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A New Awakening
by Stephen Williamson
8/23/2015 / Church Life
Awakenings in the church are always centered on a revolution in thinking. Every awakening in history has been driven by a new understanding of the fundamentals. So, if we want a new awakening, we need to ask what the fundamentals are. The author has identified four principles that the church needs to wake up to. They deal with salvation and the ignorance of it, something that awakenings in the church have often addressed.
Principle 1: Questions regarding our salvation need to be answered by us.
The truth is that certain questions are frowned upon in the church. When we ask things like "Am I really saved?" or "How do I know that I am saved?", the preacher may not realize that we are having an inward struggle. So, when we ask things like this, rather than help us to confront the questions, a preacher will usually try to assure us that they know the answer. They are often puzzled when we persist, and they do not realize that the question has not been answered, nor can it be answered by anyone but us.
Principle 2: Not every assurance from the Bible should be given to the congregation.
Any good preacher will turn to the Bible for guidance. However, they often do not realize that some of the assurances it gives are exclusively for believers, and the Bible cannot tell us whether we are believers. If you are looking to the Bible and pointing to works as proof, then you have missed the point. Salvation is by faith. So, the Bible has its limitations for the normal, healthy congregation, which will be made of both believers and seekers.
Principle 3: Every church's preacher should encourage questions about salvation.
Most churches rarely talk about salvation, and some churches avoid the topic entirely, but the ideal is to expose every visitor to it. It should be part of the church experience. This is true for everyone, since many members of our churches go about their lives without seriously examining themselves. If we do not expose everyone to salvation, then why did they come to church? Are they there to hear a message of encouragement? Is that what church is? Instead, we should make sure that everyone leaves church with a sound understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
Principle 4: Every church should have a place to struggle.
Church needs to be a place to ask if we are really believers. We used to have rooms set aside for this in churches. They were called inquiry rooms. It was a special place we went if we were wondering about salvation. After the preacher prods us a little to consider it, we need a place to find out more, a place to find help with our struggle.
Each of these principles addresses a need we might come across in struggling with salvation. If, rather than ignore it, we provide for this struggle in church, then our churches will produce more true Christians, by addressing our salvation. Many struggle to accept the good news, or worse, force themselves to, and if we ignore this, the majority of church-goers will fall away in time, still believing that they are going to heaven. The author could have been one of these. He thought he was saved, because he prayed a prayer, and every pastor thought he was saved. However, he was always in doubt. Then he discovered a simple truth: that salvation is something that Jesus does, not something that we do. This was his moment of transformation. As Ephesians 2:8 says "for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God". There may be others like him in our churches. To prevent this, we need to start at the beginning and acknowledge their struggle.
By an ordinary writer who wants people to know the truth.
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