Perhaps one of the greatest struggles for followers of Jesus Christ is the very real tension between essential and less-essential matters within Christianity. If the The Threshing Floor is going to be of any use to anyone (not the least of which, me), then we must bear in mind that some wheat kernels that fall to the ground are less essential than others. When we speak of essential matters, most Christians are referring to the most fundamental truths of Christianity. Truths that would render Christianity quite unremarkable and quite impotent if they were ignored or adjusted.
What are some of these essential truths (also referred to as core or fundamental truths)? To name only a few, we should mention: the sovereignty and holiness of God; the sinfulness of man; the virgin conception of Jesus, His substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection; His Second Coming; justification of the sinner by faith in Christ alone; and the sanctification of all those who are genuinely His.
What, then, are some of the less-essential truths (also known as non-core or secondary truths)? Again to name only a few, we should mention: Sabbath-keeping; frequency of Lord Supper observance; food choices; clothing choices; alcohol consumption; tattoos; styles of music; speaking in tongues; and the list could go on and on.
On all of the essential truths, Christians must be inflexible and vigilant as the assaults of the enemy are relentless here. We can in no way deny these truths without denying the very core of Christianity itself. But what should Christians do with the less-essential truths of Christianity? Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians can be especially helpful here.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, Paul writes about the less-essential issue of meat that has been sacrificed to idols. Should a Christian eat or not? Many believers would immediately answer, “No way! Don’t eat it!” But Paul instructs us differently. He actually says, “Eat” (v.25), although we should be able to answer “Yes!” to at least two questions:
1) Is it helpful to my neighbor? (1 Cor.10:23-24; Rom.14:13-19)
2) Does it bring glory to God? (1 Cor.10:31)
If the answer to either question is no, then the Christian must not partake. If, however, the Christian’s conscience is clear on these two points, then he may proceed, all to the glory of God. I pray this helps us in at least some small way to navigate the often confusing maze of truth.