Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Rom 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
Rom 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
That was the Apostle Paul‘s response to his own Spirit-inspired teaching in Romans 9 through Romans 11. In that passage, Paul addressed some difficult issues, including:
Why are not all individual ethnic Jews saved?
Has the word of God failed?
His statement that he himself would wish to be damned for the sake of his fellow Jews.
Is God unfair in His sovereign choice of Jacob and not Esau?
Salvation does not depend on human will or exertion, but on Him who has mercy.
He raised up Pharoah for the express purpose of showing His power and the proclamation of His name.
He has mercy on whomever He chooses and He hardens whomever He chooses.
The objection that such hardening is unjust because it would not be right to hold men responsible whom He Himself has hardened.
The fact that God does not need to explain Himself or justify these actions of mercy or hardening to a mere man.
The authority of the Potter to make honorable and dishonorable lumps from the same clay.
God’s desire to show His wrath and make known His power by enduring with patient vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy.
His calling of the elect not only from his fellow Jews but from the Gentiles.
There will be a people who were not His people who are His people.
Only a remnant of Israel will be saved.
Gentiles who did pursue righteousness receive it by faith.
Jews who pursued righteousness through the law failed to receive it because they stumble over Jesus in doing so.
Reiterating that there is an elect remnant, chosen by grace and not on the basis of any work of man, because if a work of man, grace is no longer grace.
Non-elect Jews failed to obtain what it was looking for but in fact were hardened in order to fulfill Old Testament prophecy.
This God-ordained hardening benefited the Gentiles in order to make Jews jealous.
Pointing out both the kindness and severity of God.
Another statement about the hardening of ethnic Jews.
Disobedient Jews and Gentiles shall receive the mercy mentioned earlier as a gift.
After all that, Paul breaks out in….praise. After all he has said, including the fact that he does not have all the answers (cf. Deut.29:29), he praises God for what He hasn’t revealed! Paul glories in the truth of God and His will even when men find that will and that truth offensive and not “God-like,” because men tend to remake God in their own image and not let God speak for Himself – as if He needs defending against those whose lives are a “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes…”(James 4:14).
Praise God for His sovereign election of sinners for salvation – Paul did. Praise God for His sovereign hardening and reprobation of sinners for damnation – Paul did. Praise God for that of His will which He hasn’t revealed – Paul did.
We engaged in a Reformed Road Trip this weekend, visiting Grandchild Number Five, little Elliott, who resides in the Greater Grand Rapids area with his beaming parents. As shown below, Elliott’s dad is starting the little guy off with none of the typical fluff associated with infancy but is immersing him in sound teaching from the git-go (perhaps Pastor Ramirez in Idaho can relate).
But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
As you can see, Elliott appears to a little fatigued, wiping the sweat from his brow (well, as if he HAD a brow). Can’t start ‘em too early.
When I see Dr. Rapa at bible study/church this week, I can relay that his teaching is being absorbed by young and old alike. Sometimes VERY young…………
Objection 1. It seems that predestination is not certain. Because on the words “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown,” (Apocalypse 3:11), Augustine says (De Corr. et Grat. 15): “Another will not receive, unless this one were to lose it.” Hence the crown which is the effect of predestination can be both acquired and lost. Therefore predestination cannot be certain.
Objection 2. Further, granted what is possible, nothing impossible follows. But it is possible that one predestined–e.g. Peter–may sin and then be killed. But if this were so, it would follow that the effect of predestination would be thwarted. This then, is not impossible. Therefore predestination is not certain.
Objection 3. Further, whatever God could do in the past, He can do now. But He could have not predestined whom He hath predestined. Therefore now He is able not to predestine him. Therefore predestination is not certain.
On the contrary, A gloss on Romans 8:29: “Whom He foreknew, He also predestinated”, says: “Predestination is the foreknowledge and preparation of the benefits of God, by which whosoever are freed will most certainly be freed.”
I answer that, Predestination most certainly and infallibly takes effect; yet it does not impose any necessity, so that, namely, its effect should take place from necessity. For it was said above (Article 1), that predestination is a part of providence. But not all things subject to providence are necessary; some things happening from contingency, according to the nature of the proximate causes, which divine providence has ordained for such effects. Yet the order of providence is infallible, as was shown above (Question 22, Article 4). So also the order of predestination is certain; yet free-will is not destroyed; whence the effect of predestination has its contingency. Moreover all that has been said about the divine knowledge and will (14, 13; 19, 4) must also be taken into consideration; since they do not destroy contingency in things, although they themselves are most certain and infallible.
