(This is being updated periodically, since there are quite a few ‘issues’ to address.)
The church (the body of Christ) has always had things come up which demanded discussion, study, decisions… In the early church there were questions (issues) over eating meats, circumcision, law/works/grace/faith, veils, spiritual gifts, women disrupting worship, going to law against another Christian, sexual immorality, marriage and divorce… These troubled the congregation in Corinth and possibly other congregations. Paul wrote to help. It would be nice to have the apostle Paul around to respond to our questions and issues. Sometimes I wonder what he would say, how he would respond. What would he think about our issues as compared to the ones he dealt with in his time? Since we don’t have Paul here, we must depend on our only authority in matters pertaining to the church… the scriptures. Not only what is said but looking for principles contained in scriptures, and learn to apply them as they should be.
Here is a list which I found in my dad’s New Testament, of things which he titled, “CHURCH ISSUES”. Things which have at one time or another disturbed the peace in the body of Christ. Questions will do this if not handled correctly. Questions can lead to arguments and discontent and division if allowed. Some are more important than others, some are tied to salvation, while others are not. Yet how all of them are handled can be linked to whether or not the church remains UNITED.
As you read the list, some will seem silly, some not. They may seem silly now, because when they were ‘issues’ was years ago and brethren have simply laid them aside or understood them to be no big deal. However, at the time when they came up, they were considered quite serious. Some were hurt and left, walls were built other congregations were started with small groups of 10 or 15.
Problems have led to more congregations for sure, but in too many cases, these ‘spin off congregations, don’t fellowship each other, which has led to the weakening of the body of Christ, and broadcasts to the world, that we can’t get along with each other. Questions: Shall we continue to divide till we don’t exist or shall we learn to deal with each other in grace and love? Will we learn the difference between things which are no big deal and things which really matter? Time will tell. Let’s take a brief look at some things which have over the years, have been ‘issues’ in the church. Some still are, some have come and gone for some reason.
1. Oaths – Shall we take an oath in court or not? (What is the difference between “I swear” and “I affirm”?) Why did Jesus say, “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no” (Matthew 5:33-37).
2. Christians serving in the Armed Forces – Shall a Christian take up a weapon against an enemy on behalf of the government of the USA? What about “Love your enemy?”
3. Mini-skirts – How short is short? Shall we issue a mandate on 3 inches above the knee?
4. Mixed bathing – Male and female swimming or going to the beach together. This was ‘hot topic’ when I was growing up. Definitely a “no-no”, however, things have seemed to change and not much attention is given to this. What happened? (I guess this is something that puzzles me. Quite a few of the things listed here that used to be “hot-buttons” no longer are. If they are no longer “issues”, then what caused this? Did we get tired of dealing with it? Did we just give up on some issues while others remain? What was the criteria for determining which ones are now acceptable, and others not? Shall we divide? If so, over which issue(s)?
5. Shorts – Shall men and women be allowed to wear shorts to the assembly? Who will tell them “this is not allowed”?
6. Basketball shorts – Shall Christians be allowed to wear shorts in public for athletic events?
7. Jack Daniel Brewery – A reference to drinking alcohol obviously. Is it a matter of ‘drunkenness’ (obviously condemned and wrong) as opposed to an occasional drink? Is there a difference in these two things? Shall we divide over or dis-fellowship Christians over this issue?
8. Tobacco – Smoking or dipping – Is this something we will ignore because influential brethren have a bad habit? What about 1 Corinthians 6:19? What is Paul saying here? Principle???
9. Card Playing – Is this ‘of the world’ and evil in and of itself? Why was it on ‘the list’ in years gone by, but now we don’t hear about it? What happened?
