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Essential - Important - Opinion - Questions

Life is complex. Sometimes are lives are so busy that we seamlessly move from one activity to the next without being mindful of our decisions, God or others. It’s in the moments of reflection, rest or difficulty that we consider the complexity of our lives. We are faced with a myriad of decisions in our lives that God has not explicitly given His opinion. It is in those unclear, “gray areas,” of our lives that we can feel lost, vexed or even alone. However, that is not God’s intention even though He has said everything about anything.

Even though God has not given us His exhaustive insight on any specific matter, He has certainly given us an adequate amount of insight for us to walk with Him by faith being empowered by His Spirit in all areas of our life. There are Essential and Important truths clearly and thoroughly expressed in the Scriptures that we are encouraged to embrace and embody. Those Essential and Important truths of God’s Word that will lead us in the areas of our lives that God has not explicitly spoken about.

We all have opinions on a multitude of issues that have been formed by our experiences, education, upbringing, culture, language, peer relationships and worldview. Our conscience is a part of our God-given internal faculties, a critical inner awareness that bears witness to the norms and values we recognize when determining right or wrong. From our conscience, our opinions and moral compass have been influenced.

Perhaps it is appropriate to note that the conscience does not serve as a judge or a legislator of morality in an objective sense (it does not decide what is objectively right and wrong); that is a modern take on the conscience. Instead, in the Biblical sense, conscience serves as a witness to what we already know (Romans 2:15, 9:1). God alone is the final arbiter of morality and ethic not our consciences.

Since God is the source of ultimate morality it is then paramount that we recognized the distinctions between what is essential to Him and what are matters of opinions. Perhaps the graphic and explanation below will help.

Essential Matters - These are truths that are clearly, frequently and thoroughly expressed in the Scriptures that pertain to salvation of an individual. These essential truths intend to answer the question, what is absolutely necessary for someone to believe for them to be brought into the personal and eternal relationship with God?

Important Matters - These are truths that are important to faith and the Church, though not essential for salvation. The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues.

Opinions - These are matters of personal conscience. These issues are non-essentials, debatable things, preferences, disputable matters.

Questions - These are matters of still unanswered questions.

Not everything in Christianity is a first order issue (essential for salvation)—but here’s the catch; the longer we in the Church the more we start to like our opinions on everything and think everyone else needs to live by our opinions. In fact, we can become convinced our opinions are not even opinions anymore; they are just the way things are--the way mature Christians see the world. We need to be careful about making our opinions essential or important truths.

And here’s the deal: for many things in the Christian life, God has not spelled—out to the letter—what He wants. He, however, has given us principles and expects us to use His wisdom in applying them in all situations.

It has been stated, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”


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