Reply to Objection 1. The crown may be said to belong to a person in two ways; first, by God’s predestination, and thus no one loses his crown: secondly, by the merit of grace; for what we merit, in a certain way is ours; and thus anyone may lose his crown by mortal sin. Another person receives that crown thus lost, inasmuch as he takes the former’s place. For God does not permit some to fall, without raising others; according to Job 34:24: “He shall break in pieces many and innumerable, and make others to stand in their stead.” Thus men are substituted in the place of the fallen angels; and the Gentiles in that of the Jews. He who is substituted for another in the state of grace, also receives the crown of the fallen in that in eternal life he will rejoice at the good the other has done, in which life he will rejoice at all good whether done by himself or by others.
Reply to Objection 2. Although it is possible for one who is predestinated considered in himself to die in mortal sin; yet it is not possible, supposed, as in fact it is supposed. that he is predestinated. Whence it does not follow that predestination can fall short of its effect.
Reply to Objection 3. Since predestination includes the divine will as stated above (Article 4): and the fact that God wills any created thing is necessary on the supposition that He so wills, on account of the immutability of the divine will, but is not necessary absolutely; so the same must be said of predestination. Wherefore one ought not to say that God is able not to predestinate one whom He has predestinated, taking it in a composite sense, thought, absolutely speaking, God can predestinate or not. But in this way the certainty of predestination is not destroyed.
This week we will be wrapping up our study of Sola Fide, or Faith Alone – justification through faith alone. Next week we will begin to look at Sola Gratia – Grace Alone.
To recap, the Five Solas of the Reformation – again, we don’t know that the Reformers themselves actually used these terms, but the terms do summarize the teaching of the Reformers. The Reformers stated that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone, which includes four of the Solas or the “Alones,” with the fifth sola being Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone.
Last week we looked at what Jesus said about salvation through faith alone when we looked at multiple passages where Jesus taught this and then we looked at Paul’s teaching of faith alone in the book of Romans and this week we will look at what Paul had to say (and God, Him being the Inspirer of Paul’s words) in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, so please open your bibles to the letter to the Galatians and as we get there, let me tell you we will also look today at a couple other issues – what about James and James chapter 2? The biblical response would be, “What about James and James chapter 2?” W will look briefly at James chapter 2 and we will also look at the source of saving faith which will lead us into next week as we begin a study of Sola Gratia.
The best way to understand Paul’s treatment of salvation by faith alone is to merely read the text. Again, keep in mind this was a letter to be read to the church at Galatia in its entirety. We won’t read the entire letter but we will read large sections to see how Paul lays out his case. To set up the situation, Paul is writing to the church at Galatia. He knows that they are falling under the teaching of the Judaizers, people who profess Jesus as the Messiah but also state that one must become a Jew by observing the law to be saved. Paul had encountered this at Antioch and he mentions an encounter he had with Peter while at Antioch. What may seem to us to be a small thing – Peter switching seats at meals – for Paul endangered the very Gospel of grace that he had taught the Galatians.
Let’s start reading at chapter 1, verse 6:
“6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
At this point Paul hasn’t said what the problem is, but he certainly has said there IS a problem and that problem is worthy of damnation in Paul’s eyes. There is only one Gospel and Paul is going to be very particular in defining that Gospel and as we will see, it is a Gospel of salvation through faith alone.
So what’s the issue here in Galatians? Paul is coming down on those who teach that in order to be saved, one must be circumcised. We see this explicitly in 5:2, where Paul says “if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.” If circumcision were necessary for salvation that brings up the question “how is a woman saved?’” Just asking – food for thought, isn’t it?
If we go to chapter 2, we see Paul giving an account of an encounter he had with Peter while they were in Antioch, beginning in verse 11. We read that Paul confronted Peter to his face because he used to dine with the Gentiles but once the Judaizers showed up he ate with them instead. Paul calls Peter out for living like a gentile – though he himself was a Jew – and also requiring gentiles to live like Jews. Please note that Peter wasn’t preaching circumcision – all Peter did was buddy up to those who were. Paul considered that action as endorsing another Gospel. People say in our age that doctrine doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be particular on matters, even matters of preaching the Gospel. Paul’s words here – inspired – breathed-out – by the Spirit of the living God, state otherwise.
