Spiritual togetherness is another way to say "unity." Believers will be spiritually one as we understand who God is and who we are in Christ. We should not want to live life alone.
Love is talked about often during the Christmas season. The love of God in our hearts produces hope (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit instructs us about God's love. The gifts given by the Holy Spirit are to be lived out in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and 1 Peter 4:9-11). It is God Himself who teaches us to love (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
We have been studying Paul's instructions on weak and strong Christians. (See previous sermons on this chapter.) Romans 14:13-23 gives guidelines for considerate people within a church that is unified, healthy, and growing.This is how we maintain unity among Spirit-filled people.
How do groups of believers who are growing at different rates remain considerate of each other in the body of Christ? This is imperative if we are to display the love of a unified family to a watching world!
Romans 12-16 practically applies the doctrine of chapters 1-11. How do we practically apply doctrine in our culture, in our personal lives, home, vocation, and communities? There is a divine progression from Romans 12:1 through the end of the book. We obey because we love (2 John 6). He saves us by His grace and gives us the ability to live by His grace to influence others by His grace.
Christ is coming back, and as the Head of the Church, He will be looking to see His people bringing the Gospel to others (Romans 1:16). Jesus is building His church in Mentor as He has been since the beginning of the church. He was building His church through the local body of believers in Rome. This was a healthy church made up of all different kinds of people, which we will see in Romans 16. That diversity of people being saved and united in Christ is the result of living out the commission of love that Paul wrote about in Romans 12:17-21.
Romans 13 must be read in the context of Romans 12. Great Commission living characterized by love includes our lives as citizens. God has graced us with human government, and every person is influenced by it. Our interaction should be marked by righteousness.
Love that has its foundation in divine transformation shows compassion within the body of Christ and has great influence in the surrounding community.
We have been studying the love Christians should have within the body of Christ (Romans 12:9-16). The pointed commands beginning in verse 13 seem random, but they do flow from what Paul wrote in the verses just before. Love that is holy, relational, passionate in serving and persevering, will be aware in these ways.
The latter half of Romans 12 instructs Christians on the kind of love we should display. Our love is holy, relational, passionate, and aware. A series of direct imperatives begins in Romans 12:13. Love is intentional about its surroundings.
We are studying the third section of Romans 12. When people are transformed by grace (Romans 12:1-2) and functioning well in the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8), we are able to love each other as God intends.
Romans 12:9-16’s list of responsibilities may seem to have no rhyme or reason to their order, but they fit into the chapter context perfectly. Romans 12 begins the practical portion of the book as we seek to live God’s glorious gospel outlined in Romans 1-11. If the chapter is a 3-story house, verses 1-2 are the foundation. Verses 3-8 are the first floor named Community. The second floor, verses 9-16, is about Compassion. Verses 17-21 address our Commission.
This passage of Scripture embodies the very heart of Memorial Day. Nationally, we stand in the face of such love this weekend.
In combat, it is not necessarily the high ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that motivates a sailor or soldier to things he or she never thought personally possible. Rather, it is the love for the brother or sister in arms next to them in the conflict. Medal of honor recipient Lawrence Chamberlain tried to explain the willingness of men to face bullets in this way: "Simple manhood, force of discipline, pride, love, or the bond of comradeship." This longing for all to get home safely together motivates so powerfully in the heat of the battle! It is this special bond that creates a camaraderie so palatable that it lasts a lifetime and explains unbelievable acts of heroism.
Jesus Himself cites this axiom in John 15:13, and we do well to honor those who have fallen in the display of such love.
A Look Back: God Is Loyal to His People.
Romans 8 was written to believers who lived in a society experiencing relative peace and security, similar to what we experience in our day. Often this sense of security gives way to moral relativism. Regardless of society's views, Jesus is always the exclusive way to spiritual peace.
Romans 8 concludes with a strong emphasis on the truth that God's children can experience no separation from the love of Christ. If God's love is enough to hold the whole body together, how much more so will it hold individual believers eternally secure! There are no people or circumstances that can separate us from God's love.
Prayer is essential for physical protection and spiritual safety (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Our safety is not to be taken for granted. We have been investigating layers of spiritual protection from Romans 8 for those who are in Christ. Verses 33-34 ask two more questions without an immediate answer.
All Christians know the experience of sinning after we've been saved and the guilt that accompanies it. Some even know what it's like to doubt their salvation after falling into sin. What a joyful relief to remember that God's love never changes! Psalm 146 is a thankful song of God's people when they are given another chance. Most Bible scholars attribute its composition to Haggai or Zechariah, prophets who preached to God's people when they were returning to the land of Israel from Babylonian exile. This is one of the "hallelujah" psalms, the last 5 chapters of the book of Psalms, each of which starts and ends with the same wording: "Praise the Lord!"
Pop culture is filled with voices talking about love. Our culture is obsessed with the concept, but their understanding of love is greatly limited because they don't know the truth. Mere interest in a subject doesn't make one an authoritative voice on it. Who will you listen to when determining the character of true love?
Last week we learned from 2 John that the truth makes true love possible. Outside truth, there is no love. This week, 3 John teaches us that actions make true love identifiable.
The hippie movement promoted the idea of "free love" without guardrail or principles. This has trickled down to our society's popular advice to "follow your heart." Some Christians even say it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you love people. Our world does not understand the truth about love.
The apostle John wrote about the relationship between love and truth in three letters. 2 John is a study in the doctrine of love and truth; 3 John explores their practice; and 1 John applies these principles to our understanding of salvation and assurance.
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