Accept One Another
Sermon Title: Accept one Another
Sermon Text: Romans 15:7-12
Key verse: Romans 15:7 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
MAIN IDEA: Accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God
Four reasons to accept one another just as Christ also accepted us:
1) We share in Christ’s deliverance
2) We share in Christ’s judgement and atonement
3) We share in Christ’s mercy
4) We share in Christ’s lordship
It has been a few weeks since we have been in Romans. It will be worthwhile to remind ourselves what Paul has been teaching. Since the beginning of Chapter 12, the letter to the Romans has been instructing the church how to interact as Christians who have received mercy.
The guiding principle of the teaching is to keep in mind God has shown us undeserved and unearned mercy. Because God has been loving to us, we are to be loving and gracious to one another.
Romans 12-15 is filled with instructions on how we may do this:
- Be members one of another
- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love
- Give preference to one another in honor
- Contribute to the needs of one another, practice hospitality
- Be at peace with one another
- Bear the weaknesses of one another
- Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another
Keep in mind the people in the church in Rome did not grow up in a home where the parents taught the children the New Testament. They didn’t have a New Testament. At best, the church in Rome may have had only 8 of the 27 books. 19 books of the New Testament had yet to be written.
Christian conduct, without the Law, was challenging.
Romans 14 and the beginning of 15 tells us how we are to accept the weaker brother; those who have difficulty in overcoming the law.
The Roman church was composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Paul addresses both groups throughout the book. This is a unique situation in the history of the church; only occurring in the first century. Many were confused on how to integrate the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. Even the Apostles James and Peter needed instruction and correction in this matter. With the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul provided help in this critical time period of the church age.
We now reach the conclusion of Paul’s teaching of how we are to treat one another in the church. Paul desires the Jews and Gentiles to get along and see their commonality in Christ.
We don’t have the specific problem of Jews and Gentiles having disputes. However, we most definitely can apply the principle of accepting one another as Christ has accepted us in our lives.
What Paul is aiming for in this passage is to have the Roman church recognize the universality of Christ’s work of salvation.
Paul has already taught this:
Romans 1:16 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him.
In letters to other churches, Paul teaches this as well:
Colossians 3:11 … there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The aim is to show Christians are one; the Gospel is universal for all mankind, that God so loved the world.
It is helpful to understand the structure of the paragraph. (Application / Principle / Biblical basis)
Verse 7 is a universal application; what we are to do.
Romans 15:7 7Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
Verses 8 and 9a are a principle from which the application is based; the reason we are to accept one another.
Romans 15:8-9 8For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy
Verses 9b, 10, 11, and 12, are four verses making up the Biblical basis, upon which the principle is based; as it is written, again, again, and again.
If we were to paraphrase verses 7-12, it would sound something like this:
Accept one another as Christ has accepted you. Receive and do not reject them. Do this for the glory of God. The reason we should accept one another is because the work of Christ is not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. Christ is a servant to the nation of Israel; those who are of the circumcision. Christ fulfilled the promises made to the forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and King David) and in so doing proved God’s word to be true. Christ didn’t come to serve only the Jews. He served all people; including the Gentiles. God’s plan from the beginning is to show mercy to the Gentiles. These four verses in the Old Testament clearly reveal this truth to be true.
There is a lot riding on these four verses. What is interesting is they are from all three major parts of the Hebrew Bible: The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings and they are from three important writers, Moses, David, and Isaiah.
What each passage has in common is encouragement for the Gentiles to praise and worship God.
“Give praise to God among the Gentiles” “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people” “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles” “In Him shall the Gentiles hope”.
These verses go much deeper than encouraging the Gentiles to praise God. Paul is not repeating himself nor is he grabbing four Old Testament verses which have the word Gentile in the passage.
In looking at the Old Testament references, we will see four reasons to accept one another just as Christ also accepted us.
The first reason to accept one another is:
We Share in Christ’s deliverance
Romans 15:9 … as it is written, “Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.”
The reference is Psalm 18:49. Psalm 18 is written by David on the day the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from Saul.
