Christ, the Judge of His People

Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

I have been teaching our church from the book of Romans. We have come to the passage you see above and I wanted to share with you the truths associated with living in peace with one another.

The context of the passage is Paul’s warning against the Roman Christians judging each other in matters of conscience. The Roman church was a diverse church, as were many of the New Testament churches. This group was probably by Jews affiliated with the local synagogues believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the ultimate sacrifice for sins and the resurrected Jewish Messiah. Most likely a split came out and they, along with Gentiles who had heard the good news and had been brought to Christ, formed the nucleus of the Romans Church.

That is well and good except for one thing. It made for a divided church. The division was about Jewish scruples. In the early days of the church, most of those who were saved initially were Jews who followed devoutly the Law of Moses. They no longer followed Moses as a means of justification before God, but they did believe that what Moses said presented the most God pleasing life.  Gentiles had no such compulsion. So, Gentiles felt free to do certain things that Jews did not feel they were free to do (think Old Testament food restrictions etc.). Jews felt they should observe some things that Gentiles felt no obligation to observe(think Sabbath keeping). Paul’s whole purpose in Romans 14 and part of chapter 15 seems to be to bring these two groups together so that the tendency to judge someone as loose or someone else as too strict would completely cease and those groups could accept each other unconditionally as members of the body of Christ.

The application is obvious. Many of us have been brought up in different traditions. Our consciences have been trained to believe some things are wrong while the conscience of a brother or sister may never be troubled by the issue. (We are not talking about obvious sin here i.e. adultery, murder, drunkenness or such like.) In such cases we are to learn to accept one another and walk in peace.  Paul sums up his argument by saying:

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17).

We would do well to heed the same advice and put the emphasis in our churches where Paul puts it. The Lordship of Christ is not displayed in scruples about eating and drinking but in true righteousness received by the blood of Christ and lived out by the Spirit. It is about peace among God’s people, and about joy as we walk in fellowship with the loving Spirit of God.

There is one judge.  We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of ourselves to God not the scruples or lack of them by our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Christ is the Judge of His People (click the link to go to the sermon.)



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