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Friday, November 12, 2010

Romans: Lesson 12 of 12

Lesson 11

Six Rules for Practical Christian Living

Rule 6: Live a Life of Encouragement! (Romans 14:19 -15:13)


For audio of lesson, click here: http://www.box.net/shared/mzkijvyila

For printer-friendly version of these notes, click here: http://www.box.net/shared/bvnf8a76c2

Read Romans 15:1-7

Question: What is Encouragement?

Marrion Webster says that to encourage someone is to inspire them with spirit or hope.

In Romans 15, Paul is essentially telling the strong in faith to be encouragers for the weak in faith. According to Paul, it is the responsibility of the strong to close the gap to meet the weak.

Question: What does this remind you of?

Read Romans 5:7

The fact is that when we were weak, God closed the gap for us.

These verses in Romans 15 essentially call us to close that gap by living a life of encouragement.

I. The Reasons for encouragement

A. To promote Peace/unity (Romans 14:19)

Question: How effective is the gospel if the people of God are bickering and fighting amongst themselves?

Peace is one of the fruits of the spirit… love, joy, “peace”

If you recall from earlier in our studies in Romans, the righteousness that comes from God grants us “peace” with God (Romans 5:1).

Read Hebrews 12:14

When we encourage those who are weak in faith, we are working towards creating peace between ourselves – just like God worked towards creating peace between us and him.

Living at peace is more important than being right about open-handed issues.

B. For Mutual Edification (Romans14:19)

Question: How are the “strong” built up through encouragement of the weak?

Read Romans 1:11-12

Read Ephesians 4:15-16

We are all part of the body of Christ, and therefore when all the parts are working together and working as well as they can, the whole benefits.

C. For the Building Up of the body (Romans 15:2)

Encouragement goes hand in hand with building up the body of Christ.

II. The Example of encouragement

A. Christ (Romans 15:3)

Christ did not please himself, but did what was in our best interest

Christ is the ultimate example of one who was strong, closing the gap between himself and those of us who are weak, who were powerless to close the gap ourselves.

B. Scripture (Romans 15:4)

Although ultimately we know that the scriptures were written to point us to Christ, Paul gives us three things here that scripture does in addition to that

1. To teach truth

2. To establish endurance (perseverance)

3. To build hope

Question: Why do some so-called believers fall away?

Answer: They turn from faith because they either do not know or they lose hope in the promises of scripture.

C. Paul (Romans 16: 1-16)

III. The Source of encouragement - God (Romans 15:5)

Question: Is it hard to be an encourager?

In Romans 15:5, we see that GOD grants us the encouragement that we need to live in harmony with others. In other words, it is encouragement of the soul that God gives us that gives us the strength to be able to encourage others, build them up, and therefore increase harmony and unity within the body of Christ.

IV. The Result of encouragement

Question: What happens when we live a live of encouragement and build up others?

A. God is Praised (Romans15:6)

Have you ever tried to come to church and worship when you were out of fellowship with another believer?

By living a life of encouragement, we facilitate our ability to worship God.

B. God’s Glory is Revealed (Romans 15:7)

PRead Romans 15:8-12

Ultimately everything in the Christian life is about the praise and glory of God.

C. Hope is built in the lives of believers (Romans 15:13)

Question: Why is hope so important?

Hope is the natural emotional outflow of a life characterized by faith.

By contrast, a lack of hope is a demonstration of a lack of faith.

Faith and hope are both two of the three main elements of Christian character:

The triadic formula: Faith, Hope, and Love

1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 5:8

Paul talks about “hope” more in Romans than in any other epistle

ESV: Romans 17 times; 7 times in Hebrews and 2 Corinthians

NIV: Romans 18 times

Conclusion: A life of encouragement closes the gap between the weak and the strong and is necessary for the building of the body of Christ and for establishing faith and hope in believers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Romans: Lesson 11 of 12

Lesson 10

Six Rules for Practical Christian Living

Rule 5: Live a Life of Consideration! (Romans 14)


For audio of this lesson: http://www.box.net/shared/zdbqe2e8qb

For printer friendly version of these notes: http://www.box.net/shared/ls2nu48pnf

How do you tell the difference between someone whose faith is weak and someone whose faith is strong?

Closed Handed Issues: An issue that has been unmistakably established by God’s word such that the vast majority of all Christians agree as to its correct interpretation or application.

