Romans Lesson 8: We are the Family of God: Romans 14-16

posted Sep 13, 2014, 1:33 AM by Media Ministry   [ updated Sep 14, 2014, 2:04 PM ]


       How to Deal with Family Differences (Romans 14) 

There is room in the Kingdom for differences (vv1-8).

      Jews and Gentiles had very different spiritual and moral backgrounds.

      Some had a conscience about eating meat which may have been sacrificed to an idol & later sold in a meat market (1 Corinthians 8). 

      Also, some felt a special feeling toward certain holy days from their past.                         

       Differences (continued) 

Here Paul shows that these things are allowed but they cannot be bound.

       How can you tell if it is an “opinion” area?

       Abide by your own personal conscience but avoid dogmatism.

       What are such areas for us today? (Drinking, dancing, dress, movies, etc.)

       Differences (continued) 

How do former religious practices fit in? (Holy days, “holidays,” particularly).

       A strong faith person can participate while the weak faith person cannot (without violating his conscience).

       The strength of faith issue here does not necessarily correspond to strong or weak faith in other areas.

       No Room in the Kingdom for Judgmental Attitudes (vv9-12) 

Narrow-mindedness and self-righteousness are sins of the Pharisees with which Jesus had no tolerance.

       Righteousness cannot be legislated by rules and regulations.

       However, guidelines are needed. 

       What is the difference between rules and guidelines?

       Determining Authority in Making Decisions

Word specifically states something—no doubt about the authority  to enforce it.

       Recognized congregational leaders can determine policies for the church which help everyone to carry out God’s general commands (Hebrews 13:17).

       Giving advice—this area is not “binding” and Hebrews 13:17 is not the text for it.

       More on Giving Advice

Advice for those on staff is often (but not always) binding, because an employer/employee type of relationship is involved.

       Although advice generally may not be binding, our attitudes must lead us strongly toward agreement, not toward differences.

       Practicals in Giving Advice

Giving advice is teaching another to think like Jesus, not thinking for him.

       How can we not follow advice without being independent and/or rebellious?

       What is our response when the advice we give is not followed?

       Practicals (continued) 

Are you comfortable giving someone you disciple or otherwise lead the right of appeal  (to a higher leader)?

       What is the correct way to handle such an appeal if you are the one leading?  If you are the one being led?

       Overall, just how binding do you think your advice should be?

       No Room for Examples Which Destroy  (vv13-23) 

Your example causes some to stumble (not simply grumble - Jesus’ example).

       The one caused to stumble was a young Christian with an untrained conscience in certain areas, not an older, cranky  legalist.

       The way a weak brother was caused to stumble was in following the example of another in doing what his own conscience would not allow (1 Corinthians 8).

       Conscience Issues

Be willing to forfeit your “rights” in order to help younger Christians.  (Consider Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 9.)

       Do not violate your own conscience (vv22-23).  Consciences can be changed, but not violated during the process. 

       (In what areas of conscience do you walk close to the line?)

       How To Build Family (Romans 15-16) 

God’s family is unified (15:1-14).

      Unified in pleasing our brother (vv1-4).

      Unified with both mouth and heart (vv5-6).

      Unified in acceptance (vv7-14).

      The issue is still the Jew/Gentile relationship (vv8-12).

      We are “competent to counsel” one another (v14).   What does this mean?

       God’s Family Has a Mission (15:15-33) 

Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (vv15-24)—the mission of evangelism.

       Godly ambition is always right (v20); worldly ambition is always wrong; having no ambition is also always wrong (discuss that one - we can be too afraid of ambition and too often associate it with pride).

       God’s Family Has Intimate Relationships (16:1-27) 

Look at the list of people and the very personal things said.

      Would you like to have some of these things said about  you?

      Do you create these kind of relationships in the church?

      Do you verbalize such terms of endearment?

      What can you do to better pull people in emotionally?

       Destroying Relationships Cannot Be Allowed  (vv17-20) 

In this passage, Paul does not state that the divisive false teachers are in the fellowship of the church, nor that they are to be excluded from such. 

       Neither does he mention any action to be taken in reaching out to them, or warning them.

       Therefore, he apparently left this issue somewhat undefined in order to allow the directions in the passage to be applied as needed - to anyone causing divisions and putting obstacles in the way of Christians.

       Handling False Teachers

The passage will fit a member of the church who becomes destructive to the faith of others, a former member who is destructive, or even a total outsider.

       The focus is not specifically on the identity of the sinful person, but rather on the damage he is causing - which cannot be neglected. Divisive teaching is smooth and subtle.   (How do we tell if it is divisive?)

       Final Thoughts

Paul closes out his letter with a focus on evangelism  (vv25-27). 

      Like the God of all grace of whom he wrote, this apostle of grace never lost sight of the mission. 

      Seeking and saving the lost is the only possible response of love for the disciple who understands both the damning nature of sin and the loving nature of God.


Media Ministry,
Sep 13, 2014, 1:43 AM