Writings on Christianity

Unity in the Church (Romans 14:1-12)

Here’s the sermon outline for my sermon on Romans 14:1-12 “Unity in the Church” Part 1, preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville, Illinois on Oct 2, 2022.

Romans 14:1-12 “Church Unity” (Part 1)
Is possible to have unity in the local church? What about with Christians who disagree with you on secondary issues?
         – Essential Oils? Hymns or Contemporary Worship? Home/Public/Private School? How to evangelize? Bible translation?
                     -What does God think? Does unity matter to God?
                                 -Unity does matter; God desires us to pursue unity with other believers. And it is possible by His grace.
                     -Today, we start a 4-week series on unity in the local church as we walk through Rom 14 and 15.
         MS: If we are going to have unity in our church, we must first put away judgmental attitudes toward other Christians.
         Rom 1-11: GOSPEL Explained. Unity is not primary, but gospel is. Unity flows from gospel.
         Rom 12-15: GOSPEL Lived out.
                     This Section 14-15:1-13 is a mini-section on church unity.
         1. Does unity in the church matter? Yes!
Ps 133:1; John 17:21; THIS Section (Rom 14:1-15:13)
         2. Making Judgments vs Judgementalism.
                     -Christians must make judgments: Called to be discerning; Disciple others; Meaningful Church Membership
                                 -‘Be shrewd as a serpent and innocent as doves’ (Matt 10:16)—Orthodoxy & Heresy; orthopraxy & heterodoxy
                     -We avoid judgementalism—an attitude of proud superiority, condemn other with our strong opinion on 2ndary issues.
                                 -If said, ‘Faithful Christians never dance,’ ‘Real Christians wear Christians t’s’ ‘Probably not a Christians if no RC Sproul book’
         3. Avoiding two errors.
                     1. Error of Unnecessarily Dividing over secondary matters (elevate primary issues to secondary issues)
                     2. Error of theological liberalism (make no distinctions over theology or practice)
*God desires us to pursue unity, and Rom 14-15 helps us make progress in this.
: Unity in the church is only possible when we decide to put away judgmental attitudes toward each other over secondary matters.

             4 Truths to Help us Pursue Unity with Believers Who Help us Differ from us on Secondary Matters__________
                                                         (Stott help me see this passage is shaped by 4 motivations)
1. Remembering that God has Welcomed the Believer who Differs from us Help us Welcome them (1-3)
-Weak in Faith vs Strong in Faith:
Both are Christians;
     –Weak=Jewish Christians believed dietary laws should be observed (not 4 salvation):
     –Strong=Christians who understood those things were not necessary because of the gospel
          -Paul identified with the strong, but here wants us to show compassion to the weak and less mature Christian
                     –Today: secondary matters where one believer’s conscience is ok with something and another is not
                                 (schooling decisions; how we spend time and money; how we vacation; how we evangelize)
WELCOME him! (1a): As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him,
         -If we are to be mature Christians, we must welcome those who are weak in the faith or differ from us on secondary issues.
                     -Our position may be more wise, holy, and mature. But must welcome them, and disciple through the issue in time     
-SINCERE Welcome, not for ulterior motive (1b) but not to quarrel over opinions.
-Don’t invite over for a meal to have a surprise argument over a secondary issue.
-REALITY of Differences on Secondary Matters (2)One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
         -In Roman church, some ate “anything” but “weak person eats only vegetables”
                     -Vegetarian likely because of carryover from Judaism to ensure kosher eating
         -There are differences between Christians for lots of reasons today
                     -As we work out how to pursue holiness in suburbia we will disagree over some secondary matters
-We MUST Refuse to Despise or Judge (READ 3a)         -The “strong” would be especially tempts to despise the “weak” whose conscience prohibited particular activities
                     -Despise: Harbor hard-feelings to the one who differs from us.
         -The “weak” would be tempted to judge those who don’t adhere to certain practices
                     -Judge: To self-righteousness condemn the other for their decision
          -We FEEL this temptation too!
                     -Aren’t you tempted to be judgmental toward those who differ? Or to despise them?
-The Reason We Refuse to Judge or Despise (3b): for God has welcomed him.
         -“him” the Christian, justified through grace by faith
         -“welcomed him” into kingdom of God.
                     *GOSPEL TRUTH: Through the gospel we experience God’s welcome grace!
: God has Welcomed the Believer who Differs from us and so Should We!
         –Dinner Party Illustration. It is wrong and misguided for us to refuse to welcome whom the host has welcomed in.
                     –Remembering that God has Welcomed the Believer who Differs from us Help us Welcome them
2. Remembering that Jesus is the Lord of the Believer who Differs from us helps us not to try to Lord Over them (4-9)
Receiving the judgment of a brother who believed it was wrong for me to pursue formal theological education.
-It is inappropriate for us to take on the role lording over the servant of another (READ 4)

