tolerance
Scheduled for study August 12-18, 2019. These chapters strike a personal chord for us. Paul is teaching the Romans that none of us have mastered the gospel principles yet. And as such, we need to be accommodating, loving, forgiving, kind, and show tolerance to others who also haven’t mastered the gospel yet. We are all works in process.

Day 1

Romans 7-8 – If I follow the Spirit, I can overcome sin and prepare for an inheritance with God.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Pay attention to the inspiration you receive as you study.

I have often felt a tinge of sorrow when hearing about the renewal the new convert gets to experience at their baptism. As an eight year old child I can’t say that I had that experience. Somehow I have always felt a little cheated that I haven’t been able to experience that sense of cleansing so many newly baptized members relate having experienced. As I sat pondering these two chapter and these old feelings, I had a new thought. Even newly baptized members will be in the same boat I am in 20 or 30 years after their baptism. None but the newly baptized can currently claim they have felt that renewing power of the Spirit except those who have sought for that experience over and over again through the years.

Spiritual renewal and forgiveness of sin is what is supposed to be happening to us every week when we partake of the sacrament. It was never meant to be a one shot deal at baptism. The Lord wants us to live in a state of constant renewal. I suppose that is why we are commanded to repeatedly participate in the ordinance of renewal, the sacrament.

Our personal war

Romans 7 teaches an odd, but vital point of doctrine that most of us don’t usually think about. Over and over again Paul teaches that without the law there is no punishment. In chapter seven he is referring back to this concept. He tells us that without the law of Moses he would have had no sin, because it is the law of Moses that taught him what sin was, and what the Lord expected of him. Only when we have been taught the laws of God can we be held accountable by those laws. So his comment is correct in Romans 7:9–11.

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

In verse 9 he says correctly that he was alive before he was taught the commandments of God. He was alive because he was not held accountable for all the requirements of the law of Moses. But once he had been taught the laws of God Moses delivered to the people, now he was capable of sinning, and by doing so brought spiritual separation from God upon himself through his own disobedience. So the law that was given to save him also condemned him because of his sins. In this way “sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”

This concept is his introduction to the idea that there is a war going on within each of us between our spiritual selves, that spirit part of us that comes from the presence of God, and our carnal selves, our bodies which are laden with lusts that are natural to the flesh our spirit inhabits. It is this conflict of desires between spirit and body that he refers to as his warring members (Romans 7:23).

Paul expresses a universal truth in the following verses. Note that I have changed the order of the verses. I think it demonstrates more clearly this conflict between our inward desires to be obedient to God and our desires of the flesh to disobey God. I have also added the word [do] in a couple of places in verse 19 to make it easier to understand for our way of speaking.

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

19 For the good that I would [do] I do not: but the evil which I would not [do], that I do.

24 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Winning the war

In Romans 8 Paul tells us a number of important doctrinal things. He starts by pointing out that the law of Moses could not bring everlasting life. The law was too weak to accomplish exaltation, since it was only a preparatory law. Salvation (exaltation) is only available through the law of the Gospel Christ brought. In Romans 8:1–4 he teaches that when we follow the Spirit and live the law Christ gave us there is no condemnation under the laws of God. In other words we can be forgiven of our sins (verse 1). There is life in the law Christ gave us which frees us from spiritual death (verse 2). Verses 3 and 4 tell us that the law of Moses was not capable of saving us from spiritual death, but the law of Christ can. Those who follow the Spirit, because of Christ’s atonement, can live without condemnation. He doesn’t use those exact words, but that is what it is teaching.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Paul’s point is that there is spiritual power in the law Christ brought that didn’t exist in the law of Moses. Salvation/exaltation is possible through the law of the Gospel of Christ. His next main point is that those who live by the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) become the adopted children – he calls them sons – of God. He also points out that children who are recognized by their father are also able to receive an inheritance from their father. Our promise is that if we live by the Spirit we will be forgiven of our sins, and by so doing will become joint-heirs with Christ. But to receive the same inheritance Christ receives we will have to be willing to “suffer with him,” so “we may be also glorified together.”

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

This is one of those doctrines, that even though it is plainly taught by the Apostle Paul, is not taught anywhere in Christendom in the same way we understand it. The reason is that we are the only ones who understand that the purpose of this life is to prepare us, as the children of God, to return home to our Father and share in the glory He has prepared for all those who follow His Son, Jesus the Christ. This is what we refer to as exaltation, a concept that is foreign to all other Christians.

Day 2

Romans 8:17–39 – The eternal glory that awaits the faithful far outweighs the trials of mortality.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Pay attention to the inspiration you receive as you study.

Today’s lesson material brings up an interesting question: What is Christ’s inheritance? The New Testament only hints at what he will receive as his inheritance. For example, Hebrews 1 tells us that Christ made all things, but all those things will perish as a garment and be changed. It says that Christ will have an eternal throne, but doesn’t specify of what. It also tells us that Christ is higher than the angels, but in what way is not clear, other than that the angels were told to worship the Son.