Open Handed Issues: An issue that has not been directly addressed by God’s word or for which reasonable Christians are in disagreement as to its correct interpretation or application.

With these two definitions – Close Handed (Biblical Principle) and Open Handed (Personal Preference) – we can now define the weak and the strong in faith.

Weak in Faith: Those people that either

(a) insist that Open Handed Issues (issues of Personal Preference) conform to their standard – even to the point of sometimes treating them as Close Handed Issues (Biblical Principles)

(b) insist that God’s Grace and their freedom in Christ allows them to violate Close Handed Issues


Weak in Faith people tend to fall into one of two categories:

Legalism: Adding rules and regulations to Christianity that are not demanded by scripture

Libertinism: Deliberately choosing to live in disobedience under the guise of grace or freedom

Strong in Faith: Those people who hold firmly to and defend Close Handed Issues, but are gracious to others regarding Open Handed Issues

A person who is strong in faith, therefore, is someone who lives a life of consideration.

Read Romans 14:1, 4, 13

St. Augustine first said this… made famous by the 19th century theologian Richard Baxter:

“In necessary things unity; in doubtful things liberty; in all things charity.”

How then, do we determine what to do in a given situation? Can we do something or not? If someone else is doing something, do we attempt to correct what they are doing or not?

To answer these questions, we must first ask a few questions ourselves.

I. An Open-Handed versus Closed Handed Issue

In these verses here in Romans 14, Paul discusses two issues that people were quarreling over in the early church:

1. Meat vs. Vegetables

In Roman times, it was hard to tell whether or not meat sold in the market had been sacrificed to idols or not. There was a general concern among early Christians that eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols gave tacit support and approval to those religions (akin to some people today saying that if you go to any movie, regardless of rating, you are supporting an industry that is godless and produces filth). The problem is that you did not always know whether or not the meat was sacrificed to an idol or not. Some people addressed this simply by saying they would not eat any meat at all. Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 8 and indeed he abstained from meat to avoid being a stumbling block. Some people were taking this to the extreme and essentially saying it is a sin to eat meat at all.

2. One Day vs. Another

This was a similar situation. In Roman times, there were certain feasts and festivals that were celebrated – both Jewish and pagan (In our terms, think Christmas vs. Halloween). Some early Christians were saying that to observe any of these at any level would be wrong.

· Did you know: Origen (early church father d.255) believed it was wrong to celebrate birthdays – therefore he did not celebrate Christmas?

Regarding these two issues, which was right? Actually, once Paul identified this issue an open-handed issue; it didn’t really matter, because there was no right answer. Paul’s solution was simply that if both sides treated the other with respect and did not judge the other, unity would be maintained.

Contrast this, however, with the situation at the church in Galatia. There were some people coming in and saying that salvation required one to observe certain Jewish customs. Read Galatians 3:1-3

These are very strong words from Paul because this was a closed-handed issue, not an open-handed issue

A. Close-Handed Issues must be defended

Short List of Closed-Handed Issues

· Biblical Authority and Inerrancy

· The Trinity

· Virgin birth of Jesus

· Sinless life of Jesus

· Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus as a propitiation for our sins

· Salvation by Faith through Grace

· Moral law as affirmed by Jesus Christ

(i.e., the 10 commandments except for the Sabbath day – even the Sabbath day was affirmed that we always observe Jesus as our Sabbath Lord)

If you disagree with these items, then I would feel obligated to correct your error – and if I could not correct your error, I would probably have to choose not to remain in Christian fellowship with you (I would treat you as a non-believer)

Are there other major issues that you would say are solid Biblical Principles?

B. Open-Handed Issues should be tolerated

Two forms of Open-Handed Issues

1. Secondary Doctrinal Belief

A secondary doctrinal belief is one in which you firmly believe that you are correct in your interpretation of scripture, but you can/should tolerate someone who takes a different interpretation of the same scripture

Test case question: Can you still consider this person a Christian if they believe differently than you on the subject?

If the answer is “yes” then it is an open-handed doctrinal belief.

Are these examples of secondary doctrinal belief?

· Sprinkle vs. Emersion Baptism

· Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulation Rapture

· Calvinism vs. Arminianism

· Observing the Sabbath – but not because you think it is necessary for salvation (part of the 10 commandments… is it part of the moral code affirmed by Jesus?)

