken over our courts, and much of Congress. Over the past sixty years our courts have over-stepped their bounds of interpreting the law, to legislating it. That is the responsibility of the legislative branch of government and the legislators are responsible to the electorate. The time may come when the our nation’s Constitution could be ruled unconstitutional. How Christians need to be praying for God-fearing justices in our local and regional courts and in the Supreme Court.
HOW DID THESE FOUNDATIONS DISAPPEAR?
Europe, the seed bed of the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, later became the seed bed of Liberalism and Neo Orthodoxy as it spread to America and infected the colleges, seminaries and ultimately the pulpits of our land.
With the foundations of the Bible eroded, including the Genesis account of Creation and the Fall and of sin and the universal Flood in Noah’s day, (all facts Jesus confirmed in His New Testament teachings) there followed the denial of the deity of Christ and our need of His blood atonement and the preaching and reception of the Social Gospel
The God-fearing foundations laid by the founders of our republic were gradually removed and our homes, schools and society in general began crumbling all around us.
Even though on the surface, we have still kept a semblance of our former glory in our public life:
1. Prayers in times of national crisis.
2. Chaplains in our halls of Congress and in the military.
3. “In God we trust” on our currency.
We are no longer a Christian nation rooted in God’s Word and in Christian values.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?
Please, turn to Psalm 11.
The wicked hate the righteous and want to destroy us. Psalm 11:2
As long as the foundations are destroyed, there is nothing the righteous can do. 11:3
Our only hope is in God who sees what is going on. Psalm 11:4
He is trying our faith as we live in the midst of a godless nation. Psalm 11:5 as Enoch walked with God in the wicked days before the flood.
The wicked are about to be judged. Ps. 11:5-6 “now will I arise.”
He loves us and His eyes are on us. 11:7
It is the responsibility of every new generationto rebuild foundations of righteousness beginning in our homes.
Marry only godly mates & build Christian homes
Establish Bible preaching churches.
Spread the Gospel throughout the land and throughout the world.
In spite of all the facade of religion in America, it is my growing conviction that America is one of the neediest mission fields in the world today. We have become a heathen nation.
Over a period of years, (if the Lord tarries) we can once again lay a Biblical foundation in our nation.
From our Christian homes and schools must come the future preachers,teachers and leaders of government.
If our eyes are on the Lord and our trust is in Him, we need not be depressed and long to flee to the mountains or to the wilderness or to some desert island to escape the contamination of this socialistic, sinful society? Ps. 11:1
Our job is to be salt and light in a corrupt society. Matthew 5:11-16
We must get right with God and pray for God to heal our land. II Chronicles 7:14
Genuine Christians have been doing this for years
For 55 years as a pastor, this has been my primary concerns and prayer.
Until the foundation of the Bible is once again laid, in our homes, schools, churches and nation; all our efforts to reduce teen pregnancies, abortion, homo-sexual activity, drunkenness, drugs and all the other problems of our society are in vain.
The Sands of Time Are Sinking, is a hymn written by Anna Ross Cousin
The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of Heaven breaks,
The summer morn I sighed for,
The fair sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But Dayspring is at hand.
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s Land.
Oh, Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted,
More deep I’ll drink above.
There to an ocean fullness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s Land.
Oh, I am my Beloved’s,
And my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine.
I stand upon His merit;
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land.
The Bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face.
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace.
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand,
The Lamb in all His glory,
Of Immanuel’s land.
Here is an applicable benediction from Psalm 67:1-2 for American Christians today.
God be merciful unto us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us, that Thy way may be known upon earth, and Thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.
Fifty years ago, A.W. Tozer of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, wrote a booklet on “Worship, The Missing Jewel of the Church”. Though well received and popular, the emphasis of the book troubled me as a thirty year old preacher at that time. In churches where the Bible was honored as the inspired Word of God and faithfully proclaimed, worship of God was alive and well. No, the missing jewel of the church back then was not a lack of worship, but a lack of fidelity to the Bible by those who were compromising the Fundamentals of the Faith.
Since that time, the downward trend towards apostacy has continued as churches have increasingly focused attention on seeking worship experiences more like rock concerts and feel good preaching that appeal to the masses, as Paul warned Timothy in II Timothy 3:1-5.
Though I am almost 80 years old, I am not one who thinks all church music must be that of past centuries. Beautiful Christ-honoring music has been written and sung throughout church history up to this present time. If it honors and magnifies Christ and His blood sacrfice for sin and if the melody and harmony and rhythm are married to the message (that is, the music fits the message and it is easily singable even by those who are not musically gifted), then it ought to be used. Let the trained choirs and the gifted musicians sing the more difficult Christ-honoring music.
I grieve over an increasing, disastrous misunderstanding of worship in the Church, as people have sought pious, euphoric, self-centered, emotional feel-good experiences, influenced by the deceptive, divisive, unbiblical Charismatic Movement of the past half century. This is so unlike the genuine worship experience of Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah 6:1-8.
Under the category, WORSHIP I offer you some Bible studies on this topic. For more studies on this topic of worship, go to my series on EZRA, where you will find more messages on this topic, including Thanksgiving and Worship and The Breadth and Depth of Worship.
Back in 1983 Pastor John MacArthur wrote a book on worship, The Ultimate Priority. Recently this year, 2012, he has updated and republished that book under the new title WORSHIP, published by Moody Press.
This is the latest and the best I have ever read on this crucially important topic and I encourage you to secure and read it.
A JEWELED PIG Proverbs 11:16 & 22
As we continue in Proverbs chapter 11, we continue to learn practical wisdom. In verse 16 & 22 we have honorable and dishonorable women contrasted. In verse 16 we learn that a gracious, wise woman, whether a ravishing beauty or not, retains honor; whereas in verse 22 we see that a glamorous woman lacking discretion and virtue is likened to a pig with a precious jewel of gold fastened in her snout. What a waste of beauty!
Young men, learn this truth well. When seeking a wife, ravishing beauty can wear pretty thin if your wife turns out to be a slob and she allows her house to deteriorate into a pig sty; or worse yet, an ungodly woman who has no use for God.
When I was courting my future wife, I noticed, not only her godliness, but her own personal cleanliness and how she kept her room. If she had been a slob, I would have ceased my relationship with her. Thankfully, her personal cleanliness and her neatness have never changed throughout our 57 years of marriage. Of course, as she has grown older and finds it more difficult to move about, I have tried to be a help to her with more of the cleaning and household chores, especially since I retired from my full time responsibilities as a pastor.