We will not take the time to read the entire Psalm, but let’s look at some selective verses so we have an idea of the context. (Page 398 of Pew Bible)
Psalm 18:1-19 1 “I love You, O LORD, my strength.” 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me, And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. 5 The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. 7 Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry. 8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils, and fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. 9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. 10 He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. 12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire. 13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. 14 He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, and lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. 15 Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare at Your rebuke, O LORD, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. 16 He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. 17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my stay. 19 He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.
David begins by telling God, “I love you Lord”. He tells of his dire situation. He was confronted by death, the torrents of ungodliness, and Sheol. In his distress, David called upon God and God answered. And wow, did God answer; the earth shook, mountains trembled, hailstones flew, and lightning flashed. God rescued and delivered David from a strong enemy who was too mighty for David. The Lord rescued him because He delighted in David.
Psalm 18:31-40 31 For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless? 33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places. 34 He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great. 36 You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed. 38 I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; They fell under my feet. 39 For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. 40 You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, And I destroyed those who hated me.
Not only does God participate in defeating our enemies, but He girds us with strength, enlarges our steps, and makes our enemies flee from our presence. Saul chased David for around 8 years. David never lost his faith in God during that time.
Listen to how he finishes the Psalm.
Psalm 18:46-50 46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation, 47 The God who executes vengeance for me, and subdues peoples under me. 48 He delivers me from my enemies; surely You lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. 49 Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, and I will sing praises to Your name. 50 He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.
Why does King David give thanks to God among the nations? Because David expects his reason to celebrate God will be received not just in Israel, but in all the nations. David knows God not only delivers the King, but God delivers the people of Israel and God delivers people of every nation.
In thinking about this, I am reminded of pictures and video of people in the streets rejoicing with strangers at the end of World War II. The people had little in common, perhaps they didn’t even get along, but when the war ended, they were on the streets celebrating together. Differences were put aside and rejoicing took place. Celebration happened in countries not involved in the war, because peace and deliverance is good for everyone.
For David, the implication is similar. God’s blessings upon him and the Israelites are also a blessing for the Gentiles. Otherwise, why would the Gentiles join David in praising God?
During the course of his ministry, Paul witnessed Christ’s deliverance of Jews and Gentiles from bondage. Paul knew Gentiles could look at Psalm 18 and rejoice in Christ’s deliverance. When we have the fuller revelation of Scripture, we recognize our enemies are much bigger than David’s enemy of Saul. Christ has delivered us from sin, sickness, misery, and death. We can look at David’s psalm and say with David, “yes, David, your God is my God too. Blessed be our Rock, for He delivers us from my enemies.”
Why should we accept one another? Because we read Psalm 18 and know we have been rescued from our enemies. We have all experienced an amazing work of God’s power. We all have reason to rejoice.
Put aside our differences and accept one another because we share in Christ’s deliverance.
The second reason we are to accept one another is that:
We Share in Christ’s Judgment & Atonement
Romans 15:10 10 Again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”
Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:43.
Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 32 (pg 157 of pew Bible). These are the last words spoken by Moses to the Nation of Israel. He speaks blessings upon individuals after this, but this is the last time he speaks to all the people. Moses has led the people out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness for forty years. After giving this message, Moses goes to the top of a mountain where God allows him to see the Promised Land, but not set foot into it. Moses dies on top of the mountain.
This message is the called the Song of Moses. It is a warning against all who do not put their trust in God, but instead follow after false gods and worship idols.
This is a warning for God’s children to not act like unbelievers.
Let’s look at some selected verses to get a sense of the overall message.
Deuteronomy 32:1-5 1 “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. 3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! 4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. 5 “They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.
A key phrase to understand all of the Song of Moses is in verse 5, “They are not His children”
He goes on to talk of how God cared for the Nation of Israel
Deuteronomy 32:12-14 12 “The LORD alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him. 13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth, And he ate the produce of the field; And He made him suck honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock, 14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs, And rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the finest of the wheat— And of the blood of grapes you drank wine.
And despite how good God was, those who are not God’s children scorned God
Deuteronomy 32:15-17 15 “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked— You are grown fat, thick, and sleek— Then he forsook God who made him, And scorned the Rock of his salvation. 16 “They made Him jealous with strange gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. 17 “They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.
