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Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

~Romans 15:7

Lesson25-image001Materials Needed: White board or easel.

Notes to the Leader: Oh how we all love our worship service just the way it is. This must be one of the discussion questions in every Christian church in the world. Some recognize a need to change, some recognize a need to remain the way they are. Some churches want to grow some want to stay the perfect size. The question, however, is “What does God want the Church of Christ to be?” This study opens the doors to that discussion.

Introduction

What does worshiping God mean to you?

  • We should not limit our view of worship to Sunday mornings. We should look to all parts of our world and understand that we all glorify God with “one heart and mouth.” Worship is living.

Is there unity among believers today?

  • Hardly — Just check the listing of local churches in your neighborhood.
  • Paul wanted all people of the world to hear the Gospel’s message. Too often our mission is aimed too close to home or aimed at the groups who already know of Jesus. This results in our arguing over doctrine and trading church members from congregation to congregation. While we all may claim the same Christ, all too often our sights are aimed at inward goals instead of those outside in the world.

Who were the weak and who were the strong Christians according to Paul?

  • The weak were those who found it necessary to keep arbitrary and unnecessary religious standards such as diet or worship on a special day.
  • The strong were those whose conscience was not bothered by legalistic rules.

While there is room for both the weak and strong in Jesus’ Church, what group bears the major responsibility for mission and outreach? Why?

  • The strong. It is those who maintain a sound grasp of God’s grace that are the freest to act in Christian love toward brothers and sisters.

Of today’s churches, which ones are the most successful at the mission work Paul describes?

  • The fastest areas of Christian growth can be seen in the “strong” churches who have adopted contemporary themes to relate the Gospel’s message. Those frozen in tradition and ritual have been unsuccessful at expanding the understanding of God’s grace.

Why would contemporary religion be more appealing?

Note: To approach this, try not to get into a discussion on which method is right or wrong. Statistics support that contemporary worship represents the fastest growing segment of worship styles. Instead, look at the community around you and segment your population. Then start making lists on the differences and similarities with respect to the following:

Create a list on the whiteboard or easel fill in those areas that have had a great impact on their belief structures and development. The list below is representative: Fill in a key phrase for each (see music as an example but do your own list with your group).

 

Impact Grade School High School College 25-35 yrs old 36-45 yrs old 46-55 yrs old       56+
War
Economy
Music  Rap

Hip Hop

Rap

Hip Hop

 Rock

Rap

Soft

Rock

 Rock

Jazz

 Classical  Classical

Big Band

Computers
Television
Cable
College
Entertainment
 Movies

Now go back over the list and discuss how a worship experience could be affected by one’s preferences. There is no right or wrong answers here. Discuss how one’s emotions would be affected, how communications and learning would occur, etc.

The point is that if you have a church that plays wonderful organ music and sings great old hymns, you will have a congregation of people that fit that worship preference. Now if you are in a community where the congregational profile you have chosen is small and your church desires to grow, Who will you invite into your worship and how will you accommodate their needs?

Section One: Elements of Christian Fellowship

What is your definition of perfect?

  • Perfect does not mean without flaws. Paul uses a Greek word telios to describe perfection. Telios means that something fulfills the purposes for which it was designed.
  • Using Paul’s definition of perfect, how would you describe the perfect worship service?
  • Personally, I would find that perfect worship experience drawing me closer to God. I would be convicted, humbled, thankful for God’s unselfish grace. It would make me uncomfortable so I move to God instead of me waiting for Him to come to me. Too many churches and people are seeking the wrong definition of perfection in their worship experience.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:1-3.

What does Paul call the strong of faith to do?

  • Put up with one another, be considerate.
  • Seek self-denial for the good of the weak.
  • Use Christ as our model.
  • Identify with each other because we all share something special, Christ and His suffering.

Read Romans 15:4 to your group.

How are we to use the Scriptures for the good of the weak?

  • We would be wrong to answer as if it is our role to teach, drum into the heads of the weak, God’s Word. Knowledge alone tends to create arrogance, which is divisive (1 Corinthians 8:1-3). Paul meant that we are to live God’s Word, to set the example for others so they may have hope. We are to be an encouragement to others.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:5-6.

How would you pass on to a child or to someone new and weak of faith, the hope of Christ found in God’s Word? (Hint: Assume you cannot quote a single Bible verse to them).