What then does that mean for us when we are called joint-heirs with Christ? Some Christians believe part of our inheritance is the grace Christ offers us. Others believe our inheritance will be to become joint administrators with Christ in running the affairs of heaven after we receive our perfected spirit bodies at the time of our resurrection. (That’s right, they believe our resurrection will be to receive a perfected spirit body only.)

The exaltation we are taught about by the latter-day prophets is only taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That we can become gods with Christ, have an eternal companion, and an eternal increase of posterity are all latter-day teachings. These things are not taught in the New Testament, and are therefore not in almost any form among the Christian churches of the world.

What was Christ’s hope?

The title of this section is a thought that is new to me. I had never before considered what Christ’s reward was for all that he did for God’s children. When we think about the eternities and our life after death, our thoughts center around our spouse and our posterity. In this sense I believe our thinking is very limited and small in its scope. I don’t think we have any real concept of what an “eternal weight of glory” even means.

Paul teaches us in Romans that hope is only hope if what you hope for is not seen or readily apparent. If you can see your prize then why would you still hope for it? The whole point of hope is that you continue to believe in something that is not yet realized, but highly desired. What was Christ’s hope centered in? Our hopes tend to be very self-centered – our spouse, our children, our joy. But what does Christ talk about when he talks about what his Father has in store for him? If you look at the comments Jesus makes throughout the scriptures you find that he frequently refers to those his Father has given him, and how none of them will be lost.

I believe, and this is my personal opinion, that Jesus’s hope was in having all those he loved so much around him in the eternities. We are talking about the company of countless numbers of his brothers and sisters who will, because of his sacrifices for us all be able to be exalted and be with him in the eternities. We might think of perhaps a few million people who live faithfully in the last dispensation, but he would be looking at all the planets who house God’s children, and all the dispensations of time from the beginning down to the final judgment. It could easily mean billions of brothers and sisters he loves perfectly. And he would have made the same sacrifices for any one individual, not just for all.

Christ understands the full scope and breadth of what faithful and sincere obedience to the laws of God brings. It brings godhood, glory beyond imagining of the human mind, joy for all eternity, and the association with those we love forever and ever. It means being able to raise our own children to create worlds of their own and their children after them. The scope and grandeur of the glory our Father plans on bestowing on us is more than we can imagine.

I believe this is why Sister Reeve’s quote is so relevant to this question.

“I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, ‘Was that all that was required?'”

It is in this kind of reward that we need to put our hope. I honestly don’t believe we could imagine a reward greater and more glorious than that which our Father already has planned for us. I don’t think we have the physical capacity to do so. When life is hard and trials abound, it is in this hope of an everlasting weight of glory that we can hope for. We can stand almost anything for a short period of time, and this life is about as short in the eternities as any period of “time” comes. If we keep our focus on the rewards of our faithful obedience we will soon find that our reward will far outstrip anything required of us to gain that reward.

Day 3

Romans 8:29–30; 9-11 – What did Paul mean by “predestinate,” “election,” and “foreknow”?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Pay attention to the inspiration you receive as you study.

It is true that Paul’s record uses words we don’t normally use today, but we do recognize and use the concepts he talks about. We know that those who were blessed to be born either into the house of Israel or who are blessed to find the house of Israel in mortality are given the opportunities provided to God’s covenant children because of their standing before the Lord in our pre-earth life. Those who become prophets were foreordained to those callings because they were chosen and set apart to be leaders at key points and times in history. All of this is based on God’s love for and knowledge of each of His children and the choices He knows we will make in mortality. Such blessings are not given randomly, but based on God’s wisdom and foreknowledge.

We may question that foreknowledge when it comes to ourselves, but we need to remember that it was that same foreknowledge that chose Jesus to be the Christ in the Councils of heaven. Our Father knew that Jesus would honor every promise he made and would obey every commandment He gave him. He knows us just as well as He knows the personality and mind of Christ. Our time and placing on earth was done according to our Father’s wisdom.

We don’t believe in the sectarian belief of predestination, but we do believe that God knows us well enough to be able to base events in mortality on His knowledge of what we will do in a given situation. Just because He knows how we will respond doesn’t mean we lose our agency to choose. Our Father never interferes with our agency. As an example, when my oldest daughter was young she was jumping on the neighbor’s trampoline across the street. Suddenly I just knew that if she didn’t stop what she was doing she was going to injure herself. As I moved toward the door to call out to her she jumped into the air and rotated a little too much and came down face first onto the springs of the trampoline. She bit through her tongue. My foreknowledge was only seconds into the future, but God knows the end from the beginning. My knowledge of my daughter’s injury did not in any way affect her agency. And just so, the Lord is careful never to interfere with our agency.

Day 4

Romans 12-16 – Paul invites me to become a true Saint and follower of Jesus Christ.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Pay attention to the inspiration you receive as you study.

The question that needs to be answered here is “What does it mean to be a true Saint?” Rather than give you just my opinion on the matter, I present, instead, the chapter headings. These will make great springboards for conversation or contemplation about how our individual behavior and attitudes measure up to the standard of what it means to be a true Saint. There is enough material in these headings alone to keep you busy for several hours. 🙂

CHAPTER 12 – Paul counsels the Saints to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, to use their own grace-given gifts, and to live as Saints should live.