Boys, beware of girls who are rude to their parents, brothers and sisters, as well as to others. They will continue to be rude after they are married. Girl’s the same warning applies to boys. Don’t expect to change character flaw in your mate after your are married. Far better to cut off the relationship now!
MERCIFUL MEN Proverbs 11:17
In this verse we learn that a merciful man, though he may be totally selfless; is actually doing good to his own soul. Though his chief concern is to be a blessing to others, it turns out to his own good. The blessings he shows to others actually boomerang on himself. Jesus promised this in His Beatitude found in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”
It ought not be difficult for one who has obtained mercy from God to show mercy to others who need it. Read what Jesus said about this in Matthew 18:21-35.
On the other hand, those who are self-centered, thoughtless and cruel to others, end up bringing curses on their own selves and their own families. Read again Proverbs 11:17
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT? Proverbs 11:23
Trust Christ, love and live for Him and you can expect everything to work out for your good. Romans 8:28 repeats this truth. On the other hand, ignore God and live for yourself only and you can expect the worst.
LIBERALITY vs STINGINESS Proverbs 11:24-28
Here is a law or principle of life that is just as sure as the law of gravity. Be generous to God by giving to the spread of the Gospel and to others in need and you will be blessed and see your net worth increase. Be stingy and you will shrivel up in poverty. Read these promises. Luke 6:38 and II Corinthians 9:6-8.
INHERIT THE WIND Proverbs 11:29
We trouble our family and our home when we set our hearts on doing wrong. The same warning is given to wives and mothers in Proverbs 14:1.
THE FRUIT OF THE RIGHTEOUS Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of those who share the Gospel with others, is not simply fruit. Rather the fruit of the righteous who share the Gospel with others are other fruit trees which bear good fruit. In other words, the blessings of your life are multiplied. Those who live only for themselves are selfish and miss out on these blessings.
THE RIGHTEOUS AND WICKED CONTRASTED Proverbs 11:31
The lifestyle of “the rich and the famous” is not to be compared to the blessings of the righteous. I can testify to the truth of verse 31. I have been blessed beyond measure as a faithful servant of Christ. Honestly, I have been blessed far beyond any rich ungodly man I know. I would not trade place with him for one minute.
The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of God’s practical wisdom on a large variety of topics which we fathers and mothers are to pass on to our sons and daughters.
The fact that this Book is not merely worldy philosophy, but a part of the sacred inspired, infallible Word and Wisdom of God; makes a study of it vital and indispensable. Parents, we must first assimilate this wisdom into our own lives and then model it and teach it to our children in the few short years God entrusts them to us to train for life.
In our last message, we began in chapter 11:1 with the fairness of God in His dealing with us. As we continue through this chapter, we will deal with a wide variety of topics. Let’s consider them one at a time.
PRIDE Proverbs 11:2
In Proverbs 6:16-17 we learn that pride is at the top of the list of sins God abhors. It always leads to shame and to a humbling fall. For one of the most outstanding lessons on pride and how God deals with it, go to my EZRA series and read of arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion as we trace his story in Daniel 1-4.
To learn how God must humble us before He can use us in His service, read and meditate on I Corinthians 1:26-31.
INTEGRITY vs PERVERSENESS Proverbs 11:3
If we love God’s Word and hunger after it daily, we will have a heart that longs to do right and please God, Psalm 119: 9-16
On the other hand, if we hate God and His Word, our perverseness and rebellion will eventually destroy us.
RICHES OR RIGHTEOUSNESS Proverbs 11:4-8
Although it is not wrong to be successful in business and become wealthy, Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:24-34 that our primary attention and concentration should be loving and serving Him.
Girls, it’s far better to pray for a godly husband than a wealthy one and guys it’s far more important for you to seek a godly wife than a wealthy, godless heiress.
Why choose righteousness over riches? Your answer is found in Proverbs 11:4-8. “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: bur righteousness delivers from death.”
The Bible is filled with comforting truth for God’s people, even in the midst of trouble. The story of Job. Psalm 23, 27, 34, 37, 91, and Paul’s brief Epistle to the Philippians. The righteous will have direction in life and be delivered in the midst of trouble; whereas the wicked are described in Isaiah 57:20 “as the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose water cast up mire and dirt.”
OUR TONGUES Proverbs 11:9
Here is another warning concerning the use of our tongues. Many hypocrites have destroyed others, even neighbors or a former friends, with malicious gossip. Rather, let us use our speech to edify and build up others in the Truth of God’s Word.
CITIZENSHIP Proverbs 11:10-11
In nations where Christ is rejected and Christians are oppressed, there is political and economic disaster and mourning; but in lands where God is honored and His people have a godly influence, there is blessing. Such has been America’s blessed history. When evil, Bible rejecting leaders are removed from office, God’s people rejoice and everyone is blessed with prosperity. The most patriotic thing any Christian can do is to be a good law-abiding citizen and lead people to Christ.
BEWARE OF DESPISING OTHERS Proverbs 11:12, 14:21, 17:5
Although it is popular in America to publicly despise and slander our political opponents, it shows a lack of wisdom on our part and it often produces a political back-lash at the polls. Let the God-fearing politicians and the electorate faithfully stand for righteousness and let God take care of our enemies.
DON’T BE A TATTLE-TALE Proverbs 11:13
Be a faithful friend. Be trustworthy. Don’t gossip. If a friend does wrong, go to that friend privately and follow the Matthew 18:15-17 principle of attempting to restore a friend who has gone astray. More often, the offender is restored and everyone involved is blessed.
SAFETY IN WISE COUNSEL Proverbs 11:14
A good pastor has power to accomplish more if he can dictate; but there is danger in anyone having unbridled power and not having to answer to anyone. That’s why the Apostle Paul in Titus 1:5 teaches a plurality of elders in a church. There may be only one teaching pastor in a church, but the plurality of spiritually-minded elders working together with the pastor protects him from making unwise decisions.
In the area of finances and Mutual Funds, there may be the occasional super star investors of some fabled Funds who made amazing financial decisions in recent years; but since there is safety in numbers, I chose to entrust my investments in Funds directed by a group of managers. There is more safety in numbers.
BEWARE OF CO-SIGNING Proverbs 11:15
Parents may co-sign for their young adult sons and daughters as they are starting out in life; but it is generally a risky decision. One can lose everything he has.
There is not a good place to stop in this chapter. So I will stop here and continue next time, Lord willing, as we discuss Jeweled Pigs.
