How can one process utter tragedy, such as the loss of dozens of lives in Moore, Oklahoma from yesterday’s monster tornado? How can we respond with grace and not despair? How can we still believe in an awesome God who is love, and see evidence of such apparent random carnage coming down from the sky? [...]
by Rey Reynoso • • 0 Comments
I once got into a discussion with a fellow Christian about some topic. One of us brought up a verse that supposedly proved the point and the conversation was over. Sound familiar? Sure it does. You’ve been there too. Answering … Continue reading →
by Will Dudding • • 0 Comments
When I read various blogs, I hear people refer to unity in the essentials and in charity in non-essentials. I have also read protest that there are no non-essential truths. If God has revealed truth, it is essential! The big questions is…essential for what? Well, all truth is essential for life and godliness:
All that pertains to life and godliness is given by God and would then be essential. Therefore, the knowledge of God is vital because it’s through Him that we understand and apply that which is essential to being conformed to Christ.
But when Christians talk about “fundamentals” or “essentials”, they are not saying that some truths is unnecessary and can be thrown out if one doesn’t like them. To characterize Christians in such a way is divisive and ungodly. If God said it, then it matters! What it is meant by “essential” would depend on what exactly you’re talking about. Essential for what? What is essential to be saved? What is essential to join a church? What is essential for inter-church fellowship? What is essential for inter-church cooperation and cooperation in which endeavors?
Essentials for Salvation
Fellowship among Christians is God’s general will for all of us:
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Any Christian who has believed the gospel and has been born again has fellowship with other Christians at the most basic level – in God. What is essential for this kind of fellowship is believing in what is essential for salvation: The deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ (thus the Trinity by implication), the gospel of which consists of many fundamental doctrines – vicarious atonement, bodily resurrection, justification by free grace through and faith *and conversely repentance*. Even at this most basic level, many new converts will not fully understand imputation, propitiation and some other essential doctrines in the gospel but I can still have brotherly fellowship with a believer who at least doesn’t deny them.
Gospel is of first importance!
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
Those who deny that the gospel is not more important than other doctrines are dangerous people who would cheapen the good news and teach other believers to do the same.
The UBS Translators handbook suggests that “First of All” is both first in time and importance:
Of first importance is literally “in (the) first (plural),” an expression used only here in the New Testament. The phrase can mean “first in time” or “first in importance.” It seems likely that Paul intended both meanings here: “first and foremost”; “of first importance” is another possibility.
“First of all” en protois according to Archibald Robertson’s excellent work on word studies means: Among first things. Not to time, but to importance.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown in their classic commentary concur that “first of all” literally means, “among the foremost points” (Heb 6:2). The atonement is, in Paul’s view, of primary importance.
To put the gospel of saving grace on the same level of importance as baptism for example, is to wrongly exalt baptism to the primacy of that which saves from sin. Paul says in
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…
Well, technically yes Christ did send him to baptize according to the great commission in Matthew 28:19, but what Paul is doing here is differentiating the importance of one over the other. The Corinthians were glorying in their baptism by certain apostles, and Paul is trying to get their priorities straight. Their focus on the message of the gospel had been lost. Now, although there is one Lord, one Faith, One Baptism in Ephesians 4:5,This verse isn’t saying that Baptism is equal in rank or importance as the Lord or even the Faith. The next verse states that the Lord is over all! Even in this triad, the Lord is supreme over the faith and I could say “more important” than Baptism. Even if you don’t get baptism right (which as a Baptist, we marvel at how something so clear in Scripture can be misunderstood with the various modes not found in the Bible), we can still have 1 John 1:3 fellowship! Why? Because baptism isn’t essential to salvation.
Essentials of Church Membership Fellowship
However, baptism is essential for church membership. We can have 1 John 1:3 fellowship, but we wouldn’t be able to have Acts 2:41 fellowship.
Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
This is why our church is a Baptist Church and not a Presbyterian Church. There’s only one way to be added to our church and that’s to be saved AND baptized as a believer by immersion. Me and my Presbyterian brother can pray together (because we have fellowship in the same Lord), but we can’t be members of the same church.
Beyond the local church, there would have to be a body of doctrine that other churches would have to agree with together if they are going to have cooperation with each other on certain things. For instance, a Presbyterian and Baptist church may be able to cooperate together by providing a food pantry for the poor in their community but would not be able to cooperate together in financially supporting the same missionaries. Perhaps a Dispensational church and a Covenant Theology church could cooperate by hosting a conference together on the subject of expository preaching but would not be able to do so on the subject of prophecy.
The comparison between Baptists and Presbyterians on the subject of Baptism is a little simplistic. What about those who practice certain things that other churches have convictions against? That will have to wait for another post….
by Bob Hayton • • 0 Comments
We came back from family wedding this past weekend to realize that Minnesota (our state) passed legislation legalizing gay marriage. Gov. Dayton signed it into law last night, to be put into effect on August 1! My how times change. This new legal reality is coming to a state or municipality near you – and [...]
by Will Dudding • • 0 Comments
Well, I’m not thinking about packing up everything, moving across the country and going to seminary, but I am thinking about where to pursue my M.DIV while I am pastoring the church that the Lord has stationed me at. I graduated Bible College 13 years …
by Rey Reynoso • • 0 Comments
Some Christians, especially after a horrible incident—like the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook public elementary school or the Aurora Movie Theater, or Columbine or Virginia Tech—wonder if it’s right for them to support guns. They ask things like “Shouldn’t Christians … Continue reading →