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Pastor Brant Seacrist

December 30, 2018

"THE CHARACTER OF HIS KINGDOM"

TEXT: ROMANS 14: 13-23
READING:  PSALM 19: 1-14

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SUBJ: The Kingdom of God and its character compared and contrasted by the behaviors of men and the essence of it as being spiritual and witnessed in Christ.

AIM: That we might be those whose priority is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and thus to experience the Joy that is characteristic of it.

INTR: We are living in the Kingdom of God in that He is Lord over all and rules in all the affairs of men and His creation. The distinction among men is their perception of it.
1. While we worship a God who is in control of all things – not all are aware that He does.
2. We who know Him are joyously conscious of His reign and delight in Him and the manner of His reign.
3. Paul would show that petty differences among men are not Kingdom behaviors and to be avoided at all costs – even to giving up some things that are not immoral.

THESIS: That which was displayed in Christ our Lord defines for us the manner of the Kingdom citizenship. It is first of all spiritually experienced.

I. The Kingdom contrasted (vv. 13-15)
1. We are here given a final example in the matter of judging by appealing to a higher form of judgment – we avoid causing a brother to stumble.
2. A conclusion about foods is that nothing is unclean of itself – that is eating of foods previously considered unclean is not a moral issue.
1) There is a matter of conscience to be considered – if one thinks it to be unclean, to him it is!
2) For whatever the reason, these things are not to be raised as issues.
3. Here is raised a matter of Christian liberty – that is the ability not to do what seems permissible.
1) The issue is concern for the brother and the ability to imitate Christ who pleased not Himself.
2) If Christ died for this brother or sister, what is the least that we might do?
3) We would take care not to destroy His faith however weak it may be.

II. The Kingdom described (vv. 16-18)
1. In v. 16 we are to take care that a sound belief and witness in the Gospel not be compromised by taking an adamant position on non-moral issues.
2. I have long loved v. 17 and hope someday to plumb the depths of its meaning – it is definable, but it is the depths of experience we would seek.
3. To say that it is “righteousness, peace, and joy” is obviously not a physical description. These are those things that describe the experience of being in the Kingdom of God.
1) Some assert that this is the manner of conduct of the people of God towards each other (to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
2) Others would see it as our state before God – seeing ourselves as justified, experiencing that we are sanctified, and rejoicing in the Spirit that these things are true about us.
4. It would seem that both thoughts are correct in that the second condition will produce the first. We will reflect our relationship with God in our manner among the brethren and other people.
1) Righteousness – the state of our being before God as made righteous in Christ and by the merits of His blood.
2) At peace with God as being reconciled (God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself) and experiencing a sense of blessed accord and loving communion with Him.
3) The joy is that Spirit-wrought delight in being in the presence of God, subject to His care and loving to be under His rule and guidance.
5. Excerpted from Hendriksen: The Kingdom as expressed here is the essence of the God’s royal reign, the evidence of that blessed reign in your midst, say Paul, as it were, is not affected by what one eats… but is attested by one’s possession of the state of righteousness before God, a peace resulting from reconciliation with God. It is characterized by the experience of Joy such as Peter describes: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 1 Peter 1:8.
6. Such are they that are acceptable with God and approved of men (v. 18) and see 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:34-35.

III. The Kingdom defended (vv. 19-23)
1. In v. 19 Paul’s objective is stated – follow after the things that make for peace and edify.
2. The thought of v. 15 is revisited in v. 20 and in v. 21 we are essentially asked if there is anything as to earthly practices that could cause stumbling.
3. However strong our beliefs in these matters keep it between you and God if it seems to cause offence.
4. My thought here of defending the Kingdom is that we should act in such a manner as to preserve the sense of (righteousness, peace, and joy) in ourselves and others – to pursue grievances is to leave off the enjoyment of these things.
5. Let the final thought here guide our actions and reactions: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin! And let us rather seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!