The Bible is not just a book of knowledge and wisdom to satisfy our minds. It is filled with urgent challenges to action.
THE CALL TO SALVATION
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” II Cor. 5:11
“God commands men everywhere to repent.” Act17:30
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9
“And the Spirit and the Bride say come, and let him that heareth say come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
THE CALL TO HOLY, VICTORIOUS, SEPARATED LIVING
“Likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11
“Awake thou that sleepest and arise form the dead and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:14-16
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you.”
II Corinthians 6:14,17
THE CALL TO SACRIFICIAL SERVICE
Listen to Paul’s urgent call to service to every Christian. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world system; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2.
As we turn to our text in Romans 13:11-14, we are urged to:
1. wake up,
2. get dressed
3. and start walking.”
WAKE UP! Romans 13:11
The alarm clock of Scripture rings, rousing us from our lethargy. “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11
Read Jesus’ Olivet discourse to His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Though we cannot know the day nor the hour of Christ’s return; the troubling events throughout the world, especially in the Mideast and Israel all point to the soon return of Christ.
The ecumenical church of Anti-Christ is growing. We are warned of its danger in I John 2:18 and it’s final destruction as the harlot church in Revelation 17-18.
We are warned of the false peace being preached; a psychological peace which ignores the only true peace with God which comes through faith in Christ’s shed blood. I Thessalonians 5:1-3
Another evidence of the age in which we live is the growing crime and immorality. It’s everywhere as television and the internet brings it right into our homes. II Timothy 3:1-7, 13-17
Not only are we to awake to the opportunity to be saved, but as Christians, we are to awake to the opportunities to serve Christ. Ephesians 5:14-17
Awake to this day of harvest. The day will soon pass away. John 4:35 The night comes when no man can work. John 9:4 Acts 16:9-10
GET DRESSED! Romans 13:12
The night of Satan’s rule over this world system is almost over. The day of Christ’s return and reign will soon be here. Therefore “cast off the night clothes of the old life and put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:10-14 Colossians 3:8-14 Christ is that armour. He is our life.
START WALKING Romans 13:13
Though we are still living in the night of this sinful world, we Christians walk as in the day. The Holy Spirit living in us makes that possible. Galatians5:16-25, Ephesians 4:1, 5:15-16 Note the urgency of salvation and the urgency of living for Christ and serving Him. There’s nothing casual about the Christians life. It is a life and death matter.
May God help you and me to wake up, get dressed and start walking with Him, serving Him with all our heart.
Although Romans 13:8-10 is not primarily warning about going into debt financially; avoiding financial debt is wise. Proverbs 22:7 warns us “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Let that truth sink deep into your mind and heart and let that principle guide you financially throughout your life.
But the warning of Romans 13:8-10 is dealing with a debt far deeper than mere money. The point of this text is we all owe a debt of love to others and Romans1:14 reminds us of our debt as Christians of sharing the Gospel with the lost all around us.
WHY ARE WE TO LOVE OTHERS?
The answer to that question is because we owe it to them. II Corinthians 5:14-15 reminds us that if we have received by faith the Gift of eternal life, we are obligated to share the Good News with others.
Picture a group of lost people thirsting and famishing in the intense heat as they wander lost in a desert. Finally one person discovers a hidden oasis with trees and an abundant, unending spring of fresh water. Immediately that person is obligated to share his good news with the rest. How unthinkably selfish he would be to keep this good news to himself and refuse to share it with others.
How much greater is the debt of those of us who have heard the Good News of salvation and have received God’s Gift of eternal life. We owe that Good News to those who have never heard it, beginning with our friends and neighbors and extending that good news to the whole world.
II Corinthians 5:14-15 teaches us that we as Christians are constrained by Christ’s love to us to share the Gospel with others.
People visit a church hoping to find love and acceptance by the people. They have every right to expect it. We can’t exist without love anymore than food. Every visiting child and teenager, has a right to expect love and acceptance by his teacher and the kids in his class. And yet in some churches there are cliques of young people and even adults who will not open their hearts to welcome and love strangers. It’s normal and common for people after a Sunday School class or church service to gravitate to their friends when in reality we should be gravitating to the strangers first. To do otherwise is selfish, thoughtless and sinful.
We all thrive on love and acceptance. Thank God that we who have received Christ as our Saviour know the joy of God’s acceptance and to those of us who have discovered that relationship with God is given the challenge of II Corinthians 5:14-15 to share that Good News with others.
Every child deserves a teacher who loves him. How selfish and evil is the teacher who carries their bad attitude over something that happened earlier and snaps with impatience and meanness at their children who are observing them closely to see if there is any reality to Christianity. Read the severe warning in Matthew 18:5-10 to those who offend little children by snapping at them in anger when they should be showing them Christ’s love. Yes, you can correct a disobedient or disruptive child in your class, but you owe it to love the children in your class, both obedient and disobedient. If you honestly love them with Christ’s love, they will see it, even as you correct them.
Our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ reveals our true love for Christ. See I John 4:7-8, 11, 20-21 and II Peter 1:5-11 concerning this.
I Corinthians 13:1-8 exposes us as NOTHING without love. As preachers and teachers of children, youth or adults, we need to search our heart regarding our love or lack of love for those to whom we minister. If we lack that love we are worthless and do damage to the cause of Christ.
HOW DO WE GAIN THAT LOVE FOR OTHERS?
We gain that love for others by being genuinely converted to Christ. Read Romans 5:1-5. For me it happened at the age of nine when I, a self-righteous son of missionaries, heard and understood the Gospel for the first time. I had heard it since I was a baby, but now I understood for the first time that I was a sinner, condemned to hell. I understood that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He lovingly and willingly endured death on a cross to shed His blood as a sacrifice for my sins. I understood that if I would receive by faith Christ as my Saviour from sin, God would forgive and save me from sin and sin’s consequences, Hell.
I received Him that evening and God’s Holy Spirit came to dwell in my heart. That was seventy years ago. Though I did not become perfect, God imputed Christ’s perfection to my account and changed my heart. I have loved Christ ever since and my desire has been to share the Gospel with everyone. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whether it is preaching from the pulpit, walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, or visiting an amusement park or the zoo with my family, I have always been aware that there are lost people all around me for whom my heart aches. I must love and find a way to share the Gospel with them.
If you are a Christian and desire that love for others, please take some time to read the following passages and surrender your life to Christ. Romans 5:1-5, 12:1-10, Galatians 5:22-26, Ephesians 4:29-32, and finally back to our text, Romans 13:8-10.
