The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago was a pivotal point for all peoples of the world. It was the marking of the end of one age and the beginning of the next age, and the precise point at which the change took place was at the death of Jesus Christ.
Hope For All
In His death He issued in and ratified the New Covenant and by it all mankind entered this age of hope.
The prior age was the age of selection through descendancy. It was where those who were chosen to be God's people were selected on the basis of being the descendants of Abraham who was called “the friend of God”. In that age it was the physical, fleshly descendants of Abraham who were the special chosen people of God. And in that age the law was given to rule and control the weaknesses of the people and priests were appointed to teach the people wisdom.
But this all changed at the death of Jesus when the new age came into being. The age of hope for all mankind began.
As Christians we are being trained to live in harmony, first with God and secondly with one another. This is the aim of our call to Jesus Christ, to be able to live harmoniously so that we may inherit he kingdom of God and live in peace with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
Live in harmony
But the enemy is also at work sowing the seeds of disharmony and destruction amongst the brethren of the churches. He would like to see all Christians fail to find a place of harmony where they are following the ways of God, and it is because of the work of the devil that we see the disharmony that afflicts the church and has done so for many years.
This should not be so. It is not right that the brethren of the church disagree. There is much that is taught in the churches that is not based upon the truth of the gospel and the words of the Lord, and it is because of such false teaching and lies in the doctrine of the church that disagreements flare.
So what can we do about it? We may not be able to fix the broad church, but we have a responsibility to ensure that our own standing with God is in harmony with Him. And that is the exhortation that comes through these verses in Romans 15.
What is the Bible? What is it about this book that has made it the number one best selling book of all time?
In my opinion, the bible is not just another book full of interesting stories and rules for living. No, it is much, much more than that.
The bible is the Book of Life. It contains the words of God given to man for the purpose of teaching man how to live in accordance with God's will. It provides teachings, examples, methods and instruction that if followed will lead us to life, both a better life now and a future everlasting life.
No other book written by man can do this or has the power to do this and the reason why is that every other book on earth is written by man. But the bible is written by God. It is the inspired words of God written down and recorded by faithful and just men for the purpose of bringing man back into communion with God.
When Christ Jesus came to the earth He preached the gospel of the good news of the kingdom of God and established the means by which man could be reconciled to God and enter His kingdom.he selected disciples and taught them all they would need to know to make more disciples and to deal with the issues of this life as they walked with Him.
Encourage one another
And then Jesus left. He left because He had no choice but to leave. He had to die otherwise we would not be able to enter the kingdom of God because the new covenant, through which we enter this new life of the spirit, could not come into being without the offering of a perfect sacrifice. Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice.
But before Jesus left, he established the brotherhood of Christians that is the church. And one of the key purposes of the church, both as individuals within it and collectively as a body, is to support and encourage one another.
It is a fine line that we walk as Christians for we need to always be aware of what we hold to by faith. There are many things that people believe that have no basis in the bible, and many other things that are held as forms of Christianity that are based on twisted, wrong and even invented beliefs.
Faith vs. doubt. A spiritual contest for your life
The challenge for all of us is to sift the truth from error and hold fast to what is good while we reject what is evil.
But in that process as we learn, there will be doubts. And doubts do us no good at all for doubt is what kills faith. Doubt is the antithesis of faith and while strength in the Lord is based upon faith, doubt brings weakness, destruction and death.
In all the things that we have come to as Christians, this is the most important.
Walking in love...a long difficult journey
We are being trained in Christ so the we may be like Hime. We are being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the image of the Father.
And we know that God is the epitome of all that is love for the scripture tells us that God IS love.
Thus the most important thing we must learn to do, and indeed the outcome of the training and transformation that is going on in every Christian is to learn how to walk in love.
It is a sobering thought to realize that we shall all have to give account before God for every action we have done, every word we have spoken and every judgement we have made.
Every knee shall bow
These few verses should give all people pause to consider their lives and how they choose to live. Note these words:
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. – (Romans 14:10-12)
So let us consider some of the things these words are telling us.
Among Christians there are many beliefs, some of which have no basis in the bible, some that are a little strange to some people and some that seem unbelievable but are in fact based in the truth.
Some beliefs are quite harmless in the total scheme of things regarding the truth of Christianity while others are quite destructive. We need to understand the latter, and avoid them, but the former beliefs that some people hold are not of great consequence, unless or until those beliefs overwhelm the person and become more important than the truth of Jesus Christ.
Paul quotes two good examples in this section of the scripture where he speaks of those who believe they should not eat certain foods or meats, or those who believe that certain days are more important than others. Neither of these beliefs is critical to salvation for both are based in works and salvation is by faith alone.
There are many people with different Christian backgrounds who read this and other Christian blogs. They come from all denominations and sects of the church, both from mainstream churches as well as small independent groups, home churches and those going solo who are in-between churches.
Many paths, many opinions but one goal
The one thing ALL of these people have in common, apart from a love of the Lord, is they believe the path they are following is the right path, the true path and the pathway to the kingdom of God.
But they also all believe different things. They are all approaching the kingdom of God from slightly different directions. And unfortunately all too often we see bickering between brothers and sisters in the Lord over their differences of opinions.
And it is exactly this issue that Paul is addressing here. Bickering over opinions and differences is not appropriate for brothers and sisters in the Lord. Instead we need to learn from each other because NONE of us knows it all and all of us can learn from each other.
Let's look at it and see what Paul is teaching us that the Lord taught him.
One of the first principles of coming to Jesus Christ is the principle of repentance. Repentance relates to changing your life by turning around and away from the things of this world to the things of the spirit.
Walk in the light and walk properly with Christ.
The word “repentance” is translated from the Greek word “metanoia” which literally means to change your thinking. And when we change the way we think, we automatically change the way we behave because all behaviour commences with a thought.
So then, if we are to learn how to walk properly with Jesus Christ, we need to change our behaviours and this is preceded by changing how we think. This is the focus of these few verses we are looking at today.