Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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AM Bible Study Archives
"As Christ Also Received Us... "
Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
March 23, 2005
This closes the section (14:1-15:13) that deals with the whole matter of
"doubtful things", and how we treat one another in the body with respect to
them. The first section (14:1-12) dealt with what we needed to know about
one another. The second (14:13-23) dealt with what we needed to know about
ourselves. And now, this final section encourages us to faithful obedience
by dealing with what we need to know about our great example, Jesus.
I. OUR COMMAND: "LET EACH OF US PLEASE HIS NEIGHBOR FOR HIS GOOD, LEADING
TO EDIFICATION" (vv. 1-2).
A. Paul admits that some believers are "strong" and some are "weak" (see
14:1-3). "Strong" here is defined as being confident in our liberty in
Christ (when it comes to doubtful matters) to enjoy all things. "Weak", by
contrast, is defined as not having this confidence.
B. Paul places the matter in the form of an "obligation" (opheilõ; to owe,
to be indebted, to be obligated):
1. The strong (dunatoi) are obligated to bear (that is, to carry;
figuratively, to endure or support) the weakness (here translated
"scruples") of the weak (adunatõn).
2. They are also obligated to "not please themselves". This is to be seen
in connection to the command to support the weakness of the weak. When it
comes down to a choice, we are not to seek to please ourselves, but instead
seek to bear up the weaker brother.
C. The command is for each of us (strong or weak) to please his neighbor,
literally, "with a view to the good, toward edification". The pleasing of
our neighbor has "edification" (building-up) as its goal; and whatever is
"good" to that end is to be sought rather than our own pleasure.
D. When someone has a struggle with the things that we feel liberty to
enjoy, we are prone to say "Well, that's their problem." Here, we discover
that God says, "No! It's YOUR problem!" We are to seek not our own good,
but the good of our neighbor (1 Cor. 10:23-24).
II. OUR EXAMPLE: "RECEIVE ONE ANOTHER, JUST AS CHRIST ALSO RECEIVED US, TO
THE GLORY OF GOD" (vv. 3-12).
A. Christ modeled for us the priority of setting aside our own rights in
order to serve the needs of others; and we are to follow His example (v.
1. The words of Psalm 69:9 are applied to Jesus as a picture of His
willingness to take our own sins and guilt upon Himself and die in our
place. Specifically, He was willing to take the reproaches of those who
reproached His Father upon Himself.
2. Paul adds that the things that were written in the Old Testament
scriptures were written for our learning today (1 Cor. 10:6-11; 2 Tim.
3:16-17). These things are preserved for us so that, when it comes to
suffering the setting aside of our own "rights" for us we might have hope -
gained through the patience we see exemplified and comfort we draw from the
word of God.
3. Patience and Comfort are God's gifts. He is the God of patience and
comfort; and as we seek to follow Christ's example, He empowers us to be
"like-minded" toward one another (that is, to think the same way toward one
another as Christ thought toward us) (Phil. 2:5-11).
4. The purpose of our unity is ultimately God-centered. It is that we,
together, may glorify - with one mind and one mouth - the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. This phrase identifies Jesus as the unique Son of God;
and that underscores the depth of His willingness to set aside His own
rights for us.
B. Christ modeled for us a receptivity toward one another by being
receptive toward us (v. 7-12). He has done this by becoming a "servant"
(diakonos; that is, minister) to two people groups:
1. To the "circumcision" (that is, the Jews) "for the truth of God" (that
is, "to confirm the promises made to the fathers"). Jesus obediently
submitted to all the law of God in order to fulfill the covenant promises
made to the patriarchs of the Old Testament.
2. To the Gentiles. Jesus became their servant as well, so that they too
might glorify God for His mercy. This was in accord with what was written
in the Scriptures. Nothing "new" or "unexpected" or "apart from God's plan"
was done in this:
a. In the psalms (Psalm 18:49).
b. In the law (Deut. 32:43).
c. Again, in the psalms (Psalm 117:1).
d. And in the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 11:1, 10).
C. Christ Himself set the example that Paul followed in his own ministry (1
III. OUR POWER: "BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT" (v. 13).
A. Paul closes with an appeal for them that is made to "the God of all
hope" (a name he draws from Isaiah 11:10; see verse 12). Paul knows that
the fulfillment of God's plan for us cannot be accomplished by our own
efforts. We are too prone to seek our own interests; and to do what God
intends to do involves the willingness on our part to set our own interests
aside and please our neighbor.
B. It's an appeal that they would be filled with all joy and peace in
believing. (Literally, "believing" is a present active infinitive with a
definite article: "the 'to believe'". It speaks of the joy and peace that
come from genuine faith in Jesus (Rom. 5:1-2). The foundation of our unity
is a mutual faith in Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:1-4).
C. It's an appeal for them to be filled with these things so that we might
abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the ultimate
source of Paul's confidence that what he prays for will be done. We could
never be like Jesus apart from His enabling power.