The masses of people are approaching the cliff of eternal destruction. See the picture in Ezekiel 22:30. We as Christians are to stand at the edge of the cliff and warn the lost of that destruction. God is looking for those who will make up the hedge to warn them of destruction and point them to Christ who alone can save.
As this Age draws to a close, defiance to authority increases, as was prophesied in II Timothy 3:1-7. This defiance to authority and anarchy was also seen in the days of the Judges just before Solomon’s Kingdom Age was inaugurated. You can read about it throughout Judges summarized in Judges 21:25.
As we continue our study of Romans, we come to chapter 13 which deals with the Christian’s relationship and responsibilities to human government.
In this chapter we learn
1. Government and authority are of God.
2. Government is for our good.
3. Our duties and responsibilities as Christians to government.
I. HUMAN GOVERNMENT IS OF GOD
This fact is true, regardless of whether it was the Roman dictatorship under the Caesars during New Testament times or whether it is the monarchy of England or the United States Republic of our times or whether it is a different form of government under which you live today. All human government is of God.
Read Romans 13:1-7 and Proverbs 8:15-16 for a sampling of what the Bible says about our responsibilities under human government.
The best government is a Theocracy, that is, a government where God rules supremely. The Bible foretells the coming Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. Go to my series on PROPHECY to learn more about the wonderful coming reign of Christ.
Israel was a theocracy until she begged and whined for a human king to rule over her so she could be as everyone else. Finally God gave them their choice, a Monarchy under King Saul, a handsome young man lacking character. Under his rule, Israel suffered defeats.
In the sovereignty of God He later gave them King David and later, King Solomon, David’s son. As these kings sought God’s wisdom, God blessed them with eighty years of prosperity; forty years under each of these two kings.
The years following Israel’s rebellion against God, led to the spiritual decline of Israel’s kings and eventually, the downfall and scattering of Israel among the nations of the world. Nevertheless, God has eternal plans for His people. All of this is explained in my PROPHECY series.
Presently in this world of sinful men who cannot be entrusted with too much power; the best form of government is a Republic which we Americans have been privileged to enjoy for the past 230 years. Forces are presently at work within our nation to destroy our republic form of government, outlined and described for us in our United States Constitution, with its three branches of government: the executive, legislative and judicial branches which keep sinful leaders in check from gaining too much power.
If we lose our republic, we will find ourselves in a state of anarchy until we are finally enslaved by a dictator. That has been the dismal course of many nations and could be the course of our beloved America.
Would you note as you study the life of Jesus and Paul, that they never rebelled against the unfair government which highly and unfairly taxed them? Rather they taught us to pay our taxes and to be in subjection to government leaders. That is, according to Matthew 22:17-21 we are to render our subjection and respect to our leaders in every area except our conscience. In matters of morality, we are to remain in subjection to God alone.
Thankfully, in America, through the power of the ballot box, we have the power to remove unfit leaders and replace them with charactered leadership- if we, the people, have the character to do it. Usually the character of the people is reflected in the character of the leaders they have elected.
II. GOVERNMENT IS FOR OUR GOOD Romans 13:4
Government has the responsibility of protecting our freedoms under the Law, and to protect our lives and property from foreign and domestic enemies and to insure and enforce equal protection and opportunity under the Law.
Government further has the responsibility of punishing law breakers. Political leaders, police officers, judges and executioners and our military are all servants of God for our protection and for our good.
The justice system is not to make evil men good, but to punish law breakers. Only God can make men good. Read Romans 13:1-4 and I Peter 2:13-14 concerning these matters.
Those who steal or harm others should be forced by government to make full restitution; whether it is those who destroy public and private property with graffiti or those who rob individuals, homes and business establishments. Parents of minors who are involved in such crime should be held responsible for the crimes of their children. Read Exodus 21 and 22 on this subject.
God’s Word required the death penalty for those who had been proven guilty of capital crimes beyond any reasonable doubt. Read about them in Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21, Leviticus 20 and from the New Testament, Romans 13:4
Government has no responsibility nor business providing for all our needs from the cradle to the grave. It is evil to over tax those who will work in order to pay for the needs of those who refuse to work. The Bible teaches in II Thessalonians 3:10 that if one will not work he should not eat. In my ministry I have met men on welfare who when they had the opportunity to work, refused for fear of losing their welfare checks.
Families and churches should care for their aged and infirmed.
For further information on the role of government and the role of families, I encourage you to go to the FAMILY category and read The Family, the Basic Building Block of Society.
GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATION
Government has no business in the educational field. Education of children and young people is the responsibility of parents and their churches. They can carry that out either through home schooling or through private schools or public schools. By the term public school, I mean parents gathering together in local communities to plan and supervise the education of their children. The Federal government has no business being involved in the education of our children. The more local the control, the better the education.
THE SIZE AND SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT
Good government is limited government which frees us to be all that God designed us to be. As a lion in the wild or on a reserve is better off than a lion in a zoo with its security, but very limited freedom; so we are better off living in freedom and depending on God for our strength and health and supply of all our needs than being a slave to government and depending on it to supply all our needs.
Our Federal Constitution wisely limits the scope and power of government.
Citizens need to reduce the size of our present government and get the government out of the business of running a “nanny state” and of robbing working people and their families with oppressive income taxes. Government today stifles the economy by discouraging hard work and the investing of capital into business.
Our tax system needs a major overhaul. Think of the billions of tax dollars and hours and massive paperwork involved by everyone in the tax system today. Think of the billions of dollars hidden from taxes by tax cheats.
A national sales tax could replace the income tax and meet the limited needs of our States and Federal governments.
The best government is limited government which protects us from foreign and domestic enemies who would harm us and which gives us freedom to be all we can be.
III. OUR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS CHRISTIANS TO GOVERNMENT
Regardless of our current state of government, even as we seek to bring about needed changes; Romans 13 teaches us that it is our responsibility to submit to the laws of our land and pay our taxes, even if we think they are unfair. It is never right to resist our government. Those who resist can expect to meet deadly force. Submit for wrath’s sake and for the Lord’s sake. For Christian’s to resist, I Peter 2:13-17 teaches, brings shame to the cause of Christ.
In addition to paying our taxes, let us honor the office of those in authority. Let us as Christians pray for them and for our nation, as we are admonished in II Chronicles 7:14 and I Timothy 2:1-4.
