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Things Questionable

Things Questionable
By Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
June  2007

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The Scriptures say, "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). When some people look at a questionable item, they take the attitude–"I'm going to do it until somebody can convince me it's wrong!" This, of course, is just the opposite side that God expects of us. The Lord wants us to settle that doubt Scripturally and honestly before we partake of it. One who proceeds to do something about which he has doubts is likely to continue indulging in it even after he is convinced it is wrong.
Why is that so? The reason is that he is not sincerely seeking the way of truth to walk therein. If he lived carefully he would make certain that it was right before participating in it. When a person's conscience is violated by indulging in a thing he runs the risk of "searing" his conscience into senselessness.

At the outset we ask, "Why does he not find it to be wrong? First, he may not be interested in finding out whether or not it is wrong. If he were, he would study to know about it and settle his mind on the matter before doing it. Secondly, he may do it because of the influence of those around him. Since they are doing it, he will too. There is a good chance the others are not carefully investigating and proving things to be Scriptural in which they indulge either. Thirdly, the enjoyment he gets out of it causes him to love it and hang on to it, rather than question whether it is right or wrong to do.

Are you now doing anything about which there is some question? The thing might even be something that you once questioned yourself If you are doing that, how did you settle the question or did you just begin to ignore it? If you actually settled it in your own mind, was it accomplished by a thorough investigation of the subject in the word of God or did you simply dismiss it because of the pleasure you received from it? If the position you took on the issue was not settled by the Divine Standard of righteousness, you need to go back and face your doubts again.

There are some things that one brother might do and another might not do but these are not issues to question. Someone once illustrated on this point that someone might observe a day of fasting and prayer on each anniversary of his conversion to Chirst. This would be his private matter. Another person might not do that but it is not either brother's prerogative to condemn the other. (See Romans 14:5,6). After examining the word of God to make sure that it is in no violation to the New Testament and that by it there is no rock of stumbling created, then the brother may allow himself to do it. And, Paul says, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5).

A lot of what you believe is probably what someone else has told you and you have not studiedout for yourself. It is amazing how many people feel absolutely at ease living a life based on what others have told them. In Acts 17:11 we see the people of Berea eagerly hearing the preaching of the great Apostle Paul (a man inspired of God), yet the Bible commends them for searching the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was true!!!
The New Testament repeatedly says, that it is your responsibility to "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21).... "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee".... "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"(1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:15).

You see, that which is approved of God is found in the Scriptures. God's inspired word supplies the teaching necessary for you to settle any question and know, in principle, "all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Others may help guide you to find the Truth on a subject, but it is up to you to know the Truth from God's Word and "the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Jesus speaking to God the Father said, "...thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Instead of continuing to wonder if a thing is right or wrong to do go to the Word of God and settle it.

There are some things that you must not do. These are sins. But you should also refrain from doing anything that would cause another to stumble or that would harm your influence. Paul tells you, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak" (Romans 14:21).

There must have been a lot of heated discussion in Paul's day on the subject of whether or not Christians should eat certain kinds of meats. The Gentile world carried on idolatrous worship in which they made sacrifice of animals to their idols. Some of this meat was then sold to the public. In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul addresses this subject which evidently had cause some serious problems in the church. They must have asked the Apostle to explain how a Christian should approach this. Should a Christian eat or not eat such meat?

At the outset, Paul establishes God's truth about idols. The Lord's inspired Apostle says, "They are nothing!" There is only one God! So the meat offered to the idol received no blessing by its being offered, nor did it receive a curse from it. The meat was all right andthere was no harm in eating it. "But," he says, "Take heed lest this liberty of yours (that is, liberty to eat this meat with perfect knowledge that it was all right), become a stumbling-block to them that are weak.”

Today some would insist that it is a liberty. They say, "No one is going to take my liberty away from me.... since you can't prove it is a sin and I'm going to do it no matter who it hurts. It's none or their business. Besides, I can find all kinds of preachers who have told me it was all right to do." Someone might say, "We've done it this way for years and now you come along and want us to do different!!!"

