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Waggoner on Romans

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    Chapter 14

    God the Only Judge

    August 20, 1896

    Since the fourteenth chapter consists wholly of practical instruction in Christian living, and has no direct dependence upon the exhortations that have preceded it, we need not now take time to review the previous chapters, but will proceed at once with the text. Let it not be forgotten that this chapter, as well as those which precede, is addressed to the church, and not to those who do not profess to serve the Lord. In the sixth verse it is plainly shown that all who are spoken of in this chapter are those who acknowledge God as their Lord. The chapter therefore tells how we should regard one another asWOR 204.1

    Servants of One Common Master

    “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things; another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Romans 14:1-12.WOR 204.2

    Questions on the Text

    Who are we not to shut away from out company?WOR 204.3

    “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye.”WOR 204.4

    But how are we not to receive him?WOR 204.5

    “Not to doubtful disputations.” Or, as indicated in the margin, and rendered in some versions, “Not to judge his thoughts.”WOR 204.6

    What illustration of differences of opinions does the apostle give?WOR 205.1

    “One believeth that he may eat all things, and other, who is weak, eateth herbs.” “One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike.”WOR 205.2

    In what state should every man be?WOR 205.3

    “Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.” R.V.WOR 205.4

    How are those who differ in opinion not to regard each other?WOR 205.5

    “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth.”WOR 205.6

    Why not?WOR 205.7

    “For God hath received him.”WOR 205.8

    What is that man doing who judges another man?WOR 205.9

    He is judging “another man’s servant.”WOR 205.10

    To whom is the servant responsible?WOR 205.11

    “To his own master he standeth or falleth.”WOR 205.12

    But will he really fall, if he is indeed a servant of God?WOR 205.13

    “He shall be holden up.”WOR 205.14

    Why?WOR 205.15

    “For God is able to make him stand.”WOR 205.16

    What is the lesson that we are to learn in all this?WOR 205.17

    “None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”WOR 205.18

    To whom do we live and die?WOR 205.19

    “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord.”WOR 205.20

    Whose, then, are we under all circumstances?WOR 205.21

    “Whose, then, are we under all circumstances?WOR 205.22

    “Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”WOR 205.23

    For what purpose did Christ die and rise again?WOR 206.1

    “That he might be Lord both of the dead and living.”WOR 206.2

    Why should we not judge or set at naught our brother?WOR 206.3

    “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”WOR 206.4

    What proof is cited for this?WOR 206.5

    “It is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”WOR 206.6

    What, then, must every one of us do?WOR 206.7

    “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”WOR 206.8

    Since God is to judge us all, what reasonable exhortation is given?WOR 206.9

    “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore.”WOR 206.10

    What should we rather judge?WOR 206.11

    “That no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”WOR 206.12

    The School of Christ. -The church of Christ is not composed of perfect men, but of those who are seeking perfection. He is the perfect One, and he sends out the invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” Matthew 11:28, 29. Having called all to come to him, he says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. As one has said, “God reaches for the hand of faith in man to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that man may attain to perfection of character.” The faith may be very weak, but God does not reject him on that account. Paul thanked God that the faith of the Thessalonian brethren grew exceedingly (2 Thessalonians 1:3), which shows that they did not have perfect faith at the first. It is true that God is so good that every person ought to trust him fully; but just because he is so good, he is very patient and forbearing with those who are not well acquainted with him, and he does not turn away from them because they are doubtful. It is this very goodness and forbearance of God that develops perfect faith.WOR 206.13

    The Pupils Not Masters. -It is not for the pupils to say who shall attend school. It is true that in this world there are schools that are exclusive, in which only a certain set of pupils are allowed. If one inferior in wealth and standing in society should seek to enter, there would be at once an uproar. The students themselves would make so strong a protest against the entrance of the newcomer, that the masters would feel obliged not to receive him. But such schools are not the schools of Christ. “There is no respect of persons with God.” He invites the poor and needy, and the weak. It is he, and not the pupils, that decides who shall be admitted. He says, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” and he asks all who hear to extend the invitation. The only qualification necessary for entering the school of Christ is willingness to learn of him. If any man is willing to do his will, God will receive him and teach him. John 7:17. Whoever sets up any other standard, sets himself above God. No man has any right to reject one whom God receives.WOR 206.14