There are a wide range of issues like these that we might hold beliefs about – even strong beliefs – but we need to be very careful about what we determine is absolutely right versus absolutely wrong.

When we have differing views on these, we should tolerate the others views without passing judgment

However, if you say that one of these issues is an essential element that I MUST believe to be a Christian (in other words, turn these open-handed issues into closed-handed issues) I would consider you in error and feel obligated to either correct that error and – worst case scenario - could no longer be in Christian fellowship with you.

2. Personal Preference

Issues of personal preference are those which we may choose for ourselves based upon what we like or dislike rather than on some basis of biblical interpretation.

Test case question: Is the person living in sin if they believe differently than you on the subject?

Are these examples of personal preference?

· Time/Date of church services

· Worship style

· Version of the Bible (unless you insist that a specific version is required to be saved)

Like Secondary Doctrinal Beliefs, some people turn issues of personal preference into closed handed issues.

Now… maybe we’re not really sure. Maybe there’s some apparently conflicting or possibly even unclear biblical direction. Then it becomes not an issue of right and wrong, but an issue of conscious.

II. An Issue of Conscious

Examples of potentially unclear directives

· Drinking

Bible clearly says we are not to get drunk, but it doesn’t absolutely forbid drinking.

· Smoking

The bible is totally silent on this one.

Did you know: Charles Spurgeon, the esteemed Baptist preacher of the late 19th century, was both a smoker and a drinker and claimed that he could do both to the glory of God?

· Tattoos

Leviticus 19:28 says we are not to have tattoos… the same passage also tells us not to cut the hair on the sides of our head, not to cut our beards, and not to eat fruit from a tree until it has been planted for 4 years. These are all part of the religious, ceremonial code that Jesus fulfilled and abolished.

How do decide in cases like these how we are to behave?

1. Each must be convinced (Romans 14:23)

If you think it is wrong (or even if you are not sure if it is or is not), then for you it is wrong.

2. Each must act unto the Lord (Romans 14:6-8)

Everything you do, you must do unto the Lord.

Do you believe the Lord would find your actions acceptable?

Can you say “I can smoke to the glory of God” like Charles Spurgeon said?

Can you say “I can get a tattoo to the glory of God”?

3. Each one will ultimately give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12)

We still have another question to ask about the situation.

III. An Issue of Consideration

Paul is very clear that even in cases where we have clear Christian liberty to do something, there may be reasons why we may choose to limit our own freedoms for the sake of others.

Do not be a stumbling block (Romans 14:13)

1. Actions that do not consider others are not made in love (Romans 14:15)

2. Our actions can affect (destroy) others (Romans 14:15)

3. Good can be made into evil (Romans 14:16)

Romans 14:21

Like Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story”… there is a second chapter to Charles Spurgeon’s life. Spurgeon smoked and drank because his doctor told him he should do so to relax. After Spurgeon declared that he could smoke and drink to the glory of God, businessmen began using his slogan to promote their products – saying everyone should smoke and drink Spurgeon’s brands to the glory of God. Spurgeon realized that his stance needed to be rethought…

In one service, he said: “I neither said nor implied that it was sinful to drink wine; nay, I said that, in and by itself, this might be done without blame. But I remarked that, if I knew that another would be led to take it by my example, and this would lead them on to further drinking, and even to intoxication, then I would not touch it.”

He then became a total abstainer and said… “I abstain myself from alcoholic drink in every form, and I think others would be wise to do the same; but of this each one must be a guide unto himself.”

Spurgeon was living a life of consideration! When he realized his freedoms were harming others, he limited those freedoms voluntarily.

If you choose to act on one of these issues of Personal Preference and you know that there is the possibility that others may not react favorably towards it, Paul tells us to be sure to keep it as an issue between you and God.

IV. An Issue between You and God (Romans 14:22)

Since we are ultimately responsible to God about what we believe, we should keep “disputable” issues between ourselves and God in order to maintain the unity of the body.

If we choose to act on our confidences, we should do so discreetly so as to not harm the brethren – not sneaking around hiding it, but rather not to flaunt our freedom choices in front of those who may disagree with us. That, simply put, is NOT living a life of consideration.

Perhaps the verse that most readily summarizes this entire teaching is Romans 14:17

The Kingdom of God is not: a matter of eating or drinking

You can replace eating and drinking with any open handed issue.

