Summary: There are many controversial issues that cause us to devour one another instead of “receive one another” as Paul commands us in Rom. 15:7. This message discusses Paul's instructions about disputable matters that believers divide over in our churches.
Accept One Another
Message 4 in “One Anothers” series
September 27, 2013
A PowerPoint presentation for this message and all the sermons in the One Another Series is available upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: The H.A.R.M.O.N.Y. acrostic regarding Roman’s 14 and 15 and many of the key thoughts in this sermon are an adaptation of someone else’s original work. However, I failed to notate the original source and cannot seem to find it to give proper attribution. If you know who the original author is, I would appreciate it if you would drop me a line so I can give credit where credit is due.
TEXT: Romans 15:7 – “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”
There are a multitude of controversial issues that cause us to devour one another instead of “receive one another” as Paul commands us in verse 7. Satan is a master at using controversial and extra-biblical issues to distract the church.
Illus. – A former police officer tells of the tactics of a group of thieves. – He says:
They enter the store as a group. One or two separate themselves from the group, and the others start a loud commotion in another section of the store. This grabs the attention of the clerks and customers. As all eyes are turned to the disturbance, the accomplices fill their pockets with merchandise and cash, leaving before anyone suspects. Hours—sometimes even days—later, the victimized merchant realizes things are missing and calls the police. Too late. (Tom McHaffie)
I wonder how often Satan uses this strategy! We’re seduced by distractions, while our churches are ransacked. Many of our churches have lost not their merchandise, but their MISSION, and “a church without a mission will soon be out of COMmission.”
So to protect the church from being distracted over controversial, extra-biblical issues, Paul tells us that we’re to “receive ye one another.”
What does Paul mean to “receive” one another? Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words informs us that the Greek word used here means “to take to oneself or to receive…suggesting a welcome.” Today we would probably use the word “accept” for what Paul is talking about here. Paul is saying “Accept one another,” which is the opposite of “reject.”
But how can we ACCEPT one another with so many controversial issues that divide us?
Paul gave the church in Rome some practical, step-by-step instructions on how to be in H.A.R.M.O.N.Y. with one another in Romans 14:1-15:7 in these kinds of divisive issues. In our “One Anothers” study last week, we talked about how to have harmony in interpersonal relationships with things like personal hurts and offences. Today, the focus is when there are disagreements about beliefs and practices.
You know, today’s churches have much in common with the Roman church. The Roman church was NOT divided in their FAITH, but they were divided on many NONESSENTIAL issues. There were some in the church who had strict religiously-based beliefs about things like meat offered to idols, particular days of worship, and types of diets, and they thought that those who disagreed with their strict beliefs were what we would call today “LIBERAL.” Others, however, had an equally strong belief that in Christ they were free from such constraints and they considered the opposing camp to be “LEGALISTIC.”
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Paul says that the solution to all of this is to stop CONDEMNING one another and start ACCEPTING one another. Let’s discover “Paul’s Seven Steps to H.A.R.M.O.N.Y.” on disputable matters.
[NOTE: The key words forming the acrostic in uppercase lettering.]
I. HOLD back judgment on disputable questions. – Romans 14:1 – “He who is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”
The last part of the verse where the KJV translates “…but not to doubtful disputations” literally means, “but not to quarrel over” doubtful disputations.
Well, what is a “doubtful disputation”? It’s an issue the Bible doesn’t clearly address; it’s in dispute; it’s a “gray” area; it’s an issue about which Christians may legitimately have differing opinions.
We’re not talking about clear commands in the Word of God, or things that violate a clear biblical principle of God’s Word.
For instance, we’re not talking about, say, ADULTERY. – The Bible clearly condemns that, and it’s not being judgmental to condemn adultery. Nor are we talking about things like drunkenness and revelry, which the Bible clearly forbids. So if you exhort a believer not to commit adultery, get drunk or bar-hop…you’re not being judgmental; you’re trying to rescue a fellow believer from sin.
But what about gray areas?—issues the Bible does NOT clearly address?—about which good Christians dispute because the Bible is not decisively clear about? THAT’S what Paul was addressing in this passage.