Guidance for how we should live when we disagree with each other over disputable matter.
Message powerpoint download
What is a ‘disputable matter’ and why is this an issue?
What principles does Romans 14 give us when it comes to disputable matters?
Leaning from these principles and what happens when they are followed and when they are not followed
What is a disputable matter in Romans 14?
This is an area where… A) there is ‘freedom’
Theologically there is freedom. There are no instructions to ‘always do this’ or to ‘never do this’
It may be that the Bible directly gives freedom, or it may be a matter where the Bible is quiet (God gives no direct command)
Many things in our lives are in this ‘grey zone’
Where… B) We do things differently
Where there is freedom, for a variety of reasons different people have different ways of looking at the issue, and as a result end up doing different things
The disputable matters are referring to ‘things we do’, the ‘way we live our life’
A person who believes this is right can do this action and give thanks to God
A person who believes this is wrong, cannot do this action and give thanks to God
Where C) We have different preferences and beliefs
These preferences are often based on ‘deeply’ held beliefs.
They may be based in our past experiences, in our culture – as such they are not ‘nothing’ but are very important to us
Principles for managing disputable matters
1. Accept one another
We are to accept those God has accepted.
We don’t get to make the choice. It is God who does the choosing!
We are to accept one another just as Christ has accepted us
How has Jesus accepted us? Jesus didn’t put me on probation and give me some tests to pass, he accepted me as I am, knowing that I would fail. He accepted me on the basis of His righteousness, not on the basis of my righteousness. We are to accept others warmly, without reservation, without holding back, without qualification, just as Jesus has accepted us.
2. Be Convinced in Your own Mind, and Live for the LORD
In a disputable matter each person should be fully convinced in their own mind.
Don’t ignore the matter. Bring the matter to God, and make a clear decision based on what you believe God wants you to do
Is this beneficial: Does it help by walk with God?
Is this beneficial: Does it help others?
Is this beneficial: Will this help the advance of the Gospel?
When we accept others, this allows space for God to direct peoples lives (we need to let go, and let God)
3. Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God
Lk 6v37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
We need to focus on our own account, not on the account of others
We are not in a position to judge or treat others with contempt, as we don’t fully understand the situation
Our brother and sister will not stand before us, but before God
As God will judge me, I should think about how I am living my life, rather than trying to control others
4. Live a life of Love: Choose to limit your freedom for the benefit of others
1 Cor 9  Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
Although I give you the freedom to make your decisions, I don’t demand you give me the freedom to allow me to always express my own decisions… Rather I will modify my behaviour to help rather than harm others
Make up your mind: Make a conscious decision,
Not to stumble others: By encouraging someone to do something they are convinced they should not do
Not to obstruct others: By stopping someone from doing something God has given them the liberty to do
5. Living by Faith
Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see
Living by faith means that we are trusting in God, and obeying what God has convinced us of and has laid on our conscience
If we go against what God has convinced us is right, we are going against our conscience
When we go against the conscience God has given us, we are not loving God will all our heart, soul and mind. WE are moving away from God. This is sin
6. We should do what builds up others, because we follow the example of Jesus (Rom15v1-3)
The What would Jesus Do (WWJD) test.
We choose to accept others, because Jesus has accepted us [15v7]
We choose to limit our freedom for the benefit of Others, because this is what Jesus did for us [15v1-3 For even Christ did not please himself]
Luke 22  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
The Legalistic Church
A legalistic church is one where everyone needs to be the same…
Legalists love to tell you how to live your life
They have a list of do’s and do nots which not only applies to them, but also to everyone else as well (we should all have our own list, but it should stay as our own list)
If you follow the list of rules, then over time the rules tend to become more important than the truth
The legalistic church is uncomfortable with people who are different and do not agree on all points (both in terms of what we do and what we believe)
We must all be the same in all areas of our life (everyone should drive their car at the same speed as I do)
We should think and behave the same in areas such as…
Dancing, Styles of worship, type of music we listen to, use of drums
What we view (no mixed martial arts), What sort of books we read
What we think about home schooling
What we think about reproduction and contraception
What we wear to church, what we can do on Sunday
The church either dies (by closing or becoming a club) or it changes
Don’t let you enthusiasm and zeal for God and your personal convictions lead you into a position where you want to influence others in ‘disputable matters’
Don’t build a fort where ‘everyone agrees’
Principles in disputable matters
Accept one another
Be convinced in your own mind, and live for the God
Focus on your own account with God
Choose to limit your freedom for the benefit of others
Live by faith
Follow the example of Jesus