WITH ONE MIND AND VOICE GLORIFY GOD
Key Verse: 15:5,6
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This week Paul begins wrapping up his letter to the Romans. In this part he describes a kind of culmination of all the instruction and justification for getting along that he offered in many previous chapters. He gave the Jews in Rome very detailed explanation of why their faith matters most as they serve God now in Jesus Christ. He revealed why gentiles cannot be proud of themselves if they compare themselves to the Jewish believers who did not get the fullness of their freedom in Jesus. Then he offered many practical applications to everyone that can be described as being clothed with Christ Jesus. They related especially deep to our interaction with authorities and each other, humbling our selves to accept everyone, every time until they mature in faith. Let's see what he believes will happen when we are clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ according to his directions.
1) For even Christ did not please himself ...
Let's read verse 1 together. "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." This work is connected closely to last weeks message. But it goes beyond simply accepting the fact that some coworkers are still less mature in faith. Asking the strong to bear with the failings of the weak means putting them in a difficult position. Strong people in the world don't have any heart for losers and people who do not meet their standards. I think Paul had to learn this lesson very personally during his life of mission. Early on he once rebuked Apostle Peter for his weakness in front of some Jews who came to visit in Antioch. Peter was hanging out with the Gentiles before they came, but would not share dinner with them when the Jews were in the room. Paul knew it was hypocrisy in the sight of the Gentiles, so he gave Peter a hard time. Peter was just trying his best to bear with the failings of the Jews who could not believe they were all one family yet. Similar things were happening in Rome, and by now Paul was more open minded toward the Jews as they converted, some slower than others.
1. Read verses 1-3. What does it mean to “bear with”? Whom should we try to please? What should be our guiding principle in pleasing him? What is the example of Jesus? Did he have to endure insults? Why did he? How could he have pleased himself?
In ways, other than diet and other traditions, though, we all have weaknesses of one kind or another. Especially as we try to repent and grow as a holy nation together, we find that one sin or another may continually nag at us and tempt us to give up. We also find ourselves disagreeing about how to use resources or what limits to put on things like marriage in our community. Bearing with people who fail in the face of temptations, or don't agree about Bible verses and proper morality can be particularly difficult. In verse 2, Paul says we should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. This is where it can get very difficult. One day a missionary heard I liked Indian food, and asked me to make some food for his friend from India who was vegetarian. I realized, there are times we cannot eat whatever we like. M. R. C. does the same for me many times, when she prepares one very special roll of KimBap for me, because she heard I don't like fish. Bearing with others in his way can be burdensome as they fail to meet our standard of delicious things. But we can do so, if we want to build each other up.
Did you read the Psalm where it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me?" It was the same verse that another apostle saw come true as Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem, chasing away the money changers. If anyone had a right to please himself it would be Jesus, the son of God. He could have demanded everyone exalt him and serve him as God in the flesh, but he did not consider that something to be grasped. He chose to do his father's will every time. Though he did everything in his power to build up the people and lead them to God, the majority ultimately turned against him. Rather than start a war against them, Jesus chose to endure the insults and shame hurled against him by those who wanted to kill him. He even prayed for his father to forgive them as they hoisted him up to die on the cross. Like this, Jesus tried his best to do good for his neighbors rather than please himself in any way.
2) glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Read verse 4. How does reading the Scriptures to help us bear with others? How can we have hope in spite of our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others? How can we plant the hope of God in our sheep?
As he shared how the Psalm came true in Jesus' life, Paul was inspired by the Bible. Look what he wrote in verse 4. "... everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." The Psalm he quoted foretold Jesus' endurance, I wonder if Jesus remembered it as he was enduring reproach and scorn of the crowds and leaders of his day. Paul realized the Jews who knew the Bible have a golden opportunity to share it faithfully with the Romans. The strong believers must share the glimpses of Jesus, and stories of the faithful individual's endurance as they served God in their generations. Sharing the scriptures like that is how God speaks to his people. He most often calls people to follow him by the stories of the Bible. When we believe he challenges us and reminds us of his purpose and calling at just the right time. Many shared how the key verse they heard for the year just came to their mind at just the right time. Thank God for teaching us to endure the evil-world like our Lord Jesus and for encouraging us when we need it most with his words.
3. Read verses 5-7. What is Paul’s prayer for a fellowship whose members have no human grounds for unity? How can people who are very different find a true spirit of unity? How can we glorify God with one heart and mouth? Why must we?
