"...Shepherd the flock of God which is among
you, serving as overseers..." (1 Peter 5:2)
Morris Bass, Rick Holt , Joe
"...let them serve as deacons,
being found blameless..." (1 Tim. 3:10)
Aaron Bass, Rich Brooks, Mike Finn
John Hague, Dan Head
"And take...the sword of
the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The "Forgotten Side" of
The "Forgotten Side" of Romans 14
Joe R. Price
Romans 14 have
practical application for Christians today? Or, is the passage to be
relegated to a position of past relevancy without present purpose? How
we answer this question will go far in helping us understand how
revealed truth has a range of application that must be respected by all
who are "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace" (Eph. 4:3).
Romans 14 does not sanction unity in doctrinal and moral diversity (2
Jno. 9-11; Gal. 1:6-10; 1 Cor. 4:6, 17 and other verses expose this
error). It is wrong to conclude that all areas of application fall into
the realm of judgment. Along with the apostle and in harmony with the
Lord's authority, we continue to plead that Christians "all speak the
same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1
At the same time, there are some areas in the application of truth that
the Lord has left to personal judgment. When we forget the proper role
and use of Romans 14, unity among the people of God is hindered. It is
truly tragic that the very purpose for which the apostle wrote Romans 14
in the first place - how to remain united in truth when brethren
conscientiously differ on some specific items or details in their
application of revealed truth - is the very point we fail to grasp and
use in our plea for unity.
At the heart of properly understanding and applying Romans 14 is the
reality that there will be differences in how brethren make specific
applications of truth. Of course, that application must not violate the
word of God, and that is the crucial point here.
It is not "getting soft" and "compromising with error" to point out
areas of legitimate differences in the application of truth. Did Paul
compromise with error when he said the meat-eater could eat meat? The
herb-eater may have been inclined to think so, but it would have been a
wrong conclusion. Did Paul compromise with error when he told the
herb-eater to not eat meat? The meat-eater may have been inclined to
think so, but it would have been a wrong conclusion. Did Paul compromise
the truth of God when he acknowledged a brother could esteem one day
above another? No, he did not. (Rom. 14:1-6)
Yet, someone responds, "There can only be one correct application of
truth. You are condoning error and compromise with such talk." If that
judgment is true and just, then the apostle Paul greatly erred by
allowing both the meat-eater and the herb-eater to continue their
different conduct with fully assured minds (14:1-5, 23).
The truth of the matter had indeed been revealed: meat does not commend
man to God (1 Cor. 8:8); all meat is clean (Mk. 7:19). Yet, there is no
divine directive that compels one to eat meat. Conscience may restrain
one from its consumption. Thus, accepting the truth that meat is clean
also allows us to make different applications of that truth without sin.
For example, it was that very area of judgment Paul appealed to in 1
Corinthians 8 to teach the meat-eater to lay aside his right to eat meat
for the sake of the brother with a weak conscience (who could otherwise
be emboldened to eat in violation of his conscience and sin, 1 Cor.
8:7-13). While "all things are lawful for me", Paul also said, "not all
things are helpful" (1 Cor. 10:23). Some times he would eat meat and at
other times he would refrain. He would make different applications of
the same truth without in anyway sinning against the Lord or His brother
(1 Cor. 8:13; 10:31-33).
Consider another example of a revealed truth where application can vary
without sin: the truth that God is to be held in reverence. The
Scriptures emphatically command us to revere God and only worship Him
(Prov. 3:7; Eccl. 12:13; Matt. 10:28; 1 Pet. 2:17).
There is no doubt that our words must show reverence for Almighty God
(Psa. 19:14; 51:15; Col. 3:17). But the question arises, how do we apply
the principle of reverence to our speech? In an effort to show reverence
for God, some good brethren have come to the conclusion that God must be
addressed in prayer with the pronouns "Thee" and "Thou". Other equally
good brethren reverently address God in prayer using the pronouns "You"
and "Your". Both recognize the need for reverent speech before God, yet,
in their speech they make different applications of that principle of
truth. Is one in error, compromising and sinning against God, while the
other is standing strong for the truth? In fact, neither is violating
the word of God; both are acceptable to Him. Why? Although reverent
speech is authorized, there is God-allowed latitude of application. God
has not specified only one approved group of pronouns ("Thee" and
"Thou") when addressing God in prayer. Therefore, both will be heard by
God. Such is a case of different applications (i.e., which pronouns to
use in prayer) of one revealed truth (reverent speech before God).
Please note: irreverent speech is neither acceptable nor approved.
Romans 14 teaches those who are united over the necessity of reverent
speech to "receive one another" in such areas of differing applications
of reverence (Rom. 15:7). It is only when brethren begin to bind upon
others their opinions concerning application in such cases that
disruption and division occurs. Such division is caused by binding the
opinions and traditions of men upon the consciences of others - the very
thing Romans 14 is intended to prevent. Have we forgotten how to
properly use Romans 14 today?
The past several years has seen interest heightened to the point of
debate and division over the subject of divorce and remarriage. Brethren
are once again challenged to distinguish the difference between binding
truth and allowable differences (cf. Phil. 1:9-11). Is it possible to be
united in the truth of the gospel on marriage, divorce and remarriage,
and yet differ over some specific points of application? Yes, just as
surely as it was for the meat-eater and the herb-eater to differ in
their application of food consumption while not having fellowship with
the idol. Yes it is possible, just as surely as it is for brethren who
agree we must have reverence for God to differ on which pronouns to use
when applying that principle of reverence.
The revealed pattern of divine truth on
marriage, divorce and remarriage
is unassailable and must not be compromised:
one man and one woman for
life with one exception (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6, 9; Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor.
