There are a whole lot of opinions when it comes to religion, but nothing to back them up. When I say nothing, I mean no scriptural basis. So how do we distinguish matters of Faith from matters of opinion? First, let us distinguish what is not an opinion.
An approved example is not opinion. In Acts 11:27-30 we have the approved example of Antioch sending relief to the brethren in Judea, sending it to the elders. This is not someone’s opinion; the text says they sent it to the elders, not to a board of directors of a human organization.
A necessary inference is not opinion. In Matthew 3:16 “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.” Necessarily inferred in this is that Jesus went down into the water. This is not someone’s opinion; it is necessarily inferred from the text.
A command is not opinion. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). This is not someone’s opinion; this is what Jesus said and what Mark records.
An opinion is a belief, whether right or wrong. If it is a correct opinion, it is founded on fact. If it is a correct biblical opinion it is found in God’s word. If it is an incorrect opinion, it is founded on something beside fact. If it is an incorrect religious opinion, it is based upon something other than what God has said.
A. The term “The Faith” is used in the New Testament to mean God’s revelation to man, the revealed system of faith (Jude 3 ff; Acts 6:7; 13:8; Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Gal. 1:23 and Phil. 1:27). It means the same thing as “The Gospel.” For example, one could exchange “the faith” for “the gospel” in Mark 16:15 without doing violence to the passage. The two terms – faith and gospel mean the same. When the term “the faith” is so used, it is an objective use of it.
B. The term “Faith” is used in another way in the New Testament. This usage is not an objective use of it, meaning the gospel. In this second usage of it, the term indicates what one personally believes based upon their understanding of the faith of the gospel. Their personal faith may be correct or it may be incorrect.
Paul used it in the correct way in Romans 14 when he said “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (v. 23). “Faith” in verse 23 means “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (v. 5). It is with reference to this faith Paul said, “Hast thou faith? have it to yourself before God” (v. 22). “Faith” is verse 22 is not doubting of verse 23. “Faith” in verse 22 is not the “faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The faith once delivered was to be preached to all the world (Mk. 16:15 ff; Gal. 1:23; Jude 3). The “faith” of Romans 14:22 was not to be preached but “have it to yourself before God.”
Brethren, we need to understand that our faith, our personal faith, which we are to have to ourselves before God is over a matter or matters either of which is acceptable to God. The meat eater and the herb eater of Romans 14 were both received by God (Rom. 14:3; 15:7). The man who esteemed one day above another and the brother who did not were both received by God (Rom. 14:5; 15:7).
In the New Testament the terms faith and gospel are often used to mean the same thing. In Romans 1: 16-17 Paul said he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” the reason being “therein” that is, in the gospel is “the righteousness of God revealed” from “faith” – the gospel – to “faith” within the heart.
This faith was not just somebody’s opinion. The apostles who revealed it claimed they were eyewitnesses (2 Pet. 1:16), they heard (2 Pet. 1:18 f; 1 Jn. 1:1), they handled (1 Jn. 1:1-4) that which they declared. What was delivered was received of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:23; 15:3 f; Gal. 1:11-12). When this faith was written, people who read could understand the message (Eph. 3:3-4) and understand the will of God (Eph. 5:17). More knowledge or understanding is not what is needed by brethren on this subject, but more faith to believe exactly what Jesus said.
When men want to read and understand the will of God, they can. Jesus asked a lawyer what he read in the Law. When the lawyer responded, Jesus said, “You have answered right: this do, and you shall live” (Lk. 10:25-28). When Herod wanted to know “where Christ should be born” it did not take the chief priest and scribes long to say “in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matt. 2:35). When men and women get their facts straight from God’s Word and keep their opinions and the opinions of others to themselves, therein is the truth of God revealed.