The Kingdom of God is: Righteousness, Joy, and Peace in the Holy Spirit

What really matters? Being right before God.

What really matters? Being filled with the Joy of the Lord

What really matters? Being at peace – not just with God, but with each others

The only way to accomplish this is to live a life of consideration.

Live a life of Consideration… if necessary, limit your freedoms for others

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Romans: Lesson 10 of 12

Lesson 10

Six Rules for Practical Christian Living

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Printer-friendly version of notes: http://www.box.net/shared/sv12u3799j

Read Romans 13:1-7

Romans 13 is often used by theologians to support the concepts of both Just War and Capital Punishment

Question: Does Romans 13 provide for Just War and Capital Punishment?

Just War Criteria by St Augustine of Hippo

· JW Criteria #1: Just Cause. No war is justifiable unless it is a defense against an aggressor and to defend those who are victimized by it. It does not mean a country has to wait to be attacked before attacking their enemy.

Examples of potential pre-emptive strikes

      • What if we had discovered the Japanese Fleet before Pearl Harbor was attacked
      • Cuban missile crisis
      • Israel’s 6 Day War in 1967

· JW Criteria #2: Just Intent. The only acceptable motive for armed conflict must be to secure justice for all involved. Conquest, subjugation, revenge, or economic benefit are unacceptable, insufficient, or illegitimate motives for going to war.

· JW Criteria #3. Last Resort. Resort to armed force can only be justifiable when all other avenues of resolution have been rejected or have been demonstrably failed.

· JW Criteria #4. Legitimate Authority. Romans 13 says only the civil magistrate has the right to use lethal force. For the US… a Declaration of War or Joint Resolution of Congress.

· JW Criteria #5. Limited Goals. If the purpose is to resist aggression, restore peace, etc. then total destruction of the enemy is unacceptable. Unless one’s survival is in peril, it is not a just war if the goals are not attainable.

· JW Criteria #6. Proportionality. Does the good gained by last resort justify the cost of lives lost and humans maimed. This is why we don’t pursue every enemy.

· JW Criteria #7. Non-combatant immunity. No war can be just unless it disqualifies civilians as targets and seeks to minimize civilian casualties. Non-combatants will die, but it makes a difference whether you target them or deliberately try to avoid them.

What about Capital Punishment?

Rule 4: Live a Life of Submission! (Romans 13:1-7)


Question: What does it mean to “submit”

Answer: The greek word (hypotassomai) translated “subjected to” or “submit to” literally means to obey or to bring under the control of…

Question: Why do you think Paul put the concept of submission between two passages about love?

Answer: You cannot submit to someone in the manner required by Christ unless you first love them.

Deep down, we all want to break the rules.

Who was the first to rebel? (Isaiah 14:12-14)

The first sin ever… Satan said “I WILL

We know, though, that ultimately we have to submit to somebody. Even if we never submit to anyone here on earth, we ultimately will submit to Christ, will we not? (2 Philippians 2:9-11) When Christ returns at the second coming, he will literally bring everyone into his submission.

In the meantime, scripture teaches us that while we are here on earth, we should still live a life of submission.

I. To Whom are we to Submit?

A. Governmental Authorities

1. Rebelling against authority is rebelling against God’s institution (Romans 13:2)

A truth that is often difficult to come to grips with is the fact that God has ordained all government here on earth – even the governments that we don’t necessarily agree with. God is using everything to bring about his purposes. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not we want to work against God or be in submission to God.

2. Rebelling against authority will result in punishment here on earth (Romans 13:4)

1 Peter 2:13-14 echos Paul’s commands in Romans

Titus 3:1 also provides similar discussion

3. Submission to authority maintains a good Christian conscious (Romans 13:5)

As Christians, we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). If we do not submit to the authorities, we are not representing Christ well to the world.

What about Peter and John? They didn’t submit to the authorities! (Acts 4:18-20; 5:28-30)

Question: When do I not submit to authorities?

Answer: The only time scripture allows us to rebel against authority is when such authorities make laws forcing us to do something contrary to God’s law.

Incorrect Times to Rebel Against Authority

· When the law allows others to do something contrary to God’s law

· When the government itself is doing something contrary to God’s law

· When the government reduces your Christian liberties but not to the extent that it requires you to disobey God.

Is it ever right to openly rebel against the governmental authority? What about the American Revolution?

