A gracEmail subscriber writes: “I am concerned that people who claim to follow Jesus Christ do not understand the Bible alike on many topics. Are we right and others wrong, or vice-versa? Whoever is wrong cannot be saved.”
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What makes you think that our salvation depends on infallible understanding? If that were the case, not one of us would ever be saved. The best we can say is that all Christian believers are right and all are wrong — just on different topics. Since that is true we will sometimes disagree on how best to please Christ. And Scripture shows us, in Romans chapter 14, how to apply gospel principles when that happens. Unfortunately, we often have ignored the guidance provided there, and strife, division and judgmentalism have been the result.
Some have supposed that Romans 14 has to do only with incidental matters of no importance. Whoever said that didn’t appreciate the seriousness with which the original readers of Romans 14 held their various convictions which that chapter discusses. Paul’s original audience in the Roman church included Jews and Gentiles. Although they were one in professing faith in Jesus, their vastly different backgrounds, experiences and understandings regarding the role of the Hebrew Torah led them to strongly-held conclusions about some very down-to-earth subjects — practical conclusions that collided head-on and which seemingly could never be reconciled.
In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul considers the issues of meat-eating or vegetarianism (illustrative of issues of personal piety) and observance or non-observance of special days (illustrative of issues of congregational practice). But Paul does not conclude that one side is right and the other side is wrong. Instead, using these first-century issues as models, he calls attention to three fundamental gospel truths, which lead him to three attributes or roles of Jesus Christ, from which he draws three universally-applicable principles regarding the way believers ought to relate to each other when they differ about how best to please God.