Ideas have consequences and what you believe matters. We cannot just make up the rules as we go along and call it Christianity. God in His great wisdom has given us His written Wordthe Bible, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to teach us the Truth.
Although the Bible says that we should love one another and be at peace with everyone as much as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), the Bible also makes it clear that we need to defend the truth.
There are certain essentials to which one must adhere to be a Christian. We cannot simply brush every doctrine aside and accept every belief under the heading of merely "loving one another". This is where cults begin. This is what allows people to believe and do anything they want and claim it to be Christian. This is what leaves people lost and under the judgment of God, while assuring them they are bound for heaven.
Although very few people enjoy conflict, we cannot simply bury our heads in the sand and hope everything will work out. The Bible gives us guidelines on this very subject in the New Testament:
"Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NKJV)
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (John 7:24 NKJV)
"For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain." (Titus 1:10-11 NKJV)
We are instructed in these verses to examine the teachings of others and to discern whether they are true or not. We are told to recognize evil and to stay away from it. We are told to judge others by God's standards not our own. We are even instructed to "stop the mouths" of those teaching false and hurtful things.
There are times when we must raise objections to certain teachings. In his book, The Jesus You Can't Ignore (Thomas Nelson, 2008), John MacArthur writes:
But notice: people who actively teach serious error-especially doctrines that corrupt vital gospel truth-are to be confronted and opposed. Their false ideas are to be refuted. They are to be called to repentance. And if they refuse the admonition and continue their assault against truth, we have a duty to denounce their error and do everything we can to thwart their efforts to spread it. (emphasis his, p. 204)
Several verses in the Bible instruct us to confront, reprove, and/or rebuke those who teach doctrine contrary to the Gospel. The apostle Paul had this to say to the believers in Galatia:
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:6-9 (NKJV)
Likewise, the Apostle John wrote this in his second letter:
"For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds." 2 John 1:7-11 (NKJV)
Notice that the truth to be defended and kept pure is the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel that tells us that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Everything centers on Jesus. The entire Bible, both Old and New testaments, tells the story of the Savior.
Rex A. Koivisto, in his book One Lord, One Faith (Victor, 1993), offers this helpful paragraph on the content of the basic elements of the Gospel:
God sent His Son into the world to die as an atonement for sin, and God raised Him from the dead, so that anyone who places faith in Him receives the free gift of salvation. (p.197)
Jesus came to earth as a man in order to pay for our sins by His death on the cross. He took upon Himself the sins of mankind and, through His death and resurrection, made it possible for us to be reconciled to God through faith.
This faith consists of realizing that we are sinful and that our sin separates us from God, believing that Jesus paid for our sins by his death on the cross, and repenting of our sins and placing our lives in the hands of God.
This doctrine of the Gospel is what we must defend. This essential truth must be understood. It is the foundation upon which all other doctrines are built. If this truth is not understood and embraced in a person's life, then there is no salvation in that person's life.
Theologians in seminaries can debate about non-essential issues of Christianity. There are so many things in the Bible that are clear that we need to live out and teach others to live out. Is our time best spent arguing about the peripheral things?
We, as Christians, should be about the business of sharing the Gospel with those who have not heard it; helping new believers understand what rich blessings they now have in their new relationship with God, and defending the Truth of God against those who would seek to alter or corrupt it.
May God give Christians the wisdom and strength to be successful in this endeavor.
Seeking to introduce people to Jesus Christ and to help them become "transformed by the renewing of their mind."
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