10. Movies – Shall Christians be allowed to go to the movies since this was considered worldly?
11. Divorce – Shall all divorced people be put on probation and demanded that they live celibate (if they are divorced or divorce for another reason other than adultery)? What about I Corinthians 7:27-28? Shall we disfellowship all who have divorce in their back ground… shall we “have a purging”? Is it possible that this can be forgiven (as David was)without demanding another divorce on the part of those who have remarried and are sincerely penitent about their past, and determined never to repeat the sin? Why can the blood of Christ cleanse ALL SINS when one comes into Christ, and not after one is already in Christ? (Ref. 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
12. Re-marriage – (Note #11) Again what about I Corinthians 7:27-28? Shall we divide over this?
13. Marrying an unbeliever – “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Does Paul intend for this to apply to business, or marriage (since there were many who were in a mixed marriage situation) (my assumption). Shall we disfellowship any who are married to unbelievers?
14. Dancing – ‘Shall we dance’? High school proms, husband and wife, friends… Shall we withdraw from all who dance, or believe it is ok?
15. Social drinking – Can Christians have a drink (not get slobbering-drunk)? Is this a worldly activity which must be totally banned? What about Jesus turning water into wine? What about having some wine for your stomachs sake? What about having a drink in your own home? How does Romans 14 fit into all this or does it? Clearly Christians are not to get drunk (Ephesians 5:17-19), but can a Christian have a drink and not get drunk and still be OK?
16. Bob’d hair – I don’t know what this is. Is it a sin to fix up your hair, or is it too worldly?
17. Long hair on men – How long is long? Common sense should tell us I guess. But shall this be an issue which divides?
18. Women wearing hats in the assembly – Hardly a veil, but Paul instructed women to have head coverings in I Corinthians 11 while they pray and prophesy (in the assembly is the context). Was this a cultural things? Do we need to follow the head covering instruction in a culture where it does not matter?
19. Women teaching – What about I Corinthians 11-14 and I Timothy 2? Can women teach young boys up to a certain age? What age? Who said? Why? Is this a matter which should divide?
20. Lord’s Supper – offered in P.M. – Most do not have a problem with this now (as with some other things already mentioned), but years ago… it was an issue to be dealt with. Why should this have ever been a problem?
21. Bible Class Literature – Is this scriptural? Non-scriptural? Un-scriptural? Are there dangers in having a central publication for all congregations to follow? Should teachers make up their own lessons?
22. Hymns played on piano at home – Should pianos be banned at home to be sure, no Christian music is played there? Can we have small home devotionals and play music there? What about contemporary music (instrumental) on the radio while driving?
23. Flowers paid from church treasury – For those in hospitals or nursing homes. What about raising money in other ways besides giving on Sundays for special uses?
24. Masonry – Can a Christian be a Mason and still be a Christian? Have you looked up what Masons believe and teach? Shall we or should we dis-fellowship brethren involved in Masonry?
25. What is said at baptism – “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:18-20) or “In the name of Jesus…” (Acts 2:38). Do people immersed for the remission of sins, in “the name of Jesus” have to be re-immersed to “do it right” or to “be safe”? Does one formula save and the other not?
26. Lord’s Supper – Break the bread after the prayer of before? Are crackers ok for convenience sake or must we use a loaf of unleaven bread? (Matthew 26:26).
27. Lord’s Supper – Wine or Grape juice (Matthew 26:27). Is it a sin to use wine instead of grape juice?
28. Christmas – Since this was begun by the Roman Catholic Church, is it ok for Christians to observe Christmas? What about having a Christmas party in church? Christmas tree in the church building? Shall we divide over this?
29. Easter – Since this was started by the Catholic Church, shall it be forbidden to have an Easter party for our children at church? Is it wrong and shall we withdraw from Christians who observe Easter? Christmas?
30. Voting in elections – Shall Christians be involved in polotics? Protests?
31. Hymns – unscriptural – Shall we forbid such songs as those which teach or seem to teach “faith only”? Some brethren refuse to sing certain songs. Are they sinning when we are all commanded to sing?
32. Located minister – No we do not find ministers being paid for full time, located in one place work in the New Testament. Perhaps this is wise, that ministers be like Paul and have a secular job. Even though it is not mandated… is it OK to do it? We for the most part accept this ‘innovation’ yet we reject others. Shall we divide?
33. One cup or many – Matthew 26:27 “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.” This is was and still is taken literally by some Christians. Shall we divide over this. (Actually we already have.) Is it ok to use many cups as a matter of expedience saying, the focus should be on the contents and what it represents… Does this make some inconsistent in the way they interpret scriptures? Why divide? Could it be possible we need to study this one more?
