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IN MATTERS OF FAITH UNITY, IN MATTERS OF OPINION LIBERTY,
AND IN ALL THINGS LOVE

  The text is Romans 14. Here the brethren are cautioned to receive
the weaker brother but not to discuss and pass judgments on some of 
his personal opinions of no importance like whether or not to eat meat,
or whether or not to observe certain religious days above others.

  1. In order to carry this out we are going to have to establish 
ourselves clearly in what are matters of faith. It is a matter of 
faith if a thing is clearly commanded in the scriptures such as the 
necessity of baptism (Mk. 16:16). It is binding upon us to observe an
approved example which is an example backed up by a command. For 
instance the Lord told us to partake of the Lord’s Supper (Lk. 22:19).
The example of when to partake of the Lord’s Supper is on the first 
day of the week (Acts 20:7). Therefore to carry out this command we
must look to the example as to when they partook of the supper and do
it that way ourselves. Also a thing must be done if it is necessarily
inferred such as the command to not forsake the assembly (Heb. 10:25)
which implies that there must be a place of assembly. Other matters of 
importance are the autonomy of the local church, a plurality of men
in each eldership in each congregation, five items in the worship as
laid out in the New Testament, and separation from sinful practices 
to live the Christian life.

  2. With this before us we come to the realm of opinions. Whether or
not to eat meats or to have special holidays was something on which
God had not legislated . This was a great issue in the early church 
and threatened  to disrupt the congregations. So there was the need 
to receive the brother without passing on his scrupples about these 
subjects. Let him stand before God and be judged by God. In our day 
what kind of church buildings to build has become a great subject of
discussion. Also what all to use these buildings for has become another
great discussion. Some have made some bad judgments in these matters 
and some have become master critics of them but after all it is but a
material building whose primary purpose is to have a place of worship.
Now if the worship is altered from that clearly taught in the New 
Testament  we have passed out of the realm of opinion and into that of 
faith. Where this is so we must object to such unscriptural practices.
One such innovation is the mechanical instrument in the worship. God 
has told us what instruments to use in our praise service which are 
our voices and our hearts (Eph. 5:19). Anything else is violation of
the scriptural command of praising in the worship. It is a matter of
opinion of how many songs to sing in a worship service. Those who 
differ from others in this matter are not offending God as long as it
is decent and in order (I Cor. 14:40). 

  3. Here are some  guiding principles in matters of opinion.
   
     A) Receive the weaker brother into the fellowship but not to 
        dispute with him over matters of opinion. 

     B) To quit doing so much judging. “But why dost thou judge thy
        brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we
        shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” 
        (Rom. 14:10). 

     C) The only thing we must be careful to judge is “that no man put
        a sumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother’s way.”
        (Rom. 14:13). D) To walk in love for our brethren and want them
        to go to heaven (vs. 15). 

  4. The kingdom of God is greater than any opinions. “For the kingdom
of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy 
in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). The kingdom has to do with 
righteousness which is being justified  before God. We all must live
personally the Christian life and be an encouragement to others rather
than a stumbling-block. The kingdom of God is also being at peace with
God and as much as lies in us living peaceably with all men.
(Rom. 12:18). It is our reconciliation with God in the one body of 
Christ that brings us to peace with Him (Eph. 2:14-16). The kingdom of
God is a place of Joy in the Holy Spirit which comes when we let Him 
have his way in our hearts through his blessed message. Our rejoicing
is in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). We rejoice when our sins are 
forgiven (Acts 8:39); when we have fellowship with God (I John 1:7-10);
and  in the  hope of the better place when we leave this world 
(Rom. 8:24). These things are far more important than having a fuss
over meats, days, and buildings.  



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