I like to say that there are two things we preach, which are two reasons for changing the way we "do" church in America.
- The Gospel is a life for a Life. Jesus calls us to give up our lives and enter into his. In the mind of Christ and the apostles, you can’t be a Christian without forsaking your life (dying to self) and giving yourself to follow Jesus Christ.
- Such disciples are called to do that together. Not together as in holding a couple meetings a week or attending the same Bible study. Together as in family: together for our whole lives, taking care of each other’s needs. Christ’s family, filled with a love given by the Holy Spirit, should be far closer than biological families.
Our churches don’t preach that Gospel … that’s a problem.
Our churches are in the way of disciples being together. When disciples are forced—whether by false teaching or by an obligation to attend an institutional church—to be in fellowship with those who are not disciples, then their unity is destroyed.
That, too, is a problem.
But I don’t want to write about those things today. Instead, I want to write about a practical application of those things. I want to address …
What is Salvation?
Today I got an email notification that someone I once knew is becoming a pastor of a denominational church.
I wish him the best, but his situation is a perfect illustration of what is wrong with today’s Christianity.
This person lived at Rose Creek Village, very close to me, for a year or two. I got to know him very well. Really nice guy. If you met him, you’d like him. I liked him.
But he has a problem that is fatal to following Christ. He is unable to deal with difficult situations, even to the point of dishonesty. There are many problems he’d rather dodge than deal with.
You can’t do that and help people.
You certainly can’t do that and be a shepherd in the church of God.
In almost every denominational church I’ve been a part of, such a problem would go on forever, never dealt with.
Nor is it a minor problem. It affects his happiness and the happiness of his family on an ongoing basis. Because he can’t face problems, his family’s problems go along, never dealt with. Indeed, they had been compounding for decades when I met him.
Is such a man saved?
It depends what you mean. Is he going to heaven? I hope so. I hope he’s made enough of a real commitment to Jesus Christ and that he’s a kind (and thus loving) enough person that God will have mercy on him and let him into heaven.
But if you ask whether he is saved from himself, from the world, and from the devil, the answer is a clear no. There are areas where the devil has a free reign in his life and his family’s life to bring difficulties and torment, intense heartache that could be avoided by the teaching of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit … teaching and power that he cannot bring because he can’t face the problems.
He’s not unusual. He’s typical.
How many men and women have I seen weeping about the problems in their life that they can’t overcome despite a real faith in Christ?
I’ve seen many. And many others have simply learned to live with their difficulties, their addictions, and their conflicts because preaching is not enough to help them.
A Salvation That Comes Only from the Church
Dare I say that a real faith in Christ and good, Scriptural preaching are not enough to deliver men from their sins?
I do dare, and I dare because the Bible says so.
Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13)
There are sins that can only be overcome by being in the church, and a Biblical church at that … like the ones the apostles started. Churches that are family, that share their possessions and their lives, that take care of one another like brothers and sisters. Nay, not just like brothers and sisters, but like brothers and sisters empowered with a love that comes from heaven.
Until the day we’re willing to overthrow the traditions of men and reject a concept of church that accepts anyone who walks through the front door, we will not see the salvation I’m speaking of in this blog.