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Sunday: Weak in Faith — 24 Comments

  1. Calling sin by it's name, we err by directing our reaction to the sinner. Thus we scatter abroad instead of gathering with the Master.

    • Jesus called sin by its right name and divided the church. The temple was destroyed, the people were scattered to the far ends of the earth, and Jesus and His disciples were killed. What would have happened had He not done it?

      • I notice that Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultry or the tax collector or the woman at the well. Zachaeus volunteered to pay back anything he had taken improperly without being condemned by Jesus. Jesus didn't even seem to condemn Judas' act of betrayal. But he sure got rough on the Pharasees and church leaders for leading the people away from the Character of God and causing even one of the "least of these" to stumble.

        Leaders of the church have a grave responsibility.

    • Sometimes we jump directly to calling sin by its right name, without going through the steps of compassion and understanding. One of the effects of sin is that it has left a lot of broken people in its pathway and our willingness to condemn those people does nothing to heal them.

      Jesus life is filled with examples of where he showed compassion and understanding for sinners. The times where he "called sin by its right name" were particularly for those who practised their religion hypocritically. His most withering condemnation of sin was on those who were judgemental of others.

      Jesus described his work in the words of Isaiah:

      The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, Luke 4:18

      When we feel the need to condemn and point out sin, we should take time to read this first.

  2. Also when we point our finger at one person there are finger on the same hand pointing back at us. And we cannot run about from that.

  3. Why does Paul call the "over scrupulous" Christian "weak in the faith"? Isn't being extra careful in obedience a good thing as long as it is done from a love to God and not as a basis for salvation?

    • We tend to think there is only one "ditch" and desire to stay as far away from it as possible. The reality is that there are two ditches. One is even called left and the other right. Both are equally dangerous, and Satan doesn't care which one he gets us in, as long as he can get out out of the middle of the road where God wants us. Being over scrupulous is most often accompanied by trying to earn our salvation, and frequently by pride.

  4. When people’s actions harm others. Assault their character wrongly. Gossip is one of the biggest ways Satan uses church members to destroy others. I’ve witness how wrongful actions destroy the body of Christ. Example older lady went to civil authorities lied about her sister in Christ. Has an investigation went on lied to church member. Of course this person had done nothing for them to find and the lies fought up with the false accuser but the damage in the church never was corrected and the pastor did nothing. He keeper putting off a meeting pushing away truth. Hurtful wrongful actions must be addressed the heart is Gods department.

  5. The Author here says that in Romans 14:1-3 the question here refers to "meats," that "may have been sacrificed to idols." So what does the fact that Paul here makes an obvious comparison to the one who eats only vegetables as opposed to the one who eats "everything," have to do with meats offered to idols? To me, the Apostle Paul is making a comparison to the vegan (the one that only eats vegetables,) and the one that eats everything (meat included.) Here, the Apostle Paul makes the vegan as being "The Weaker Brother." I do not see anything in these verses indicating in anyway that this question has to do with meats offered to idols but rather, Paul is making a distinction between someone that eats "everything," as opposed to someone who excludes flesh from his diet and very distinctly labels such a person as being a weaker brother.

    • This section of Romans has nothing to do with diet but is rather talking about being judgemental. In fact it is about our attitude to one another.

      And if you want to apply it to our health message we should be very careful about how we present it. Health living is a good thing and has demonstrable benefits but so often I hear Seventh-day Adventists presenting it as part of a "sanctification" package. We judge one another as being "further along" the Christian pathway by what we eat.

      • How can this section of Romans have nothing to do with diet? Someone that eats only vegetables has nothing to do with diet? And someone that eats eats anything also has nothing to do with diet? Eating or not eating has everything to do with diet! Diet has to do with what we eat or what we do not eat and that is what this section is dealing with----the vegan and the non-vegan and how God accepts both of them when they both exercise their faith in Jesus Christ and Him living, crucified, risen, and etc.

        • Pete, you got it right when you say: "the vegan and the non-vegan and how God accepts both of them when they both exercise their faith in Jesus Christ and Him living, crucified, risen, and etc."

          We are not saved by what we do whether it is diet or any other works. We are saved by Grace. And further we should refrain from judging others.

    • This does not have anything to do with eating or not eating meat folks please read the verses from a different translation of the bible. Read the verse from the Message bible, The Clear word, The Remedy bible just to get another view

    • Paul is driving home the issue of the kingdom of God consisting in righteousness (justification by faith), peace as a result thereof and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17), which was disturbed by condemning and disregarding each other in questions of eating and drinking (Romans 14:3). The same could happen today in a controvery between vegetable life style over against meat eating life style. This would be an application in principle not in historical fact.