    Master and Servant. -Christ said to his disciples: “Be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master; and all ye are brethren.” “Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ.” Matthew 23:8, 10. It is the master who sets the task for each pupil or servant. It is to the master that the servant looks for his reward. Therefore it is the master alone who has the right to give orders, and to pronounce judgment if there is failure. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” If you have not the power to reward his success, you have not the right to judge his failures.WOR 207.1

    “God Is the Judge.” -“He putteth down one, and setteth up another.” Psalm 75:7. “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:22. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; who art thou that judgest another?” James 4:12. The power to save and to destroy determines the right to judge. To condemn when one has not the power to carry the judgment into effect, is but a farce. Such an one makes himself ridiculous, to say the least.WOR 207.2

    The Spirit of the Papacy. -The apostle Paul describes the apostasy as the revelation of “that man of sin,” “the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” or, “setting himself forth as God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. In Daniel 7:25 the same power is described as speaking great words against the Most High, and thinking to change times and laws. To set one’s self up against or above the law of God, is the strongest possible opposition to God, and the most presumptuous usurpation of his power. The end of the power that thus exalts itself is this: to be consumed by the Spirit of Christ, and destroyed by the brightness of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Now read in James 4:11: “He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.’ That tells us that whoever speaks evil of his brother, or judges or sets at naught his brother, is speaking against the law of God, and sitting in judgment upon it. In other words, he is putting himself in the place and doing the work of “that man of sin.” What else can result, but that he receive the reward of the man of sin? Surely there is enough in this thought to give us all pause.WOR 207.3

    All Subjects of Judgment. -“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” In this statement there is no exception, for it is written, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” This being the case, it is the strongest reason why we should not judge and condemn one another. Verse 10 gives the fact that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ as the reason why we should not judge nor despise a brother. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Notice this, that each one is to give account of himself, and not of somebody else, to God. In standing before the judgment seat of Christ, we are giving account to God, because Christ is the representative of Divinity in the judgment, as well as in all things. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” John 5:22, 23.WOR 207.4

    The Time of Judgment. -One reason why we should not judge, is that God is the judge. Another is, that “he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom he hath ordained.” Acts 17:31. The Father himself judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son. But even the Son does not sit in judgment now; for he says, “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47. Therefore, he who presumes to sit in judgment now, not only usurps the place of God, but gets ahead of him. There will be a time when judgment will be committed to the saints of the Most High, but it will be only when the saints possess the kingdom. Daniel 7:22. And those to whom judgment is committed will all be saints. 1 Corinthians 6:2. None are to judge, except those who are without sin. The man who judges, therefore, declares himself to be without sin. But God is the only one whose testimony in this respect is of any worth; “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” 2 Corinthians 10:18. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.” 1 Corinthians 4:5.WOR 208.1

    The Word of Judgment. -But altho even Christ does not yet judge, he speaks the word by which men are to be judged, and that is the word of God. He says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” John 12:48, 49. Altho Christ did not condemn anybody while he was on earth, the word that he spoke often caused those who heard it to be convicted in their own hearts, and self-condemned. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:17-19.WOR 208.2

    Truth and Condemnation. -From the words of Christ, which we have quoted in the paragraph, we clearly see that there is a difference between condemning men and speaking the truth. Christ was not sent into the world to condemn the world; but he was sent into the world to bear witness to the truth. John 18:37. He did not condemn anybody, yet he declared the truth. So his followers are not to condemn anybody; yet none are his followers except those who speak the truth. If any are not doing the truth, the word of truth will enlighten them as to their acts. If they then persist in error, the word of truth testifies against them. But the one who speaks that word utters no condemnation.WOR 208.3

    Knowledge of Right and Wrong. -In this manner it by no means follows that a person in order not to condemn, must not explain the knowledge of right and wrong, which God has given him. If he did not, he could not be a witness for the truth. Neither could he do the truth. God’s word is truth (John 17:17); therefore the followers of Christ must both by words and actions speak the word of God. That word points out the difference between truth and error. It tells what things ought to be done, and what should not be done. By that word one may, and ought to declare of certain things, “They are sinful.” But in so saying, he utters no decision concerning any person. In short, the word of God condemns some now and always, but it does not at all condemn sinners, until the last day. Certainly all can see this clear distinction, and not know what they should do and what they should not do, in order to be in harmony with God’s word.WOR 209.1

