Personal Freedoms and Love - How New Testament Churches Resolved Contentious Issues

David Campbell
Sun, 2021-09-19
  • It so is sad to see churches experiencing divisions regarding response to the pandemic.
  • At least two of the NT churches (Rome and Corinth) faced divisions over the issue of what believers were free to do, whether the exercise of their freedom should be restricted by other people who maybe were in a different point in their faith journey.
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Sermon Slides - Personal Freedoms and Love – How New Testament Churches Resolved Contentious Issues

Philippians 2

  1. who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
  2. but emptied himself, by taking the form of a bondservant, being born in the likeness of men.
  3. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Romans 14

  1. As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
  2. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
  3. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
  4. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?…
  5. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind

Romans 14

  1. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
  2. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
  3. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
  4. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
  5. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
  6. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
  7. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.

1 Corinthians 8

  1. Now concerning food offered to idols…
  2. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.
  3. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
  4. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
  5. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
  6. And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
  7. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
  8. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Acts 26

  1. And Paul said, “…
    I would to God that not only you
    but also all who hear me this day
    might become like me except for these chains.”

“We give up what we cannot keep
to gain what we cannot lose”

—Jim Elliot

Put ourselves in the position of others

  • Ask God to show us where the other person is at and the impact of our conduct on them
  • Even if their perspective is incorrect, that is what is determining their attitude

How can I witness to Christ?

  • I don’t want to offend people in things that have nothing to do with eternity
  • so that they don’t give their life to Christ
  • as a result of my insisting on my own personal preferences

As we close, we need to be clear about three things:

  1. We’re not talking about what we believe about masks, vaccines, etc, or what policies we vote for, but how we behave.
    • Paul didn’t tell Christians who felt there was nothing wrong with eating certain foods that they had to conform their beliefs to the weaker brethren,
    • but they had to behave in a way that demonstrated love.
  2. We are not talking about our beliefs about the limits of government control over our lives.
    • Those are important, but different issues, that we should talk about as Christians, and might have honest disagreements on.
  3. Finally if something is sinful, love does not ignore it but calls it out as offensive to God.
    • But in all this, we behave in a way that loves others sacrificially.

Updated on 2021-09-12 by David Campbell