OK, so far, I have discussed in depth about the one thing Christians should be convicted of in order to call themselves Christians; and that is the fact that the only way we can get into heaven is through faith in the gift that Jesus gave us in His death. Then I described how striving to live a life without sin is a part of this conviction. If you haven’t read these first two parts to this lengthy, yet hopefully informative, blog, I highly advise you do so. You can view the first part here and the second part here. You don’t have to read these fully, but I do wish that you would at least scan through them to get the gist of what I am talking about. In this final addition of my “series” (I feel like a preacher who has prepared a three-week series of sermons :P), I want to show you my reasoning as to why there is only the one specific thing we must be convicted of, and everything else is relatively unnecessary.
I came across Romans 14 toward the end of my study of the letter. I knew the chapter existed, but I had no idea of it’s contents. When I read it, I was completely dumbfounded. This chapter in Scripture addresses one of the main problems in the church today! Read this, and then let me explain:
“One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master, he stands or falls. And he will stand because the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” [Romans 14:2-7]
I want to put the whole chapter of Romans 14 in here for you to read, because just like the rest of Scripture, every verse is extremely important to read and each one holds it’s own purpose. Therefore, I highly encourage you to open up your Bibles and read this chapter to discern your own meaning from it. But for now, I want to share with you what I get from this portion of Scripture.
I don’t know if you got this right off the bat, but this immediately spoke to me as an analogy for all the little things the church disputes about; and in just a few short verses, it solves all of these disputes. Paul, here, is saying that people will disagree about things, but that doesn’t make one person right and the other one wrong. Just the opposite, in fact – both people are right in their own minds. A man can be a pre-millenialist while another man can be an amillenialist. One church can believe that a certain kind of music is acceptable, while another congregation believes that it is not acceptable. One denomination can believe that prayer should be to the saints while another denomination believes that prayer should be to God. Everyone is entitled to their own convictions.
I don’t know about you, but this is a tough one to swallow for me. I was raised (not necessarily by my parents, but just in general) to believe that certain aspects of different Christian faiths were not correct in what they do. But as we see here, this isn’t necessarily true. However, Paul does make one stipulation. In the above passage, he mentions it fleetingly when he says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” Later in verse 23, he expands on this fact, making a bold statement: “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Boom! You have to be 100% sure of what you believe. If you are merely 99.999% sure of something and act on it, you are committing a sin. Now that’s intense! Basically, Paul is telling us, “Crack open the Bible and find reason for your beliefs. Become convicted of them – believe them to the fullest and act on them to God’s glory.” Yeah, I would highly advise you to find a Biblical foundation for any and all of your beliefs. Otherwise, they are founded on some shaky terms, and in that case, could you really be convicted of them? This is something I have just realized and have decided to work on for myself – finding a Biblical basis for the things I am convinced about to become fully convicted of them.
This is NOT a free pass for you to decide that you can just do whatever you want as long as you believe it’s okay. If that’s what you got out the 700 words above, then go back and read every one of them. Paul said to do everything to the Lord. If what you are doing is an actual sin, how can it be to the Lord? If you’re “confused”, use this as a litmus test: Read through everything that the Bible says on whatever subject you are confused about with an open heart and an open mind, and if you come away convicted that what you believe is right, then it probably is. Just remember, there is a difference between being convicted of something and allowing yourself to be given over to your sinful nature [Romans 1:21,24].
But Paul doesn’t stop right here. He doesn’t just say that we are allowed to be convicted of different things and still all be correct. With this knowledge, comes responsibility:
“Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to be a stumbling block in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil, for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” [Romans 14:13-18]
It’s ok to have your beliefs. You can believe that baptism by immersion is what is required. But if your brother in Christ is convicted that baptism by other means is correct, don’t try to immerse that man’s son (yeah so it may be a little extreme as an example, but you understand what I’m saying). You should never purposefully be a hindrance to your brothers beliefs. I can’t really put it in words better than Paul did here: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he believes.” Respect what someone else believes, even if it completely contradictory to what you believe! You owe your brother in Christ as much.
To sum this post up, Paul is saying that you can be convicted of many different things as a Christian, but you must be fully convicted of them, and you must not let your brother in Christ stumble in his faith or convictions because of them. To sum this three-part blog on Romans up, the title remains true – there is one and only one thing about which we MUST be convicted and there are no alternatives; and that is the fact that God (as Jesus) came and died for our sins because there is nothing we can do ourselves to guarantee our eternal life. With this conviction, comes the (willful?) obligation to not commit sin against God. Of the many other things we are convicted of, there is nothing else that is necessary for everyone to be convicted of in order to receive salvation.
Now let me add personally, that it is not to God’s glory to be “convicted” of something that has no Biblical basis. You’re not going to hell if you’re a true Christian who believes in the existence of Creation AND evolution. But how can it be to the glory of God that you profess that evolution – the theoretical science that openly rejects the existence of God and His hand in the creation of the universe – is a true science?! Please, please! Open your Bible and find Biblical basis for your beliefs – if not for yourself, then for your brothers and sisters in Christ, and for God. Because any belief that you have that has no Biblical basis is probably not a belief worth fighting for.
I know this was a difficult blog to read through, and I am sure that a lot of you have disagreements. That’s fantastic. It means that your actually paying attention to what I’m saying. I hope this sparked something in your mind. Maybe enough that you could go back and read my first two parts and get something out of them! Or maybe it does something completely different to you. I don’t know what it may be, but I pray that somehow, God reaches out to you through the words of this undeserving servant. Remember, do your own research. I’m not the Bible, so don’t take my word as Gospel.