      However, the historical background of Romans 14-15 is the situation where meat, offered to idols, was sold in the market place (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). This wss a serious temptation to those believers who came out of paganism. They were used to regarding meat offered to idols, as a paritcipation in idol worship. There would be but a tiny step to go from the market palce right into the temple of idols to continue idol worship already begun at the market place, as they believed (1 Corinthians 8:7.10). They were offended (tempted into sin) by those who disregarded the conscience of those believers. (1 Corinthians 8:9) This act of offending (being temped into sin) is taken up by Paul in Romans 14:13.21). The result of this acion is described as going to be lost (Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11).

      Paul does not need to repeat this historical situation as he has already described it in further detail in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. Not only at Corinth but in every city idolatry was practiced with the same market place situation as described in 1 Corinthisans 8:1-13. Summing up, there are historical and linguistic parallels in 1 Corinthians taken up by Paul in Romans 14-15, which demonstrates that the historical background in Romans 14-15 is taken for granted by the readers of the epistle. Only we have to close the gap by considering the background from Corinthians.

      Winfried Stolpmann

    • First we need to understand that "the health message" does not come from the Bible. The concepts of healthy living we know today were completely unknown in Bible times (and some didn't even have the same physiological significance back then). I believe that God gave the ceremonial law to Israel to give them better health, but He never explained that to them. Nowhere will you find that connection in the Bible. Instead, they considered all the Mosaic laws "salvific".

      Second we need to understand that "the health message" is NOT "salvific". No one is going to get to Heaven by being a vegetarian. Nor is anyone not going to Heaven because they are not a vegetarian, or even because they eat pork (or use tobacco). The health message God gave us is a wonderful message given us by a loving God for our benefit, but it has nothing to do with our salvation.

      Finally, I don't think the concept of a vegetarian diet even existed in Paul's day. The only reason certain people "ate only vegetables" was because of their concern about the "rightness" of eating something that might have been used as part of a pagan religious service.

      There is one other reference similar to this, which is Daniel and his three friends. But again, they weren't concerned about being vegetarian, but rather did what they felt they had to to avoid eating meat that was not prepared according to Jewish standards, and possibly unclean meats.

      Any attempt to turn any of this into support for "the health message" is a misguided wresting of scripture out of context, no matter how well it may seem to fit.

      • I think our salvation affects everything we do and every issue in our lives. If our salvation causes us to turn away from doing certain things because we are now motivated by Love, but then we go right back to doing the old ways God's Love does not lead us in, what has happened to our salvation? What has happened to God's Love in our lives?

        • Comparing Romans 14 and 15 with 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, I came to the conclusion that there are linguistic parallels between both passages which are pointing to the issues of meat offered to idols--- not to the issue of vegetarianism. Referring to such meat, offered to idols, Paul deceides not to eat any meat forever that his brother might not stumble (1 Corinthians 8:21). In Romans 15:21 he uses the same terminology admonishing the Roman believers to follow his own example. The terminology of proskommatos (stubmbling block) and and skandalon (trap for catching animals) are found in both passages (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:9). Both are mentioning that the weak brother, following the example of the strong brother may even perisch (1 Corinthinans 8:11; Romans 14:15). Why perish? The so called strong brother seems to brush aside any obstacle to his freedom sitting even in the idol temple eating meat offered to idols even there. Observing this scene, the weak brother is made to stumble and to perish in sin of idol worship together with the strong brother, for both seem to meet each other within the area of idol worship (1 Corinthians 8:10-11).

          As to the historical situation of ancient paganism: There used to be pagan temples in every city, at Corinth as much as in Rome. The universal problem of meat offered to idols was the situation already mentioned at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:29). Paul is dealing with matters of consience. As to the salvific factor: Paul had already explained this aspect in the first part of his letter. The latter part of his epistle, in these passages mentioned, is dealing with the question as to how christian freedom (Galatians 5:1) is used after being saved by grace.

          As far as health is concerned, this I think, this item has to do with the current lesson of stewardship: the responsibility of how we treat our bodies. The gnostics had no interest at all in the body, only int he soul. But the gospel is adressing body, soul and spirit alike, which has to do with the preparation for the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23: 1 Corinthians 15:44; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). The new lesson is going into deatails with these various aspecte of stewardship.


          Winfried Stolpmann

          • Obviously there are several issues here that can result in confusion. I strongly believe/agree that health is not on Paul's agenda, and any attempt to read that in does a disservice to both Paul and the health message. Taking scripture out of context to prove a point is not useful, even though the point may be correct.

            The Jerusalem council was radical. Would that God had access to the minds of some of our leaders that clearly. I believe most of those who entered that meeting entered thoroughly convinced that one had to be a Jew in order to be a Christian. But after listening both to the evidence and the Holy Spirit, they did a complete about face, which was not easy for them.