34. Bible classes – Some believed and still do, that it is unscriptural to have Bible Classes on the Lord’s Day since there is no evidence of this in the New Testament…
35. Bible versions (KJV vs NIV). This remains an issue not only here in the States, but missionaries sometimes, take this into the mission field. Is it something we will divide over? Should we forbid the use of other versions?
36. Women wearing pants suit in worship – This is a bit out of date, since we have let this issue ‘go’ for some reason. Question: Why did it become an issue in the first place? Was it a matter of custom? Things do change.
37. Use of pitch pipes – Shall we push the stand against instruments of music to the point where a song leader cannot use something to pitch a song right? Shall we forbid this, should we overlook it? Is it an issue over which we shall divide over this?
38. United Fund – Not sure if this was an issue or not. Dad had written it down, so evidently he heard of some being bothered by this question of contributing to the United Way. Can a Christian donate to this personally? What about the Salvation Army? Can we donate personally to this? Shall we divide over this?
39. Women working outside the home – I’ll not go into the pro’s and con’s on this. When growing up, this was frowned on and taught against in the pulpit… Shall we forbit women to work outside the home? What if they do anyway? Shall we divide over this?
40. Working on Sundays – This can be a cultural problem even today in mission fields, as other things listed here. This may make a difference if one is trying to reach the lost. What about the church here though… if a Christian cuts the grass on Sunday afternoon, will he be in trouble? Shall we divide over this?
41. Debating – Is debating each other wrong? Perhaps we need to look at the ‘spirit’ with which we debate each other. Can we differ and still be brethren united in Christ?
42. Women saying “Amen”. This is closely tied to #43, and maybe a couple of other things listed here. The issue of women remaining silent in the church is really touchy, even now. Books have been written pro and con. Questions are there, yet people are afraid to voice an opinion and to just open the Bible and really study the issue. Why? Can women speak in class where men are present? Is the Bible class any less an assembly? Was Paul speaking to a cultural situation? Can women speak, pray, or as Paul mentions… “prophesy” in a respectful manner (as Paul instructs… with their heads covered)?
43. Women praying in presence of men – This is an issue which has been discussed and debated… Is this a matter simply of conscience? What about at home in family devotionals? What about in cell group studies? Were Paul’s instructions to deal with a cultural situation which does not exist today, here? Yes it exists in some countries…
The passages we are talking about are found in I Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34-36; 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Discovering truth, even if it supports a traditional view… is good. But the attitude which inhibits an honest search is not good. Truth has nothing to fear. If we are consistent, where will it lead? Women be silent in the assembly. Are our Bible classes part of the assembly? Will we study to find answers, or shall we divide.
44. Children praying – Are children allowed to lead prayers. What about in the Timothy Class, the Priscilla class?
45. Unbeliever singing in worship – I never heard of this one. I guess it was something which came up as a result of pushing scriptures too far. Hard to believe. I doubt this is a serious challenge today.
46. Unbelievers praying – “God does not hear the sinners prayer” at least that was what we were taught years ago. Does He hear the sinner crying out for someone to teach him about salvation? Consider Cornelius…
47. Elders – plural children – How many children? 1, 2, 3 or more?What if after they grow up, they deny Christ, walk away. Must an elder then step down?
48. Elders – married – Does this mean a one woman man (as opposed to polygamy) or a ‘one woman man’, as in ‘committed to marriage’? What if they have divorce in their background, but are now committed for life to their wife? Are they disqualified from serving?
49. Elders – Authority – What if an elder, by his actions, is a manipulator, or controller, instead of a shepherd… how to deal with this?
50. Elders – no children/ grown unbelieving children. Elders who have demonstrated their ability to lead their families, and raise their child or children ‘in the Lord’ and yet when they leave the home may fall away from Christ…. is this elder now disqualified? Why?
51. Church helping saints from the church treasury. Hard to believe this would be an issue, when we are instructed to help the widows and orphans. When our methods of hermeneutics are such that we can’t help people in need as a congregation…. where does it stop? Shall we continue to divide over this?
