The Master’s Class, Summit Church
HOW FAR WOULD JESUS GO? (Romans 15:1-7)

HOW FAR WOULD JESUS GO? (Romans 15:1-7)

October 25, 2015
Over the last two chapters of our study, Paul has certainly made it clear that part of lovingly exercising our religious liberty to do the debatable things, the things not clearly defined as wrong in the Bible, is knowing when not to do something, or knowing when it might cause harm to someone else.  

I believe Paul would sum up his argument in this chapter by saying the spirit of charity, or the spirit of love, outweighs all of our other concerns.  If we truly love our neighbors as ourselves, then we will not do anything that will harm them.  Just as we would not do anything to harm ourselves.  

Paul has told us that in the area of essential beliefs, or the things clearly defined in the Bible, we are to have unity.  How do we have that unity?  By moving closer to Christ.

In the area of non-essential beliefs, or the debatable issues, we are to have liberty.  How do we express and enjoy that liberty?  By moving closer to Christ.

In all things we are to have charity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  How are we to show this charity?  By loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and spirit.  How do we show God that we love Him this much?  By moving closer to Christ.  

If we do the first commandment, the second commandment will take care of itself.  

If we do the second commandment, then we will be our brother’s keeper, and we will do, or not do, what it takes to help build our brother and sister in Christ, spiritually.  

So this is the spirit of charity, or love, that we are to have towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But Paul has not finished yet.  I think he knew that if he left it here, depending only on our love for our neighbor, we would respond as we have.  So, he has an even higher ground to map out for us.  It is a great thing to treat a weaker brother in the spirit of charity, or love.  It is a far greater thing to treat them in the spirit of Christ. 

In this lesson, Paul will basically ask the question of how far would Christ go in building up a fellow brother or sister in Christ, and then he will tell us that is how far we should go.  
HOW FAR SHOULD WE GO?  (Romans 14:22-23)

HOW FAR SHOULD WE GO? (Romans 14:22-23)

October 18, 2015
We spent a lot of time last week asking the question of whether or not we are to be our brother’s keeper, and we said that Paul would tell us that yes we should be.  We defined the term my brother’s keeper from a Biblical perspective as generally meaning to be responsible for the care of someone.  We said to think of the roles of a shepherd or a vine keeper.  That our role was to edify our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ.

So let me ask the question, how far are we to go to edify our brother or sister in Christ?

If your brother in Christ believed that handling snakes was a testament of the power of the Holy Spirit in you, in other words, it proved that you were saved, would you go up front in the church and handle a deadly snake so as not to offend them?

If your sister thought that wearing slacks to church was disruptive to the service, would you stop wearing slacks?

If a brother and sister couple that you did a lot of things with thought going to the movies was a sin, would you stop going to the movies?  Would you stop, only with them, or all together?

Is there anything that you would say, No, that is just too far for me to go to help my brother or sister in Christ out?

So let me change the question, and you knew this was coming, how far do you believe Jesus would go to help you?  Is there anything, like dying on a cross for you, that Jesus would not do for you? 

Paul is going to tells us in our lesson today that selfishness has no part in the Christian life.  Yet, Paul is going to tell us that we do not have to continually modify our behavior just to satisfy the weaker brother’s desires.  Rather, we are to act in a way which will be to his lasting benefit.  We are to help him carry the cross of his weakness until he has matured spiritually as a Christian.  

We are our brother’s keeper and, in the spirit of love, we are to look to Christ to determine how far we are to go in order to ensure the spiritual growth of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The question becomes, not how far will you go for them, but how much do you love them, and what does that love tell you to do?  Is there anything too far for someone you love as much as you love yourself?
ARE WE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER?  (Romans 14:15-22)

ARE WE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER? (Romans 14:15-22)

October 11, 2015
Where does the phrase my brother’s keeper come from, and what does it mean?  We see the first Biblical use of the phrase in:

Gen 4:9
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
KJV

Now, when Cain gave this reply to God, he was clearly trying to be sarcastic to God, which is never a really good thing to do.  But Cain was essentially telling God, How should I know where my brother is, is he my responsibility?

