Many religious discussions concerning the oneness of the church or the necessity of baptism have ended with, “Well, that’s your opinion.” Many sermons on divorce and remarriage, social drinking, immodest dress, or the necessity of attended each service, have been dismissed with a careless (or couldn’t care less- JTC), “Well, that’s just his opinion.”
There is a difference between opinion and application. The Bible is a book of commands, principles, and examples. It does little good to learn the Bible’s facts, the meanings of its words and interesting stories, unless these find application in personal living. For example, for one to learn that lasciviousness means “unchaste handling of males and females” and “conduct which excites lust” would do little good unless this definition is applied to the modern evils of dancing, mixed swimming, and petting. God did not give us a book that could be understood nor does he expect each to have his own interpretation of it. “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus prayed for unity in doctrine (John 17:20-21) and Paul commanded it (1 Cor. 1:10). The early church practiced it (Acts 2:42-44).
Lest there be any confusion, there are some matters of opinion in Christianity. God has not been specific in some matters and we are to exercise good judgment in doing His will. God has commanded us to assemble (1 Cor. 11:18-20; Heb. 10:25) and worship (John 4:24). He has been silent concerning the order of worship, what time to assemble and where to assemble. In these cases, one man’s opinion is as good as another’s. Regarding matters of opinion, Paul wrote, “Let us not judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in this brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13).
There are matters of faith which cannot be compromised nor dismissed as human opinion. These are things where God has spoken specifically. These things must be accepted, believed, applied, and obeyed. Included in this realm would be how to become a Christian and the acceptable avenues of worship. Concerning these things Paul wrote, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus . . .” (Col. 3:17). To act in Jesus’ name is to act by His authority, to do only those things authorized by the scriptures.
It takes diligence in study to discern between matters of faith and matters of opinion (2 Tim. 2:15). We must not allow ourselves to be “destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Many are splitting the Lord’s body over matters of opinion and because of personality conflicts. In effect, they are destroying the good name of the Lord’s church in their respective communities. Peter said the unlearned and unstable “wrest” the scriptures “unto their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). The word translated “wrest” means “to twist, to torture” (Vine’s). A person must torture the Word of God to defend denominationalism, instrumental music, salvation by faith only, once saved-always saved, and a host of other unbiblical doctrines.
Some folks found in the Bible were trying to do this very thing. The lawyer who asked Jesus “Who is my brother?” was looking for a way to get out of what Jesus was teaching. Scripture says he was attempting “to justify himself” (Luke 10:29). The Jews of Acts 7 had already made up their minds and thus “stopped their ears” to the teaching of Stephen (v. 57). We must be careful not to mold the Bible fit our desired lifestyles, but rather mold our lives according to the teachings of the Bible. (Adapted from an article by Allen Webster in Glad Tidings of Good Things)