52. Church Colleges – Where is the scripture giving us the mandate for not only establishing ‘church colleges’ but also supporting and promoting them? That’s easy… right beneath the one which gives a mandate for spending hundreds of thousands, and millions on a church building. Are these needed today? Sure. Anything wrong with them? Not in my judgement. But then I’m not the One to decide. However, not everything is laid out explicitly in scriptures. There are many things which are left up to conscience, expediency, and good common sense. The question is, shall we divide over this?
53. Business meetings – Poor substitute for elders and deacons… Seriously doubt that BM have really helped the church. Once I was present in a BM where two brethren almost came to a physical fight over a disagreement. This was shameful. Certainly not something to divide over, right? Some Christians do need a good ‘sit down’ with some spiritual leaders though on how to behave in these meetings.
54. Majority vote – shall we make decisions by majority vote? Is there a better way? Maybe we need to give some thought to this, since one thing which has bothered, disturbed brethren since before the church was established….. is “Who is greatest?” Too many times it is a struggle for power…. control… and certainly doesn’t belong in the body of Christ.
55. College Choirs/ Chorus (modern times – praise teams) – Is it ok to have this? Some say no because it is ‘entertainment’. Others say no, because all are commanded to sing. Assuming this is the ‘command’ the scriptures still leave much open to the ‘how to’. Otherwise we are forced to a legalistic approach. No, there’s no ‘mandate’, yet pushing a truth to an extreme will lead to division. Is it ok to have things like this? Is it ok not to have them? Shall we divide, or dis-fellowship those who do this?
56. Prison services – Is this OK? Of course it is, yet some thought not since it was not ‘mandated’ in scriptures…. Why was this ever an issue for the church?
57. Funeral in church buildings and flowers from church treasury. Again the ‘taking money from treasury thing’… Why not send flowers from a congregation saying, “This is from our heart to yours.”
58. Weddings in church buildings – This was argued about considerably. Even if it were not on a Sunday, brethren would not allow instrumental music in the building itself, lest the ‘outside world’ think, we permitted their use…. even for a wedding! Shall we divide over this?
59. Wedding use instrumental music in building – Refer to #58
60. Church discipline – This seems to be a continuing problem in the sense that congregations are either to ‘quick on the trigger’ or ‘too slow’. We desperately need a re-study of this subject, and how and with whom and when it should be done. Ignorance on this has hurt the church. (By the way, the idea that one congregation can disfellowship another….. WHERE IS THE BIBLICAL EXAMPLE? Again… where is the Biblical example where one congregation ever did this in scripture? Corinth was not ‘disfellowshiped’, nor was the church at Laodicea! The Lord sent a letter via John, to warn them for sure. Paul instructed the Corinthians for sure. Yet all congregations were encouraged to cooperate and work together in helping the saints in Jerusalem…. No harm to us, but we are our own worst enemy in many cases….
61. Church bond sales – Shall we divide? Where is the mandate for this? Right behind the one for having church buildings. Just a way some, years ago proposed to pay fopr a ‘church building’.
62. Special Collections – This should be easier for us. Since there are scriptures. For the saints in Jerusalem. What is the principle? If Paul could gather money for the hungry…. could he gather money for the homeless? The orphans? Widows? Shall we divide?
63. Church support of Christian College
64. Church/Christian Recreation – Can we take money from the treasury and support our children’s activities? Worth dividing over?
65. Social Gospel – Not so hard to deal with when we love the truth. We shouldn’t have a problem with this. Maybe we need more preachers who know Jesus and preach Him. He taught no social gospel. Perversion of it is forbidden. (Galatians 1:6-9)
66. Institutional Church – don’t know what this is… maybe some of you remember this ‘issue’.
67. Church treasury – What can we do with a church treasury? Where is the mandate for having one? Some said we don’t have the authority, therefore they could not fellowship with those who did. Now that most congregations have one, what are the Biblical rules to deal with this money? Scripture please….
