Google+ November 2006 Commentaries - White Horse Inn

November 26, 2006 Commentary:
"The Bible vs. Romans" (Part 1)

We are coming to the end of this series that we've been calling the Romans Revolution and in the next two programs as we wind this series up, we're going to look at the relationship of Paul's teaching here in the Book of Romans to the rest of the Bible. Romans versus the Bible is how it's understood these days...sometimes people will talk about "Jesus versus Paul" and here in these two programs we're going to address those questions that people often throw at us - namely, "Well, yeah, if you had the Book of Romans by itself in the Bible, you might come to these conclusions, but remember you have to sort of relativize whatever Paul says in Romans by what James says and what you find in the Gospels, in the Prophets, in the Law and so forth..." In these programs we are going to tackle some of the difficult passages in Scripture that seem to fly in the face of some of the points that Paul has made in this epistle.

Click here for related information to the November 26 broadcast.


November 19, 2006 Commentary:
"Smooth Talk & Flattery" (Romans 16:17-20)

Sometimes it really gets me down when I think about how many millions of people today in America watch TV preachers like Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, or Joyce Meyer and read their bestselling books. Meanwhile, programs like the White Horse Inn and books about sound doctrine have a mere fraction of the audience. Then there are the megachurches where people flock to feel better about themselves, while churches that faithfully proclaim God's Word and administer the sacraments each week often struggle and their ministers often find themselves under enormous pressure to change their emphasis.

How many Christians today are bathed in the great truths that Paul considered essential basics for any church in this epistle to the Romans? But then I remember that the mega-movements come and go; it's the church that Christ founded, however small and un-entertaining it is, that endures from generation to generation. Just look at the religious movements and individuals who capture the headlines of Time magazine over the decades and ask yourself where they are today. Yet the church founded by the gospel proclaimed here in Romans is still around today in every part of the world.

The prophets warned against the false teachers who lead the people astray with false hopes, "dressing the wounds of my people," as though it were not serious. Similarly, Paul warns Timothy that in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves, boastful, proud, gathering teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. In the passage before us, Romans 16:17-20, Paul warns his readers to hold firm to the doctrine that you have been taught and to avoid the false teachers who by smooth talk and flattery deceive the hearts of the naïve. In this program, we consider Paul's warning especially in light of our own smooth talk and flattery that passes for Christianity in America today.

Romans 16:17-20 (ESV)

[17] I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. [18] For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. [19] For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. [20] The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Click here for related information to the November 19 broadcast.


November 12, 2006 Commentary:
"The God of Promise" (Romans 15:7-20)

Throughout our discussion of these final chapters, we've seen that the choice that's often put before us - either "creeds or deeds," either doctrine or life - is a false one. Even in these chapters that focus on exhortation are shot through with references to the gospel that Paul has expounded in chapters three through eleven: "Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us to the glory of God," he says, for example, in verse 7. This connects us to the previous discussion: Jews and the Gentiles, as well as the weak and the strong must not simply learn to live with each other in the church; they must embrace and welcome each other as co-heirs together with Christ. There will still be differing views and practices with respect to special days and foods, but let each person follow his or her conscience and embrace each other in mutual love - regardless. Ironically, we often think that doctrine divides and practice unites. But Paul says agree in the doctrine and let there be a variety of practices. Nobody's supposed to "win" this debate over Jewish scruples. The two groups are to mutually affirm each other. Everything for Paul returns to Christ. Receive each other not simply because it's nice to be nice, or because it's healthy team spirit, much less because if we don't we'll lose our salvation; rather we receive each other just as Christ also received us - that is, by grace, to the glory of God alone. How did Christ receive us? Well, Paul tells us he became a servant (diakonos). The first Adam was a man who tried to play God; the Second Adam was the real God who became man. If our whole salvation is the result of God's condescending to us, his serving us, then our relationships with each other should reflect service rather than mastery, the Second Adam, in whom we are saved, rather than the first Adam in whom we are lost. Throughout Romans and all of Paul's letters, there is this recurring goal for both salvation and our grateful response (to the glory of God). Furthermore, in this passage Paul summarizes his recurring theme, namely that God's covenant faithfulness has been fulfilled in Christ and it is now being fulfilled in the mission of Paul, who through his proclamation of the gospel is a priest offering up the Gentiles, once regarded as unclean, as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving now on God's altar. Because the Gentiles have received spiritual riches from the Jews, Paul receives their material riches for the relief of the poor in Jerusalem. That's how gifts circulate now in the kingdom of grace. In this tangible way, the gospel promise made to Abraham - namely that in Christ all the nations of the earth would be blessed, you have not only the fulfillment of that promise but of its implications as they create a community of genuine mutuality and love. Good news bears its fruit in good works. Our text is Romans 15:7-20.

Romans 15:7-20 (ESV)

[7] Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
[8] For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, [9] and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name."

[10] And again it is said,

"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."

[11] And again,

"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him."

[12] And again Isaiah says,

"The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope."

[13] May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
[14] I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. [15] But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God [16] to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. [17] In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. [18] For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience--by word and deed, [19] by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God--so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; [20] and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation...

Click here for related information to the November 12 broadcast.


November 5, 2006 Commentary:
"The Weaker Brother" (Romans 14-15:13)

You know, some Christians think that if you drink or smoke you must not be a Christian. Or, if you are, you're at least ruining your Christian testimony in the world - as if we were witnesses to ourselves, rather than Christ. Others, often after being liberated from such attitudes, take advantage of any and every opportunity to offend their brothers and sisters in order to flaunt their liberty in Christ. Now, as different as these two approaches seem at first, they really do have a lot in common.

First, they're spiritually and relationally immature. Instead of cultivating wisdom concerning the issues that are neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture, and love toward others - especially fellow saints, the person who flaunts his liberty is simply mirroring his more legalistic brothers' fascination with universally binding rules. Both want to bind my conscience: either I can't have a glass of wine with my meal, or I must have one. So, it's a sin against myself. But more importantly, Paul says, legalism and license are sins against our brothers and sisters in Christ. Both are selfish. The rigorist wants me to give up my freedom in Christ to conform to his scruples of conscience, while the other guy wants me to validate his freedom. Isn't there something more important than drinking or not drinking? Well, Paul says there is. Is it possible for a certain practice to be right for one person but not for another? Isn't that relativism? Situation ethics? Paul addresses all of these important practical questions in Romans 14 and 15, our focus in this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Romans 14

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another
[1] As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. [2] One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. [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. [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. [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. [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. [7] For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. [8] 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. [9] For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

[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; [11] for it is written,

"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."

[12] So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
[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. [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. [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. [16] So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. [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. [18] Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. [19] So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

[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. [21] It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. [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. [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.

Romans 15:1-13

The Example of Christ
[1] We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. [2] Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. [3] For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." [4] For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. [5] May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, [6] that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [7] Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Christ the Hope of Jews and Gentiles
[8] For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, [9] and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name."

[10] And again it is said,

"Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."

[11] And again,

"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples extol him."

[12] And again Isaiah says,

"The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope."

[13] May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Click here for related information to the November 5 broadcast.

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