         -We are not the Lord, but Jesus is. It is his place to pass judgment: Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?
         -They—and we—stand before Jesus, our master who judges us: It is before his own master that he stands or falls.
                     -Jesus is able to “uphold” us in this life (and Judgment Day) and make us “stand”
-Christians differ, and each should be fully Convinced (READ 5)
         -Some in Roman church believed Sabbath and other days needed to be kept, but others did not.
         –Paul’s surprising solution: “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind”!
                     -Instead of forcing weak brother to adopt strong view, he allows for what will bring about unity
                                 -Note: Commentators agree Paul does want them to become strong at some point, but
                                 here we see that love allows for this leeway in secondary matter as we pursue unity
-Our Differences Are United in the our Devotion to our Lord (READ 6-8)
-Observing and eating “to the Lord” (6)
                     -Living and Dying to the Lord (7-8)
                                 -We belong to the Lord “we are the Lord’s” : NCC 1
-Jesus, through the gospel, brought about this change of lordship for us (READ 9)
-Jesus is the Lord of the dead and the living! His death and resurrection secured this.
                     -Jesus died and rose again that we live for him and belong to him!
GOSPEL TRUTH: We’ve been delivered from sin as our Lord, now Jesus is our kind lord and master.
         -You can be freed from the tyranny of sin if you come to Jesus too!
-SUMMARY AND IMPLICATION: The Christian who differs from me does not belong to me, but to Jesus. Jesus is his/her lord and not me. So it is wrong and inappropriate for me to take on that role of lordship.
        –When tempted to judge or despise another Christian over secondary matters, remember you are not his lord, but Jesus is!
 *Unity in the church is only possible when we decide to put away judgmental attitudes toward each other over secondary matters

3. Remembering that the Believer who differs from me is my spiritual sibling helps not to be judgmental toward them (10a)

Contrary to popular belief: we are not all children of God.
         -Because of sin, we are children of wrath (Eph 2:1-3)
                     -Through the gospel we are adopted in: Romans 8:14-16
-A Rebuke for judging and despising our spiritual sibling (READ 10a):         -When we are judgmental or despise the believer who differs, we judge or despise our brother!
   *GOSPEL TRUTH: Through Jesus we are adopted into the family of God!
Don’t be judgmental or despise your spiritual sibling!
         *Unity in the church is only possible when we decide to put away judgmental attitudes toward each other over secondary matters

4. Remembering that God is the Judge and not us help us not to be judgmental to other Christians (10b-12)
God will judge everyone of us. Recognizing this, helps us not to take the place of judging other Christians in secondary issues.
-We will all stand before God in judgment (10b-11)         -Judgment seat of God refers to Day of Judgment (10b-11)
                     -We’ll all stand before God and give an account of lives
                                 -Through the gospel we have hope: We are acquitted before God (8:1)
-We’ll each give an account of ourselves to God (12) 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
         -We are giving an account of ourselves to God, not other humans
                     -Judgment day is a vindication of our faith in Christ and a revealer of our heavenly rewards.
         -GOSPEL TRUTH: I am freed from the judgment of other people, Jesus was judged for me in grace and love!-ABSURD Umpire illustration (sidelines umpire). It’s wrong because we’re not the judge, but umpire is.
         -It is not right for take on the eternal judgment of God. God has that covered, and we can look kindly on weaker brother.

CONCLUSION: The path to unity in the local church is hard, but these four truths help us:
1. If God has welcomed my fellowship Christian into the kingdom of God through the gospel, so must I!
2. I am not the lord of other Christians, Jesus is; I should not try to lord over another person’s faith in secondary issues
3. Other believers who differ on secondary matters are my spiritual siblings; there is no place for judgmental, critical attitude to brothers.
4. God is the ultimate judge not me; I will not judge another because that is not my place.
         If we are going to have unity in our church, we must first put away judgmental attitudes toward other Christians.

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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