Christian liberty includes concern for others

As those who belong to Christ our goal is to be well-pleasing to him.  That includes being careful not to cause those who may be weaker in the faith to sin.

In Romans 14:14 Paul makes clear that what we eat or drink is not sinful in itself: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean” (ESV).  Nevertheless, for a Christian to do something he believes is wrong is a grievous sin.  Thus he warns, “Do not, for the sake of food, Continue reading “Christian liberty includes concern for others”

The fruit of the vine: Basic principles of Christian liberty

Christian liberty and liberty of the conscience are rich concepts (see the Westminster Confession of Faith 20:1 and 2).  In Christ we have been set free from bondage to Satan, sin, and death.  We are no longer bound by the ceremonial law, but have direct access to God in Christ Jesus by his Spirit.  The conscience is bound, not by regulations of men, but by the Word of God.  We may not forbid what God allows nor require what God does not command.

We can also use the term “Christian liberty” to refer to how we use things which are not wrong in themselves.  John Murray in “The Weak and the Strong” (originally published in the Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. XII, 2, 1950, reprinted in Vol. 4 of his Collected Writings, pp. 142-157, and available online at:, discusses the classic passages, Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8.  He identifies the issues involved in these Scriptures Continue reading “The fruit of the vine: Basic principles of Christian liberty”

The fruit of the vine: Christian liberty — Where are we going?

Why am I taking the time and space to reflect on the subject of Christian liberty?  It may be helpful to repeat what I pointed out at the beginning, that although the subject arose in the context of questions about the character of the fruit of the vine in the communion service, the session has not made a decisions on that matter (except to wait for a time before considering the subject).  However, in studying the issue, it appeared to me that as a congregation we would do well to give attention not only to the sacramental issue (what is the most appropriate and Biblical way to observe the Lord’s Supper), but also to the question of Christian liberty, which is a separate, but related issue.  I intend to preach on Romans 14 when we get to that point in our current Sunday morning series on Romans.  However, I also wanted to do some bite-sized reflections over a period of time (thus these blog entries, which also appear as bulletin inserts).  Continue reading “The fruit of the vine: Christian liberty — Where are we going?”

What does God say about wine? (continued)

The Bible clearly condemns drunkenness as we have seen.  However, it also speaks positively about wine.

Psalm 104 celebrates God’s provision for his creation:

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart. (vv. 14-15 ESV)

God’s blessings, poured out upon his faithful people, include wine:  “He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, Continue reading “What does God say about wine? (continued)”