A study of Proverbs 2
Knowledge is information acquired from observation of the universe, from the immediate world around us and from media tools used to store and deliver information or data, such as computers, books, radio, TV.
Knowledge is also acquired from our parents, teachers, preachers and others, as well as from life experiences.
Knowledge reaches as far as the brain where, if it seems applicable and valuable to us, it is stored for future use; or if it seems irrelevant and worthless to us, it is ignored and forgotten.
SOUND WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING
Sound wisdom and understanding is the ability to process and use knowledge so as to live for the glory of God, which is the highest purpose of life.
THE SOURCE OF WISDOM
True knowledge, wisdom and understanding ultimately come only from God, according to Proverbs 2:6.
Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is our wisdom. as well as our righteousness, sanctification and redemption, according to I Corinthians 1:30-31.
THE PURPOSE OF WISDOM
Wisdom is not just for our heads. It is for our hearts. It affects our walk. It affects what we love and value, as well as what we hate and reject. It affects how we live. It affects our priorities and how we use our time. It affects how and why we pray. Turn to Ephesians 1. It is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians that they might have wisdom and prudence. Interestingly the entire chapter of 23 verses is all one long sentence. Paul is well known for his long, involved sentences.
Since wisdom s what we value and how we live life and ultimately our success under God, it is of supreme value. The ultimate purpose of wisdom is to guide and direct us as to how to live for the glory of God.
GOD HAS ORCHESTRATED MY LIFE.
From my birth, God planned every detail, even to where I went to college. From age 11-16 I was sent to Westervelt Home and School for missionary children outside of Batesburg, S.C. from 1944-1949 where I lived and studied with about 100 other missionary kids from all over the world where I learned about life and the value of character
From 1949-1950 I spent my sophomore year of high school in a high school associated with Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada.
From 1950-1952 I spent my Junior and Senior year of high school in CulterAcademy, a private Christian school in Los Angeles at that time. There I continued to build my life on the lessons I had learned at Westervelt and PBI.
Finally, from 1952-1956 I attended and completed four years of college at BobJonesUniversity in Greenville, S.C.
The interesting thing about all these choices is that none of them were my decisions. I simply followed my Mother’s instruction. She had been widowed when I was four and remarried another missionary when I was 16. I followed her instruction which she received from her older preacher brother in Toronto, Canada.
As a result of simply following Mother’s instruction, I received the best, most well rounded education possible, taught by the best of teachers.
At the age of 22 I married a godly young lady whom God had brought into my life and at that time ceased following my mother’s instructions and started making my own decisions for my wife and me, considering my wife and children’s good, as well as my own.
Read and consider carefully the words of the BobJonesUniversity hymn, written by Dr. Bob Jones Jr, son of the founder of BobJonesUniversity. It is profound and says so much about wisdom.
Wisdom of God, we would by Thee be taught!
Control our minds, direct our every thought.
Knowledge alone life’s problems cannot meet;
We learn to live while sitting at Thy feet.
Light of the world, illumine us we pray.
Our souls are dark, without Thy kindling ray.
Torches unlighted, of all radiance bare,
Touch them to flame and burn in glory there.
Incarnate Truth, help us Thy truth to learn,
Prone to embrace the falsehood we would spurn,
Groping in error’s maze for verity,
Thou art the Truth we need to make us free.
Giver of life, we would not live to please,
Self or the world, nor seek the paths of ease.
Dying Thou bringest life to sons of men,
So may we dying live Thy life again.
Captain of Might, we yield to Thy command.
Armored by faith, Thy Word, our sword in hand:
Fierce though the battle. Thine the victory.
Bravely we’ll strive and more than conq’rors be.
Eternal Lord, let heavens pass away.
Earth be removed, no fear our hearts shall sway.
Empires may crumble, dust return to dust,
Secure are they, who in their Saviour trust.
Unfailing love, we are so cold in heart.
To us Thy passion for the lost impart;
Give us Thy vision of the need of men,
All learning will be used in service then.
Great King of kings, this campus all is Thine.
Make by Thy presence of this place a shrine.
Thee may we meet within the classroom walls,
Go forth to serve Thee from these hallowed halls.
Copyright by BobJonesUniversity.
THINK ABOUT CHRIST
He gives purpose to life.
“For to me to live is Christ. To die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
He gives protection.
“He is our shield and buckler.” Proverbs 2:7-8, Psalm 91:3-7
Psalm 37:23-24, 30,31
He gives understanding. Proverbs 2:9
He removes confusion from our lives and keeps us on course. James 1:6-8
We can know what is right so we can do right. I Chronicles 12:32
Psalm 23:2, 25:4-5, 27:11
He gives discretion. Proverbs 2:10-11
That is, He gives us moral understanding of right and wrong, This protects us from moral indiscretions and foolish decisions that start us down the road of sin and failure.
Discretion follows spiritual wisdom and gives us good judgment and prudence. Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, used discretion when faced with the temptation of Potiphar’s wife. Though he ended up in prison temporarily, he eventually became Prime Minister of Egypt under Pharaoh. All things worked together for good and Israel and Egypt were saved from starvation
He gives deliverance
From evil men Proverbs 2:12-15
Leading us to separate from those who speak contrary to God’s Word.
Who leave paths of light to walk in darkness.
From evil women. Proverbs 2:16-19
She is recognized by her flattery.
She has forsaken the God of her youth
Sexual sin leads to death.
Note the finality of sexual sin. Proverbs 2:19 states that NONE who get involved in such sin ever return. I wouldn’t say that, but God does.
All I can say about this is that all sexual sins leave a permanent blot on lives that can never be erased or forgotten.
WISDOM TEACHES US TO FOLLOW GOOD EXAMPLES.
That’s why we must guard our associations and all we receive into our minds and hearts through books, music, television, movies, and from our computers. Examples matter. As parents we had better be good examples and also be aware of our children’s friends and influences.
YOUR ONLY TWO OPTIONS
Make wise, Christ-honoring decisions throughout your life starting now.
Live life to the fullest for others to the glory of God. Let your motto be, “For to me to live is Christ; to die is gain” Philippians 1:21
Waste your life living only for yourself and die.
The issue before us in Romans 12:14 and 17-21 is the question of personal revenge
Liberals tell us that the God of the New Testament is not the God of the Old Testament. They tell us that over the centuries man’s understanding of God has progressed from a vengeful, angry God of the Old Testment to a God of love and kindness, as seen in the New Testament. They are wrong.
