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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