“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (15:7). We were accepted by Christ ‘just as we were’ – i.e. warts and all! We therefore have no right to reject other believers at all – assuming that they are believers. This is perhaps the key verse of the chapter. Christ accepted us when we were God’s enemies (Romans 5:10) and when we had nothing to attract him to us. It is called ‘unconditional love’ and it is the same love that we are asked to show to other believers. We are required to ‘please others’, rather than ‘pleasing ourselves’, including helping them with their own failures and shortcomings. ‘Putting up with things’ is a Christian calling (also known as ‘endurance’) and we receive teaching and encouragement on this from the scriptures (v4) and from God himself within us (v13).
Pastoral care is much more than just a church leader’s job – it is for all of us: “…you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (v14). We should not shirk the responsibility to challenge, to instruct, and even to rebuke one another – if done entirely from a loving spirit – and to work for one another’s perfection.
Paul’s calling was in the manner of a ‘priest’, to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles in order that they might become an ‘offering acceptable to God’ – like any priest, he sought out an offering that would please his Lord and Master. His presentation of the gospel was built upon signs and wonders from God’s Spirit and, consequently, Paul was amazingly successful in leading the Gentiles to become obedient disciples of God.
Paul then changes tack in Romans 15 and explains that he will soon come to visit the Church in Rome for the first time and intends to use Rome as his base to evangelise all Western Europe too. He asks the believers to pray for his success and, in that vital way, to join him in his struggle for the gospel. Sometimes we ourselves are called to ‘go’, but sometimes we are called to stay and to pray (and perhaps also to pay – to give financially). Even if we ‘stay’, then we still have a missionary calling in our own neighbourhoods!
May the God of Peace be with you!
1 CHRONICLES 11 and 12
When you read two accounts of an event by two different authors, it adds interest and depth to that event. It is rather like looking at the same object through your right eye and then your left one. Binocular vision gives an extra dimension to the way we see the world, and, in the same way, multiple biblical accounts give new dimensions to the Word. Of course, in the New Testament, we have four gospels doing the same kind of thing to the account of Jesus’ life and ministry.
David becoming king over all Israel (having already been made king for over 7 years by his own tribe in Judah) is a case in point. 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11 were written before and after the return from exile and have different emphases. Chronicles keeps using the phrase “all Israel”, to underline the importance of national unity and spiritual purity across all the returning exiles. The difference between David’s reign over just Judah in Hebron and his later reign over all Israel is deliberately ‘glossed over’. The key events become the accession of David to the throne of Israel and the capturing of the Holy City, Jerusalem. Three reasons are given for the Northern tribes receiving David as king: (1) He is a biological relative of theirs; (2) He is already their national hero who led Israel’s armies; (3) The Lord has promised David that he will be the king. So David made a covenant with them all which lasted throughout his and Solomon’s reigns, but which was then not renewed with Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who demanded terms that were far too harsh (1 Kings 12:1-16).
Jerusalem was occupied by the Jebusites and was situated on the border between Judah and Benjamin, but controlled by neither tribe. It had not been captured during Joshua’s time (see Joshua 15:63) and had only been fleetingly captured and occupied during the time of the Judges (see Judges 1:8, 21). The Jebusites were a Canaanite people who had lived there for a very long time. They called it ‘Jebus’. The fortress of ‘Zion’ was the name given to the steep-sided southernmost hill that was the easiest to defend and which had its own water supply from the spring of Gihon. David’s army probably knew of an underground entrance that followed the route of that water supply. Joab, one of David’s nephews, was the commander who led the attack and who captured the city, so he became David’s permanent commander-in-chief of the army from then on.
David was surrounded by bands of great warriors who were awesome in battle and brave of spirit. Most importantly, they were completely submitted to the king. It is no good having powerful spiritual gifts in the church today if you are unsubmitted to the Lord and to his appointed leaders! These bands were variously named ‘The Three’, ‘The Thirty’, and ‘The Three Hundred’, and they did great exploits – in God’s power – against seemingly impossible odds. Notice that Uriah the Hittite is included amongst their number; his name will appear later in a far less acceptable event in David’s life!
In Chronicles 12 is a list of those men from all the tribes who had supported David much earlier in his struggles when he was still fleeing from Saul. The majority had come from the very North of Israel and from the Transjordan tribes and included many brave and powerful fighters. As we can see in verse 18, they were gathered by the Spirit of God and were fully submitted to David, which gave him immense power and authority. All were volunteers and all risked their lives for the sake of the promises of the Lord. Where are the mighty men and women of the Lord today? Are we prepared to be the new heroes of the twenty-first century church? The heroes of old are now our spectators (Hebrews 12:1)! There are large ‘gaps’ in the ranks to be filled; who amongst us is willing to fill them?