1. I really like our church's name. It's certainly not original, Indeed, when Dave Unruh and Lynn Corbett began the process of obtaining legal status with the federal government, they were informed that the name "Church of the Saviour" was so common that we would have to add something to it which would set it apart from the many other so-named congregations around the country. Hence our formal monicker: "The Church of the Saviour at Myersville, Maryland."
2. Our name plainly declares to whom we, as a local church, belong: Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour. This local body of believers does not belong to a denomination or a fellowship of other churches. It isn't the elders' church or, most certainly, my church; it's not even your church. We belong to Christ. We are a local congregation of the full assembly of all the saints from every age, every race, every culture who together constitute the "b __ __ __ __ of Christ." He has out His church with two sets of definitive injunctions.
a. The G __ __ __ __ C __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
MATTHEW 28:18-20 [ NIV ]
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
b. The G __ __ __ __ C __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
MATTHEW 22:37-40 [ NIV ]
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
3. All of the other functional activities of the local church are exercised in the light of these two charges. All doctrine must be understood with the frame of reference of these two fiats.
4. Is one more important than the other? That is not for us to say, but the Bible's special emphasis on the vital importance of agape is certainly significant.
a. JOHN 13:34-35 [ NIV ]
A New command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
b. JAMES 2:8 [ NIV ]
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
c. Galatians 6:2 [ NIV ]
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
5. Paul devotes a great deal of his epistle to the Roman Christians to the subject of agape.
a. He began in Romans 12:9-13 [ NIV ]:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
b. He continues in this morning's text passage, which comes hard on the heels of Paul's instructions regarding Christian civics. "In returning to the personal ethics of agape in verses 8-10 Paul recalls that good citizenship (13:1-7) is neither the sum of nor a substitute for true Christianity. Beneath civic duties and good causes, even beneath personal world-views and life-styles, lies the essential and indispensable characteristic of Christian faith, love for others." - James R. Edwards: Romans ( Volume 6, New International Biblical Commentary )
B. TEXT: Romans 13:8 - 14:23
a. Some see v.8 as a New Testament commandment which forbids indebtedness. Yet the Bible does not forbid legal transactions which involve interest. What the Bible does forbid in the regard include:
(1) charging high interest;
(2) robbing the brethren; and
(3) failing to pay honest debts.
(4) ref: Exodus 22:25-27
b. The first part of v.8 is properly seen in the context of v.1-7.
(1) In concluding his thoughts on the Christian's duty to the state, Paul declares that believers must pay every legal obligation which he/she owes to the government..
(2) He now uses this concept of honest obligation as a bridge to a consideration of that obligation which can never be fully discharged: the d __ __ __ of l __ __ __.
c. In some religions love is seen as a state of "higher consciousness" from which issue forth feelings of abstract benevolence. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Christian faith, however, is the specific objectivity in which disciples are called to exercise love (Greek: agape). This love is divine in nature and divine at its source. It is by no means either "general" in scope or abstract in concept. According to James Edwards, "it is a will in search of an object."