Decision, Difference, and Relationship

 The decisions that we make and the choices that we make in our lives will determine our progress in any endeavour we attempt. There are many choices in life to make while we live out our lives here in this world. Perhaps the greatest choice we make will deal with our relationship with God and with other Christians. The relationship that we sustain with God is a volunteer relationship and must be based upon our willingness to conform to God’s directions, “all of them; all the time.” Even the choices we make with regard to whether we will listen, understand, and conform to God’s instructions is a factor that will determine the kind of relationship we have with God – if we conform we will be happy, confident, and filled with the goodness of God toward everyone in all situations of life; but if we do not conform but develop a stubborn, self-righteousness, of our own, then we will not have the relationship with God that is rewarding and satisfactory – cf. Romans 10:1-3, “1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (KJV)

The relationship that we sustain to brothers and sisters in Christ (i.e. in the congregation) is maintained out of our relationship with God and our willingness to hear, understand, and comply with instructions that relate to our joint responsibilities in that relationship – cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, “12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body , being many, are one body : so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body , whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 for the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 but now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 but now are they many members, yet but one body.” (KJV)

We cannot become a faction; we cannot become a unit within the congregation working against other Christians to accomplish some personal goal. Often within a congregation one may come to a conclusion that everything needs to change from the top to the bottom with the direction of the congregation. Whenever one puts into operation such a plan he/she must go outside the boundaries of sound doctrine to accomplish this evil plan. The matter of judgment is often flawed but the correcting of an action of flawed judgment is to be undertaken with the cooperation of the whole body of believers in that congregation, not a selection of individuals that agree with the premise (i.e. whether justified or not) in secret, away from the other members.

The desire for preeminence has always been a great hindrance to congregational growth and unity, – cf. 3 John 9, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” (KJV) perhaps it is unreasonable to seek the unity of everyone in any given area of local church function but it is the correct way to proceed with any problem (i.e. real or imaginary). To become a factional complainer, to seek to undo a program or a custom one must be very careful that thy do not sin in the process – cf. Ephesians 4:14-16, “14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love , may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (KJV)

Christians are to be a unit (i.e. unified) in their work for God. The problems in local work arise over customs, programs, and personal preferences that often become a point of contention among the members. Even when one disagrees with a program, he/she ought to maintain a disposition of love toward all brethren involved in the matter; including those that have initiated the custom, tradition, or program cf. 1 John 4:20-21, “20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” (KJV) A person may feel that he/she cannot love those that disagree with his/her position – this is not acceptable to God. A person must love his/her brethren.

Many problems in local congregations are always brought about by someone or as a result of some disagreement over a matter that the Bible does not address. This is true in most cases but there are cases where a violation of the Scriptures is at stake and someone in such a disagreement will loose their argument. AN EXAMPLE – If a dispute arises over the subject of baptism between members in a congregation; the subject may be settled by appealing to the passages in the Bible that address the matter of baptism.

ILLUSTRATION – If one claims that baptism is for remission of sins and the other contends that it is not; look at the verses in the New Testament that deal with baptism; such as; Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Romans 6:4, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (KJV)

Colossians 2:12, Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (KJV)

We can understand from these three passages of Scripture that one of the disputants is right and one of the disputants is wrong; we know that the Bible does not teach conflicting doctrine regarding baptism or for that matter any other subject.

The person who takes the wrong position regarding the purpose of baptism in the above situation is simply wrong – he/she cannot continue to support that false view and be acceptable to God – they must change to the correct position or become an outcast – Matthew 18:15-17, “15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (KJV)

The maintenance of righteousness in any congregation falls under the elder’s duty. Most problems that have a scriptural solution (Number 2 this study) are solved by Scriptural Elders; therefore the solution to Scriptural based differences in any congregation must be solved under the oversight of the qualified elders as they point the person (s), involved in the dispute to the Bible based solution. This is the way that God intended for the congregation to function correctly and pursue unity. This is always the method for solving Bible based differences, “Consider the following:”

THE ELDER’S (i.e. Bishops, overseers, etc.) WORK: The elders at of the congregations in Judea:

Acts 11:27-30, “27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.  28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” (KJV)

The false teachers come to Antioch of Syria and the solution of elders function:

Acts 15:2-6, “2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 but there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.”

Acts 15:23-24, “23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:” (KJV)


Jerusalem – Acts 6:1-5, “1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, which we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:” (KJV)

Corinth – 1 Cor 5:1-9, “1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:” (KJV)

The false teacher or one who refuses to accept the truth (i.e. the heretic) – Titus 3:8-11, “8 this is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.9 but avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (KJV)

Yet, whenever one of the disputants rejects the elders solution (i.e. based on proper interpretation) to the problem; the church has no recourse but to initiate discipline to the rebellious member. — Number 3:3

CONCLUSION: Now, it is never right to do something wrong to correct something that one has done. Often in life we consider correcting some wrong by doing something else that is wrong – Example: Many times in life thus far; I have read or heard of people who commit murder for revenge. The person who seeks to right a wrong done to himself or a family member by killing the person who has done the offence to him or his loved ones is not the correct process to settle wrongs done to self under any circumstance.

The Bible is clear on this point as well as on the subject of all wrongs that the Christian will suffer in life; please observe the following Biblical references regarding this point in our concluding thoughts:

Matt 5:21, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: {KJV}

Mark 10:19, Thou knowest the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, and do not steal, do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. {KJV}

Rom 13:9-10, 9 for this, Thou shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not bear false witness, Thou shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. {KJV}

James 2:11, For he that said, do not commit adultery, said also, do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. {KJV}

James 4:1-7, 1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. {KJV}

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