Keep The Main Thing, The Main Thing

Saint Augustine summarizes Romans chapter’s 14 and 15 saying that, “In the essentials there must be unity; in the nonessentials, there must be liberty, and in all things, there must be charity [1].” Paul, in Romans 15:5 and 6 echoes this same sentiment.

v5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
v6 that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [Romans 15:5, 6 KJV].

I wonder how many Christians, let alone churches, are in total agreement with each other. Since the day Christ died on the Cross for our sins, at least until 2012, there have been 43 thousand church denominations created, each with its own interpretation of the Bible or some aspect of theology [2], otherwise, why split? It’s like believers treat the Bible as a smorgasbord. There should be one Bible, one faith, one body, one head, and one church and that is the church of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Sadly, it is not so.

Many churches have split over nonessential differences in theology. Many believers have left churches and/or dissolved friendships because of nonessential doctrines/theology. Even more sadly, many denominations have split off because of differences in the essential differences. However, when they split, they became outside the orthodoxy of Christianity. They also slipped outside of God’s grace [3]. It seems as though the further away from the Cross in time that man gets, the further away from the truth that he gets as well.

Again, in the essentials, there must be unity. So, what are the essential doctrines? What is a true Christian supposed to believe to remain in God’s grace and within the orthodoxy of Christianity? The Bible explicitly teaches us that there are basically five essential doctrines with a few secondary essential doctrines. The secondary doctrines are not weaker in power or importance but dictated by the first. To be a true Christian, we MUST believe in the following five essential doctrines of the faith. A cult will not believe one or more of the following. It is a good way to test the church you attend.

1. The deity of Christ [4]
2. Salvation by grace [5]
3. The resurrection of Christ [6]
4. The Gospel [7]
5. Monotheism [8]

All other issues are nonessential and not worth splitting up churches, friendships, or creating stumbling blocks for weaker Christians [9]. Do not get caught or wrapped up in arguments concerning nonessential doctrines. Remember that in the nonessentials there must be liberty. However, liberty is NOT at the expense of a new or weaker Christian. If you are free in liberty of a nonessential, do not act free in front of a brother or sister who is not yet free nor has a different opinion of the same issue [10]. This may create a stumbling block for this brother or sister.

Here are three take-aways to this blog, 1) Remember the most important of the three [11], in all things there must be charity, which is love. 2) Let there be unity, but only in the essential doctrines. Do not be in unity with other faiths [12]. 3) The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing, and the main thing is Jesus Christ. Keep our focus on Him.
[1] Love
[2] Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary claims that there are approximately 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide in 2012. They further claim that a new denomination forms about every 10.5 hours. You can do the math, because it boggles my mind too much to think that there is that much division in the body. Now of course, many of these did NOT start out as a Christian church.
[3] For example, the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses
[4] We must believe that Christ is God. John 1:1; John 8:58; John 10:30, 33; John 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 1:8. Couple John 4:2, 3 with John 1:1, which again, is the Mormons. A few secondary essential doctrines are, the Trinity (Matthew 3:16, 17; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 6), Virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-20), Jesus is the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12). Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is not God and that He is the brother of Satan
[5] We must believe that Christ saved us by grace alone and not of works lest any man boast. No one can be good enough to get into heaven because the Bible says that we are as filthy rags. Ephesians 2:8, 9; Galatians 5:4; Romans 3:20
[6] We must believe that Christ rose from the dead because if He did not, then our faith is useless and we are still in our sins. The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. 1 Corinthians 15:14; John 2:18, 19. Paul made this an essential doctrine in verse 17 of 1 Corinthians 15.
[7] We must believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Good News. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; As a warning. . .Galatians 1:8, 9. Again, the Mormons because they say themselves that they have another Gospel.
[8] We must believe that there is only one God and it is the God of the Bible in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10, 11; Isaiah 44:6, 8; 1 Corinthians 8:6. Mormons believe in many gods.
[9] 1 Corinthians 8:9
[10] Some nonessential issues could be eschatology, pneumatology, water baptism, the Sabbath day, the eating of meat, or the denomination of church attended. Paul covers some of these in Romans chapters 14 and 15.
[11] Essentials, nonessential, and Love.
[12] Ecumenicism, like Chrislam.

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