7:10-11; Heb. 13:4). Any teaching or practice that
pattern of sound doctrine is error and must be resisted. For example,
the "one-loosed, both loosed" doctrine that allows for unrestrained
remarriage, the desertion exemption for remarriage (that misunderstands
and misapplies 1 Cor. 7:15), the so-called
"waiting game" and the
teaching that alien sinners are not under the marriage law of the gospel
of Christ are among the
erroneous doctrines that must be withstood
because they violate "the faith which was once for all delivered to the
saints" (Jude 3; 2 Jno. 9-11; Gal. 1:6-9).
Still, it must be acknowledged that brethren who are united on the
aforementioned principle of truth (one man and one woman for life with
one exception) conscientiously differ on some of the applications of
that God-given pattern. Differences in application that do not violate
the God-given pattern for marriage, divorce and remarriage should not be
made tests of fellowship. That is the "forgotten side" of Romans 14.
Will we have the abundant "love", "knowledge and all discernment"
necessary to "approve the things that are excellent" and to remain
"sincere and without offense till the day of Christ" as we address this
subject (Phil. 1:9-10)? Or, will we disrupt unity with the stumbling
block of binding personal conscience upon others? Romans 14 still has
We must be able to distinguish between necessary things and allowable
differences or we will forever be laying a stumbling block that Romans
14 commands us to avoid (see Rom. 14:1, 10-13). The factiousness of
binding where the Lord has not bound is just as devastating to the body
of Christ as is loosing where the Lord has not loosed. There is no
virtue in being "ultra-conservative" when that means trampling on
Brother Keith Greer recently reminded us of some applications of the
Bible's teaching on MDR over which brethren disagree even while they
maintain agreement on the divine pattern of one man and one woman for
life, with one exception (Matt. 19:4-6, 9). The differences in
application he noted were:
· Does the
cause (adultery) have to be written on the papers?
Can an adulterous mate execute a civil divorce against a faithful mate,
and the faithful mate be prohibited from remarrying because he/she is
the "put-away" mate?
What if both parties commit adultery?
Can the first mate (the faithful one) take back and remarry the "guilty
party" after the divorce?
Does death sever the put-away fornicator's marriage bond?
Can a Christian put away his mate for the "kingdom's sake" and remain
unmarried or be reconciled?
("Are We Doomed to Divide?", Keith Greer, Knollwood Messenger, July 2004)
When conscience compels a brother or sister to hold fast to one
application over another, and truth is not violated by doing so, we are
to respect their conscience and not press our different (though equally
sound) application to the point of division. That is the "side" of
Romans 14 we must not forget. We must remember to receive one another
when there is dispute over "doubtful things" instead of pressing
personal scruples to the point of forcing the violation of conscience
and rupturing unity in the body of Christ.
Will there be differences among us over what may properly be considered
"doubtful things" that allow for such differences in application? Yes,
there will. When such differences arise we must rise to the challenge
and show "all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with
one another in love" as we diligently study God's word together to
understand the way of God more accurately, always "endeavoring to keep
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:2-3; 2 Tim.
2:14-16; Acts 17:11-12).
Unless and until we are willing and able to distinguish between the
revealed truth of the gospel and personal scruples we will be plagued
with the liberalism of unity in doctrinal diversity on the one hand, and
the factionalism of binding human traditions on the other. Both are
instruments of the devil to divide and devour the body of Christ. We
must not be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).
Let us be careful how we hear God's word (and each other); not with
prejudiced ears and hardened hearts, but with fair minds that search out
God's word while thinking the best of one other (Lk. 8:18; Acts
17:10-11; Rom. 15:6; 1 Cor. 13:4-7). "But if you bite and devour one
another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" (Gal. 5:15) May
the Lord grant His children the wisdom and humility we need to
accomplish His will in all things (Col. 1:9-12).
You can find the
complete outline of this sermon at
Water Baptism: Objections (Part
I. “YOU BELIEVE IN BAPTISMAL
Baptism is the Means by which God’s Mercy Saves Man, Tit. 3:4-7 (Eph. 2:8-9;
WAS SENT ‘NOT TO BAPTIZE, BUT TO PREACH’”
– 1 Cor. 1:17.
-Truth: Point of Emphasis was Preaching the Gospel, Not who Does
the Baptizing, Matt. 28:19. (cf. Jno. 12:44; 1 Pet. 3:3-4)
ACTS 2:38, BAPTISM IS ‘BECAUSE OF’ REMISSION OF SINS.”
A. Translations Reject this Meaning.
B. Context Rejects this Meaning.
C. Definition of eis Rejects this Meaning.
“RESTRICTS OPPORTUNITIES TO BE SAVED.”
Man in the Desert (North Pole, etc.), Acts 8:26, 36; 2 Cor. 6:2.
16:9-20 IS NOT INSPIRED MATERIAL.”
- Believers turn
skeptic to discredit baptism!
You can find the
complete outline of this sermon at
Binding Where Lord Has Not
Scripture Reading: Acts 15:22-29
I. UNITY IS DESTROYED BY:
Beyond what is Written, 2 Jno. 9; Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Cor. 4:6; 1 Jno. 1:1-4.
B. Demanding Conformity to the Traditions of Men, Acts 15:1, 5, 24; Gal.
2:4-5; Mk. 7:1-13.
DISCERN & AVOID BOTH EXTREMES,
are Necessary Things – Acts 15:28-29.
B. There are Liberties (not bound), Rom. 14:1-2.
C. The Inability or Unwillingness to Discern the Difference Causes
Division in the Body of Christ, Gal. 5:13-15, 2 Tim. 2:14-18.
D. Respect for & the Proper Application of Bible Authority will keep us
on the Solid Ground of Truth – Col. 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:3-7.
APPLYING THE PRINCIPLES.