The argument generally used to support the American Revolution is that the King of England, through his actions of tyranny, persecuting Christians, and restricting religious freedoms, forfeited its God-instituted authority over the colonies – thereby justifying the establishment of a new, God-instituted authority, namely the US Constitution.

Romans 13:1… no authority exists unless it has been instituted by God. So whether we agree or disagree with respect to the biblical validity of its establishment, here it is – it has been established by God to accomplish his purposes. As a result, we are to submit to it as Christians.

While God may choose to bring about revolution from time to time to accomplish his purposes, hose who openly rebel against the established government are acting in direct contrast to the teachings of scripture and are accountable to God.

Submission to authorities, however, does NOT mean that we cannot disagree with the authorities or seek to change the laws, regulations, or even the leadership of our government through any and all legal means.

What other authorities are we subject to?

· Parents

· Teachers

· Employers

· Church Leadership

We are also to submit to

B. One Another

1. Laity to Church leaders (1 Corinthians 16:15-16)

2. Wives to Husbands (Eph 5:22-24, Col 3:18)

3. Husbands to Wives (Eph 5:25-26, Col 3:19)

3. Church to Christ (Eph 5:24)

4. Employees to Employers (slaves to masters) (1 Peter 2:18)

5. Young men to elders (1 Peter 5:5)

6. One Another (Eph 5:21)

Question: Does anyone here see a case in which there is someone we are not to be subject to? (No) Why?

Answer: Again, there is a direct link between Agape love and submission… and we are to live a life characteristic of Agape love, so we are also to live a life characteristic of submission.

If everyone lived a life of submission, then we would truly live in a biblical utopia!

Did you know?

· God the Son submits to God the Father

· During his time on earth, Jesus also submitted to the Holy Spirit

· God the Holy Spirit submits to God the Father and God the Son

And yet… God is ONE and there are no superior or inferior positions with the Trinity

III. Reasons for submission?

A. Submission is the example set for us by God

Did you know?

· God the Son submits to God the Father

· During his time on earth, Jesus also submitted to the Holy Spirit

· God the Holy Spirit submits to God the Father and God the Son

And yet… God is ONE and there are no superior or inferior positions with the Trinity

B. Submission is essential for human relationships (Philippians 2:1-4)

C. Rebellion is the Spirit of Satan (2 Pet 2:9-11)

D. Submission helps overcome sin

Sin is rebellion. We cannot be obedient when we are rebellious, but when we are submissive, we are obedient.

E. Submission facilitates Discipleship

F. Submission is the cure for Legalism

Legalism is a passive-aggressive form of rebellion. We don’t really have faith and believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us if we fail, so we make up our own list of dos and don’ts that we feel like will make our master happy. If we truly submit, then we trust that he will take care of us when we fail.

Conclusion: God calls us to submit first to Him, but also to authorities and to each other for the benefit of all.

The relationship between Rules 3 and 4

Agape Love and Submission are related: Both look out for the interests of others.

We are to live our lives looking out for the interest of others.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Romans: Lesson 9 of 12

Lesson 9

Six Rules for Practical Christian Living

Link to audio of this lesson: http://www.box.net/shared/g2dx1fs5lb

Link to printer friendly version of these notes: http://www.box.net/shared/og9590fi6o

Rule 2: Live a Life of Service! (Romans 12:3-8)

There is a lot of similarity between Rule #1 and Rule #2…

According to Rule #1, to be transformed, we need a mind of a servant.

Rule #2 is about carrying out that mentality and living the life of a servant.

Question: Why are you a member of this church?

If we were honest with ourselves, most of us are a member of a particular church for one of a couple of reasons:

1. We have always gone to the church, our family goes to the church, we essentially call it home.

2. We have evaluated the church and have made an assessment that this church best suits our needs.

We should be members of a church for one and only one reason: Because we believe God wants us at that church serving others.

One of the most difficult lessons that Jesus’ disciples had to learn was that it was not about them. In fact, the last lesson they learned from Jesus was that to serve God, we must be willing to serve each other. Reference foot-washing during Last Supper and Read Luke 22:24-27.

Read Romans 12:3-8

I. Service requires a proper perspective of Self (vs 3)

A. Have a healthy (but not proud) self image

· Do not think too highly of yourself

· Have sober judgment of oneself

Some may feel that certain tasks are “below” them.