68. Budgets – Hard to believe this was an issue. Maybe we need to understand, times change. Truth of course does not. But there are things today which a church family has to do to survive. Scriptural mandate? For this, of course not. Paul just gathered the money, had others travel with him to care for it, and deliver it to the needy in Jerusalem.
Today, churches have to do these things. Shall some divide over this?
69. Pledge cards – Shall we divide and argue over letting elders know what they can count on for the year as far as contribution? Churches need a treasury, bank accounts, secretaries, etc…. what is the big deal? Budgets can only be determined by elders or leaders knowing what to expect. Not worth dividing over, is it?
70. Cooperation – Who ever heard of a congregation in NT times, where they refused co-operation?
Take a break (another one) and just think… these are just some of the things we have allowed to either divide the churches of Christ to the point where hundreds and thousands have left the church…. or hurt the church to the point where it is ineffective in many towns and cities across America. Brethren we have to wake up… Understanding grace and applying grace to each other, our weaknesses, our disagreements… is vital to survival, and growth. The lack of grace… leads to legalism… Legalism leads to division….. Division leads to weakness in effectiveness….
It is truly hard to believe some of these things if not most of them were problems in the church over the years….
71. Incorporation – Is it wrong for congregations to ‘incorporate’, and meet the tax free status? What about our Lord’s and Paul’s instructions on paying taxes… does this forbid avoiding paying taxes thru ‘incorporation’? Is this really an issue?
73. Churches withdrawing from other churches – This is presently still being done. I personally find no scriptural authority for such actions. Even the congregation in Corinth, with all the problems they had… were not ‘withdrawn from’ by the churches in Ephesus, Philippi, Smyrna, Galatia, etc… Shall we divide, and continue dividing?
74. Bus Ministry – Here is a method of reaching the lost… No scripture for busses, but it enables the reaching of multitudes… Shall we divide over this too?
75. Church – Day Care Center – OK, so the church is not in the day care business. The bigger question may very well be, are we in the ‘reaching the lost’ by any means business? You say, “As long as it is scriptural!” OK, then go figure… is this an issue or not? Shall we divide over it? Why? First, if a congregation is able financially to do this, and it fills a need in people’s lives, and helps bring souls to Christ… why not? If another congregation does not or is not able to do this…. that is ok too. Methods of reaching out, and serving…. are many. Lord bless us with eyes to see the needs of people. Many ‘doors’ are open, if we will but go thru and use them. Of course there are extremes… and no the first century church did not do this… (nor did they build multi million dollar buildings), but they went after the lost with enthusiasm and conviction. (By the way, every congregation is autonomous, and there is no example in scripture of one church withdrawing from another congregation. (By the way, this is just my opinion.)
76. Women in Business meetings – Well, it’s a ‘submission’ issue, right… or is it really? You decide. Certainly there are some mature Christians who can decide this without a big blow up. Consider that the ‘business meeting’ is at the least a poor substitute for Biblical leadership. It is simply a method of handling church business in the absence of elders and deacons…. Yes, It has worked in some congregations and yet…. sadly, it has resulted in many hurt feelings in others. (Even some ‘fisticuffs’). It’s not something to divide over, is it? Women in the business meeting? Why not? Work it out. Divide over it? What for?
77. Church picnics/ fellowship – Shall we divide over this? “Give me a book/chapter/ and verse for it!” Give me a book/chapter and verse for dividing over it!
78. Boy scouts – church building – Keep in mind… it is a building! Christians are the temple of God! Shall we divide?
79. Eating in the Church building – Why not? It’s just a building, right? Yes it is dedicated, and it is where the saints meet. Still, what is more important… the building being limited for only the assembling of saints, or using it for fellowship, for doing what a family does together. We are a family right? True, Paul said, “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? (I Corinthians 11:22). If I were to be legalistic, and be looking for a proof-text for forbidding this activity, I might use this one. I would have to ignore the context and the reason why Paul said what he did though. In the end, a congregation needs to do what is best for their congregation. Certainly this activity or not having this activity, is not a good reason for dividing or determining whether or not to fellowship a brother or sister in Christ.
