Bible Top 1000



Doctrinal Differences
[SHOULD WE DIVIDE OVER THEM?]

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Doctrinal differences, especially the “bone-rubbing kind,” should be discussed openly and candidly, but only in a spirit of meekness and goodwill. If no consensus is reached, we ought not reject each other. The brother whose views differ from ours is very possibly as honest and sincere in his persuasion as we are in ours. If we reject him, we reject one whom the Lord accepts. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (Rom. 15:7). The Lord accepted us in spite of our flaws.

The latter part of Paul’s statement is quite interesting. “...in order to bring phrase to God.” When we reject a brother because his conception of truth does not harmonize with ours, we fail to “bring phrase to God.” That’s a serious matter.

But should we accept and fellowship any and all “professed believers,” even though some of their doctrines and practices undermine the Christian faith? There are limitations to acceptance. If a professed believer’s doctrinal stance subverts the Christian faith by denying that Jesus came in the flesh, we are not to “welcome him” (2 John 7:11). A brother who has fallen victim to immorality and turns a deaf ear to corrective counseling is to be expelled (1 Cor. 5). A divisive person who deliberately and knowingly sows seeds of division is to be rejected (Titus 3:10-11). The end result of such divisive behavior is another “church” or “denomination.” “You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (vs. 11).

On another note, I make a distinction between salvational and non-salvational doctrines. Most of our divisions occur over non-salvational issues. If God has not made the question at hand a matter of salvation, we ought not make it a condition of brotherhood. To do so is to be divisive.

One of my readers asked if I believe God has children in most denominations. When I answered “Yes,” he responded, “How may we accept them without approving of and supporting the denominations they’re in?” We must not confuse Christian fellowship and acceptance with endorsement. We accept and fellowship the brother, neither his errors—nor his denomination.

If acceptance translates into endorsement, we would not be able to accept and fellowship any believer, not even our spouses, without subscribing to his/her theological hang-ups, whatever they might be. The very idea is illogical and reeks with nonsense. Unity must be based on diversity instead of conformity. The fact that our perceptional levels vary, establishes diversity. I suggest that if we relish conformity, let’s wait until heaven becomes a reality.

RECONCILING JESUS WITH JOHN

Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). Is Jesus saying that no one who comes to Him, regardless of behavior afterwards, will or can be lost eternally? I don’t think that’s what He’s saying.

You will note that Jesus says it is God's will—not intent—that He lose no one. Suppose a genuine believer decides to walk away from his eternal security? He rejects what he once accepted. He kicks up the dust from his feet against the One who rescued him from the pits of perdition. The scriptures, in many places, point us in the direction of that possibility. 1 John 3:15 is one of them. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” There are many other scriptures that address the same possibility.

Do I believe in eternal security? You can bet your life on it. But I do not believe in arbitrary or absolute security and salvation, wherein a once-converted but now rebellious person is forced to be saved. Security? Yes. Forced security? No.




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