CHAPTER 13 – Paul counsels, Be subject unto God’s ministers; keep the commandments; love one another; righteousness leads to salvation.

CHAPTER 14 – Avoid quarreling about opinions and making unrighteous judgment of each other—Every knee will bow to Christ—The kingdom of God embraces righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

CHAPTER 15 – True Saints fellowship one another—Paul recounts his diligence in preaching the gospel—The gifts of the Spirit are poured out upon the Gentiles.

CHAPTER 16 – Paul sends greetings to various Saints—He counsels the Saints to avoid those who cause divisions—The Saints should be wise concerning good and innocent concerning evil.

Day 5

Romans 12 – What does it mean to make ourselves “a living sacrifice” …?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Pay attention to the inspiration you receive as you study.

The words from which sacrifice is derived mean “to make holy.” To sacrifice, by definition means to give up something. It can be given up for a higher purpose, as an offering in worship, or to relinquish control or ownership of something to demonstrate love or devotion. These are just some of the ways we can use the term “to sacrifice.” What does that have to do with Paul’s injunction for us to become living sacrifices?

In the law of Moses the worshiper took an animal and presented the animal to the priest who slew or sacrificed the animal on the altar. The animal was just a symbol or representation of the human who brought it to be offered. The offerings, the lives of those animals, represented the humility of the offerer. They could also represent a desire to repent or be offered in an effort to purify themselves from the stains of sin. Some of the animals represented Christ and his sacrifice for us. The lamb or goat offered at Passover was just such an offering.

Some of these offerings, like the burnt offering, represented complete and total submission to God. Nothing is withheld. All of it is consumed in the flames, flesh, skin, and bones. But what does that have to do with us? How are these like the Savior’s sacrifice of himself for us?

The comment about being a living sacrifice is in the first verse of this chapter. To see what Paul is telling us we need to do in order to make ourselves a living sacrifice, read the rest of the chapter. Everything he describes for the rest of the chapter are specific sacrifices of the natural or carnal man we can make to God to show our desire to worship Him. All of these verses require that we give away our control, our tempers, our vanity, our pride, our cravings for recognition or power. Each verse is another way in which we can become more Christlike in our attitudes and behaviors.

As you read each verse in this chapter think about two things. First, think about what you need to let go of or give up in the natural man in order to do what he is recommending. Next, think about the Christlike attribute or personality trait we will begin to develop as we let go of or give away those parts of our personality that hold us back from becoming the holy people we aspire to be.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Romans 14:13–21 – Paul’s counsel on arguing

This section of scripture may take some reading again, and again. Paul is talking about those in the gospel who are weak in their beliefs. Lest you get the wrong idea, I should probably explain. Sometimes people develop what are known as hobby horses. Another way of referring to them is to say that they become possessed by a single doctrine and can’t get past that one doctrine. Have you ever been in a class and have a person who sees everything being discussed through the lens of family history? This person can’t seem to talk about any other subject. No matter what other topic is slated for teaching, this person someone connects it to family history and won’t let anyone stray from that one topic. Ask them to talk in sacrament meeting on literally any topic and it will become a talk on family history. Family history is their hobby horse. It is a one note melody, because they don’t know how to include any other notes from the beautiful range of gospel tunes.

A person’s hobby horse may be focused on the Word of Wisdom or the law of tithing, plural marriage, or self-reliance. They may be a die-hard doomsday prepper, frantically preparing for that impending and unavoidable zombie apocalypse. What their hobby horse is isn’t the problem. The problem is our tendency to argue with them or condemn them for their weakness in the gospel, their inability to see past this one topic they are fixated on. To a person whose hobby horse is the Word of Wisdom, snarky comments from people about how much they love a good steak can be like rubbing salt into an open wound. They may be advocating for being pure vegans, and talking about steaks is fighting words.

Paul is trying, in this passage, to teach us that the gospel is about love, tolerance, and acceptance. If we offend our fellow Saint by insisting on arguing with them over something that amounts to their inability to see that what they have focused on is only a tiny part of the gospel, then we are creating a stumbling block for them. They cannot progress as long as they can only see the stumbling block we have thrown at their feet by our insistence that they are wrong in their opinions. And this really does boil down to a war of opinions.

The Apostle Paul makes an interesting point in the last verse that whatever doesn’t promote faith is sin. Our problem is that we want to take over for the Lord and become judge and jury about what others believe. If we believe they are mistaken we labor to show them their mistakes. And that is fine in and of itself. But when we attempt to show them that there is more to the gospel than their limited view, and they reject our expanded version of the gospel, for whatever reason, for us to continue to try to knock them down doctrinally is truly kicking a dead horse. We are damaging the faith they already have. We need to learn to leave well enough alone.

Each of us progresses just as quickly as we are ready for more light and understanding. The Apostle is asking that we learn to let people learn from the Spirit, and not become offensive to them by trying to force them to believe things they are not yet ready to believe. How right you think you are is not the issue. The issue is how ready are they for more. We need to love them and be kind, forgiving, and tolerant. The Spirit will teach them just as soon as they are ready to be taught. This is what I believe Paul is trying to teach in this chapter.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 33