Chrisitan Liberties, Romans 14

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Christian Liberties, Romans 14

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Receive One Another! : 

Romans 15:7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Receive One Another!

Points to Ponder : 

Points to Ponder Context Possibilities The Jewish Context The Gentile Context The Acts 15 Context The Aesthetic Context The All Inclusive Context Connection between Law, Liberty, and License. Why discuss Law? What is a Liberty? Who are the Strong and Weak? When does a Liberty become a License? Criteria for Peace. What principles govern the problem?

Slide 3: 

Context Possibilities The Jewish Context The Gentile Context The Acts 15 Context The Aesthetic Context The All Inclusive Context

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation The Jewish Context Jewish Christians still sensitive to OT Dietary Laws? Jewish Christians still observing OT Ceremonial Days? Jews trying to bind ceremonies and days on Gentiles? Albert Barnes: The New Testament everywhere shows that they [Jews] were disposed to bind the Gentile converts to their own customs, and to insist on the observance of the peculiar laws of Moses (Commentary on Romans 1) Christopher Wordsworth: In the present Chapter the convert to Christianity from Judaism, (is the one) who for conscience sake still made a difference of meats and days, as distinguished by the Levitical law . . . He (Paul) condescends to their weaknesses in complying, in certain circumstances with the ceremonial provisions of the Law. (Commentary on Romans 1, p. 264).

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation Problems with the Jewish Context theory: If the dispute was over Mosaic practices, why is Paul so conciliatory with the Romans in light of the way he reacted when writing to the Colossians and Galatians? Why would Paul allow the “weak” (ie: Scrupulous Jews?) to even hint that Mosaic Laws might be obligatory? Paul’s conciliatory approach MIGHT fit a context where Jews did not bind their ideas on others. But if THIS is the background how would there have been any major disagreement in the first place???

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation More problems with the Jewish Context theory: The “weak” (scrupulous Jews?) ate NO meat. The Mosaic Law never required abstinence from all flesh. We would expect “scrupulous Jews” to be concerned with issues like circumcision more than dietary laws. Romans 14:2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. There is a parallel between 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. There must have been a large Gentile contingency at Rome! Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: (see also 15:16).

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation The Gentile Context Gentiles were being converted from Paganism It is certain that some converts were unsure about the propriety of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Was the meat spiritually tainted? It is clear that 1 Corinthians is written to Gentiles! Though not identical, Romans 14 parallels 1 Corinthians 8-10. 1Corinthians 8:7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation Gentile Context and Astral Observances. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi The Gentiles had developed numerous superstitions regarding astralinfluence on the days of the week. . .The popular belief that each day of the week was controlled by a planet-god, led to the development various practices. People preferred certain days for religious or business practices, abstained from certain foods on certain days and even wore finger rings set with the stone favored by the planet-god controlling the day. . . Christians were influenced by the pagan superstitions about the days of the week, as indicated by the frequent condemnation of these by church leaders. . . It is within this context of pagan and sectarian superstitions about the days of the week, that Paul’s statement about the preference given by some to certain days of the week must be understood. After all he was writing to a community composed predominantly by Gentile Christians (Rom 11:13) who were influenced by societal practices. (http://www.come2jesus.com.au/romans14.htm)

Similar but Distinct Contexts : 

The Situation at Corinth The Situation at Rome Weak has knowledge and judges strong. No mention of idols. Warns of creating disunity or stumbling block. Emphasis is on lack of judgment and love. Strong sins by having an “in your face” attitude. Both strong and weak have responsibility. Weak lacks knowledge and conscience may be violated. Idols are contextually certain Warns of wounding a weak conscience. Emphasis is on knowledge or lack thereof. Strong sins unwittingly by exercising his liberty. Strong has the greater responsibility. Similar but Distinct Contexts

