The following sermons will help us to think further through our approaches to the differences we have with other believers:
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Disagreeing with Other Christians
This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, Dr. Josh Philpot shares some of the intense wrangling and controversial debates he sees happening within Christian circles. These things being talked about and sometimes hotly argued about are highly magnified by social media, the comment sections, and all the rest. Understanding that all believers, even within a solid local church, will not agree about everything, he asks Dr. Richard Caldwell how can Christians find a way through some of this. Can Christians disagree so strenuously and not cause disunity that brings harm to the body of Christ? What might be the best approach to having some of these discussions that need to be had? Can some of this lead us to dis-fellowshipping with other believers?
Dr. Caldwell shares that these are great questions and honestly, they are difficult ones to navigate. He says it is sometimes difficult to know how to shepherd people on some of these things. However, something important to point out is that in Christianity, there is a unity that's been created by God, in salvation that is fixed and unchangeable. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are one. Jesus prayed for this, and the Father answered that prayer. There is a unity that we have, that even when we are not living it out, it still exists, and Heaven will reflect that. However, there are some non-negotiable terms of fellowship that have to do with us being believers. Some issues will be deal breakers when it comes to whom we consider to be our brother or sister and with those whom we can walk with in the most general kind of Christian fellowship. Beyond that, you move to the realm of the local church. You can also have a group of like-minded churches who will be able to fellowship together because of their like-mindedness. But the idea that you’re going to have unanimity of opinion about everything in the world across Christendom is just an unrealistic expectation. So if we ask where can we find true unity, the answer would be in the Christian family and the Christian church, one local church at a time. It’s in each local church that we live and walk together according to the standards of the Bible, according to the big-picture items where we are like-minded and where we aim to be charitable about things that aren’t so clear, and always remembering the importance of peace. Dr. Caldwell shares the Apostle Paul's appeal to the Philippian believers to work together to get along. He tells us that the way that Paul goes about this is what will help us get along; it is remembering our common work in the Lord and that our names are written in the book of life. He reminds us that we are members of the same family, we have the same Lord, the same truth, the same Holy Spirit, we are headed to the same home, and we have the same work assigned to us. Dr. Caldwell believes it is in these ways we have hope of walking together.
Beyond the local congregation setting, when we think about other churches and all the rest, there are going to be matters of differences where our fellowship together in ministry might prove to be limited. What those are will be measured differently by pastors and churches. We can acknowledge each other as brothers and sisters and love each other as fellow believers. But, if we are going to do ministry together, there needs to be enough like-mindedness that we are not pulling against one another as we’re seeking to do the work of Christ with the gospel.
Dr. Caldwell explains that what happens in these heated debates and arguments is that we forget the preeminence of love. He reminds us of 1 Corinthians 13 and our need to remember what Paul has to say here. We forget that with love comes the fruit of the Spirit. Where genuine love is being practiced, the Spirit of God is leading us. Where the Spirit of God is leading us, there is fruit. We will see the fruit of gentleness, patience, and kindness manifested in our behaviors and attitudes. We forget that these things matter, that the Lord is standing at the door and that we will have to give an account to Him for our words, attitudes, and behaviors.
As far as someone dis-fellowshipping in a local church, this will really be based on their understanding of doctrines and convictions that they hold. At Founders Baptist Church, we have core doctrine non-negotiables; these are things that make someone a believer. But then we have what we call characteristic doctrine, things that we believe with great conviction that you will hear a lot about as a member of this church. One of those is the belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation. So if you struggle with those doctrines, you will be uncomfortable here over the long haul. Then we have a third category we call charitable, things we just are not going to argue about, and we are going to love each other despite our differences. There may be a time and place where someone is genuinely a Christian, but when it comes to this area of characteristic doctrine, they just don't agree. If this is the situation and they cannot live submissively in a particular family of believers without undermining its doctrine and sowing division with their conversations, it may be time for them to find another church. It would be better for them to find a church where their agreements line up. Having said this, if the conflict involves another Christian in the church, instead of just leaving and going to another church, and even if you decide to leave, humble yourself and seek to make it right with them, take every step you can to make those things right. Be at peace with all men as much as it depends upon you.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.
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