Others may feel that certain tasks are “above” them or they feel they may never be good enough to accomplish what God would have them accomplish in their lives.

Both views are wrong. God will enable us to do the tasks he has called us to do.

B. Have a healthy measure of Faith (vs 3)

Our ability to serve depends upon how much faith we have in Christ

Question: What happens when we try to serve in our own strength?

Answer: We burn out

We must rely on God to give us the strength we need to serve. This requires faith.

II. Service requires a proper understanding of the Body (vs 4-5)

A. The body is made up of diverse members

B. The body requires a diversity of functions

C. God has provided his body with the diversity of capabilities necessary to function properly

III. Service requires a proper application of one’s Spiritual Gifts

Three primary passages listing the Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12:6-8

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30

Ephesians 4:11

Classification of Spiritual Gifts

There are numerous ways to classify the gifts… this is just a suggested breakdown

1. Activities (leadership, administration, miracles, healings, etc.)

2. Manifestations (Wisdom, knowledge, Discernment, etc.)

3. Inspired Utterances (teaching, tongues, prophecy, etc.)

4. Service (see below)

Some gifts may fall in more than one category.

Paul is focusing here on the gifts of service.

Service-oriented Gifts

1. Prophesy

2. Serving

3. Teaching

4. Encouraging

5. Giving

6. Leadership

7. Mercy

Conclusion: The only way the body of Christ will function correctly is when each of us are performing the tasks that God has specifically called and gifted us to perform.

Rule 3: Live a Life Characterized by Love! (Romans 12:9-21, 13:8-14)

Romans 13:8-11 tells us that all our interactions with others should be characterized by love

We are indebted or obligated to show love to each other because it is the fulfillment of the law.

Love for others is the 2nd Greatest Commandment Mt 22:39

Love for others is the Golden Rule. Mt 7:12

Love for others is the epitome of the law and the commandments Romans 13:9

We don’t live under the law; we live under grace. However, the truths of the Old Testament have not changed just because they were fulfilled in Jesus.

Love is the heart of practical Christianity!

What does it mean to have a life characterized by love?

In the 60s and 70s, we had the “love” movement. “Make love, not war” – is that what we mean?

Love is the most over used and misunderstood word in the language.

“I love my wife”

“I love my father” – is that the same thing?

“I love you” – is that the same as either of those?

“I love my dog” – That’s different again, isn’t it

“I love my job” (no, we never say that) – “I love riding my motorcycle” – shows I enjoy it

“I love my car” – you take pride

“I love pizza” - you like the taste of it

“I love that picture” – you think it is pretty

Each of these statements convey a completely different message, but they all use the same word. For most of them, we really don’t mean “love”. When the bible tells us that we should have a life characteristic of love, how can we possibly know what it means?

Four Ancient Greek words for “Love”

Agape – Unconditional love – agape love is a choice; a deliberate commitment regardless of the actions or affections of the other person; God’s love is agape love; it is entirely one sided - if I agape you, I give to you

Philia – Brotherly (i.e. Friendship) love – Philia love is based upon affection and emotion; it represents the love between two people who truly like each other and enjoy each other’s company; it is mutual – if we Philia each other, we give to each other. It is this word that the city Philidelphia was named for.

In John 21, Jesus used agape for the first 2 times, Peter used Philia ; Jesus conceded and used Philia the third time.

Eros – Sexual love; eros is completely selfish; it is pure desire to have, control, and enjoy. Obviously, this is where we get the word erotic.

Storge – Familial affection ; is significantly used in scripture; it represents the bond between family members

In the passage we are talking about here, Paul speaks of Agape Love. Rule #3 is that we are to live a life characteristic of AGAPE Love. Most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, but Paul gives us another, perhaps even more complete picture of Agape love here.

I. A Life Characterized by Agape Love is…

1. Sincere (Romans 12:9)

Sincerity is motivated for good

2. Devoted (Romans 12:10)

The ESV and KJV says to show brotherly affection

The word “love” in verse 10 is actually a combination of both phileo and storge, so essentially one characteristic of Agape love is that it incorporates the aspects of affection and familial bonds.

3. Zealous, But only for God (Romans 12:11)

Question: Why is zeal towards God important for showing love to others?

Answer: Because God is the true example of what it means to love.