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation The Acts 15 Context. After receiving the “Jerusalem Letter” some gentile converts began to abstain from ALL meats in an attempt to avoid any possible connection with idol worship. Sacrificed Meat, Blood, Strangled, Fornication = All were part of Pagan Worship! Ac 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation The Ascetic Context. Is it possible that there was a group of “ascetics” in Rome? Because it was difficult to know “which” meat was tainted by idol worship perhaps some just took the position that all meat was sinful. These ultra-conservatives were trying to force the church in a certain direction? For the sake of unity Paul says to cut each other some slack! Charles Ellicott: There appears to have been a party in the Church at Rome which had adopted certain ascetic practices over and above the common rule of Christianity. We gather that they abstained altogether from flesh and wine, and that they also made a point of observing certain days with peculiar sanctity [these may have been] those that came over from the Essene sect.

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation The All Inclusive Context. The threat to unity Paul addresses in this passage arises when mature (strong) believers – both Jews and Gentiles – conflict with immature (weak) believers. The strong Jewish believers understood their freedom in Christ and realized the ceremonial requirements of the Mosaic law were no longer binding. The mature Gentiles understood that idols are not gods, and therefore they could eat meat that had been offered to them. But in both cases the weaker brother’s consciences were troubled, and they were even tempted to violate their consciences.” (John McArthur – notes on Romans 14 – Study Bible)

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation : 

The Context of Paul’s Exhortation Which of the possibilities is most plausible? Gentile Context? Ascetic Context? Jewish Theory? Acts 15 Theory? The All Inclusive Context? It may be impossible to determine with certainty the context of Romans 14. However, like 1 Corinthians 11:1-15, the principles of Paul’s exhortation are timeless and without cultural bounds.

Slide 14: 

Law, Liberty and License Why discuss Law? What is a Liberty? Who are the Strong and Weak? When does a Liberty become a License?

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License Law An imperative from God’s Word stated either explicitly or implicitly and universally binding on all Christians. One MUST NOT appeal to Romans 14 as justification for an action until it first be determined if that action is God approved! Something may be “lawful” and yet not be appropriate. Romans 14 regulates implicit permissibles (ie: Liberties). 1Cor 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License Liberties Some Cultural Warnings: The term “liberty” in post-modern settings is oft equated with esotericisim. Ex: “It’s a free country!” = I can do as I please with little regard to law or its effect on others! America’s pervasive tolerant religious climate exacerbates the difficulty of defining liberties.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

What is a disputable item? Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages Observance of Halloween or other “Holy Days” One Cup, One Loaf, Sunday School Forsaking the Lord’s Day Worship Forsaking other assemblies of the church Remarriage after divorce Order of Worship Pre-millennialism and other similar doctrines Immersion as the mode of baptism Connection between Law, Liberty and License Everyone thinks “their” issue is a justified liberty!

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

What is a disputable item? Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages Observance of Christmas and other “Holy Days” One Cup, One Loaf, Sunday School Forsaking the Lord’s Day Worship Forsaking other assemblies of the church Remarriage after divorce Order of Worship Pre-millennialism and other similar doctrines Immersion as the mode of baptism Connection between Law, Liberty and License Romans 14 (alone) does not solve a single one of these issues!

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

1Cor 6:12 All things [that are lawful (jmc)] are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: Connection between Law, Liberty and License IS IT LAWFUL? NO YES Expedient NO YES Liberty? Ro 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License Liberty Aspects of our conduct about which we have no moral obligation. Freedoms involve choice. Moral Laws involve obligations. Freedoms involve individual choices, Moral Laws are universal. Genuine liberties can never involve sin. Exercising a liberty should always take into consideration other’s sensitivities. (See: Raymond Fox, Christian Freedoms, PS Notes 2000) The intent of Romans 14 is not to define liberties but rather to regulate them.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License Faith In Romans 14 “faith” refers to one’s own personal belief system about an issue – that issue being neither inherently right nor wrong. Romans 14:2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Romans 14:22-23 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License Weak in Faith One who is overly scrupulous about whether or not he should partake of a certain thing. The weak brother is not necessarily one who is unspiritual or on the verge of apostasy. He is simply one who, either because of his background or lack of spiritual maturity, holds himself to a more rigorous standard than God demands. He may or may not know that the issue is inherently “right” or “wrong.” Strong in Faith One who understands that the issue in question is neither inherently “right or wrong” (ie: morally obligatory) and whose conscience is not violated by participation in that activity.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License Note: There is a spiritual component to the “weak” vs. “strong” issue. After all, this is a religious matter! So while the “Weak” is not necessarily an apostatizing Christian, he is one who views matters more scrupulously than God demands. If both parties in question “equally” mature there would be no problem! Albert Barnes: Young converts have often a peculiar delicacy or sensitiveness about the lawfulness of many things in relation to which older Christians may be more fully established.

