Journal – August 16, 2020

Published September 12, 2020

Dominion Baptist Church
August 16, 2020 AD

Psalm 59:2-3

2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. 3For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD.

ROMANS 12:3-5

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 

Vs. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, In the first two verses of this chapter Paul gives an exhortation for sanctification without exception to the brethren in Rome. But now in this third verse the apostle makes a big change. Notice the way he starts, For I say, to everyone who is among you, because of the differences that exist among believers, differences which God in His sovereign providence and the distributions of His grace has caused to exist. We see these differences in the various expressions: as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith, all members do not have the same function, we being many are one body in Christ. So now, what the apostle is thinking about is the including and involving of people from a wide range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and even of different genders in respect of endowment, grace, function, office, and faith. We find now the directions pertaining to sanctification in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s will takes account of this diversity. Paul refers to himself, for I say, through the grace given to me, in thinking of the grace given to him, he could not be unmindful that this grace was common to him and all believers in their salvation. But he is thinking specifically of the grace that was bestowed on him in his apostolic commission. He properly evaluated and exercised this grace and it was in pursuing this office that he was bold to give these directions as they pertain  to the recognizing of diversity within the unity of the body of Christ and to the maintenance of the order and harmony so liable to be disrupted when the significance of this diversity is not appreciated. One of the ways in which the design contemplated by the apostle is by the sin of pride. Pride consists in coveting or exercising a privilege that does not belong to us. Notice that this responsibility to pay attention is marked by the necessity of directing this fact to all the members, to everyone who is among you. No one is immune to exaggerated self-esteem. How are we to think? Paul says to think soberly. Paul uses the Greek word phronein three times in the third verse which is translated think, it means to make a right estimate of things. The word translated soberly from the Greek sophroneo means to be sober or to think soberly, sensible. So, Paul is telling this mixed congregation in Rome to estimate themselves in such a way as to have a sensible estimate of themselves (literal translation). Paul is writing to Christians at Rome, in the church that has been planted there, each one having a measure of faith. Now we must address first things first, since each one has a right relationship with God, then secondly, they need to make a proper evaluation of themselves, and finally, have a right relationship with others. 

As God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. All of these relationships involve the mind, and of course Paul has been preparing them for these commands by saying do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,  So he immediately gets into not to think more highly of yourselves than you ought to think. There are two kinds of errors in this kind of self-evaluation. The first is to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Paul lists this first, I think it is the greater of the two dangers, because it is the one that comes to us most naturally. The reason it does is that it comes from pride—almost everyone thinks more highly of themselves than he ought, and it is our desire that others have this same exalted opinion of us. Some people have highly exalted opinions of themselves because they were born into a distinguished family having recognizable names like Kennedy, Jefferson, or Adams—former members of public office. I read of a snob living in nineteenth century England named Oscar Browning. He wanted to meet Alfred Lord Tennyson, so he sought him out on the Isle of Wight, where Tennyson was staying, marched up to him, shook him by the hand and announced, “I am Browning.” Tennyson knew only one Browning, the poet Robert Browning. He looked at Oscar Browning carefully. No, no you’re not,” he said and walked away. We know this type of pride even exists among Christians too. Some take great pride in knowing a Christian leader, or in working with him/her. I have met and dealt with those who take great pride in being a Baptist rather than being a Christian. The second kind of error is just the opposite, it is to think too lowly of ourselves, in some cases a false humility. At times this can actually be pride at work, when we tell people bad things about ourselves, we want to hear back, “No, I don’t think you are like that at all.”  “That helps”—you say, tell me more, maybe you can help me out of this. This is pride at work rather then humility, but let the person you are talking to say, “why yes you are right I guess you are stupid,” the balloon just burst! So, the measure of faith is not to be understood as that which is believed (the truth of the gospel). That faith could not be described as distributed to each believer by measure and therefote this must be the faith exercised by the believer. We need to go before our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer and meditation regularly remembering He has created us, and placed us in the position we occupy, bow to His sovereignty, seek His guidance as to what we should do and wait on the Lord to show us by His providence. In chapter twelve of Romans Paul is speaking of spiritual gifts—those that are to be exercised for spiritual ends within the fellowship and outreach of the church—let us use them: if prophecy let us prophesy (preach) in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (vs 6-8).

Vs. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, As the apostle indicates in 1 Corinthians 12:12-19)

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

This explanation that Paul gives of the human body address the different individuals that make up the church—God has placed you there and made you what you are, we don’t all do the same thing, but we are all one body. “A church is an assembly called out and met together for the purpose of worshipping its great Head the Lord Jesus Christ on Whom it is built” (John Gill). In the church there is distribution of gifts and each member possesses his own measure for which there is the corresponding faith by which and within the limits of which the gift is to be exercised.

Vs. 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. There are two considerations to be noted. First, here is expressed the concept of the church as one body in Christ. This is the only instance of this designation in Romans. The same thought appears in 1 Corinthians 10:17: For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. Although Paul does not in either passage  call believers the body of Christ, yet in 1 Corinthians 12:27  he writes Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually, and  here the thought is so similar that I don’t think we can doubt that the church as the body of Christ was considered when he wrote the other passages (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:17) although the reason did not arise for that particular form of statement. Paul’s interest is now centered upon the necessity of carrying into effect in the community of believers that which is exemplified in the human body, namely, that although there are many members, they do not all perform the same function. The controlling thought of the whole passage, diversity of gift and office exercised according to the measure of faith in the harmony of mutual esteem and recognized interdependence, determines the mode of expression. And in this case, there is no need to say more than the body is Christ. Second, believers are not only members of the one body but also of one another. This is an unusual way of expressing the corporate relationship (cf. Ephesians 4:25). It points to what is enunciated in the fact of unity, namely community of possession, the communion which believers have with one another. They have property in one another and therefore in one another’s gifts and graces.This is not the communism which destroys personal property; it is the community that recognizes the distinguishing gifts which God has distributed and so individuality is jealously maintained. But the diversity enriches each member because they have communion in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which God has dispensed according to His own will.

Catechism Question 34

Q: What is effectual calling?

A: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, revealed as the free gift of God to us, in the gospel.

2 Timothy 1:9

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began