A Sense of Balance (1)
A Sermon on Romans 14:17
17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Lopsided Christianity is an unappealing religion. Divisions and fracturing over minutia have severely harmed evangelism and the church’s witness to the world. The apostle Paul’s battle cry in Romans 14:17 is that the kingdom of God is not about minutia such as meat and drink. Following Paul’s teaching in this sermon on Romans 14:17 titled “A Sense of Balance (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones applies this point to the contemporary church. Today’s Christians are just as guilty of making the kingdom of God about minutia – subsidiary doctrines, church government, particular church leaders. It is vitally important, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, to preserve a sense of balance in all areas of the Christian life. While not advocating unity at all cost, Dr. Lloyd-Jones does challenge the contemporary church over unnecessary denominational divisions. He is not merely concerned in this message of affirming church unity, but seeks a diagnosis of church division instead. Beyond denominations, Dr. Lloyd-Jones scrutinizes the usefulness of “movements” within evangelical Christianity which isolate a particular part of the faith (i.e. evangelism) from the whole. This can equally lead Christians to lose their sense of balance. Finally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones remarks about the nature and character of theological education and the propensity of institutions to isolate the study of Scripture away from its intended context of worship. In all this, trouble arises when Christians forget what the kingdom of God is about.
- The apostle Paul introduces a new subsection in Romans 14:17-19 to provide a fresh point in his argument.
- Paul lifts the discussion from particular arguments to the overall condition of the Christian life. He provides a summary statement of the gospel and Christian life.
- The key principle Paul introduces is the importance of balance and proportion in the Christian life. Failure to maintain this balance and proportion has caused many problems in the church.
- Paul argues the kingdom of God is not about specific doctrines or practices but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Paul suggests there is an element of ridicule toward those overly focused on specific doctrines or practices. He aims to direct attention to the bigger principle of balance.
- The principle of balance and proportion applies to doctrine, church governance, and daily Christian living. Failure in this area has caused church divisions, harm to evangelism, and problems in theological education.
- Denominations should not be based on a particular leader, doctrine, or view of church governance. Movements should not be based on a particular doctrine like evangelism, holiness, or prophecy.
- Religion and Bible study should not be treated as subjects or entities in themselves. They should always point to a relationship with God.
- Theological education needs to maintain an attitude of worship and relationship with God. It should not treat theology as an abstract science. Early leaders worked to keep education practical, spiritual, and focused on God.
- The church has suffered when it has forgotten that the kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—not about specific doctrines, practices, or methods.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.