May 16, 2021
If there is a God, then He must somehow communicate with us. How? Three ways: 1) Through the nature (1:18-20), 2) through our conscience (2:14-15), 3) through the Scripture (10:8-17) – Scripture or the Word of God reveals to us the way of salvation. Moreover, only when we come into contact with the Scripture can we believe!
Grasshopper and harvester combine… but you are a human; not grasshopper. In order for it to understand what you want from it, you need to become a grasshopper, and on the language of a grasshopper explain the situation. God, humbled himself, became like a man, so we can understand Him. That’s why we have Scripture!
(Heb. 1:1-2) – God had to become a man in order that we could understand Him better. Christ is God incarnate. The apostle Paul sums up the discussion on the topic of different opinions in the church. He puts conflicts of interest and different opinions in the context of the grand panorama of salvation of sinners in Jesus Christ as the last and most powerful argument for obedience! Paul points to Christ as the key to handling different opinions in the church.
3 element of receiving (or accepting) of each other:
I. The Call to Receive One Another (v. 7)
To receive brother is not just tolerating him, but to accept him into your family with special attention (and this requires love, humility, and dedication). Like Aquila and Priscilla received Apollos (Acts 18:26 – same Gr. word) – they invited him to their home, fed him, had some tea, played some chess, and only then talked about his sermon! (how to correct us ☺)
But here, it is more – “like Christ” – can be translated not just as comparison, but as a reason, “because.” If this is so, then the reason is not just us imitating the example of Christ, but what He personally did for us. If Christ has accepted us all, then, why do we refuse to accept each other?
How Christ welcomed us… (When I tell my guests “make yourselves at home; feel like you are home). This is not reality… this is just a comparison. I really hope they won’t take it literally ☺. This is not just a comparison, but a personal experience.
(Eph. 4:32) – the experience of forgiveness commands our forgiveness!
This is not just an example to follow, but a personal experience of being welcomed by Christ.
How did Christ receive us?
A. Despite our sin (Rom. 5:6-10) – weakness included ungodliness (v. 6), sin (v. 8), enmity (v. 10)! God accepts us in spite of who we are. On the cross, Christ forgave the robber – the modern day terrorists (murderers and robbers). Christ accepted into his circle those who collected taxes from people, harlots, hypocritical Pharisees, a woman who had 5 husbands… blind, poor, even lepers – they all needed salvation, forgiveness of sins, and a new life.
Christ does not seek people worthy of His acceptance, but His acceptance makes them worthy! Likewise, our acceptance of each other is not based on our ability to find something worthy in each other, but on the contrary, our welcoming of one another produces worthiness.
B. With joy (Luke 15:4-7) – join in this chapter (vv. 5-6, 8-10, 22-24, 31-32) – Christ and heaven welcomes us with joy! Why joy? Only God can fully understand the value of the human soul, and the seriousness of eternity. We sometimes treat our own souls with disdain.
Which makes us think of two potential conclusions: 1) To strengthen the argument on different opinions and acceptance of each other, the apostle Paul gives an example that Christ accepted us not just with a different opinion on secondary issues, but in spite of our active opposition on the most important issue in life – relationship with God. If Christ did this to us, then our different opinions should be a piece of cake to handle! 2) Perhaps the Apostle Paul, citing the example that Christ receiving us sinners, at least says that when we have differences of opinions, from outside it may even look like a sin against us. Perhaps, someone even has sinned against you!
(14:3, 4, 10, 13, 15 – grief, despising, judging, 20 – destruction, 21 – stumbling, temptation; 15:3 – reproach (differences in opinions might lead to reproach), 4-5 – endurance and encouragement… I do not need to exercise these things when I am praised or honored, but it is crucial when I am under criticism…
When was the last time you accepted a brother or sister not seeking merit, but as Christ received you to make you worthy?
II. The Motives to Receive One Another (vv. 8-12)
A. Faithfulness (v. 8) – Christ kept his promises! Long before the coming of Jesus, God gave the people of Israel a promise that the Savior would come, and that was foretold for two main reasons: 1) To give hope and meaning of life for those to whom that prophecy was addressed, 2) To give confidence to those who will live after fulfillment of this prophecy that God can be trusted!