From a Biblical perspective the phrase generally means to be responsible for the care of someone, think of the roles of a shepherd or a vine keeper.  But does that mean that we are responsible for the sin that others do?  No, the Bible is clear that we have no excuse for our own sin.  So with this said, when it comes to the debatable issues that we have been talking about, those not clearly defined in the Bible, are we our brother’s keeper?

Is the answer the same towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as it is towards a lost person?

Did Christ live a life here on earth that could be described as being His brother’s keeper?

What does Christ mean when we say that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and how does that fit in with the concern that Christ would say that we need to have about our brothers and sisters in Christ’s walk in faith?

How far are we to go before we say, well I have tried to tell him and show him what is right, but eventually he has to make his own decision?

How do we know that whatever we are doing will not be a stumbling block to someone, but will be a stepping stone, because really anything we do might offend somebody else?  We see it everywhere in our politically correct world today, somebody is offended by anything related to Christianity.  So should we just totally shut down any outward religious activity in the fear that it might offend somebody?

The answer to all of these questions is to move closer to Christ.  The more we conform our mind and spirit to the will of Christ and fully surrender our lives to Christ, then He will control our lives, and we will be our brother’s keeper.  

The more we move toward Christ, the less we will have to worry about offending a brother or sister in Christ.  

How do we enjoy our full liberty in Christ?  By moving closer to Christ.  

How do we educate our conscience about what the word of God says about certain activities?  By moving closer to Christ.

How can we truly be our brother’s keeper in the way that Christ would have us do?  By moving closer to Christ.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBERTY (Romans 14:13-14)

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBERTY (Romans 14:13-14)

October 4, 2015
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LIBERTY

We live in a country where our liberty to pursue our lives as we choose is a cherished right.  It is such a cherished right that many of our men and women have fought and died so that we could keep that right.  Yet, that same liberty requires that we regulate our own behavior in a manner that does not harm others.  Self-government requires self-regulation.

For example, I have the liberty to purchase the car of my choice.  I could buy a convertible Honey Bee yellow 1970 Hemi Plymouth Cuda that can go from 0-60 in less than 5.8 seconds or top out at a speed of 160 mph, but if I want to drive that vehicle on the road with others there are limits to what I can do with that liberty of owning such a powerful vehicle.  Our traffic laws have been put in place to help me from doing something that might harm someone else, but even acting within these laws my behavior can potentially harm others.  

We choose to limit our liberty because we value the lives of others and we protect their rights to choose how they want to live their lives.  

We also have to be careful how others see us and what we do.  I used to ride motorcycles when I was 15 to about 17.  I really enjoyed it, in fact, I still have a motorcycle designation on my driver’s license just in case I ever get a wild feeling and decide to ride again.  So why haven’t I ridden a motorcycle since I was young?

It is because I got married, and had then I had two boys who watched everything that I did.  Getting married meant that I had someone else depending on me to go to work every day to provide a place for us to live.  Having sons meant setting an example of the kinds of behavior that would keep us, and them, safe.  It is not that riding a motorcycle is bad or evil, in fact, it is a lot of fun, nor, am I concerned with my own ability to ride safely.  What I am concerned about is riding on a small, two wheel, fully exposed vehicle, in amongst a bunch of 2,000 lb. heavy metal vehicles driven by people who do not even see a motorcycle rider coming down the road, and hit them on a regular basis.  

So I have the full liberty to do something that is not evil, yet I choose not to do that activity because of what the impact may be on those around me.  I choose not to exercise my liberty because it may impact my ability to be a good provider, and it might set an example that would cause someone else around me to stumble, or to get hurt, just because they saw me doing something.  

We choose to do, or not do, certain things because we love Christ and we want to be more like Him.  We also choose to do, or not to do, certain things because we are to love our neighbors as we do ourselves and we do not want to be a stumbling block to them. 

This is what our lesson is about today, being, or not being, a stumbling block to others.