Levels of Truth!

Unity_in_Our_CommunityThere are always priorities in our lives. Some things are more important than others. That is not to say some are important and some are not important. However, there are levels of importance. That is true when we come to the Bible as well. Everything is important but there are levels of importance or priority that we need to consider and remember.

There are things that are ESSENTIAL TRUTHS. These are those truths that you cannot deny and still be a Christian in any meaningful sense. For example, the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, the sacrificial death of Christ, salvation by grace alone, the second coming of Christ, the Triune Godhead, and so on. A denial of any of these truths would cause you to cease to be a believer and follower of Christ.

Secondly, there are things that are ESTABLISHING TRUTHS. These are truths that create boundaries or divisions in the sense of what kind of church or denomination you choose to belong to. Such as what you believe about baptism, church government, eternal security, spiritual gifts, role of men and women, and so on. What you believe about these issues do not determine whether we are a Christian but it is very difficult for a group of people (church) to have unity when it disagrees on these types of issues.

The third level are things that are ETHICAL TRUTHS. These are truths that are disputable matters or matters of indifference. These are things that we can hold different opinions about and yet we do not separate or withhold fellowship over. These are not unimportant matters but members of the same church should be able to disagree and still have close fellowship with each other. In other words, disagreement over these issues should not cause disunity.

What this means is that none of us will agree with each other over every Biblical doctrinal issue. You will never agree with everything an author says in a book you read, you will never agree with everything the preacher says, and you will never agree with everything the person you sit near in the church. You don’t even agree with everything your wife or husband says. Nevertheless, we don’t cease fellowshipping with each other because of it.

Some of these disputable issues include: going to movies or not, having a television or not, how we dress for church and how we dress during the week, what version of the Bible are we to use, how we spend our money, how should we celebrate Halloween, Easter and Christmas or should we celebrate them at all, birth control or not, disciplining children, how often or when should the church gather, what programs should the church have, beliefs about end times, what type of music should the church use, should we clap in the church, should we raise our hands in church, should we say amen in church, what kind of political stance are we to take, and so on. This list is almost endless.

We all have opinions on every one of these third level issues, opinions that we are convinced are correct, and opinions that we have reasons for believing. These issues are important but the question is how important are they? The answer is they are NOT AS IMPORTANT as first or second level matters. They should never be first level or second level matters as so many are prone to make them. In fact, I know churches today that the entirely of their thinking is on third level issues. They are flexible on essential matters as long as you dress a certain way and use the “right Bible.”

We must agree on first level issues, we probably have to have a high level of agreement on second level issues but we do not have to agree on third level issues to have fellowship. We can be unified, love each other, and glorify God even though we disagree on disputable matters. Moreover, we are dead wrong when we think we can’t or when we don’t.

Several years ago a man who wanted to join our church came to me and expressed concern that he did not hold to the dispensational understanding of scripture and wanted to know if that would disqualify him from our fellowship. I immediately told him NO even though our church’s by-laws and constitution holds the dispensational view. I replied the way I did because I feel that eschatological views are third level truths and are disputable and not divisional. In addition, if we elevate them to first or second level status, and divide fellowship over it, we are dead wrong.

Does the Bible address this issue, of course it does and that is what I want to try to discuss on the blog over the next few posts. I hope it will be informative, helpful, instructive, corrective, and glorifying to God as we strive to move toward greater unity at Lakeview.

By lakeviewbc Posted in Unity

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