Verse 15 is where Paul defines what he means. Let’s read:
“Gal 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; Gal 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Paul narrows his focus here and talks about a certain group of people within the family of faith in verse 15 – “we” being those who are Jews by birth and this is the same ”we” of verse 16 – just like in Romans, when we discussed personal pronouns, personal pronouns make a difference. In verse 16, Paul says even those who are Jews by birth know that a person is NOT justified y works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. Look at verse 16 and verse 17 carefully. Note that what Paul says in verse 16, he reverses in verse 17. (Draw on board)
It is clear here that Paul says justification is through faith alone. We go to verses 20 and 21:
“Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Paul says he lives now by faith in the son of God and that if righteousness were by the law, then there was no purpose in the death of Christ. Think about that one – if any obedience to the law is the basis for justification, then Christ’s death was meaningless. Then Paul starts chapter 3 by calling the Galatians “foolish.” I have another translation that calls the Galatians “unthinking.” Paul fires off a series of rhetorical questions – questions designed to provoke thinking from these unthinking people and he again calls them foolish in verse 3 right after he asks them if they received the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith, bringing to mind Paul’s words in Romans 10 when he said faith comes by hearing, right? Verse 5, Paul asks another question – “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith – and Paul again brings up the Hebrew Scriptures to make his pint – a salient point given that Jews and their insistence upon circumcision was the issue here – Paul, as he did in Romans 4, quotes Genesis 15:6, where Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. As he does in Romans 2, Paul, in verse 6, then states that it is those of faith who are sons of Abraham.
All I want us to do now is read verses 7 through 14:
“Gal 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
Gal 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
Gal 3:9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Gal 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Gal 3:11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Gal 3:12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”-
Gal 3:14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Then to verse 23:
Gal 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
Gal 3:24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
Gal 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
All we have to do is read the text and it’s clear – Paul can’t make it any clearer – justification is through faith alone and not by any works of the law.
One more passage – turn to chapter 5, the first four verses. There are two points to make here, one with regard to circumcision and one with regard to the assurance of salvation. Let’s read:
“Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Gal 5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.
Gal 5:3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.
Gal 5:4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
First, let’s discuss the assurance of salvation. Once someone finds out you believe in the assurance of salvation – that a person can’t lose his salvation – that someone may very well say to you, “Well, you know, Paul says you can fall from grace.” Remember the response I told you about when someone throws “judge not lest ye be judged” in your face? You’re supposed to say in response, what? “Twist not Scripture lest ye be like Satan.” Anyone who says Galatians 5:4 says you can lose your salvation is twisting Scripture. What is Paul saying here – does he say a person can fall from grace? Yes, he does. Does that mean a person can lose their salvation based on this statement? No. Look at what Paul is saying here – in verse 2 he says that, as he did back in chapter 2, verse 21, that if you accept circumcision, then Christ is of no use to you. He then reiterates (“I testify again”) that every man who accepts circumcision is obligated to keep the whole law – and his conclusion if that’s the case? Verse 4 – you are severed from Christ – cut off from Christ – you people who would seek to be justified by keeping the law – even if only one part of the law and if you try to be justified in that manner, you have what? Fallen from grace. Those who fall from grace were never justified in the first place, were they? No, they weren’t, so they couldn’t lose their salvation because it’s something they never had.
Remember last week I wrote on the board “faith” and then started putting check marks, signifying works needed for salvation if one believes in faith plus anything? Which work then justifies you? You never know. Once you start that slippery slope, where does it end? Paul makes that same point if we go farther in chapter 12 with a rather shocking statement in verse 12 – “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” If circumcision is necessary for salvation, Paul says, somewhat sarcastically, the why stop there? Keep cutting!
I also told you we’d look at James. On the audio we heard two weeks ago, one of the pastors interviewed said to let “Paul and James duke it out,” as if they disagreed on the issue of justification through faith alone. Turn to James chapter 2. As we’re getting there, those who wish to say James believed in justification by works would have to then admit that James contradicted himself. We won’t turn there but if we were to go to Acts chapter 15, we’d see that the council at Jerusalem addressed the very same issue Paul dealt with in Galatians – those who wished to say that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Who was one of the leaders of that council which spoke out against keeping the law as a requirement for justification? James. Read Acts 15.
