“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Context: Read Romans 15:5-13.
We Christians have no choice in accepting one another for two reasons.
1. Christ has accepted each Christian therefore we have no right not to. This is similar to last week where we saw we have no right to judge Another’s (Christ’s) servant. Here we must accept those He accepts.
2. Why? That God may be praised. This reiterates what was taught in Sunday’s sermon from John 17:20-23 where we saw that the unity of believers is a testimony to the world that the Father sent the Son.
Verses 5-6: Unity involves both endurance and encouragement. It is not easy.
1. As I’ve said before, disagreement on minor issues is not wrong as long as we don’t allow our differing understandings to divide us. We can differ on the choice of carpet color for the sanctuary, the best style of music, which translation of the Bible to use. These are not essentials of the faith. We can have different likes and dislikes and still faithfully serve the same God in unity.
2. However, unity is not to be preserved at any cost. If someone denies the divinity of Jesus Christ or says He did not bodily rise from the dead, that person has stepped over the line, and in that case unity is not to be maintained.
Verses 8-12: Paul gives a specific example of unity within the body of Christ in regard to Jews and Gentiles.
Here Paul tries to reconcile the differences between the Jews and the Gentiles. They are now both part of the body of Christ. So, they must see the importance of the place God has placed on each.
1. The Gentiles must understand that God placed a priority on the Jews in regard to salvation. Not that the Jews are any more saved than a Gentile, but that God chose to bring salvation through the Jews. Consider the promise to Abraham (Gen 12:3), and the statement of Jesus in (John 4:22).
2. Likewise the Jews need to accept the Gentile believers, because God has shown His mercy to them that His name might be glorified throughout the entire earth. Romans 3:27-31 shows that God is the God of all who come to Him in faith.
3. Paul uses a number of Old Testament references in verses 9b-12 to show that God had planned all along to show His mercy to the Gentiles also. Paul shows that the whole counsel of God supports this by including references from the Law, the Prophets, and the Wisdom books.
4. Look at the things these Scriptures say about God’s relation to us Gentiles.
a. We will praise and sing to God. This allows for various styles if rightly directed to the glory of God. God enjoys creative praise from His unified people.
b. Rejoice with His people. Jews and Gentiles (perhaps in our day Catholics and Protestants) should rejoice together in the salvation given through faith in Jesus Christ.
c. Jesus will rule over the Jews and the Gentiles and we will hope in Him. He is worthy of our hope. Our hopes in this life are often shattered, but hope in Jesus is a guarantee. He won’t let you down, and nothing can thwart His will. (Discuss Romans 8:31-39)
Verse 13: This section closes with hope. If we have hope in Jesus Christ we have it all. God’s hope fills us with joy and peace. What are most people missing in life? It isn’t money or pleasure. They are devoid of hope, joy and peace. The only people who have these three in abundance are the ones who have wholeheartedly placed their absolute trust in Jesus Christ. This applies to Jew or Gentile, Protestant or Catholic. Our label shouldn’t keep us from accepting one another if Jesus has already accepted us through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. (NOTE: I’m not saying that all Catholics have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but then neither do all Protestants possess this knowledge either.)