For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
Lately I have gotten a lot of e-mail from people who claim to be Christians. I say claim to be Christians, not to disparage them, but to make the point that anyone can say they are a Christian.
I think that some of the discussions I have had with these Christians is worth repeating. Most start out the same way, they have come to my page and have read at least some of it. They tell me that they are glad that I am trying to serve God, but ...
There are several different buts:
I try to respond to all these kinds of e-mails. First I try to explain why I believe what I believe and I try to show them in God's Word so that they don't think I am just making things up that suit me. The problem is that I find they don't want to discuss these differences. All they want to do is tell me that because I am saying something different than what they believe, I am serving Satan.
When this is thrown at me I always respond in the same manner. I ask how a person obtains salvation. Most of the time I don't get an answer to that question, because they don't want to talk about salvation they want to talk about me being wrong.
I have a problem with that and I believe God has a problem with that. There are a lot of different doctrines out there and it is not my place nor my will to try to convince anyone that my view is the right one. If you believe that a person must be baptized, or speak in tongues, or that Christians will go through the tribulation, or that only the King James Version of the Bible is the true Word of God, or that the real Sabbath is Saturday and all Christians should worship then, fine, but don't let any of that cloud what is really important.
So what is important? How a person obtains salvation in the first place. Through the blood of Jesus Christ. If you can't agree with that then you are not really a Christian to start with.
Just so you understand where I am coming from let me go over salvation. Jesus is God, He has existed forever as one of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son [Jesus] and God the Holy Spirit). He will live eternally (forever). The Holy Spirit caused a miracle to occur in a virgin named Mary. Jesus was born, still fully God, but also fully human. He lived a sinless life here on earth and died on a cross. He died as payment for all our sins. God the Father is holy and pure and cannot abide sin. His holy nature requires death as payment for sin. By allowing Himself to be killed, Jesus paid our death penalty and bore the punishment for our sins. On the third day after His death God the Father bodily raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Jesus' blood is the only way a person can obtain salvation. The person must believe that Jesus is God, that He died for our sins, that He arose and will forgive us. Then the person is saved by God's grace. Period!!!! At that point that person's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life; the person has been saved.
Everything after that is doctrine, and although there are many different views, none of them will get you to heaven or prevent you from heaven. Salvation through Christ's finished work on the cross has already obtained a place in heaven for anyone who believes.
So why do so many people get so dogmatic about these other things? Could it be that the more Satan can get us to focus on the non-essential things the less time we have to spread the essential ones (how a person obtains eternal life) to the rest of the world? Now don't get me wrong, I am not trying to say that anyone who disagrees with what they think I believe is serving Satan. I am saying that I believe Satan will try anything he can to keep us from being effective in spreading the gospel to the lost.
I have always felt that if you want to see perfect attendance in church, look at Satan and his demons. I don't believe they ever miss a service. They do their most effective work in church. They don't need to be out on the street causing sinners to sin, sinners do that naturally. Plus they are lost anyway, so what does Satan care if they ever sin again, as long as they never find Christ as their personal savior.
When churches have internal struggles between pastors, or between members over stupid little things, I believe that is Satan (I am using the name Satan to denote him and his legions of demons). Most if not all churches at sometime or another will have these struggles, and all you have to do is look at a church that is going through one to see an ineffective church. The body of Christ quits talking about Christ and salvation and starts only talking about so and so and what they did or said. Many times churches will split and some members will stay with the original church and others will leave and go somewhere else. These scars can take a long time to heal and until they do heal Satan has gained an ineffective church or churches.
You can count on the fact that those in the community who don't know Christ see what is going on. They look at these squabbles between believers and they judge Christ by our shortcomings. What a pity that we who are in the body of Christ end up making our precious Lord and Savior look so bad in others eyes. How it must grieve God when we forget what is important, when we take our eyes off Christ.
I am not saying that it is wrong to discuss our differences. In fact if those differences include what it takes for a person's salvation then I believe we must face those differences head on. Yet I think we should be very careful to remember that the only really important thing is salvation through the blood of Christ. I even try to tell people when they want to continue on these differences I will be happy to discuss them after Christ's return, after all we will have plenty of time then and there won't be any need to reach the lost at that time, so lets wait until then. We might all find that our understanding was clouded by this world, maybe none of us is 100% right on these non-essential doctrines. Let's keep our eyes on Christ and our minds on what is important; reaching the lost with the message of salvation.
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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