The God of the Old Testament and the New Testament is identical. He is a God of righteousness, justice and wrath and also of love, mercy and grace. “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8,
God in His amazing wisdom and grace took on a human body, Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin, Jesus was fully God and fully man. He never inherited the sinful nature of Adam from a human father. Then God, in His love for sinners permitted wicked men to carry out their evil plot and fulfill God’s eternal plan to have Jesus crucified as He bore the death penalty for all the sins of the human race. God raised Him from the dead, proving that He was satisfied with the shed blood of Christ as the full atonement for sin.
Those who refuse to recognize themselves as sinners and who refuse to receive Christ as their Saviour from sin will experience the eternal wrath of God in Hell. By the grace of God alone, those repentant sinners who receive Christ as Saviour, have Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to their account and are made fit to dwell with God in Heaven for eternity.
THE OLD TESTAMENT ON VENGEANCE
The Old Testament in Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21-22 and Deuteronomy 19 teaches us that human government; not individuals, is charged with the responsibility of carrying out vengeance. It is not a sin when it is carried out by human government. These principles of vengeance by human government are just, merciful and good.
THE NEW TESTAMENT ON VENGEANCE
The New Testament teaching on vengeance is not contradictory to the Old Testament, but concentrates more on personal vengeance. In Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus teaches us as Christians how to deal with our personal enemies by loving them and doing good to them. His standard for us is perfection which we cannot attain on our own. By justification, He imputes that perfection to us.
But beyond justification, He empowers us to live by those standards. Not perfectly, of course; but by His indwelling Holy Spirit, we can make constant progress in holy, righteous living. Through the 55 years of my pastoral ministry by God’s grace, He has helped me to grow in Christ-likeness and accept the attacks and lies of others and to not try to get even with those who would harm me. God has always avenged me and given me His love for my enemies and a desire to see them blessed.
PRINCIPLES FOR DEALING WITH OUR ENEMIES
1. Don’t recompense or pay back evil for evil. Romans 12:17 Jesus did not avenge, even in His speech. I Peter 2:21-23 You’ve, no doubt, said it and heard children say, “He hit me first!” If you’re a parent, you’ve probably even taught them to avenge themselves by hitting back. You’ve probably taught your boys that it is not manly to not hit back. But look at the verses again.
2. Don’t avenge yourself. Romans 12:19 It’s not manly.
Dr. Oswald Smith, had a Biblically-based motto that I learned early in life and have tried to live by it all my life. ‘NO ATTACK! NO DEFENSE!” Let God be your defense and avenger. He can do it much more effectively than you and I can.
3. Don’t be overcome with anger by evil done to you. Romans 12:21. This makes for miserable, sick Christians. There’s nothing like holding a grudge for bringing on aches and pains and even ulcers.
4. There IS a time to be angry. Ephesians 4:26. It is right to be angry when God’s glory is at stake. Listen to Jesus blister the Pharisees throughout Matthew 23.
Such holy anger must NEVER degenerate into selfish anger for personal offenses. Read and meditate on Psalm 139:19-24 to learn how to hate as God hates for His glory and not allow it to degenerate into hatred for personal offenses.
1. Rather than trying to hurt or punish our enemies, we should bless them. Romans 12:14. Bless them with kindness as the Good Samaritan helped the one who despised him as a Samaritan.
We can bless our enemies by praying for their good. Jesus prayed for His crucifiers, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
2. Speak honestly about our enemies. Romans12:17 When angry and vengeful, we tend to lie about our enemies to put them in a bad light.
3. “Live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 That is, as far as you can control a situation, live peaceably with all men.
4. “Give place unto wrath.” Romans 12:19 Let your enemy have his say. Let him do his worst. God will avenge you.
5. “Feed your enemy and give him something to drink.” Romans 12:20
In his distress, give him a hand. Love is the only revenge we are to give. Let God have His way. He is well able to avenge you and bring blessing out of evil.
6. “Overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 Cry for vengeance and you are conquered. Show kindness to your enemy and conquer your own vengeful spirit and you are victorious. That is a much greater feat. Proverbs16:32 teaches us “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit is greater than he who takes a city.”
On the other hand, Proverbs 25:28 warns us “He who has no control over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and has no walls of protection.”
I challenge you to test God’s Word next time you are tempted to avenge yourself. Experience the joy and exhilaration of enjoying victory over your own sinful flesh nature. It beats giving your enemy a black eye.
The world has lots to say and sing about love, but the world doesn’t know the first thing about it. There are those who claim to have spiritual gifts, but don’t know the first thing about them.
I Corinthians 12 is a major chapter on spiritual gifts and their use. Chapter 13 follows teaching that without love, spiritual gifts are useless. They bless no one, but simply puff up the people who claim to exercise them.
We see the same pattern in Romans 12. Verses 6-8 speaks about spiritual gifts followed by verses 9-16 on the topic of love. Christian workers who exercise their spiritual gifts must exercise them in love for the good of others; otherwise, they benefit no one.
The world is searching for love and integrity in the lives of those who claim to know Christ and who claim to exercise spiritual gifts. If we do not have love for those for whom we claim to minister, we are nothing but hot air and perhaps fanatics.
Love wins when nothing else will.
Though I Corinthians 13 is the major chapter in the Bible on the topic of love, we are presently studying love from the 12th chapter of Romans, So let’s examine now what Romans 12:9-16 has to teach us concerning love.
I. TRUE LOVE IS WITHOUT DISSIMULATION. Romans 12:9
That is, true love is without pretense. It’s not an act we put on. True love hates! It hates all that is evil. Did you hear that? A husband who loves his wife, hates any influence or person who would bring her harm. A father and mother who love their children, HATE any sinful influence that would bring harm to them. That would include the garbage on television. That would include the sinful, harmful influences of the wrong kind of schools. You don’t put up with it. You hate it passionately. You protect your impressionable children from it. That includes the wrong kind of colleges. Yes, your college-aged young people are still impressionable and many have been destroyed spiritually by colleges that reject or compromise the truths of Scripture.
The same goes with churches. If a church is harming you and your family with false doctrine and sinful influences, you separate yourself and your family from that church. You don’t stay with it, hoping that the evil influences will not affect your family. Romans 12:9 teaches us that we are to abhor (hate) evil and cleave to that which is good. That’s what it means to “let love be without dissimulation.”
II. TRUE LOVE IS EXPRESSED Romans 12:10
True love is expressed with kind affection. It is a brotherly, sisterly love. It is natural, and unforced. In fact, it is super-natural, given by God. It is not put on by drooling superficial piety.
