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The Bible chapter that I didn’t…

April 25, 2007

want to study was Romans 14.  In working through Romans this year, I’ve certainly covered some difficult teachings.  Doctrines that challenge, convict and confront.  Doctrines that cause all sorts of clashes between believers.  So after wading through chapters like Romans 1-3 and 5-6, or chapter 8 or even the huge chunk of 9-11, you’d think that the application chapters would be a simple checklist of read and obey.  Suffice it to say, Romans 14 has been my own personal waterloo.  Being true to blogger personality, I’m committing my thoughts to post for the challenge, conviction and confrontation that this study has been.  It’ll take me a few days to work through it all.  Your insight is welcome as well. 

Some of the other doctrinal challenges that Romans provides cause great divide amongst Christians.  Things like election, predestination, sovereignty and so on.  For my own case, although I believe that scriptural context in the whole counsel of God gives clear teaching on these issues, I’m also keenly aware of my inadequacy to completely nitpick apart the inherent mysteries of the fullness of God on every single detail.  I’m actually free to be humbly ignorant regarding God’s infinite knowledge in those BIG doctrines. I can cling, and do cling, by faith to the character of God to be perfect, just, and righteous in each thing to each person regarding each event.

However, Romans 14 was particularly challenging for me because it seems to deal with a "lesser" thing–that of how Christians are to relate to one another.  Wretched body and nature of flesh that I am, I want to claim ownership of understanding for how these details work.  Commonsense wants to step in and persuade that as a Christian, certainly I know how to treat others.  It’s the simple matter of "do not judge" and "act in love."

Aye, there’s the rub!  "Do not judge" has no more simpler meaning than "act in love" because culture, and its pervasive effect in Christian culture, has diluted and warped the meanings outside the scriptural boundaries.  Before I take that train too much farther though, the other big thing that Romans 14 is addressing is that of "disputable matters."  Complication only increases because what one Christian considers a disputable matter is another’s truth and vice versa.  The disputes as to what is a disputable matter have not only morphed over the Christian age, but have launched tentacles into the doctrinal debates as well.

Paul could only be shaking his head at us, if he knew the quandary in which we’ve become mired.

So this is where I’m at, trying to answer legitimate questions about when the Bible says "to judge" or "not to judge," when the Bible says to "act in love" or "speak the truth in love" all regarding the issue of disputable matters that can be as inherently different with each believer as her genetic code.

Enter sanctification.  For as much as a blessing it is for the law to reveal sin thereby causing one to realize the need for Christ, it is likewise a blessing whenever Scripture reveals a believer’s lack, deficiency or misunderstanding.  Wishing a Bible chapter did not tell me my mistakes is a fruitless and arrogant mistake.  Therefore, spoonful of sugar or not, I desire to take my correction from Scripture.  To God be the Glory!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jif permalink
    April 26, 2007 7:08 am

    It would seem to me that we have to know how God defines “judge” and “love.” I have a sneaking suspicion (as you’ve alluded to) we’ve allowed the world’s definition to impact how we understand these words and therefore these passages. Just my thoughts… I can’t wait to read more of your insights.

  2. April 26, 2007 1:10 pm

    “I’m also keenly aware of my inadequacy to completely nitpick apart the inherent mysteries of the fullness of God on every single detail.” Yes, so am I, and lately I’ve been bemoaning other people’s seeming inability to acknowledge this same weakness in themselves. But am I judging? Or am I speaking the truth in love? You’re so right, these issues in Romans are very difficult. Keep thinking and keep posting! I love this train of thought. Love being challenged!

  3. April 26, 2007 10:52 pm

    Good post. Just surfing through from The Hutch.

    Would I be correct in guessing you’re studying with BSF, Intl.? I did Romans with the org last time around — at the height of its reformed glory days under Rosemary Jensen.

  4. April 27, 2007 8:28 am

    “For as much as a blessing it is for the law to reveal sin thereby causing one to realize the need for Christ, it is likewise a blessing whenever Scripture reveals a believer’s lack, deficiency or misunderstanding.” Conviction is indeed a blessing–His kindness to us!

  5. April 27, 2007 11:59 am

    I really enjoyed your thoughts here, and I’m looking forward to your more in-depth insights on chapter 14!

  6. inalley permalink
    November 4, 2009 7:06 pm

    I found this on another website and just added it to mine:

    why I do what I do

    The Bible commands us to judge ( in love ) those who have departed from the Truth.

    Rom. 16 : 17 — mark them, avoid them

    2 Cor. 6: 17 — be seperate

    Titus 1: 13 — rebuke them sharply

    2 Thes. 3: 6 — withdraw from them

    Eph. 5: 11 — reprove them

    2 Tim. 3: 5 — turn away from them

    *****
    Blessings, I look forward to reading more…

    http://inalley.wordpress.com/

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