First, let us ask, "Are you walking charitably?" Paul also tells you, "But if your brother be grieved ...[because of your liberty], [you're] not walking in [love]. Destroy not him with your...[liberty], for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:15). Furthermore, that attitude belies the proposition which we have preached and contended for all these years. We say, "If you can prove us wrong we will change." Evidently, not when it comes to some matters!!!

The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian brethren that even though they could eat this meat with perfect liberty so far as it being right or wrong was concerned yet he warned them about eating of it if it caused their brothers to stumble. But how could this act cause a weak brother stumble if it was all right for a Christian to eat it? Simply this, not everyone had the understanding that an idol was nothing. Many looked upon an idols as gods. When they would see an enlightened Christian eating this meat, their consciences were wounded, believing that the Christian was endorsing idol gods. Through this wounding, the weak brother would perish.

Paul wrote, "For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend" (1 Corinthians 8:10-13).

This man of God appeals to the Corinthian brethren to refrain from the use of this meat, not that it was wrong in itself, but since it would cause another brother to stumble and perish, it should be left alone. He further taught and warned them that it was a sin for them to continue to eat of this meat under the circumstances!

Continuing on the meat question, in the 10th chapter, Paul writes, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not" (1 Corinthians 10:23). He here declares his liberty to do many things, including eating this meat, but gives two reasons notto do them. The first thing is that it is not expedient, proper, or best under some circumstances. And the other reason to simply refrain from doing a thing is that it doesn't build up. The Beck translation reads "but not everything is good for others—Let no man, then, set his own advantage as his objective but everybody for the good of the other person" (v. 24). The general principle is this: "Let us, therefore, keep before us whatever will contribute to peace ... And the things which belong to the upbuilding of one another" (Romans 14:19, Twenty-six Translations).

So to the Corinthians he concludes: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved" (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

Some Christians would like for some preacher to publish a check list of sins which they cannot do and list other questionable things which are okay. One denominational evangelist used to have a syndicated column in many newspapers called, "My Answer." Evidently questions were submitted to him and he would give "His Answer." What about God's answer? People who weren't interested in studying for themselves, no doubt, depended on Dr. G's knowledge and wisdom to guide them. They simply wanted someone else to give them a "Yes" or "No" on the issues. Some among us are no better. They will not sit down and study for themselves to decide the Truth on a matter. They are constantly asking answers of others to help them make their decisions.

They say, "But what about the Corinthians who wrote and asked Paul questions?" They certainly did and you would be justified in doing the same if you didn't have the Word of God at your fingertips and you could find a genuine inspiredman. But we all have access to God's Word which furnishes the man of God with all needed teaching as we have already seen. So the questions we might have are to be determined by whether or not it is best to do in the present circumstances and if it builds others up or not. When determining these things we need to be honest, sincere and consistent.

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It's All About Me?
After Jesus was baptized by John it didn't take long for people to see his amazing powers. He did many miracles.
• He turned the water into wine (John 2:1-12).
When sickness or affliction affected someone, Jesus could take care of it with just a touch or a word (Matt. 9:35-38).
• Jesus walked on water and calmed storms (Matt14:22-23 & Mark 4:35-41).
• Jesus fed thousands with the equivalent of a child's sack lunch (John 6:1-15).
• Jesus helped lepers and cast demons out of many people (Matt. 8:1-4 & Mark 5:1-20).
• Jesus raised people from the dead (Matt. 9:18--26 & Luke 7:11-17).
Clearly Jesus possessed extraordinary powers. In knowing this it is interesting to note that He never uses any of the power available to Him to make His own life easier. Remember when Jesus went into the wilderness and hadn't eaten for 40 days? Satan appeared to Himand tempted Jesus to use His power to turn stones into bread. Jesus refused. On the night He was betrayed, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus stated that He had 12 legions of agnels (an army of 72,000) available to Him if He wished to use them. But, He didn't. In being crucified, He did not try to escape the suffering of the cross. It seems what Jesus chose not to do is often just as great a mystery as many of the miracles He did.

In our world, it seems the "all about me" attitude is always all around us trying to creep into our lives. Let us always be careful and try to have more influence on the world as Christians than the world does on us.
–Geary Trent [via Pathfinder]