We must learn to faithfully listen to the Word of God – for as we do, God’s Spirit will enlighten us —
The Spirit uses the Word in this way to bring individuals and communities to Christian maturity.
The role of culture and community in conditioning our understanding of sin is seen in Romans 14. In the Roman church some people were vegetarians because they had formerly worshiped idols by eating sacrificed meat.
Paul responded that it is not the act itself that is important, but the underlying character of one’s relationship with God. A person must do what he or she believes is pleasing to God. Different people will choose to take different and maybe even opposite actions to please God. This is why Paul taught that it is wrong to be contemptuous of those who follow rules that seem irrelevant to us; we should not feel more spiritual than those who don’t follow our own ideals of Christian behaviour. Put another way, each of us is answerable to God.
Instead of teaching biblical principles, the human tendency is to substitute rules about foods, ceremonies, rituals, times and places. Paul responds —
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. – Romans 14:17-18
As more and more people become believers, a non-national missionary can help the group to discover God’s will for them and of course a national missionary has no difficulty at all. They will both direct new believers to the Word of God where they will work out their salvation —
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling – Philippians 2:12