Summary: Grace to let others be (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Romans chapter 14 verses 1-23.
• It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s,
• Admiral Phipps was the commander of the British fleet,
• He was given orders to anchor outside Quebec.
• His orders were to wait for the British land forces to arrive,
• Then support them when they attacked the city.
• Phipps’ navy arrived early. As the admiral waited,
• He became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral,
• So he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons.
• No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out,
• But when the land forces eventually arrived and the signal was given to attack,
• The admiral was of no help.
• Because he had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.”
Unfortunately, the same could be said for many Christians today.
• When God calls on them to do something for Him;
• They have nothing left to give;
• Because they have used up their ammunition shooting at the saints.
Throughout church history churches have split for the stupidest of reasons.
• Some have split over which version of the Lord’s prayer to say;
• Some have split over which hymn book they should use.
• Some have split because the name of the building was changed.
• Some churches have split over whether to sit on pews or chairs.
• Churches split over styles of worship or formats of meetings;
• It seems to me it is rarely over doctrinal reasons – often personal/cultural preference!
• An issue of National Geographic;
• Included a photograph of the fossil remains of two saber-tooth cats locked in combat.
• To quote the article:
• “One had bitten deep into the leg bone of the other,
• A thrust that trapped both in a common fate.”
• The cause of the death of the two cats;
• Is as clear as the cause of the extinction of their species.
• They could not survive because they were too busy fighting each other
• And sadly the same can be said of many Christian’s today.
As the apostle Paul put it (Galatians chapter 5 verse 15):
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other,
watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”
Earlier on in this letter the apostle Paul tells us that we are to
• “Live in harmony with one another”.
• (Romans chapter 12 verse 16).
• Paul gave the church in Rome some practical, step-by-step instructions;
• On how to be in H.A.R.M.O.N.Y. with ... one another.
• We can learn from this information
• Because we today have much in common with the Roman church.
• The Roman church was not divided in their faith.
• They all believed the fundamentals of the Christian faith!
• However, they were divided on many nonessential details of the Christian life.
• There were some in the church who had some very strict convictions;
• Concerning things like particular days of worship and types of diets;
• And they considered those who disagreed to be too liberal.
• Others, however, had an equally strong conviction;
• That in Christ they were free from such constraints;
• And they considered the others to be narrow minded.
• Paul says that the solution to all of this is to stop condemning one another;
• And start excepting one another.
• Tonight I want to share with you:
• Paul’s seven steps to H.A.R.M.O.N.Y.
SEVEN STEPS TO H.A.R.M.O.N.Y.
(1). Hold Back Judgment on Disputable Matters.
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.”
Question: What is a disputable matter?
Answer: A disputable matter is an issue on which the Bible is not clear.
• The disputable matters to which Paul speaks of ;
• Are concerning diet and religious special days.
• Some believed that certain days like the Sabbath or other religious holidays;
• Were to be considered more sacred than others.
• They also held to certain dietary rules e.g. like not eating meat;
• Probably because the meat purchased in the market place had been offered to idols.
• Others in the Church believed that all days were the same;
• And that if you gave thanks to God for the food;
• Then there was no problem with eating it and enjoying it.
Question: Who was right and who was wrong?
• Paul says that neither group is right or wrong;
• Because these issues are nonessential to Christian faith and practice.
• If the scriptures do not speak clearly on an issue;