Closing the Gap – Week 20 Study Guide

Romans 15:1-7, 1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

 

Commentary

Romans 15:1-7. The problem. Paul’s exposition on disputable things in Rom. 14 seems to leave us in a sad state of being captive to the weakest Christian’s conscience! If we are really to surrender our own convictions to the convictions of the immature, Christianity seems doomed to sink into a joyless, captive legalism. Can this really be what Paul intends?

The solution: unity (15:1–7). Paul unhesitatingly identifies himself with the “strong,” who know that convictions which burden the Christian with lists of do’s and don’ts are held in error. But he gives a three-step solution to the situation in which strong and weak are bound together in a single congregation.

First, the strong are obligated to take the initiative. They do this by considering what is most helpful and upbuilding for the weak, rather than insisting on their own rights that they might please themselves. This attitude adopted by the strong is the first key to a solution.

Second, by showing love and concern and actively reaching out to embrace the weak, they build that “spirit of unity among yourselves” which enables the congregation to (1) follow Christ Jesus and (2) praise God together. A unified, committed, and worshiping community creates a context in which the weaker as well as the stronger brethren can grow!

Third, in that context of community, strong and weak learn to “accept” (welcome, cf. 15:7) one another. Paul’s statement of the basis of acceptance here is significant. In the earlier debate over “disputable matters” a person was accepted or condemned on the basis of his or her agreement with an individual’s convictions. Now at last the church has learned to accept one another on the same basis that Christ accepts us: as we are—fully, completely, because we are loved and valued for ourselves.

As our congregations reach this level of spiritual maturity the “weak” will become “strong,” and the issue of “disputable matters will no longer exist.” [1]

 

Study Guide – Use whichever questions below work best for your group!

  1. Read—the passages.
  2. Recap—Summarize the sermon for your group in two or three sentences.
    • What was something in the sermon that stood out to you? Share it with the group.
    • What are some of the key words that jump out to you?
  1. Reflect—Unpacking/going deeper
  • Is it possible that a Christian can fail to walk in the way of Christ and therefore fail to experience the life of Christ in this life? How does your answer relate to the passage?
    • How does this passage tie in with our theme for the year of “Closing the gap on faith and love?”
    • How might this passage solve many church related tensions in the world if consistently applied?
    • Verse 2 is not calling us to be “people pleasers.” What is the key difference?
    • Read verse 3. Christ lived a “well-differentiated” life. What is it that made his life such an amazing example of how to live our lives?
    • Read verses 5-6. What do you learn from Paul’s prayer? What are the implications for your own life?
    • Read verse 7. How does it sum up the facts and the acts of the Gospel?
    • To live the kind of life described in the passage requires consistent effort. How does this effort differ between the ideas of training versus trying?
    • Train this way…everyday…for the glory of God, the good of others, and for your own joy.
  • Look at our passage from this perspective: Means, ways, ends.
    • Start with the end:
      1. 15:7: Bring praise to God (this is the end or objective of everything)
    • Means: What resources has He given us to accomplish this end?
      1. 15:4,5, 7: The endurance and encouragement that come directly from God and from Scriptures and from one another.
      2. The example and the power of Christ.
    • Ways: What application or tactics are we to use to accomplish this end?
      1. 15:2: Put the interests of others first, welcome one another in each other’s lives.
  1. Repent
    • What is it that you need to turn away from? Will you repent and confess it to the Lord?
    • What is it that you need to turn towards?
    • Do it right now. Decide today whom you will turn towards.
  1. Rejoice – Thank the Lord for the truth of the Gospel; For community; For having others to walk alongside you. That we would live open and honest lives together.

 

[1] Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 751). Wheaton: Victor Books.

Leave a Reply