Let’s start James 2 at verse 8:
“Jas 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
Jas 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Jas 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
Jas 2:11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
Jas 2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
Jas 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,
Jas 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
Jas 2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Jas 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!
Jas 2:20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
Jas 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
Jas 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”-and he was called a friend of God.
Jas 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
Jas 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
Jas 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
If we were to start at verse 10-whoever keeps the whole law but fails at one point has become accountable for all of it – who does that sound like? Paul. Galatians 5, verse 3.
Verse 14 is key here – what if someone has faith but not works? James is talking about someone who is already proclaiming themselves to be a Christian – not one who is seeking to be one. Can that faith save him? Verses 15 and 16 give us examples of faithless acts – not faithful actions – and James then asks, “What good is that? He says in verse 17 that faith – by itself – that does not express itself through works – is dead. As we start verse 18, what is behind James’ point here is another one of our big words and that word is antinomianism. This means “against the law.” This is the same issue Paul dealt with in Romans 6 after having explained the Gospel of God’s grace – that all one has to do is “believe” – accept something as true – and then do nothing else in obedience to the commands of God afterward. No one would believe that, would they? Sure they would. Many people who belong to a movement called “free Grace” would. I’ll give you another one – Charles Stanley. Do we have Stanley’s book “Eternal Security” in the library? We shouldn’t. Here’s what Stanley believes and this is from his book (read excerpts):
The demons know who Jesus is, right? Not only here in James but in Acts 19 and the account of the sons of Sceva – they were attempting an exorcism and the evil spirit said what? “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” In James 2:20, James asks one of those rhetorical questions to a foolish person – as if this should be basic knowledge – that faith apart from works is useless?
If we take verses out of context, this is a classic passage where we can run into trouble – verse 21 talks about Abraham being justified by works, right? Verse 24 says that a person is justified by works, right? Verse 23 says that Abraham was counted as righteous and declared to be a friend of God by works, right? No, verse 23 says he was counted righteous by faith. Does James contradict himself here – again? No. Justified in this sense is an affirmation or a confirmation. The works here are not grounds for a man’s justification but a confirmation of the justification he has been given through his faith as James himself says in verse 23. This is nothing more than an affirmation of what Paul said in Ephesians 2 – we tend to focus on verses 8 and 9 but forget about verse 10:
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We cannot leave verse 10 out of this because it is a completion of the thought here because it starts with “For.”
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Saving faith necessarily results in works – we are saved in order that we can be obedient to God’s commands where we could not be obedient before.
Where does this faith come from? Does everyone have faith? Is it just a matter of exercising something that is buried deep down inside every man? Remember I read from our statement of faith a few weeks ago, which says that man is dead in trespasses and sins and is by nature a child of wrath and the Fall has destroyed his desire and ability to say yes to God’s commands? Remember Romans 12:3? God has assigned to each a measure of faith? Remember 2 Thessalonians 3; 2 – not everyone has faith? Which is right? They both are – Romans is referring to believers only while 2 Thessalonians is referring to mankind as a whole. So how does anyone believe if they can’t believe? That’s what we’ll cover in the next three weeks, but as an introduction – it’s a gift. Now, is the gift given to everyone? No, it isn’t. Is that fair? Who are you, O man, to answer back to God, using Paul’s words in Romans 9.
That quote from Ephesians 2 says that it is the gift of God – I’ll let the scholars argue about whether “it” refers to faith or grace or being saved – I would say, “Yes.” The gift really goes back to Ephesians 1 where Paul says that the Ephesians were chosen before the foundation of the world – that’s the gift. God, according to verse 4 of Ephesians 2, is rich in mercy and made them alive in Christ – that’s the gift. Paul, in Philippians 1:29, gives us another answer to this question along with the answer to the question that Dr. Rapa posed during the sermon last week – why do we suffer? We suffer because it’s a gift from God – Philippians 1:29. (cf. Hebrews 12:1-2, 1 Cor. 4:7, 2 Peter 2:1, 1 Tim. 1:14) We have faith because it’s a gift from God.
We will cover the issue of the source of our faith in much more detail as we review Sola Gratia – Grace Alone – beginning next week.
As we continue our series on Hell, no such series would be complete without the voice of the man whom many only see as a preacher of fire and brimstone, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards, though, gets a bad rap in this sense because he preached on many other topics and preached many wonderful sermons on the goodness, grace and mercy of God.
