Sunday, June 5, 2016

3 Standards, 2 Problems, 4 Responsibilities

Read Romans 14.

A believer in Jesus lives by three standards.
Scripture-The written word of God.  
This standard does not change with time or culture or people group throughout the world.  "Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens." (Psalm 119:89)  It is by the clear teaching of God's word that we are and will be judged.  Though it may not be deemed politically correct and though denominations may vote against it, the Scriptures stand sure.

Conviction based on Scripture.
The major doctrines of the Bible are clear.  Where the Scripture speaks but may seem unclear, two believers who love Jesus and submit to the Scriptures may come to different points of view on some finer points of teaching.  Often our individual backgrounds and experiences cause us to come to a conclusion that others may not share.  Paul mentions wine in verse 21, as an example.  In many cultures, this is not an issue; it is accepted.  But if a person is an alcoholic, or has experienced the trauma of abuse, or ministers to people with problems in this area, then they may have a strong conviction of total abstinence.  Both may point to Romans 14 for justification of their conviction.

Personal preference.
This has to do with the area of style and how we live out our convictions.  God created us an individuals with our own likes, tastes, and views of what we enjoy.  Our gifts and abilities are varied and God has given great latitude in the freedom of expression throughout history.  "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  It is true of art, clothing choices, appearance, and music styles.  Such is not right and wrong in themselves but personal choices within the will of God.

Problems arise when one of two things happen.
1. A person confuses Scripture with personal preference.  In the last few decades, evangelical churches experienced the so-called music wars.  Some wanted to only sing hymns, as if those songs somehow were equal with the Bible.  Others preferred an updated sound using multiple instruments in worship.  The truth is that music styles have always changed among believers over time (the beloved hymns were once new to Christian worship).  Second, what is pleasing to the ears of some American churches may not be deemed worshipful at all in third world countries.  If King David played today one of the Psalms as he sung in his generation, would any one of us enjoy the style?

2. A person confuses their personal preference with freedom in Christ.  Liberty is not license.  The word of God is our guardrail and must  not be violated.  Feelings do not trump the facts of Scripture.

We have a responsibility to each other in our choices (v.7).  What are we to do?
1. Do not quarrel over opinions but accept one another. (v.1)
2. Do not despise or judge someone else's personal preferences. (3)
3. Do not put a hindrance in the way of someone else by your liberty. (vv.13-16)
4. Be confident that what you are doing honors the Lord and "makes for peace upbuilding." (vv.6 and 19)

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