B. Mercy (v. 9) – Christ showed mercy (undeserved kindness). Mercy is when a person instead of deserved punishment is granted pardon and receives no punishment.
It seems to me that at this point we are all divided into two categories: 1) Some of us are motivated by a sense of duty, expectations, instructions and rules that are presented in Scripture, which remind us of our responsibility toward brothers, 2) And someone is motivated by personal experience of grace, and the desire to show mercy to others is rooted in his own experience of that mercy giving to him by God. In Christ, these two elements were combined – faithfulness to promises, and the desire to show mercy and undeserved favor.
Interestingly enough, there are three quotes that follow… Quotes are from the OT, and from all three major parts of the Torah, Psalms and Prophets! But the most valuable thing about these quotes is what they say about the worship of God and Gentiles and the Jews! It was God’s original plan!!!!
C. Worship (vv. 10-12)
Paul presents an interesting argument – we must accept or receive different opinions or views on the secondary issues, even when it seems to us that they are sinning against us, and perhaps different opinions have already led to grief, resentment, mistrust, bias, opposition… but all this is not comparable to the fact what Christ did – he accepted both Jews and the Gentiles into one family, so that they all worship one, true God! And we are called to follow!
To sum it up: faithfulness, mercy (love) and desire to worship God
III. The blessings of Receiving One Another (v. 13) This is Paul’s prayer
After a long conversation about the need for both sides to give up their selfishness for the sake of the good of others, a picture may emerge that life in the church is full of grief, problems and difficult relationships, and sleepless nights… But Paul, prays that in the minds of all these difficult relationships, God’s joy, peace in believers, leads them to hope! It is impossible for a person to produce hope on his own! This is the work of the Holy Spirit alone!
Hope is not the wishful thinking of an optimist. As in the story of the soldiers who were during the battle were all circled by the enemy, and the leader of the surrounded soldiers shouted to his solders this statement: “We are surrounded by the enemy; don’t let anyone of them get away”.
But, the believer has a solid foundation for the hope through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It becomes visible precisely during difficult situations or crises!
The first visible appearance of the Holy Spirit on the NT stage took place after the final goodbyes of disciples to their Teacher; He went up into heaven… they were tormented by doubts, even when Christ was raised, some were doubtful… Even when Christ ascended into heavens, right before their eyes, some were doubtful. Then, they came to Jerusalem, and locked themselves in… Fears… after all, Jesus was just a few days ago crucified by the crowd. A crisis of doubts, fears, uncertainty – and here comes the Pentecost – and the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples, and they boldly preach about the risen Christ and 3 thousand people repented.
In the life of the apostle Paul, the author of this text, there were some significant crises. There was a time when he thought that he was serving God by persecuting the church, but in the midst of this crisis – He meets the risen Christ, and is filled with the Holy Spirit – as a result, the persecution of the church ceases, and all the churches were at peace. Again, a crisis is a great opportunity for the Spirit of God to work.
Sometimes, the Holy Spirit creates crises in order to generate more good – (Acts 13:2-4) – The Holy Spirit takes away from the church the most gifted and capable, in order to bless the church and spread the Gospel. It’s a kind of crisis – but it’s a good one! Are we ready for this as a church? After all, this is an opportunity for a greater work of the Holy Spirit.
The main goal is to create joy and hope in the heart!
(1 Cor. 15:19-22) – the hope that goes beyond our lives
(Heb. 6:10-12) – industriousness and strength when everything goes against.
(Heb. 6:17-20) – hope from the certainty of God’s Word.
A few practical takeaways:
1. Receiving one another is the essence of the Gospel. If you thought that God needs to be appeased with your worthy lifestyle… then there are two news for you – bad – this won’t work, but the good news – by faith you are made right with God (v. 13). “The God of hope” Is there a personal relationship with God? The acceptance issues cannot be resolved without a close, personal relationship with God.
2. Trust God. Different opinions will not disappear, and even resentment, but if you, by faith (v. 13) seek God in the midst of all this, you will have peace in your heart.
3. Are you willing to pray for the benefit of others? If you are not able to pray for each other, then you are not at peace, and secondary issues have become paramount for you.
4. Pray! A lesson for all preachers, Sunday school teachers, parents… After you’ve exhausted all your arguments in explaining something, if God doesn’t grant convictions and hope to people, you cannot produce it.
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