4. Steadfast (Romans 12:12)

a. Joyful in hope

b. Patient in affliction

c. Faithful in prayer

Eros love walks away during difficult times

Philia love can become strained during difficult times

Agape love becomes a stronghold during difficult times

5. Generous (Romans 12:13)

a. Shares with others in need

b. Practices hospitality

6. Forgiving (Romans 12:14)

Forgiveness is one of the greatest hallmarks of Christianity. God forgave us, so we should forgive others. But too often, we would rather be vengeful.

Romans 12:17-21

7. Sympathetic (Romans 12:15)

8. Humble (Romans 12:16)

Summary. A life characterized by love is a life whereby we work for the benefit of others.

Read Romans 13:11-13

By contrast, remove acts of indecency from our lives, for they are not characteristics of love because they are all about pleasing self.

II. A Life Characterized by Love Puts Aside…

1. Orgies

2. Drunkenness

3. Sexual Immorality

4. Debauchery (gluttony)

5. Dissention (trouble makers)

6. Jealousy (always wanting what is not yours)

Conclusion: Read Romans 13:14

Living a life characterized by love is how we clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Romans: Lesson 8 of 12

Lesson 8

Six Rules for Practical Christian Living
Rules 1 and 2

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The remainder of Romans represents a huge shift from doctrine to practical living, but Paul uses one of his three bit THEREFORE’s to make this shift.

· God desires to show mercy on us all

· THEREFORE, we should live a life of personal transformation

Read Romans 12:1-2

Rule 1: Live a Life of Personal Transformation! (Romans 12:1-2)

In preceding chapters, everything was ultimately focused on God. His work for us so that we may be saved. The focus was upward on him, which is why Chapter 11 appropriately ended with a Doxology.

In the first part of Chapter 12, we will see an inward focus. We saw a hint of this inward focus earlier as we say the tension between the flesh and the Spirit. That tension can only be resolved and we can only succeed in living by the Spirit, when we experience nothing less than total transformation.

I. The Urgency of Transformation: God’s Mercy

In light of that mercy, there should be an urgency to no longer live by the sinful nature, but allowing the Spirit nature to control and transform us.

Question: Why do you think this plea from Paul is so “urgent”?

Answer: God’s mercy is not to be taken lightly

· Paul has already told us that none of us deserve grace that God has bestowed upon us

· Paul has already told us that God is Sovereign and can do precisely as he wills

· Paul has already told us that because of God’s Sovereignty, he can harden anyone that rejects him so that they never see the truth

· Paul has already told us that God is willing to cut off any people group that repeatedly rejects him

God’s grace is a VERY SERIOUS thing

II. The Prerequisite to Transformation: Total Surrender

A. Surrender involves being a living sacrifice

1. Sacrifices always require a death.

All of the blood sacrifices required a death of the animal being sacrificed.

Question: What is it that we are putting to death?

Answer: Our sinful nature.

Romans 8:12-13

We died to Sin but we are alive in Christ

Therefore, we are living sacrifices

2. Sacrifices were to the Lord

In the sacrificial system, the sacrifice was brought before the Lord and presented to him – to be dedicated to him. The Hebrew word used literally means “to draw near” to the Lord. James 4:8

In the OT, the normal person could not really draw near to God. They could only come to the tabernacle or temple to present their offering. Even the priests were limited in how they could draw near to God – only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and then only once per year. Jesus, however, changed all that… Hebrews 10:19-22

We must present ourselves to Christ as a living sacrifice, by drawing near to him dedicating ourselves to him by foregoing our own interests

3. Sacrifices were the first-born and the unblemished

The sacrifice was required to be the best of the best… firstborn and unblemished. The problem is that we do not honor God enough to give him our very best. Instead, we give him our leftovers. Malachi 1:6-8

We must offer Christ our very best, not our leftovers

We can only be a true “living sacrifice” if we fully surrender to God.

B. Surrender is an act of service

This concept of being a living sacrifice is really saying that you give your life in service to God.

Joshua 24:15; Malachi 3:18; Luke 4:8; 1 Peter 4:10

By contrast, do we not tend to do only what is convenient?

Do we not limit our “offering” of our time and talents to that which is “left over” after we’ve served all our other masters and then after we have served ourselves?

Luke 16:33

C. Surrender (and service) is an act of worship

Some translations will actually say “worship” here, but the truth is that our service is essentially how we worship God.

Question: What is worship?

Answer: To ascribe worth

There is a sense in which we ascribe worth through our singing and our music, but…

Question: How do we really demonstrate that we think something is worthy?

