What is my responsibility regarding my convictions?
To be meaningful, convictions must express Gods will (Matthew 7:21-27); they must be based on truth. Truth is not relative (John 14:6), decided by each persons viewpoint. When believers differ on matters of Christian teaching, either one or both are wrong. In applying Christian principles to exactly the same circumstances of daily living, only one “behavior” will embody all the relevant biblical principles, only one can be totally Christ-like. This demands modesty, for whose behavior is totally, consistently like Christ? God has empowered the assembly, guided by its elders, to administer Gods will (Matthew 18:18). Some behavior so clearly denies Christian truth that it requires assembly action, as in 1 Corinthians 5. In contrast, our individual responsibility is not to enforce truth, but to help others obey truth.,, Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). The apostle encouraged and enabled his errant childrens obedience to the Lord, because in that lay their greatest joy and blessing, but he was not their lord. We build up others by effectively “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), but, having done that, we are responsible to submit to truth ourselves and to commit to the Lord the affect of truth on others.
If teaching requires other means to make it effective in the lives of believers, it lacks the power of truth.
Can believers live together peaceably when they differ on some personal issues of Christian living about which both have strong emotions?
Yes, we can because the Lord enjoined it (Mark 9:50), but only by applying Scriptural teaching to ourselves. The crux of the matter is not the right or wrong of another believers actions. Our behavior toward others is as important as their obedience to Christ. Another believers disobedience to truth doesnt justify our disobedience to the Lords command to love and serve our brother (John 13:34, 35). Showing him patiently and scripturally “a more excellent way” is loving service. Even when motivated by a desire to uphold truth, behavior directed against another believer denies significant truths.
Lowliness (regarding ourselves) and forbearance (regarding others) accompany the wisdom that produces peace (Ephesians 4:2, 3; James 3:17). Peace with my brother doesnt depend on his obedience to the Lord or on my obedience to my brother, but on my obedience to the Lord (Proverbs 16:7).
Is there a way for believing parents to have standards for their children that differ from the standards of other assembly believers without belittling those other believers?
If joy really depends on obedience to Christ (John 13:17), then Christian parents will want to model and teach their children submission to Gods Word. “The fear of man bringeth a snare” (Proverbs 29:25), so obeying truth because of what others think confuses the crucial lesson of personal accountability to God. Parents set the standard for their child and explain in a manner appropriate to the childs maturity the Christian truths that influence this decision. If the child points out that another assembly family doesnt do the same thing, the parents have at least two truths to model: personal accountability to God; personal responsibility to others. Modestly, a Christian parent must uphold what He understands from Gods Word. Thats personal accountability to God. Personal responsibility to others includes showing respect for them. This may mean recognizing that they too want to please the Lord, want the best for their family, or are perhaps dealing with circumstances of which others are not aware. It may mean simply expressing respect, yet admitting an inability to understand their decision. By responding in a way that makes his children feel superior to the children of “that other bunch” or makes the other parents seem less spiritual, a parent has not “honored others” (1 Peter 2:17) or modeled biblical standards.
How can we help a person when we doubt his profession of salvation?
The Lord seems to have dealt with people on the basis of what they claimed to be, even when He knew their claim was false. He addressed the Samaritan woman as a worshiper (John 4:20-24), the lawyer as an honest questioner (Luke 10:29-37), and the womans accusers as defenders of the law (John 8:6-9). He kept the channel of communication open, but immediately, graciously, and wisely used that open channel to convey truth that worked effectively to expose their position. By limiting our ability to communicate further with individuals, we can no longer help them. When we maintain a channel of communication, we can effectively communicate Gods living, powerful Word (Heb. 4:12).
Allowing for the possibility that our assessment is mistaken, we can pray for him, take a genuine interest in him, and act on his claim to be saved: feed him with Gods Word and talk often about the Savior and salvation with him. A lack of response to Gods Word, transformation in the life, and appreciation for the value of the cross indicates a lack of spiritual life.
If he is not saved, the channel of communication remains open for seeing him saved. If he is saved, cultivating spiritual growth fulfils the responsibility to “disciple all nations” (Matthew 28:19).