By Jimmy Tuten
A. The book of Romans is the most profound of all N.T. books. It is viewed as a “masterpiece” among the inspired writings of Paul.
B. Romans 12 is called “The Little Bible” because of its coverage of life in conformity to the doctrine of Christ. The word “therefore” connects the doctrinal section of Romans 1:18-11:36 to the practical application of chapters 12:1-15:13. What has been said is this:
1. The world needed salvation (1:18-3:23).
2. Salvation is through justification in Christ Jesus (3:21-5:21).
3. The obedient believer (6:17) is now sanctified and set apart from sin by the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:1-11:36). This is what is meant by “the mercies of God” (12:1).
C. Since the mind of the Apostle sweeps infinities, but always comes to an ending with ethical demands, it is no small wonder that the vast mercies of God are summarized by: “for of him and through him and unto him are all things” (11:36) as a foundation for a devoted, dedicated life in Christ.
1 . On this foundation the inspired writer builds a description of the kind of life that will be wellpleasing to the heavenly Father.
2. Note the words “I beseech you ” (Gr. parakaleo, implore, urge, beg you) and the fact that they are not written to the lost, but to the saved, to “brethren.”
3. There are certain things that the brethren are strongly urged to do.
4. What brethren are urged to do involves things that constitute the counter culture of God in whatever the society is in which we live.
I. N.T. Christianity has changed over the past few decades.
A. Brethren have let things slip and have not given due attention to matters that cause us to drift away from the kind of life that the Lord expects of us (Heb. 2:1).
B. Beginning about 1840 the church was growing and denominational people were challenging it on every hand. Debates and discussions were numerous. As we move into the last part of this century we see the church generally as an accepted part of a “Christian Society.”
1. When the whole society (including the church) is thought of as “Christian,” the church loses its sense of conviction and identity.
2. In a very disturbing way we have become assimilated to the rest of society to the point that many (by “many” I mean our brethren) do not see the N. T. church as it should be, i.e. ~ an alternate type of society.
3. Until individuals who make up the body of Christ recognize the counter culture of God described in Romans 12 we will continue to conform to the world and the church will lose its identity.
C. When Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship before his execution in 1944, he wrote a moving criticism of the Christianity he saw in Germany.
1. He saw churches that for the most part had given lip service to “Christianity,” that had yielded to the prevailing winds of society, where no one wished to pay the price of discipleship. The climate was a culture where the church seemed to demand nothing. He described the problem as a belief in “cheap grace.”
2. He went on to point out that in N.T. times things were different in that Christians knew that they were the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14) and they did not blend in with the world.
D. Our brethren must never lose sight of who we are, of the need to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8) and of the demand to “be without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15).
1. Like first century Christians we must pay the cost of discipleship and be willing to become displaced persons in the cities in which we live (“strangers in the world,” 1 Pet. 1:1).
2. We must, in a world of:
a. Disrespect for marriage and family, various kinds of promiscuity, exposure to unwanted babies, unethical concerns for truth and righteousness, lying and cheating, disrespect for parents, etc. dare to be different! Romans 12 demands this of us.
b. Critical moral issues should cause us to take Christian living seriously, desire to be strangers in our own land and realize that we march to the sound of a different drummer, Jehovah himself (Rom. 12:1-2).
II. Three distinct marks of God’s counter culture.
A. The church (God’s people) considers its relationship to Christ in the body a solemn responsibility.
1. They know they must “walk humbly with God” (Mic. 6:8).
2. They know they must “walk by this rule” (Gal. 6:16).
3. They know they must “walk in the light” (1 Jn. 1:5-10).
4. They must not encourage error (2 Jn. 9-10).
5. They know they must “press on” (Phil. 3:12-16).
B. The church must keep its identity (God’s counter culture) as a moral society:
1. Her members know that they do not derive their standard from the world (Gal. 5:16-26, they walk after the Spirit).
2. They keep themselves separated (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
3. They do not love the world (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
C. The church, as afamily, must sincerely care for one another (Rom. 12:9-10; Jas. 2:1; 3:13-18).
Illustration: A book Outward Bound (by Verner Eller) suggests two kinds of churches: (1) Commissary – where membership means only a card carrier, someone who has been certified to enjoy the privileges offered by the institution. (2) Caravan where membership is seen in an anatomical sense: a limb, appendage, or an organ as an integral, functional and functioning constituent without which the body cannot be the body it was intended to be (Rom. 12:4-8).
1 . 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 1:13-15.
2. God’s counter culture (the church) is competing in its influence over the world, knowing all the while that experience teaches that corrupting influences are more apt to prevail than redemptive influence of good (disease is more contagious than health).
3. Nothing is hidden from God; he knows all and judges us (Heb. 4:13).
4. “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2, repent and be baptized).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 17, pp. 524-525
September 6, 1990