            Abstaining from meat offered to idols was one of the requirements they felt was appropriate. They also mentioned blood and strangled meat and sexual immorality. Interestingly, only the last item represents current Christian thinking of any kind, and Paul would appear to reject all but that one in Romans and other places.

            I have to conclude that food offered to idols was either a) a stumbling block the leaders recognized, or b) a less important issue they hadn't been willing to let go of at that point (we all, both individually and corporately continue to grow, and always carry a certain amount of non-God-given baggage). Paul makes it very clear that theologically and with regard to salvation it is totally a non-issue, because idols aren't real.

            Paul also calls those who disagree "weak" suggesting that they lack spiritual maturity. I tend to feel that many today who are hung up on certain details, especially details where scriptural support is only available by taking stuff out of context, would fit Paul's weak or immature category, and should not be setting policy for the denomination or for fellow church members. (They of course often consider themselves somehow more holy and look down on more mature members).

            But then Paul does an about face of his own, saying he would swear off meat entirely if it prevented the loss of one soul who Christ died for.

            All of these points are valid and must be weighed carefully by each of us as we make decisions. Where it gets really difficult is when some of the current hot-button issues, for which there is not clear scriptural evidence (music, role of women, . . .) result in man-make rules that keep people from being part of us because they see through them. Yet if we don't condescend to the "weaker brothers" among us we could cause them to lose their way. It takes great discernment to figure out which way God would have us go, when either direction will offend some segment. For me it seems that we must move towards Paul's "freedom in Christ", but cautiously, educating as we go, and being sensitive to the "weaker brothers" along the way, and leave the results to God.

            • I think, the issus of controversy between the so called strong and the so called weak consists of how the conscience is functioning after being saved by grace. Paul is classifying the conscience of some as being weak (1 Corinthians 8:7.10) designating them as being weak (1 Korinthians 8:9.11). The parallel passage in Romans 14:1 designates them as being weak in faith. Paul is classifying himself with others as being strong (dynatos) admonishing the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak (Romans 15:1). The weak are passing judgement on the strong while the strong are despising the weak (Romans 14:3-4).

              There arises the need of reconciliation and purification of conscience inasmuch as both parties are defiling their conscience by passing judgement and despising. The apostle Paul is talking in his letters of a "pure conscience" (1 Timothy 3:9; 2 Thimothy 1:3), which is the state of being purified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14; 10::22).

              Summing up, the area of conscience polluted controversy between the strong and the weak is the area of heart and conscience renewal within sanctification by the Holy Spirit following justification, both being operations of grace (Ephesians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

              Winfried Stolpmann

  6. The true church (or what we might call the “essential church”) consists of all those who have faith in the creator. Our denomination has behavior criteria for voting membership. Those are two different things.

    The question is not whether I’m “right” about that. The question is whether it is helpful. Is there any aspect of questions about behavior (diet or otherwise) that cannot be solved if we keep this distinction in mind?

    There are many members of the church (I’m talking about the real church now--not the denomination) who eat pork. Maybe some of them “know better” but that is not for me to judge. What I need to do is to encourage him along the Christian pathway--not hit him over the head with a Bible about his diet.

    On the other hand, if I know a member of our denomination is eating pork, I should talk to him first, either privately or with one other member, depending on the situation. If his pork is more important to him than his standing in the denomination, I should make another trip, this time with an elder. Depending on what transpires, the elder should decide when or whether to take the matter to the church board. But the important thing in all these procedures is to make sure that neither I nor the elder nor the board take the position that we are better than the member who is eating pork. Even if “disciplinary” action is taken, I/we should NEVER say or imply that such a person is not a member of the church. (Are you with me here? I’m still making the appropriate distinction between the church and the denominational organization.) No matter what decisions are made by the person in question or by the local church as an organization, unless the person denies the Christian faith, we should still think of him and refer to him as a brother in the Lord. Even if he discontinues attendance, he hasn’t “left the church” and it may be that his dedication to the proclamation of the gospel is as strong as it ever was--he has just chosen to proclaim other aspects of the gospel than the specific distinction between clean and unclean foods.

    • We need to get the essentials right:

      Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
      This is the first and great commandment.
      And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matt 22:37-40

      Eating pork comes way down on the list of sins.

  7. We need to be careful about this idea of a list. A sin is a sin but of course we should deal in love with those who are unaware of something. However eating pork is a matter of caring about our bodies that God has made so it is an important issue.

    • I am not proposing a ranking of sins, its a figure of speech. But we need to get a perspective on the really important issues of salvation and let the detail look after itself. The problem is that we become judgemental. That is the issue that Paul is addressing, and it is just as relevant today as it was in the 1st century church.


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