The Song of Moses goes on to describe more rebellion and people refusing to see God’s hand in their deliverance. Moses finishes the Song describing how God will judge those who are not his children; the rebellious people.
Deuteronomy 32:35 35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’
Deuteronomy 32:42 42 ‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood, And My sword will devour flesh, With the blood of the slain and the captives, From the long-haired leaders of the enemy.’
This is the primary message of the Song of Moses. It is not very pleasant.
Notice though how Moses finishes the Song with verse 43
Deuteronomy 32:43 43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.”
Moses calls upon all nations to rejoice with God’s people, the Israelites. Moses knows God will care for His people; those not just of Israel, but God will care for people of all nations. Moses knows the blessings of Abraham are for all nations.
Moses knows God will judge unrighteousness in Israel and in all the nations; those who are not God’s children will be judged.
Look at the last phrase of the verse. Moses is calling other nations to rejoice with the Israelites because God will provide atonement. God will judge the unrighteous and the guilty and God will give atonement for the sins of His children. Moses is calling upon all people to rejoice because Moses knows God’s glory consists of being merciful. God shows mercy for God’s people in Israel and God shows mercy for God’s people among the other nations.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul proved God is merciful to Israelites and people from other nations. As Paul points out in chapter 9, one does not have to be one of Abraham’s descendants, an Israelite, to be called a child of God (Romans 9:6-7) and receive mercy.
Romans 9:16 it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Why should we accept one another? Because we all can rejoice knowing God will judge the wicked and give mercy to His people.
Put aside our differences and accept one another because we share in knowing Christ will judge the unrighteous and Christ will give us mercy in judgment. We should accept one another because we have received Christ’s atonement.
The third reason to accept one another is that:
We Share in Christ’s Mercy
Romans 15:11 11 And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, And let all the peoples praise Him.”
This is a quote from Psalm 117 (page 445 in pew Bible).
Typically, in the Psalms, the other nations outside of Israel are not spoken of very highly.
Psalm 2:1 speaks of the nations as evil. Psalm 9 talks of the nations being judged by God. Psalm 33 speaks of God frustrating and nullifying the plans of the nations. Psalm 44 talks about God judging the Israelites by scattering them among the other nations. Psalm 59 says the God of Israel awakens to punish the nations and God laughs and scoffs at them.
Generally speaking, if one is an Israelite reading the Old Testament, a sense of a nationalistic pride would most certainly be cultivated by reading God’s Word; especially the Psalms. For the Israelite, there are the other nations and there is Israel, God’s chosen people. As far as Israel was concerned, the other nations were to be subdued and brought under the feet of Israel. So, when David says, I will praise you among the nations, an Israelite would think, of course you will David, because God will subdue the other nations and make them all Israelites.
Psalm 47 is a great example:
Psalm 47:2-4 2 For the LORD Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. 3 He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet. 4 He chooses our inheritance for us, the glory of Jacob whom He loves.
The implication of Psalm 47, and much of the Psalms, is obvious. Other nations exist for Israel to inherit them.
In Romans 15:11, Paul quotes Psalm 117:1 which is very different from other psalms regarding how it speaks of the other nations.
And as we look at that psalm, we can’t help but wonder what was in the minds of the Israelites as they encountered this psalm in their Bibles.
Psalm 117:1-2 1 Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! 2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!
Let’s take off our 21st century glasses and look at this psalm with fresh eyes and remember where this psalm is placed. Romans 3:2 says the Jews “were entrusted with the oracles of God.” This psalm is in a Jewish holy book. As far as a Jew is concerned, the Old Testament is entirely for and about Jews.
Right here in the book of Jewish songs and poetry is a psalm written for Gentiles.
Praise God everybody, Jew and Gentile. Praise God for His mercy toward us. Praise God for His truth. Worship God you pagan, heathen, Gentiles because God is merciful toward you!
Paul quotes this psalm out of the Old Testament as if to say, “Look, there is even a Psalm written for the Gentiles to thank God for being merciful; for His lovingkindness.”
This is exactly what Paul is referring to in Romans 15:8-9, when he says, “Christ has become a servant to the Gentiles for the purpose that they would glorify God for His mercy.”
