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Sermon #3358

God Has Received Him

A Sermon on Romans 14:1-4


Romans 14:1-4 ESV KJV
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass …

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Sermon Description

What really is legalism? In this sermon on Romans 14:1–4 titled “God Has Received Him,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles this important subject by asking what it is, how it can be fought, and the consequences that it carries within the church. Legalism is what happens when people take principles in Scripture, interpret them wrongly, and make them absolute rules that everyone is required to follow. Legalists tend to make indifferent things central. Mainly it means that issues not core to Christianity are elevated to make-or-break issues that are used as standards for measuring the depth of someone’s relationship with Christ. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds, what matters is that people have been received by God— it is not up to others to determine this. People frequently set up their own standards for determining if people are Christians, but from where do they derive their authority? Dr. Lloyd-Jones also addresses if Paul was contradicting his stance against legalism when he said that he acts certain ways around certain people. Ultimately, this was to keep them from stumbling and as Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds, Paul did not see these issues as central doctrines of Christianity. He closes with a charge— Christians are not to reject someone whom God has received, and ultimately, only God can make the call on whether or not this is the case. They are to trust Him with this and simply be obedient.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is dealing with the question of how Christians with different views on indifferent matters should get along.
  2. Paul uses the example of eating meat vs only eating herbs. Some Christians believe they can eat anything while others only eat herbs due to a weak conscience.
  3. There is a danger of the stronger Christian despising the weaker Christian and the weaker Christian judging the stronger Christian.
  4. Paul says "God hath received him" - meaning God has accepted both the stronger and weaker Christian. Who are we to judge another man's servant?
  5. This issue of indifferent matters causing division is not just a first century problem but continues today. Examples include temperance movements and rules imposed on new converts.
  6. We must be careful not to go beyond scripture and make up our own rules and regulations. An example is given of a godly man who used to tie his shoes on Saturday night to avoid doing any work on Sunday. He later realized this was legalism.
  7. We must examine ourselves in light of scripture. While discipline is important, the emphasis should be on inviting people in and rejoicing in their coming. Things should be done in love and charity.
  8. Paul seems to contradict himself, condemning certain practices in some letters but not in others. However, he is operating on the same principle: accommodate the weak but don't let them become dictators. Avoid offense but don't forsake principles.
  9. An example is given of a Norwegian chaplain who was allowed to take communion with Anglicans by accident, showing the ridiculousness of man-made regulations.
  10. How do we know God has received someone? By their profession of faith in Christ, desire to join a church, and general conduct. We can be misled but should not exclude someone without cause.
  11. Other signs are the Holy Spirit falling upon them and the fruits of the Spirit being evident in their lives.
  12. We must be careful not to refuse those God has received due to our own traditions and regulations. This is urgently important for evangelical unity.
  13. There are absolutes we must stand on but indifferent matters should not be central. We should not divide over man-made regulations, especially in declaring Christ's death.
  14. We should examine ourselves and pray for grace, understanding, love, compassion and concern for one another.

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.