III. TRUE LOVE IS CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS Romans 12:10
It involves preferring others before ourselves. It involves esteeming others better than ourselves, as Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3-8 That’s not difficult when we consider that we are aware of more sin in our own lives than in the lives of others. Note in that passage how the Lord Jesus is the prime and perfect example of true humility.
IV. TRUE LOVE IS OBEDIENT TO GOD Rom. 12:11-12,
Love for Christ is our highest motivation for serving Him. We gladly sacrifice for Him and give Him our best.
V. TRUE LOVE IS A LIBERAL, SELF-SACRIFICING LOVE Rom. 12:13
Christians have needs. God promises to meet all our needs, but He uses sacrificial saints who give out of love, not simply for what they can get out of it.
VI. TRUE LOVE IS A HOSPITABLE LOVE Rom. 12:13
The early church, though persecuted and poor, gave out of their poverty.
Acts 2:44-47. What a wonderful example to us! Don’t forget the stranger. Hebrews 13:1-2. And yes, let us not forget to show love to our enemies. Romans 12:14
VII. TRUE LOVE IS A SYMPATHIZING LOVE Romans 12:15
That can only happen as we see situations from the viewpoint of others. Jesus wept with and for Mary and Martha for their brother Lazarus was dead. He didn’t have to weep for He knew He would raise him from the dead; nevertheless, He wept with these sisters for He saw things from their viewpoint. Read the story in John 11.
VIII. TRUE LOVE SEEKS UNITY OF CHRIST’S BODY Romans 12:16
The Holy Spirit who lives within the body of each Christian gives that unity. We are simply to endeavor to keep it by putting ourselves in other’s shoes and attempting to see situations from other’s viewpoint. We must remember that our ideas and positions are not always correct. Be open to correction.
IX. TRUE LOVE IN MANIFEST IN HUMILITY Romans 12:16
Though we may have high ideals and standards; we can condescend or slow down for those who are slower to catch on and learn and we can learn from others, even to those who are of low estate.
X. TRUE LOVE IS PEACEABLE Romans 12:18
As much as we have control of a situation, we are to live peaceable with all men: saved and unsaved. Certainly we ought to strive to live in understanding and peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
XI. FINALLY, TRUE LOVE IS PRACTICAL
It’s not enough to talk and sing about love. We must show it practically to others in physical or emotional need. Certainly we should help those in spiritual need by pointing them to Jesus who is the ultimate answer to every need.
God showed His love to us as undeserving sinners. Read Romans 5:8. Have you received that love? Have you received Christ as your Saviour? People are hungry for love all around us. Perhaps you are a new Christian and a new member of your church. What can you do for the cause of Christ? You can reach out in love to others and show Christ’s love to them.
We move now in our study of Romans 12 from our relationship with the cosmos (world system) in 12:1-2 to our relationship with Christ’s Church and her members in 12:3-8. This inter-relationship of the Body of Christ with one another is also referred to in I Corinthians 12:12-27 and Ephesians5:23and 30, as well as in other passages. I encourage you to read those passages in connection with this message.
In these verses we learn that we care for one another as the members of our physical body care for the whole body. We love one another with a brotherly love as brothers and sisters in Christ. We learn to be faithful to one another as we learn to depend on, count on, protect and trust one another.
We also learn to honor one another where honor is due. This is just the opposite from what we find in many churches today: vicious gossip and destructive criticism and hatefulness in some churches; even in churches that claim to be true to the Bible.
If unconverted sect members and members of secret societies can care for one another; surely the true Church, The Body of Christ, should shine in this area.
God measures out to His Church His undeserved, supernatural gifts given to each of us as Christians according to His grace. Note that these spiritual gifts are not limited only to pastors. Every genuine Christian has a spiritual gift which he must discover and use for God’s glory and for the blessing of others. I encourage you to read the following verses regarding these gifts and their use. Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12, 14:1, II Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 4:8, I Timothy 4:14, II Timothy 1:6, James 1:17.
THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Romans 12:6 begins with the gift of prophecy. That is the gift of preaching or proclaiming the Word of God. The only prophetic preaching or foretelling the future we can do as preachers is to declare what God’s Word has plainly stated.
For us to go beyond what the Bible has plainly declared and attempt to prophesy the future is evil, dangerous and destructive to the souls of men. For us to look to extra-biblical writings as equally authoritative as God’s holy infallible Word is forbidden in the Bible and damns the souls of men. Read this solemn warning. Galatians 1:6-9
That’s why I have warned you repeatedly in this web site to test everything by the infallible Word of God. Anything that claims to be according to the Word of God, that does not square with the Bible is to be rejected as spurious, dangerous and worthless. Read and heed the grave warning at the end of the Bible in Revelation 22:18-19.
For more instruction concerning this gift of prophecy, preaching, I encourage you to read I Corinthians 14. There you will learn how it is to be carried out in a church service and how it is to be tested for accuracy. Here you will also learn who is forbidden to preach.
Each preacher is different as to his own ability and style of preaching. Allow him to be himself, but reject anything that does not square with the Bible.
2. Ministering or Serving
Romans 12:7 lists this important gift. Jesus taught by His example that apart from the exercise of this gift, we are nothing. Beware of those whose only desire is to be in the limelight and appear as “big shots”. If you lose such people from your church because you do not give them that opportunity, you are blessed.
The men we have chosen as elders, and spiritual leaders in our church, are in such positions of authority because they have first proven themselves ready by having servant hearts. If you are not willing to volunteer to sweep the floors and help clean the church kitchen or rest rooms and serving others, you are not ready to assume the responsibility of an elder or a teacher or preacher.
All saints have a ministry, Ephesians 4:11-12 teach us. It is a beautiful thing to see each member of a church exercising his gift and fulfilling his ministry. Such a church runs smoothly and accomplishes God’s purpose for it with no arguments nor personality clashes.
The pastor is the God-gifted primary teacher of the church, according to Ephesians 4:11 His purpose, according to II Timothy 2:2 is to teach other God-gifted teachers to teach others God’s Word thereby multiplying his efforts. That’s exactly what I am attempting to do as a retired pastor through this web site.
Romans 12:8 continues listing the spiritual gifts with exhortation, or encouragement to do right. According to II Timothy 4:1-2 and Hebrews 10:24-25, we encourage and exhort others to do right. We do that primarily by our own example.
Romans 12:8 encourage us to give with simplicity with no other motive but to please Christ. Our giving must not be with pride, nor should we give sparingly, but generously, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver.
