Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 152 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Romans 14 today and our focus is on Why Has There Been So Much Conflict Among Christians and How We Can Do Better! . We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
I have grown to love Romans 14 over the years because it gives Christians practical and powerful commands and advice on finding unity. We know unity and oneness in Christ is important, because Jesus prayed for it so many times in His high priestly prayer in John 17. My kids have asked me multiple times why there are so many denominations, and different Christian labels. I suspect the answer is partly that we don’t take Jesus’ prayer and will in John 17 seriously enough, and that we blatantly ignore much of what Paul commands in Romans 14, perhaps the most practical peace-making chapter in the Bible. I am not saying that there aren’t issues that we should divide over – we should never compromise truth! But far too often, Christians have divided over doubtful or disputed matters, rather than clear teaching, and that is a tragedy.
Consider just these few verses:
1. Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters.
4. Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls.
10. But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
13. Therefore, let us no longer judge one another.
19. So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
21. It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.
21. Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God.
Consider what it would be like if Christians followed just the above commands in Romans 14! No arguments about disputed matters. No judging. Pursuing what promotes peace. No stumbling blocks or pitfalls. Keeping your opinion to yourself on issues that the Bible is not clear on. Wouldn’t that make for a wonderful church world? Think about these awesome words from Pastor Richard Baxter, an English Puritan from the 1600s:
Observe how we sin against the sad experience of the church in all ages, by laying our religion or unity upon these smaller or unnecessary things. What hath distracted the church so much as contendings about their ceremonies and orders, and precedency and superiority!
The Practical Works of the Reverend Richard Baxter
What wisdom! How many Christians, churches and denominations have divided over SMALL or UNNECESSARY things?! How many Christians and churches have been distracted by arguments over church service orders, music styles, church building decorations and the precise way to do various Christian ceremonies? How many Christian groups have splintered over biblically unclear issues like eschatology/last days, the issue of alcohol, the issue of dress, raising hands in worship, music style, Bible translations, the exact nature of communion and more? You might have a firm and clear opinion on some of those matters, and I do too, but we have multiple commands and mandates in Scripture to be in unity, to be one in thought and mind, to be at peace with each other, and we must stop ignoring those commands in the church! I love what Pastor Mark Dever said about unity in a sermon from a few years ago:
I think that millennial views need not be among those doctrines that divide us. . . . I am suggesting that what you believe about the millennium—how you interpret these thousand years—is not something that it is necessary for us to agree upon in order to have a congregation together. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:21 that we Christians might be one. Of course all true Christians are one in that we have his Spirit, we share his Spirit, we desire to live out that unity. But that unity is supposed to be evident as a testimony to the world around us. Therefore, I conclude that we should end our cooperations together with other Christians (whether near-ly in a congregation, or more at length in working together in missions and church planting and evangelism and building up the ministry) only with the greatest of care, lest we rend the body of Christ for whose unity he’s prayed and given himself. Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture. So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view.I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation.
I wholeheartedly agree with Dever here, and would count it a privilege to go to church with him and serve alongside him, even though he and I disagree on several of the issues he mentioned (including the Millennium) – but these disagreements PALE in comparison to the dozens of New Testament commands and urgings to pursue UNITY. Note that I am not suggesting that we must never contend for the faith or for clear biblical truth and commands – we must not compromise on that which the Bible clearly commands. There is indeed a time to stand up and contend for clearly revealed biblical truths, but we must avoid contending on ‘doubtful issues,’ and we must seek the guidance of the Word of God and His Spirit to walk in the wisdom to know the difference. Let’s read our passage and listen clearly for how the authoritative Word of God calls us to avoid conflict, avoid judging, avoid arguments and walk in wonderful peace!
Bible Memory verses for the month of June: Daniel 6:23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted in his God.
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