The main subject of the doctrinal part of this epistle, is the free grace of God in the salvation of men by Christ Jesus; especially as it appears in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. And the more clearly to evince this doctrine, and show the reason of it, the apostle, in the first place, establishes that point, that no flesh living can be justified by the deeds of the law. And to prove it, he is very large and particular in showing, that all mankind, not only the Gentiles, but Jews, are under sin, and so under the condemnation of the law; which is what he insists upon from the beginning of the epistle to this place. He first begins with the Gentiles; and in the first chapter shows that they are under sin, by setting forth the exceeding corruptions and horrid wickedness that overspread the Gentile world: and then through the second chapter, and the former part of this third chapter, to the text and following verse, he shows the same of the Jews, that they also are in the same circumstances with the Gentiles in this regard. They had a high thought of themselves, because they were God’s covenant people, and circumcised, and the children of Abraham. They despised the Gentiles as polluted, condemned, and accursed; but looked on themselves, on account of their external privileges, and ceremonial and moral righteousness, as a pure and holy people, and the children of God; as the apostle observes in the second chapter. It was therefore strange doctrine to them, that they also were unclean and guilty in God’s sight, and under the condemnation and curse of the law. The apostle does therefore, on account of their strong prejudices against such doctrine, the more particularly insists upon it, and shows that they are no better than the Gentiles; and as in the 9th verse of this chapter, “What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” And, to convince them of it, he then produces certain passages out of their own law, or the Old Testament, (to whose authority they pretend a great regard,) from the ninth verse to our text. And it may be observed, that the apostle, first, cites certain passages to prove that all mankind are corrupt, (verses 10-12.) “As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God: They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no not one.” Secondly, the passages he cites next, are to prove, that not only all are corrupt, but each one wholly corrupt, as it were all over unclean, from the crown of the head to the soles of his feet; and therefore several particular parts of thebody are mentioned, the throat, the tongue, the lips, the mouth, the feet, (verses 13-15.) “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood.” And, Thirdly, he quotes other passages to show, that each one is not only all over corrupt, but corrupt to a desperate degree, by affirming the most pernicious tendency of their wickedness; “Destruction and misery are in their ways.” And then by denying all goodness or godliness in them; “And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” And then, lest the Jews should think these passages of their law do not concern them, and only the Gentiles are intended in them, the apostle shows in the text, not only that they are not exempt, but that they especially must be understood: “Now we know that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” By those that are under the law is meant the Jews; and the Gentiles by those that are without law; as appears by the 12th verse of the preceding chapter. There is a special reason to understand the law, as speaking to and of them, to whom it was immediately given. And therefore the Jews would be unreasonable in exempting themselves. And if we examine the places of the Old Testament whence these passages are taken, we shall see plainly that special respect is had to the wickedness of the people of that nation, in every one of them. So that the law shuts all up in universal and desperate wickedness, that every mouth may be stopped; the mouths of the Jews, as well as of the Gentiles, notwithstanding all those privileges by which they were distinguished from the Gentiles.
(Much more discussion than usual – lecture minimized)
Rom 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
Rom 14:2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
Rom 14:3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
Rom 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
Rom 14:6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Rom 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
Rom 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Rom 14:10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
Rom 14:11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Rom 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Rom 14:13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
Rom 14:14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
Rom 14:15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
Rom 14:16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Rom 14:18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
Rom 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Rom 14:20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
Rom 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
Rom 14:22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
Rom 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Now if we look at our bibles, we would see that this is not the only place Paul addresses the topic he covers here in chapter 14. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul looks at the issue of eating food that has been sacrificed to idols and in Colossians 2 he addresses the issues of food and drink, festivals, the new moon and the Sabbath. Those would all be very worthwhile issues to look at and they do relate to chapter 14 of Romans but we’ll stay in Romans today for the most part.
As we look at Romans 14, it’s important to remember a couple of things – first, Paul is talking about people within the family of faith here and second, the real issue is not what one eats or drinks – it’s matter of balancing our liberty as mature Christians against the liberty that a less mature Christian feels he is bound by. We might think at first glance that a lot of this is a no-brainer and we don’t have a problem with it but we’ll look at some examples and we’ll spend some time discussing these because these are real-life situations that we may have dealt with in the past or that we will have to deal with at some point in the future.