80. Kitchen in the Church building. Hard to imagine that the body of Christ has seen fit in some cases to divide over this. “Where is the scripture for having a kitchen in the building?!” You may ask. Well, it’s right next to the one that says we can have buildings. We need to understand, that not everything is legislated in the New Testament. We are not under a LAW/WORKS system brethren, we are under GRACE/FAITH. We will never be ‘right’ on everything, but we must be right on our relationship with (1) God (through Jesus), and (2) Each other. Dividing over such things as this, is not right. To be honest, it is a disgrace.
81. Family Centers. (Refer to #80).
82. Refreshments for Vacation Bible School. Ok, so if we don’t serve refreshments, then what about a water fountain? Where is the scripture for having a bathroom? Can we have a refrigerator for the communion grape juice? It gets a bit silly doesn’t it. Yet this is where legalism leads.
83. Renting buildings. Why not? We did when we were in Belfast, north Ireland. We didn’t have a place to meet that was big enough for the people we had. What did we do? We rented a Hall. By the way, it was used for dancing the night before we met there on the Lord’s Day. So what! It worked for a while.
84. Christian hospitals. Well, this does pose a problem. Usually such an undertaking requires co-operation from a number of churches. This leads to another question. Is it scriptural for Christians in one congregation to work together with other congregations to do something like this? Didn’t brethren help each other and participate in the feeding of brethren in Jerusalem? Hospitals are kinda different I guess. You reckon god’s grace will cover this?
85. Herald of Truth. When I was much younger, there was much ado about whether congregations would cooperate on teaching the truth to the multitudes through the Herald of Truth. Big undertaking for sure. My question is WHY NOT? Surely we can work together, or do we just prefer to keep house and stay small? Can you imagine, this is number 85. Eighty five things that brethren have argued or disagreed over. Some of which have been big enough to whittle the church down and divide us. You say, “Well, where is the scripture for it?” Where is the scriptures that are against it? Why can’t brethren, congregations cooperate and work together? Autonomy is not being relinquished by cooperating is it? Elders still have oversight of their flock, right? Most of the time, it’s money that is being sent. It is a big effort. Takes a lot of money. People are being reached, contacts are being shared, souls are being saved… Why divide over teaching the multitudes? “Go into all the world…” There is more than one way to “go”. Why not use it.
86. Soup kitchens. If a congregation wants to do this… DO IT.
87. Home for unwed mothers. Why not? If a congregation is big enough and they want to provide help for unwed mothers… Maybe it’s a good opportunity to save souls. This is not big enough to divide over.
88. Church names. Now this is BIG. Even though there are no official names for the church in the New Testament. Not one! The ones you can name are simply designations which were used by the writer to refer to members of the body of Christ. “Church of Christ”, identifies us from other denominations. Not that the church is a denomination… but sometimes we act like it. The church of Christ includes all believers who are immersed into Christ. If you really want a scriptural name… use “______ Where Christians Meet”. We just don’t like it when things change or things are different. Would it be wrong for a group to have a sign, “the Family of God Meets here… Come be with us”. Would it be wrong? Would it be hard to identify each other passing through town? Yes, it would. Would it be wrong? Would we be lost? No of course not. So if you use the name Church of Christ… that’s fine. But don’t dis-fellowship a group of believers who decide to use another name. Now if they use something which identifies them with a denomination… the problem is probably deeper than ‘the sign’. But, before you ‘draw a line of fellowship’, first find out where God has drawn the line. if He hasn’t drawn it, we had better not either.
89. Indwelling of Holy Spirit. Read Romans 8. If you don’t have His Spirit dwelling in you, you don’t belong to Him.
90. 1000 year reign. I have had to struggle with this. Some Christians believe this popular idea, that Jesus will reign on the earth for 1000 years. I don’t believe this, because it negates his work now, and assumes he failed in his first try to save the Jews.
There is much more to this idea, but as long a one does not force this issue, and keeps it as a personal matter, there is no problem. Sometimes, one who believes this will teach it publicly… then there are problems. This is a serious issue, and a lot of study should be given it, before espousing it in public.
91. Re-baptism. There is no evidence for this when one is immersed into Christ. It is a personal thing. No need to divide over it though.
