Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

04/29/2020

Ken Stegall

Woodlands TX

 

(I found this on my computer. Why I downloaded it, or where I found it, I don’t remember. I just know it is something we all should read and put into a behavior. So, don’t focus on my memory, but on the content of the article. I've shortened it considerably to make it fit our bulletin. In doing so, I hope I have not done any disfavor to the intent of the author. RC)

 

 

Don't Destroy the Work of God

 

A Study Based On Romans 14

 

  French novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas once had a heated quarrel with a rising young politician.The argument became so intense that a duel was inevitable. They agreed on a most interesting solution. Since both men were superb shots they decided to draw lots, the loser agreeing to shoot himself. Dumas lost. Pistol in hand, he withdrew in silent dignity to another room, closing the door behind him. The rest of the company waited in gloomy suspense for the shot that would end his career. It rang out. His friends ran to the door, opened it, and found Dumas, smoking revolver in hand. "Gentlemen, a most regrettable thing happened… I missed."

 

  One of the most attractive things to those outside the church is “when brothers live together in peace and harmony.” On the other hand, one of the most detrimental things to effective evangelism is when a church is known for bickering and division.

 

  God places a premium on unity of His followers: A well-known quote from Jesus: “By THIS all men will know that you are my disciples - that you love one another.”

 

Letters written to the early churches contain many admonitions regarding the importance of unity:

 

“Becompletely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).

 

• “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

 

• “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:2-3).

 

 • To the church at Philippi, two sisters were evidently in a fuss that had gotten out of hand – “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2).

 

• “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians3.13-14).  

 

• There's an intriguing verse in I Corinthians 11:19 indicating how imperative it is that we settle the differences which inevitably arise within the Lord’s church: “No doubt there have to be differences [Self-willed opinions] among you to show which of you have God’s approval.”

 

• Then Paul tells us that we are to “Live in harmony with one another” (Romans12:16).

 

But how can we possibly live in harmony

when there are so many controversial issues that divide us?

Consider three areas in which divisions occur within the church...

 

  Personal Matters – Someone did/said something to you/about you. 
Jesus tells us how to reconcile these differences – “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift”(Matthew 5.23).

 

  Many of us know from experience that this doesn’t always solve the problem. So Paul gives the principle to apply in that situation – If you really want to solve the matter follow his advice in 1Corinthians 6.1-8. But the bottom line is have the heart of Jesus; be willing to be wronged, willing to be cheated.

 

  Matters of Doctrine – Where there is a clear Biblical teaching on salvational issues.  In 2 Timothy 4.1-5, Paul equates “sound doctrine” with “truth.” He charges Timothy to “Preach the word… With great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4.2). The principle to apply here is… If we must choose between “the truth” and “a relationship” – Choose the truth!

 

  Matters of Opinion – The principle I would apply here [which I believe to be consistent with Biblical teaching] – If you must choose between “a relationship” and “your opinion” – Choose the relationship! Here is where we consider Paul’s instructions from Romans chapter fourteen…

 

  Verse one – “Accept” “Warmly receive”“Without passing judgment” on disputable matters; matters that require reasoning to arrive at a conclusion. Of course the question becomes: “Accept him whose faith is weak”Who is this?

 

  In order to understand Paul’s teaching, we must understand how he uses the terms “weak” and “strong.” Note verse two “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, being weak, eats only vegetables.”

    "STRONG" - One whose faith allows him to do something someone else feels is wrong.

    “WEAK” – One whose conscience forbids those activities.

 

  Paul continues by telling us that the natural tendencies each brother has toward the other: Verse 3 – “The man who eats everything must not: look down on (make out to be nobody; treat with contempt) him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.”

 

  Here's an interesting observation: Both sides always feel superior to the other. This is part of the problem! Let us consider three quick principles which ensure unity in these areas of liberty, that is if we will follow them…

 

1)... we are not the Judge – God is! Consider verses 4, 10, and 12.

 

2)… focus on your brother’s welfare rather than your “rights.” Note verses 13, 19-20.

 

3)...Two Principles...


to the strong – don’t make it an issue!  don’t use your liberty as license! (Read verse 22)


to the weak – don’t violate your conscience.  (Note verse 23)

 

  Listen to me carefully… Here’s a principle that will help us apply this difficult teaching: “Believing that something is right, doesn’t make it right; but believing something is wrong, does make it wrong For You!”

 

Here’s the takeaway from our study…

 

• We may or may not reach agreement in these areas of opinion… But we are commanded to “warmly receive our brother with whom we disagree in areas of opinion/liberty!

 

• If we care enough to apply the principles God gives for solving our differences, both of us can go to Heaven! If we don’t, at least one of us jeopardizes our salvation!  

 

Remember this…

• Some will lose our salvation because of “liberty” (My “rights” mean more to me than my brother does).


• God has received your brother and stands behind him.


• You are not the judge!  God is!


• God will hold you accountable for how your attitude/actions affect your brother. 

 

  Hear Paul’s conclusion, our prayer, that we do not destroy the work of God: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15.5-7).

 

—Ken Stegall

    Woodlands TX