If we look at verses 1, 2 and 3, we see the same person shows up in all three, just in a different form in each one. In verse 1, he is the one who is weak in faith in verse 2, he is eating vegetables and in verse 3 he is the one who is not to judge the one who eats anything. It’s the same with the other person – verse 1 he is the one who is to welcome the one who is weak in faith, in verse 2 he is the one who eats anything and in verse three he is not to despise the one who abstains from eating anything.
What’s the big picture here? That there are some things just not worth fighting over or causing division. Food is one of them. From Colossians, neither are festivals or a Sabbath. There are a lot of issues we could bring up that are really secondary to the Gospel and what unites us. What are some of them? Things like “The pastor didn’t visit so-and-so when she was in the hospital.” “That’s my pew.” “We sing Jesus and others and you too slow nowadays.” What does Paul say about these types of things? First off, he is contrasting those who are weak in their faith with those who are more mature and stringer in their faith. Please note he says that it is because of the weakness in their faith that some don’t eat “everything.” Not because of biblical prohibitions – it’s because of weakness in faith. What is one conclusion we can infer from this? That someday those who are weak in faith will become stronger in faith and will eat anything. Or that maybe they won’t eat everything, but the strength of their faith will enable them to not be bothered by those who eat everything. This issue all boils down to faith. Our background here is most likely former Jews and Gentiles and the Jews still being concerned over keeping dietary laws. On a broader scale it has to do with the things we bring to the table when we become Christians. In 1 Corinthians, Paul was addressing people who had come out of pagan religions where food was sacrificed to idols and how the people were to handle their encounters as of the present time with such meat. Here, Paul is addressing those who make the rounds of the entire buffet and those who never get past the salad bar.
Paul tells the stronger person to do what with the weaker one? Welcome them. We might think this is easy but I’ll propose a scenario or two later on and we’ll see just how “easy” it is.
In verses 3 and 4, Paul mentions that five letter word – judge. Do not judge. Not only is the strong person to not despise the weak, the weak is not to judge the strong. I think sometimes we over look that admonition – the one to the weaker brother. The weaker brother is held to the same standard as the stronger brother here. This also gives us cause to look at this issue of “judging” – an issue that is gravely abused within the church as a whole. How many times do you hear “Judge not lest ye be judged?” Too many. That phrase, from Matthew 7:1, is responsibility for the attitude within many within the body that no one can ever hold anyone responsible for their sin because you are not to judge. Jesus did not say “Never judge.” He said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” There’s a big difference. Jesus also said in John 7:24 that we are to not judge by appearances but to judge with right judgment. Paul gives a specific command in 1 Corinthians 5 that the church is to judge those within the church. Do Matthew 7 and Romans 14 contradict John 7 and 1 Corinthians 5? No. Read them in their context.
The big picture here as Paul is addressing judging? It’s to not make non-essentials issues of division. Here he primarily addresses issues of food. But let’s look at some examples involving food and some other issues and see what we come up with. First does this only apply to differences between individuals?
Last Sunday I walked in and smelled bacon, or so I thought – did I? Does anyone know who a vegan is? What if a vegan walked in and smelled the bacon and told Mr. Griffin as he’s handing them a bulletin, “That smell is going to make me throw up.”
Can we apply this principle in other areas by extrapolation? Or is it just limited to the specific items Paul lists here? I believe we should be applying to to other areas, because think of the consequences if we DON’T do so. OK, how about music? The stronger believer loves the old hymns and an occasional contemporary song. He gets in a car with a young guy, say…… Danny. Danny’s playing LeCrae and Shai Lynne and some old stuff like Grits and Kirk Franklin. What is the mature believer’s response to be?
How about the way women dress? How do we balance the biblical command for modesty with fashion in the 21st Century? Today’s “modesty” would have been condemned a few generations ago, would it have not?
Perhaps verse 17 sums it up for us – “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” We could substitute a number of things for eating and drinking but the point would remain the same – non-essential issues involving our wonderful Christian liberty are not to be issues that cause division or cause another to stumble. The color of the carpet doesn’t matter. Whether or not you even have carpet in the meeting place of the church doesn’t matter – it’s just not important in the way other issues are important. One overarching theme behind this is faith – Paul starts the passage by bringing in faith and he ends it with faith – whatever is not done from faith is sin. Whatever is done.