92. Grace. One preacher (at least) has been fired for preaching on grace too much. Grace should unify brethren. Of course brethren disagree on different things. They always will. Grace is too amazing to divide over. Seek balance! Don’t fear it, run from it, fire someone over it, just grow in it and rejoice in it. Besides, where would you be without it? Grace is not just for saving us… it’s for keeping us saved as well.
93. 2 John 9-11 Does this refer to all teachings of the church on everything, or is it limited to what John was dealing with when he wrote it? Well context is ‘king’ right? We need to quit using this scripture to slap someone who may differ on matters of opinion, or on matters over which there is much confusion. Romans 14-15 will help a lot on matters of opinion. We need to quit using scripture to ‘beat up’ on each other. John wrote to warn about those who were denying that Jesus came in the flesh… not over having a kitchen in the building or some such thing.
94. Speaking in tongues. If you claim to speak in tongues, I would say this. There are three rules. (1) INTERPRETER MUST BE PRESENT IN THE ASSEMBLY… or else you have to be quiet. (2) TONGUES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT MEANING OF THE WORD, WAS A LANGUAGE UNLEARNED, BUT GIVEN BY THE SPIRIT. It was not the modern ‘tongues’ proclaimed by Pentecostals. (3) EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE DECENTLY AND IN ORDER, SO TWO OR THREE ARE PERMITTED TO SPEAK ONE AFTER THE OTHER… in the assembly. (4) PROPHESYING IS MORE PREFERRED FOR EDIFYING THE ASSEMBLY, rather than tongues. I’m not going to argue over an experience someone claims to have had, as long as someone doesn’t try to divide the church over it, and keeps it to themselves. It is not a sign of being spiritual… (cf. the Corinthians). The sign of being spiritual, is bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).
95. Orphan homes
97. Capital punishment
After all this, one wonders that the church is still here. Yet it is. Thank God. We have a long way to go. Don’t give up, or get discouraged, that’s not the point with this list. This list was carried and used by dad in his lessons on grace and unity. Why? Well, because a good understanding of grace would help us get along with each other. How can we deal with differences in congregations? Pass out a survey to the Bible Class, take 15 of these things, and ask if they a.) believe they are unscriptural b.) cultural problems of Paul’s day and not applicable today c.) a matter of faith d.) a matter of private opinion e.) A matter of opinion, and can be used in church. Make up your own questions if you wish. The point is to show us that people differ. It’s ok. Along with this though must come the proper attitude to be willing to sit and open the scriptures and see what it says. Let it be a matter of what’s right, not who is right. Let us finally come to understand that not everything is legislated in scriptures, some things are simply the result of first century problems which had to be dealt with then for the sake of the spreading of the gospel, and are not mandates for our culture now. But unless we learn to study together in love and respect, our differences will continue to be points of division, and loosing people who get hurt in the mean time.
A few points to consider:
1. Never build a church on ISSUES… NEVER SPLIT A CHURCH over ISSUES.
2. Often an ‘ISSUE’ is not the ‘ISSUE’, it is HOW THE ISSUE IS HANDLED. How people are handled! How questions are handled.
3. Fact: No one (on earth) has a perfect knowledge (understanding) of all truth. We need to study together, and understand the difference between opinion and non-opinion matters. Respect opinions, listen, share, agree, disagree, love each other anyway.
4. We need to decide: We will not be a part of DIVISION/ Strive earnestly for NO SEPARATION WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST.
5. Remember what put us into Christ is not based on opinions, nor do they separate us from Christ. Grace is big not small.
6. Needed are strong leaders who understand grace, and know how to handle people, and preachers who have no axe to grind or hobby horse to ride. Just teach Jesus.
7. Remember, “every battle leaves a scar”. We can heal, but it will mean learning to deal with things differently from how they have been dealt with in the past. Changes are not all bad… Christians are not perfect… We will never agree on every thing…. Can the church, a living body, the body of Christ, exist and grow stronger? Can we re-kindle the Restoration Movement again…. based on better learning and interpretation of scriptures? Why not? Indeed, why not?