Romans 12:8 also lists ruling as a gift to the Church. A ruler is anyone who is given the responsibility of oversight. This would include pastors, elders, deacons, as well as others given responsibilities of oversight. Such are required to be diligent and faithful. Proverbs 20:6 reminds us that faithful men and women are scarce.
Again, we don’t rule by throwing our weight around, that is, by trying to impress people with our self- importance. Such would-be leaders hinder the work of the Lord. Patience is valuable virtue for a leader.
7. Showing Mercy
Finally, spiritual gifts include showing mercy towards others. Certainly we all need to show mercy with cheerfulness. That’s the opposite of impatience.
THE PURPOSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
It is evident that the purpose of spiritual gifts is not for pride and self glory, nor to call attention to one’s self. Rather the purpose of gifts are as the members of our physical body. As members of our physical body each carry out their function for the good of the whole body, so each member of Christ’s Body fulfills his purpose and function for the building up of the Body of Christ that Christ may be glorified Such a healthy Body attracts others to Christ.
As we continue in our study of Romans 12:1-2 I remind you of the two major divisions of this Epistle. Chapters 1-11 deal with the doctrine of our salvation, concluding with the doxology of praise to God in 11:33-36. Chapters 12-16 deal with the practical applications of the doctrinal truths of the earlier chapters.
In these chapters we deal with our relationship as Christians with the world, the church, our enemies, human government, our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
THE WORLD SYSTEM
First, let’s consider our relationship as Christians with this world. We’re not referring to God’s beautiful creation which He has given us for our enjoyment and for our reflection on and worship of Him who created it. Instead Paul in Romans 12:2 and II Corinthians 4:3-4 warns of the cosmos; the world system presently under the domination of Satan, “the god of this world”.
This includes the man-centered religious system, educational system and entertainment system: including music, art, the Hollywood film industry and the immodest clothing fashions. Most of this comes from the minds and hearts of the wicked and unregenerate of this world and it enters and affects our lives through television and the internet.
Let me warn Christian parents of little children. Guard the influences you allow to come into your home. Guard your children from them as you would guard them from child-molesters.
HOW THIS SATANIC WORLD SYSTEM AFFECTS US
All of us; both sinners and saints, are touched, influenced, permeated and contaminated by Satan and his wicked world system. It’s sad, but it appears that most Christians are enamored with and influenced by Satan and his polluting world system, even though Paul warns us to not be conformed to it in Romans 12:1-2.
In John 17:9-19 the Lord Jesus, in His last evening before His crucifixion, prayed for His disciples and for us that we would not be trapped and enslaved by this Satanic world system.
Not one of us is untouched by the world’s philosophies and influence, Paul writing to the Christians of Ephesus in Ephesians 2:1-3 reminds them and us that “we all” have been enamored, touched and indoctrinated by Satan and his evil world system. No one escapes it. It taints our thinking and influences our values in every area of our lives. We are permeated and contaminated with Satanic influences every day. We have been blinded and enslaved by it, II Corinthians 4:4 reminds us.
In I John 2:15-17 we are warned not to love this world system. We are reminded that it is headed for damnation and destruction.
THE CHRISTIAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS WORLD
It’s God’s plan that we live in and are surrounded by this wicked world system. God could have saved us from it and instantly whisked us off to Heaven, nevermore to be contaminated by Satan and his world system. Instead, He leaves us here after we are saved to share the Gospel and impact this world for Christ.
Jesus reminds us in His High Priestly prayer in John 17:15-20 that He desires His redeemed children in this world throughout their lifetime to be a witness and a blessing to others. We are IN the world, but not OF it, John 17:16-17 reminds us. But we are to separate ourselves from the lies and false, sinful philosophies and contaminating influences of the world by our immersion in His Biblical Truth.
Do you know what we are as Christians? Hebrews 11:13 teaches that we as Christians are to recognize ourselves as pilgrims and strangers in this sinful world. Think of it, pilgrims and strangers; not at home and well adjusted and comfortable in this world!
Furthermore, although we are never to be hateful towards others, we are to expect the hatred and persecution of this world. Jesus said so in John 15:18-21. The reason most of us in America do not experience persecution as Christians is because we are so at home and well-adjusted in this world. At the same time, many Christians in other parts of the world are being persecuted and martyred for their faith in Christ, perhaps more than at any time in history.
HOW ARE WE TRANSFORMED?
Our hearts are immediately transformed at the moment of salvation. We call it conversion. The moment we are saved, we are converted and God begins the process of transforming us by the renewing of our mind. The Christ we once ignored or even hated, we love. The sins we once loved we hate. Salvation is more than an instant mental transformation.
It is far more than that. It involves a supernatural transformation that begins in the heart and gradually extends to every area of life. That’s the message of Romans 12:1-2. It involves first a receiving of the Truth of God. Then as we yield out lives to Christ we are constantly being renewed in our thinking as we read God’s Word and receive it into our hearts and lives. We are constantly being renewed in our thinking as we read and ponder this and other biblically-based web sites and books and as we hear Biblical messages in churches where the Bible is faithfully preached. That’s the major reason for faithfully attending a church where the Bible is faithfully exposited and taught.
The attraction and affection for this sinful world system is gradually changed by the cleansing and renewing of our minds as we receive and absorb the engrafted Word of God into our hearts. It is an ongoing process that gradually drives out the contaminating thinking of the world. The Psalmist refers to it in Psalm 119:9, Paul talked about it in such passages as Colossians 3:16-17.
DANGERS AND REWARDS
This decision as Christians as to whether or not we are going to yield our lives to Christ and allow Him to direct our ways in every area of our lives: including marriage, education and life work, is not a casual take it or leave it decision. It is a life and death matter.
The danger of refusing to surrender to Him means staying in the world system and suffering the consequences. James 4:4 addresses such unfaithful Christians. “You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship with this world system means that you are at enmity with God? Whoever is a friend of this world system is an enemy of God.”
To get a picture of how things are going to turn out for such a Christian, read the story of Lot and the choice he made in Genesis 13:1-13 and the consequences of his wrong choice in Genesis 19.
My wife and I, now in our late 70’s, rejoice together that life for us has been a wonderful adventure. We don’t regret receiving Christ as our Saviour, nor do we regret turning our lives over to God as young people, even before we met each other. God has given us wisdom for every decision and has blessed us with fulfillment and joy beyond measure, meeting every need of our lives. We highly recommend God’s perfect will for you. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed in the man who trusts in Him.” Psalm 34:8-10