Why should we accept one another? Because we share in Christ’s mercy.
The fourth reason we are to accept one another is that:
We Share in Christs Lordship
Romans 15:12 12 Again Isaiah says, “There shall come the root of Jesse, And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, In Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10. As with the other passages, let’s look at the context. (page 495 of pew Bible)
Isaiah is prophesying about the future lordship of Jesus Christ; the kingdom of the Messiah.
As we read this, recognize Jesse is the father of King David. When Isaiah refers to the stem or the root of Jesse, he is referring to Jesse’s descendants beginning with King David. In the first sentence of the book of Romans, Paul says this about Jesus, that He was born a descendant of David.
Isaiah 11:1-10 1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; 4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. 5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist. 6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. 7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious.
What does this passage teach us in view of Romans 15 and with accepting one another?
As we read this passage, we cannot help but marvel over what it will be like to live in the glory of Christ’s Kingdom. We will live in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He will rule over the Israelites and He will rule over the Gentiles.
Paul is helping the Jews to not be surprised when they enter into the Kingdom of the Messiah they will see Gentiles. There will be barbarians, and Greeks, and Romans, and Corinthians, and even ruthless Scythians.
What is glorious about the Kingdom prophesied about in Isaiah is Jesus Christ saves both Jew and Greek and they all worship Him in unity. Not only are people in unity with one another, but all of creation, the cobra, the lion, the bear, and the cow will be with children. We need to marvel at the sufficiency and the work of the cross.
Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord.
Paul is helping the Jew and the Greek to see it is not about them, but it is about worshipping Jesus. Accept those who worship the savior.
We need to take this teaching to heart.
We also need to recognize when we get to heaven there will be people of all economic backgrounds, poor and rich; minimum wage worker and wealthy business people. In Christ’s Kingdom, under His Lordship, there will be Democrats, Republican, socialists, drug addicts, alcoholics, people with same sex attraction, former ISIS, and former swindlers. There will be people of every tribe, tongue, and nation.
We pray, let Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. Do we really mean that? Do we really want God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven? Because if we desire that it means not only will the lion lay down with the lamb, but the Jew will worship with the Gentile, the black will break bread with the white, the poor will minister alongside the rich, and the Democrat and the Republican will pray together for those who serve in government. The Palestinian worshipping with the Jew is just as much of a miracle as the lion laying down with the lamb.
Praying for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven begins with letting it come in my heart and in your heart. We need to put aside any possible difference we see in other people and accept and welcome them in the name of Christ.
If you are clean and they are dirty, accept them. If you are poor and they are rich, accept them. If you are hip and they are old-fashioned, accept them. If they are in any way different than us, we need to die to self, pick up our cross, and welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We need to accept one another just as Christ also accepted us. We all have received Christ’s deliverance and mercy and we will all kneel under Christ’s Lordship.
For the glory of God
One last thing. Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
We glorify God when we recognize His plan and trust it as good and right. It is God’s character to accept all. When we have the Spirit of God in us, we will accept those who He has accepted. We glorify our Father when we make much of Christ.
Only in the church do we ever see people accepting one another regardless of their background. When the world looks inside the doors and windows of the church and they see people of all ages, all economic statuses, former liars, thieves, drug addicts, business owner and welfare recipient, doctors and uneducated, and people from every tribe and every tongue worshipping Jesus Christ in unity, love, and with much brotherly honor and devotion … they will know it is a work of God.
Beloved, accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God
Questions for Home Fellowship
- Is there anything in the sermon you have a question about?
- What did you learn from the text ?
- What situation in the Roman church prompted this discussion? Why did Paul stress the need to accept one another?
- How do the Old Testament passages expand upon the application of accepting one another?
- Psalm 18
- Deuteronomy 32
- Psalm 117
- Isaiah 11:1-10
- Can you think of modern day applications we might use which are comparable to the situation in the Roman Church?
- What are some possible difficulties in accepting one another?
- Are there people outside the church you find difficult in accepting?
- How is your life impacted by this passage (what will you do differently; how do you think differently; what causes you to worship God more)?