Look now at verse 5 & 6. Here is were Paul starts sharing the grandest goal of all the instruction and advice he offered. What is so precious is that it culminates in many wonderful words of God coming true in believers lives, as they learn to imitate Jesus and clothe themselves with his character. Let's read verse 5&6 together. "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul knew all the human and religious barriers between the Jews and Christians in Rome. He experienced them all in his own life while he journeyed from country to country sharing the gospel. Religiously thinking, Jews cannot association with Gentiles and humanly thinking, gentiles can't endure Jewish people at all. But in Jesus there is a common goal that can unite them together. Paul prayed God would give them a united spirit, the same attitude toward each other that Christ Jesus had. Paul was a very mature leader in the Christian community now. He learned to love the gentiles he met and did his best to serve all the Jews he knew, hoping to win any one to Jesus. Likewise, he prayed God would inspire the Romans to love and serve one another as Jesus served them all. It is the grace of God at work when believers realize they are actually brothers and sisters, even if they came from many different places and countries or cultures. We experienced that effect for many years in our fellowship, when we join the international conference, sometimes were are so blessed and amazed by the like minded experience we have though we are among people from numerous countries.
Being like minded on the small scale however, is often more difficult. We are all different people, and god has a perfect plan for each person he calls to serve him. One brother invites everyone to daily bread atvery faithfully, but many coworkers do not have the same mind. They want to gather daily bread at , or after lunch. Paul knew there were many such disputable matters rising up in Rome. All he could do at this point was pray that God would grant the Romans the mind of Christ so they may glorify God with one mind and voice. Because it mentioned voice, we can help but think of singing a song together with gracious harmony. We are very thankful that some of our coworkers and children were able to share a the opportunity to praise God last Christmastime with the community choir. I think the 5L2F Orchestra director and the CFCMC director are blessed by an unusual spirit of uniting together for music ministry. Enjoying beautiful fellowship together like that is wonderful, but only one part of what Paul means by the same mind and voice. In the big picture, he wants the believers everywhere to accept each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Verse 7 and 8 share some more details, and another example in Jesus. He wrote: "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Here is the mind he is praying for. It accepts fellow sinners, just as Christ accepted each one of them. Our goal is to accept our fellow sinners, just as Jesus accepted Levi the tax collector. Can you imagine a more impossible situation than the Messiah candidate, inviting a traitorous benefit seeking thug like Levi to be his friend? It is how Jesus accepts sinners, without condition or judgment of any kind.
4. Read verses 8-9a. What was God's purpose for the Jews? (Ge 12:3; Ex 19:6) How did Jesus become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth?
In verse 8 and 9 Paul reminds us how "Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed. and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy." I think one thing Jesus did best was sharing God's truth with the Jews. Even skeptics and his enemies confessed that Jesus did not mince words or share the truth of God selectively. He very faithfully taught them the way of God in accordance with the truth.
5. Read verses 9b-11. What do these verses teach about God's world salvation plan? How do these verses show that the Gentiles are included in God’s plan?
6. Read verse 12-13. Who is the Root of Jesse? (Isa 11:1,10) What is the hope of the Gentiles and the hope of all people?
But Paul goes on to show how God's will comes true for all mankind in Jesus. He said, "Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” He wants the high minded Jews to believe it really is God's will and plan that people from every nation of earth will honor and praise God together. In the biggest sense, this is the very thing God called Israel out of the world to accomplish. Look at all the Bible verses Paul shared that prove God's plan all along has been to share his everlasting kingdom with all people of the world. In verse 10 says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” It was part of Moses' song, all the way back in Deuteronomy 32. He shared another Psalm, 117:1 that says, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” Then shares one of Isaiah's promises about the Messiah in verse 12. says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”
It was very good and right for the Jews of Rome to follow Paul's example, believing that in their day, God was bringing all his ancient promises to happen. The Jews and gentile believers in Rome, and all believers ever since have the precious chance to praise and worship god together. It was the most miraculous and wonderful thing that Paul experienced in several countries as a missionary from God's kingdom. It was his greatest hope and earnest prayer that Rome would become the place where God's will and promises would come true next. It truly is God's good pleasing and perfect will, that people from all nations and places be united as one to praise him thanks to Jesus who saves us all by grace and truth.
Let's read verse 13 together, and pray for each other, our fellowship, church and other believers we know to experience Paul's desire in our day. Let's go. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
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