Over the last decade I’ve been blessed to have several conversations with folks about Bible doctrine. I’ve also had several awkward moments with people, where they duck the questions or change the topic. I am not on a mission to force people into doctrinal conversations. However, I’m not afraid to discuss it either. Each of us should know what we believe and why, and be able to explain it from the Bible.
As we begin this new year, I’d like to ask a rhetorical question (answer it to yourself, not to me):
What do you believe about salvation?
- Do you believe in decisional regeneration, meaning that a person must make a conscious decision to be saved, all in his own power? Or do you believe there is a supernatural involvement from the Holy Spirit? If you believe it is both of these, which comes first, the working of the Holy Spirit, or the decision? If it’s your decision, then how much must you decide? Do you grit your teeth and determine to believe? Must you weep? If you have decided to be saved, then, is it also in your power to un-decide, thereby losing your salvation? If the answer is no to that, then why? Why does a person have the power to believe, but no power to un-believe? If he can un-believe, then what scriptures support that?
- Are you a hyper-dispensationalist, meaning, you believe there are different roads to heaven based on the dispensation of time? If so, then, are you sure you’re on the right road, right now?
- Are you a Calvinist, meaning, you believe that salvation is totally 100% of the Lord, and 0% man? Are you a closet-Calvinist, fearful of what your peers will think of you if you admit to believing Calvinism because of the false teaching that is floating around about it? (I can completely relate to that fear.)
- Do you believe in some other way to heaven that I haven’t listed? Are you sure that it lines up with scripture?
These are the questions that I was forced to ask myself in 2007 and beyond. I searched the scriptures, prayed, and searched some more to find my answers. I don’t mind saying that I still often have more questions than answers, but that’s okay! As long as I search the scripture, I can find the answers. And some questions I won’t understand till I reach the Golden Shore. I’m okay with that, too. After all, I’m only human.
So, what do you believe about salvation? If you already know, then be sure that it lines up with the Bible. Also, make sure your church believes what you believe. Ask your church leaders about their confession of faith, and then ask if they agree with it. Many times, a pastor doesn’t agree with the confession of faith that their church has adopted, but the people don’t either, so it’s a moot point. However, folks who are searching for a church with sound doctrine will often use that confession of faith as a guideline for what a church teaches and preaches. What a disappointment to find out that a church has a Calvinist confession of faith, but despises the Doctrines of Grace (or vice versa)! If your church and its pastor do not agree with their confession of faith, perhaps the church should get a new one, or vote not to have one at all.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The church exists for the growth of born again believers! I have been in churches where it is taught that the pastor ranks above all other humans, and we are to “touch not God’s anointed” (Psalm 105:15). But asking questions is not doing harm to the man of God. If your church leaders dislike questions, perhaps it’s more of a cult than a church.
It’s never wrong to probe more deeply into the word of God, and then stand firm in the Bible. It might cost us friends or popularity, but the blessings far outweigh the heartaches.