Romans 15:4-8 – “Baby Life” 12/20/20

Romans 15:4-8 – “Baby Life” 12/20/20


So far, this Advent season, we’ve looked at the coming King (Bill Valley taught on this), we’ve looked at exactly who this Jesus person was (and is), and today we’ll address what the results of this Person’s coming should be. The only reasonable result is to keep Jesus at the center of all we are, all we do, and all we think. Simple, right?


Why is there all this emphasis on Jesus? He came to earth for a purpose, but that purpose would be delayed. We tend to think of this Jesus as a man of peace, as One who will usher in peace on earth. However, initially, Jesus would bring strife, how could it be otherwise? A holy God breaks into human history; well… it simply has to stir things up! And that’s exactly what Jesus said would happen in Matthew 10:34-39.


And yet, ultimately He accomplishes something very different, and it is this ultimate result that the angels proclaimed at Jesus’ birth; Luke 2:8-14. How do we reconcile the contrast between the two? If you haven’t tumbled to it yet, what follows Jesus’ coming is predicated on how we respond. His coming can produce peace and a life of faith, or it can produce conflict. The choice is ours.


This may seem like a strange Advent message, but if the Babe in the manger doesn’t produce change in our lives… we’ve missed the point. With that in mind what I want to explore is the profound unity that is supposed to exist in the Church simply because we are who we are… in Christ. Jesus prayed that this would be a reality in John 17:18-23.


Our text, finally, is Romans 15:5-9. Feel free to review it at your leisure. One of the reasons that I struggle so much with not personally gathering on Sundays is we Christians were never intended to be isolated from one another. The Christian life has always been intended to be lived out in community, in the rough and tumble of human relations. Sometimes we’re tempted to retreat from those relationships, and when we do we put a stop to the growth God is working to bring about in our lives.


Paul enters into the sticky topic of the unifying effect of the work of Christ,[1] with the key idea being there is a profound unity found in the Church regardless of race or gender or secondary doctrinal differences.[2] Now, it’s apparent from the context that Paul does not intend, or expect, that there will be uniformity of opinion.[3] We know that from what he says in Romans 14:1-7, which basically boils down to agreeing to disagree on secondary issues. What Paul has in mind, and what Paul prays for is more profound than our opinions regarding what we eat, or drink, or how we handle the days of the week, or holidays, or political parties, or face masks, or vaccinations, or virtual church services. We will not agree on many of these issues,[4] and we probably shouldn’t. These things, Paul says, are beside the point. Our unity in the Spirit, our like-mindedness, is based on Christ and His work.[5] If our eyes are set on Him, secondary considerations begin to fall away.[6] This unity is profoundly expressed through our common need for a Savior who then works in power in our lives through His Spirit.


The oneness that Paul exhorts and prays for isn’t based on destroying others with our sharp logic and scathing mouths.[7] Neither is it gained through capitulation and abandoning our own convictions.[8] The idea that we might be like minded “according to Christ” suggests that we will be united in our devotion and obedience to His will as we walk according to the Spirit.


If our lives are characterized by this kind of life there will be unity. And that unity serves a purpose, it is as we’re profoundly united by that which is profoundly important that our lives, ministries, and work, will bring glory to God.[9]


Again and again we find the Scriptures directing us to pattern our lives after the pattern Jesus laid down.[10] Notice that Paul doesn’t bother to differentiate between the issues or the individuals involved, the command is a blanket command to accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.[11]


The basis of our mutual acceptance goes back to Jesus and His acceptance of us.[12] Jesus came into the world as a descendant of David.[13] He came to bring a blessing to the world as He removed all of the artificial barriers we set up.[14] First, Jesus removed the barrier between us and God. Then He removed the barrier between us and our broken brothers and sisters in Christ.


But none of this was possible if He had not been born the way He was, who He was, descended from His Jewish ancestry.[15] He had to fulfill prophecy if He were going to be the Savior of the world. He had to be the one described in Isaiah 7:14, the One born of a virgin. If His birth came about in any other way, He could not have been the Jesus that saves.[16] No aspect of Jesus’ life and work can be isolated from the rest of His life, everything He did, everything He experienced, all of these things were necessary for Jesus to be able to accomplish what He did.


As the clock ticks on, as we move inexorably toward Christmas Day, think about this… has the coming of that Baby made a difference in your life? It can… and it should. But you have to decide if it will. This is more of a process than a single act, have you entered into that process?

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 746. [2] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 871. [3] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 871. [4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 747. [5] Everett Harrison, Romans, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 10, Romans – Galatians, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., D. D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn, (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 152. [6] Everett Harrison, Romans, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 10, Romans – Galatians, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., D. D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn, (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 152-153. [7] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 230. [8] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 230. [9] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 872. [10] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 231. [11] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 873. [12] Everett Harrison, Romans, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 10, Romans – Galatians, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., D. D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn, (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 153. [13] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 748. [14] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 748. [15] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 748. [16] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 748.

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