Connection between Law, Liberty and License : 

Connection between Law, Liberty and License When does Liberty become a License? When it causes another to violate his conscience. When it causes division in the body of Christ. When our actions do not take into consideration our brother’s feelings. Liberty does not give us a blanket right to do something. 1Corinthians 8:1 Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 1Corinthians 8:9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace “Good Will” Hunting? The purpose of Romans 14 is to regulate liberties. Those who are strong have the greater responsibility! A liberty is not a license to do whatever one wants. We need to “hunt” for ways to edify each other! Romans 14 is not a “Club” to be used on the Weak! Strong Man L I B E R T I E S

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace The Patrick Henry Complex! If I Can’t Have it MY Way, life is not worth living!!! Strong Man L I B E R T I E S Give me liberty of give me death!!! 1Cor 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well -being.

Let’s Get Real : 

Let’s Get Real Example 1: A group of young people at the New Year Meeting who wants to go to the Movies when one of the group has been raised to believe the movies are sinful! Example 2: A Jew is converted and though he knows that the NT does not require Sabbath observance he does not feel comfortable with golfing on Saturday. It would be wrong for me to insist that my newly converted brother play a round of scrambles!

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace An underlying vein of Romans 12-14 is Love, Peace, and Mutual Respect. Chapter 12: 12:3 No man is to think of himself too highly. 12:4 The body of Christ is composed of many members. 12:9 Love for each other must be sincere. 12:10 Be kind and defer to one another. 12:13 Give to the saints and be hospitable. 12:16 Be of one mind with each other. Ro 12:10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another;

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace An underlying vein of Romans 12-14 is Love, Peace, and Mutual Respect. Chapter 13: 13:8 Love is to be our only outstanding debt. 13:10 Love does not harm others. 13:10 Love fulfills the Law. Ro 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace An underlying vein of Romans 12-14 is Love, Peace, and Mutual Respect. Chapter 14: 14:1 Receive one who is “weak” 14:3 Strong is not to despise the “weak” 14:10 Strong not to show contempt for the “weak” 14:15 Do not grieve your brother 14:15 Walk in Love 14:15 Do not destroy your brother 14:19 Pursue peace and mutual edification 14:21 Do not cause brother to stumble or become weak

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace An underlying vein of Romans 12-14 is Love, Peace, and Mutual Respect. Chapter 15: 15:1 Strong is to bear the infirmities of the weak 15:2 Each to please and edify his neighbor 15:7 Receive each other Ro 15:7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 1: There will be disputes! Peace is to be pursued in the paradigm of paradox! We will not always agree! In tension there is Growth! The “issue” may not be the “issue” – the “issue” may be how we treat each other!!! Ro 14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 2: Uncross your eyes and quit looking down your nose! Ro 14:3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 3: It’s about Thanks-Giving – its not about the Turkey! Ro 14:6 He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 4: We can’t proxy our presence at The Judgment! Ro 14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 5: Its about spirituality – its not about supper! Ro 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 6: Be part of the scaffolding! Are you part of the problem or the solution? Ro 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may build up one another.

Criteria for Peace : 

Criteria for Peace Paul’s Practical Plan for Pursuing Peace Point 7: Some things are between you and God! Ro 14:22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

Conclusion : 

Conclusion Receive One Another! Romans 15:7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

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