Answer: we dedicate our time and our talent to it

If you truly want to worship God – DO SOMETHING

Not to earn his favor; not out of guilt; but because you truly think that God is worthy of your life.

III. The Call to Transformation: Do not conform

Question: What does it mean to conform?

Answer: To make something look like something else.

One of the biggest threats to the American Christian witness is that unsaved people look at us and don’t see anything different in us. We look just like they do. We are conforming to the world!

The bible uses the word “world” in one of three ways

1. The physical cosmos (earth, sea, sky, etc.)

2. The people

3. The system of laws, moral practices, etc.

John 1:10 (contains all three)

Question: What is the world as referenced here?

Answer: The moral practices and habits of this age.

Question: So how do I keep from conforming to this world?

Answer: I transform

We now see Rule #1 stated clearly in the text… BE TRANSFORMED

So how do I transform? That is the next point beginning in verse 2…

IV. The Means of Transformation: Renewing of mind

A. Renewing our Mind requires us to imitate Jesus


Question: So how did Jesus think?

Read Philippians 2:1-8

1. Imitate Christ in action

i. No Selfish Ambition

ii. Consider others better than ourselves

iii. Look out for others’ interests

2. Imitate Christ in attitude

1. Willingness to be lowered to a place of service

2. Willingness to be obedient

B. Renewing our Mind requires a heavenly focus (Read Colossians 3:1-2)

Like Romans 12, Colossians 3 is all about practical Christian living.

1. Desire heavenly things (3:1)

2. Think about heavenly things (3:2)

V. The Result of Transformation (knowing God’s will)

Conclusion: We can begin to live by the Spirit when we allow ourselves to be Transformed!

Rule 2: Live a Life of Service! (Romans 12:3-8)

As you can see, there is a lot of similarity between Rule #1 and Rule #2…

According to Rule #1, to be transformed, we need a mind of a servant.

Rule #2 is about carrying out that mentality and living the life of a servant.

Question: Why are you a member of this church?

If we were honest with ourselves, most of us are a member of a particular church for one of a couple of reasons:

1. We have always gone to the church, our family goes to the church, we essentially call it home.

2. We have evaluated the church and have made an assessment that this church best suits our needs.

We should be members of a church for one and only one reason: Because we believe God wants us at that church serving others. Reference foot-washing during Last Supper and Read Luke 22:24-27.

Read Romans 12:3-8

I. Service requires a proper perspective of Self (vs 3)

A. Have a healthy (but not proud) self image

· Do not think too highly of yourself

· Have sober judgment of oneself

Have you ever met someone who thought they were too good to do a particular task?

· That’s just not dignified

· People would not think well of me if they saw me doing that

Is this person you?

On the other hand, have you ever thought that you would never be good enough to do something in the church?

· Some may feel that certain tasks are “below” them.

· Others may feel that certain tasks are “above” them or they feel they may never be good enough to accomplish what God would have them accomplish in their lives.

Both views are wrong. God will enable us to do the tasks he has called us to do.

B. Have a healthy measure of Faith (vs 3)

Our ability to serve depends upon how much faith we have in Christ

Question: What happens when we try to serve in our own strength?

Answer: We burn out

We must rely on God to give us the strength we need to serve. This requires faith.

II. Service requires a proper understanding of the Body (vs 4-5)

A. The body is made up of diverse members

B. The body requires a diversity of functions

C. God has provided his body with the diversity of capabilities necessary to function properly

III. Service requires a proper application of one’s Spiritual Gifts

Three primary passages listing the Spiritual Gifts

Romans 12:6-8

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30

Ephesians 4:11

Classification of Spiritual Gifts

There are numerous ways to classify the gifts… this is just a suggested breakdown

1. Activities (leadership, administration, miracles, healings, etc.)

2. Manifestations (Wisdom, knowledge, Discernment, etc.)

3. Inspired Utterances (teaching, tongues, prophecy, etc.)

4. Service (see below)

Some gifts may fall in more than one category.

Paul is focusing here on the gifts of service.

Service-oriented Gifts

1. Prophesy

2. Serving

3. Teaching

4. Encouraging

5. Giving

6. Leadership

7. Mercy

Conclusion: The only way the body of Christ will function correctly is when each of us are performing the tasks that God has specifically called and gifted us to perform.