    The Law and the Testimony. -“To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. That is the testimony which we are always to give, let be according to the law of God. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” 1 Peter 4:11. Therefore, while we are not at liberty to condemn, we are at the same time not at liberty to disregard the word of God. We are by no means to assume that it makes no difference what we do, nor are we to give other people the idea that it is of no importance whether they keep the law of God or not. That form of charity which consists in giving away the word of God, or rather, in throwing it away, so as not to say anything contrary to anybody’s ideas of prejudices, is a form of charity that finds no warrant in the Bible.WOR 209.2

    Personal Questions. -Sometimes a person will ask concerning some duty pointed out by the law of God, “Ought I to do that?” The one questioned can only reply, “You ought to obey the Lord, now when you know what the Lord says, why do you ask me if you shall obey? I can not absolve you from obeying God, and if you do obey him, you ought to do it because he says so, and not because a man tells you to.” Again, a man sometimes asks, “Do you think that I shall be condemned if I do not keep the Sabbath?” We can only say, “I am not the judge. I have nothing to do with condemnation. You know what the Lord commands, decide for yourself whether or not you can reject his word and be justified.” The word of God is the sole guide, the sole standard of authority. Men must be brought face to face with it, and then left there alone with it.WOR 209.3

    The Law Not Disparaged. -There are many people who seem to be quite familiar with the words of the first part of the fourteenth of Romans, who evidently very seldom read any other part of the epistle. That is, they know that the apostle Paul wrote, “One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” But they are so unfamiliar with the rest of the epistle that they suppose that this statement does away with the law of the Sabbath. What evidence have we that these words do not in the least degree intimate that the law of God, which includes the fourth commandment, is a matter of indifference? Note the following points, and you will readily see. First, the apostle says in this same chapter that “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Second, he says also in the first part of the epistle, that “as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law,” “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” Romans 2:12, 16. When the apostle says that we are all to stand at the judgment seat of Christ, and that the law of God is to be the standard of that judgment, it is very evident that he never intends to be understood as saying that it is a matter of no importance whether or not we keep that law.WOR 209.4

    The Law and the Sabbath. -The fourth commandment of the law by which all men are to be judged, reads thus: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work; ... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11. Of this law Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18. The Sabbath therefore stands in the law just the same as when it was spoken from Sinai; and the law in which it stands is the law by which men are to be judged at the last day. Therefore it can not be a matter of indifference whether the Sabbath is kept or not; and it must be that the Sabbath, with the rest of the law, is to be proclaimed to all men, in order that they may be prepared for the judgment. This being the case, we very well know that in the fourteenth chapter of Romans the apostle Paul does not convey the least shadow of an idea that the keeping of the Sabbath is a matter of indifference.WOR 210.1

    “Every Day.” -Some one will of course interpose that the apostle says “every day,” and that therefore he must necessarily include the Sabbath among things indifferent. Not so fast. In the sixteenth of Exodus we read that the people were told that they were to go out and gather a certain portion of manna “every day;” and yet in the same chapter we are told that they should find none at all on the seventh day. We are not to try to catch the Lord in his own words. When he says that a certain work is to be done every day, we are to know that he excepts, as a matter of course, those days on which he himself has said that work may not be done. When a man says that his children go to school every day, he means of course that they go very school day, and not that they go when there is no school. So when the apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of God, seems to imply that there are certain days which may be regarded or not, as one may choose, we must know that he does not by any means design to convey the idea that the holy Sabbath of the Lord, which was commanded to all men by his own voice, is among those indifferent days.WOR 210.2

    “Fully Persuaded.” -“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” So far as this statement is concerned, it makes no difference if it is applied to the Sabbath of the Lord. God desires willing, intelligent service. The man who professes to keep the Sabbath of the Lord, and yet is not sure that it is the Sabbath, is not keeping it at all. The law of God is not to be regarded simply as a thing to dodge behind in order to escape the wrath of God. The man who is not sure about the law, but who thinks that he will keep it so as to be on the safe side in the judgment, if it should chance to be the standard in that judgment, is not serving the Lord, but himself. Let a man be fully persuaded in his own mind that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good,” and then let him keep it unto the Lord. If he does not keep it because he knows it to be right, his apparent service is but mockery and sin. WOR 210.3

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