  • Our very attitude toward our faith is the foundation for effective leadership. Do we view worship as a burden or a joy? Do we work to help our Christian community gladly volunteering our hours or begrudgingly give our token support? Can people see your smile when you hear the name of Jesus or your discomfort because you think to speak of Jesus openly is inappropriate? Do they see you lean against Jesus when things are tough or against your own stubborn willfulness? Can they see a child-like heart and love for Christ or the stiffness of tradition and ritual?

Read Romans 15:6 again to your group.

What is Paul asking the Christian church to do in this verse?

  • To be united. To speak as one, to live as if there is only one heart.

What do people do when there is strife in their church?

  • Some choose to leave
  • Some choose to stay but are destructive
  • Some choose to stay and seek fellowship.

What is Paul asking us to do when there is some disagreement or trouble in our church?

  • To be at one with each other, to speak as if we had one mouth so that we can glorify God. The Greek word used for “one heart” is homothumadon, means to flow along in harmony.

Read Romans 15:7 to your group.

What type of unity is Paul asking us for: (1) agreement on all points of doctrine or practice; or (2) uniformity in worship styles, culture, or language?

  • It was a trick question, neither is correct.

What is Paul asking each Christian to do for unity?

  • Simply, accept one another. Paul uses the Greek word proslambano, meaning to take or draw one’s self, assume, take as a companion or associate, to receive kindly or hospitably, admit to one’s society and friendship; treat with kindness (just as Christ accepted you).

Explain how one might accept someone the way Paul has described acceptance here?

  • As incomplete as a person may be, we are to look through their weakness and ignorance and take them into the family with open arms, simply because Christ has accepted them.

Is this type of acceptance easy?

  • Hardly. However, when Christ accepted us into His body and embraced us as a family, we were lost, confused, sinful, useless, and weak.

Has the Christian Church been a good model to follow for acceptance?

  • Hardly. We have been no end of trouble: slow to change, falling down and having to be lifted up repeatedly, ignorant of the Word, bound by fear, prejudiced, and locked into sinful habits.

Section Two: The Gospel

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:8-12.

There are two distinct strains of humanity for which God has demonstrated His concern, Jews and Gentiles. Was there a purpose to this separation?

Read Genesis 12:3.

God planned to save all of the families of the world through one family by providing a Savior.

What was the point that Paul was trying to make in verses 8 through 12?

  • Paul insisted, the Gentiles were so much on God’s mind all the time that even as Christ confirmed the promises made to Israel, the reason He was doing it was “so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy (v. 9). Christ served and saved Jews so that He could serve and save the people of other nations.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:13-14.

What was Paul’s style of evangelism and ministry?

  • Paul was always encouraging.
  • He always gave his affirmation through:
    • prayer and
    • an expression of confidence in the goodness and giftedness of the Roman Christians.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:15-16.

What made Paul’s style of ministry so courageous?

  • His bold style of telling it like it is. To call some weak and some strong is an example of his straight talk.

What did Paul view his role to be?

  • A minister to the non-Jewish nations (vv. 15-16). Paul uses the Greek word ierourgein, meaning to perform the work of a priest.
  • After Christ died on the cross, the role of the priest to give sacrifices was abolished. Christ, in turn, became the High Priest.

What were the other functions of the Jewish priests that Paul saw as his role?

  • To teach the law (Leviticus 10:11). Paul’s preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles fulfilled this function.
  • To offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the people as tokens of their dedication to Him (see grain offerings, Leviticus 23:10-11). Paul lead Gentiles to faith in Christ so that, as believers, they may be offered as “living sacrifices” to God (v. 16).

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:17-21.

What made Paul a great pioneer?

  • “It is when a man ceases to think of what he can do and begins to think of what God can do with him, that things begin to happen.” William Barclay
  • He saw his mission to the Gentiles as the crowning glory of his life (v. 17).
  • He had a sound humble view of himself. He was a instrument in the hands of Christ (vv. 18-19).
  • He revealed his ambition to be a trailblazer, not a follower (vv. 20-21).

Bible Truth Being Taught

The Church of Christ is an inclusive worldwide fellowship of believers who praise their one God in every nation, in every language and with every race of people.

Our Response

To catch a glimpse of the true global vision of the Gospel and broaden our own acceptance of the other believers.

 

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