May 2006


In these times of change, we find ourselves increasingly uncomfortable or at least unsure about new practices in the church. We step back and ask, just what is necessary to keep our salvation? Or put another way, what can be done without losing this salvation we have gained through Jesus?Here are some items to get your juices flowing. Which of these can be done in the church without constituting apostasy and loss of salvation?

  • Uncovered Women
  • No foot washing
  • No holy kiss
  • No anointing with oil
  • Non participatory meetings
  • Women speaking
  • Women serving Lord’s table
  • Video projectors
  • Kitchens in the building
  • Supporting para-church organizations
  • Drinking from multiple cups
  • Not meeting on Sundays
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Denying indwelling of Spirit
  • Females on staff
  • Praise teams during meetings
  • Fellowshipping believers from other denominations
  • Persisting in alcoholism
  • Persisting in womanizing
  • Embracing materialism
 

1 John 1:7ff serves as a primary passage when considering the safekeeping of our saved status.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Walking in the light would be achieved by walking according the Spirit which God gives us at the time of baptism. Each day we lay down our lives with its selfish desires and pick up our cross and live the Spirit life. Needless to say, we will continue to have sin crop up in our life, but we won’t let it dominate; it won’t be our modus operandi.

Salvation is quite durable, quite hard to root out.  As Paul says in Romans 8:38-39:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nonetheless, we can drive away salvation with our systematic, deliberate choice for sin as is illustrated in Hebrews 10:26ff.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

So back to the question of salvation issues… If we systematically choose to violate God’s will and choose our own way of doing things, then we will lose our salvation. Which of the issues from our list are salvation issues? All of them are if you believe that they violate God’s will and you systematically choose to engage in one or more of them.

Our own personal belief on matters is very important as demonstrated in Romans 14.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Our beliefs and understanding have to be based on sound teaching, but in the end we will have to decide what God’s will is for us. I was inclined to give you “my” list of salvation issues, but now that I look at Romans 14:22, I wonder whether I should keep that between me and God.

One last comment on salvation issues… I believe we are bound by only one command under the new covenant and that is to love one another. Any action committed or withheld that violates true love for one another is sin. For us to persist in unloving behavior would be the only salvation issue.

It's been over 4 months since I stepped outside the "box". Since then I have primarily been meeting with Laura and Steven Koldjeski in their house. (Laura is my niece.) Recently Steven made a decision to take Jesus as Lord and was baptized. Both Laura and Steven have invited friends and family to join us in our studies and fellowship, but to date no unchurched visitors have come to be a part of our meetings.

Also, during this time I have had opportunity to visit with some other house churches and/or their members. I've compiled a list of Dallas area churches at http://yeldell.org/dallashc.html.

I found this book to be the most illuminating and liberating (extra-Biblical) writing I’ve read on the spiritual experience of a Christian.

Watchman Nee was a Chinese evangelist and church planter that lived from 1903 to 1972. He spent his last twenty years in prison. This book is a compilation of speeches, personal journals, and magazine articles.

Nee uses Romans 1-8,12 as his primary text, and suggests that Romans 1-8 should be taken in two halves. The first dealing with 'sins' (justification) and the second dealing with 'sin' or sin nature (sanctification).

The first eight chapters of Romans form a self-contained unit. The four and a half chapters from 1:1 to 5.11 form the first half of the unit and the three-and-a-half chapters from 5.12 to 8.39 the second half. A careful reading will show us that the subject matter of the two halves is not the same. For examples in the argument of the first section we find the plural word ‘sins’ given prominence. In the second section, however, this is changed, for while the word ‘sins’ hardly occurs once, the singular word ‘sin’ is used again and again and is the subject mainly dealt with.

He insists that conscious acceptance of our death with Christ and our resurrection to new life in the Spirit are key to experiencing what God had in mind for man from the time of creation… a God centered life. When we embrace the death and resurrection to new life, we make a different choice than Adam did in Eden.

So this was the alternative that lay before him [Adam in Eden]. Choosing the way of the Spirit, the way of obedience, he could become a ‘son’ of God, living in dependence upon God for his life; or, taking the natural course, he could put the finishing touch to himself, as it were, by becoming a self-dependent being, judging and acting apart from God. The history of humanity is the outcome of the choice he made.

Nee’s treatment of Romans chapter 7, with it’s palpable struggle between flesh and spirit, is the best I’ve heard or read.

Romans 6 deals with freedom from sin. Romans 7 deals with freedom from Law… What does it mean in everyday life to be delivered from the Law?… It means that from henceforth I am going to nothing whatever for God. I am never again going to try to please him. [I’ll let that be your teaser to read chapter 9 of the book if not more.]
The final three chapters are excellent illustrations and context for the idea of dying to self and picking up one’s cross each day. The idea of emptying ourselves of all self-direction, leveraging natural gifts instead of God’s work in you, being more concerned about the ‘work of God’ than God Himself.

I would highly recommend this book for those who have been in the Christian walk for more than a few years. Some of the concepts don’t hit home with new Christians the way they will with those of us who have struggled to do God’s will through sheer force of will.