OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew

     The Restoration Movement of the 1800s grew out of disgust for religious division and a love for the truth of the gospel of Christ.  Men longed for the day when all would wear the name “Christian” only and pledge allegiance to the New Testament as the sole standard of faith and practice.

     From this movement many slogans came forth.  The slogans were designed to implant crucial truths into the hearts of the listeners.  “Speak where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where the Bible is silent” was one of these slogans.  This was an amplification of Peter’s words found in I Peter 4:11.  “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

     Another slogan of the Restoration Movement was:

                In matters of doctrine, unity.

                In matters of opinion, liberty.

                In all things, love.

The preachers of the Restoration Movement recognized two major areas, doctrine and opinion.  Doctrine involves the teachings of the New Testament.  Paul wrote:  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine…” (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Doctrine cannot be compromised.  It must be adhered to at all times.  If all would commit to this teaching, unity would prevail.  Note:  It is wrong to transform the teachings of the gospel into matters of opinion.

     Ho0wever, the leaders of the Restoration Movement realized that matters of opinion exist as well.  In these, they asked for liberty.  The practice of circumcision was a matter of opinion/option in the New Testament church.  “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth ay thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal. 6:15).  The eating of meat was also a matter of opinion.  “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse” (I Cor. 8:8).  Again, these matters were optional.  In these things, liberty needed to prevail.  It was wrong to make matter of option matter of doctrine.  Some did this in the first century.  Paul declared that those who bound where God has not bound had departed from the faith.  “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:  for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer”(I Tim. 4:1-5). 

     The last section of the slogan under consideration is:  “In all things, love.”  This love is one that seeks the best interest of another.  I Corinthians 13:1-3 reveals the importance of love.  Without it, nothing else matters.  “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and have all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my good to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

     In doctrine, unity.  In option, liberty.  In all things, love.  This plea is just as valid today as it was when it was first penned.  May every member of the body of Christ give diligence to distinguish between doctrine and opinion.  In doctrine, let us hold fast thereunto with unity in mind.  In option, let’s grant liberty to our brethren.  Then, let’s allow love to prevail in all things.