Okay, here’s one of my questions. What does the phrase salvation issue mean? Often times when we have a scripture or topic come up that we have a disagreement with someone about then we might say that “it’s not a salvation issue so there’s no reason to argue about it.” That’s a tough idea for me to understand. What exactly is and is not a salvation issue? How do we know what is and is not a salvation issue? And just as importantly, why do we feel qualified to say that something is not a salvation issue?
Now let me clarify that I’m guilty of this, very guilty. As a matter of fact, this came up in a conversation I had only two weeks ago. But I’ve got to hold myself accountable and be honest about two real problems I have with this. First, at what point did I accumulate enough wisdom and earn the right to determine what will or will not be a topic for which Heaven’s gates will be opened or closed? Of course my thought here is that I have not and do not. I’m certainly free to develop an opinion or understanding based on the scriptures. But beyond that I am on shaky ground when I begin adjudicating salvation. Jesus Christ died for the right to provide us with salvation. It seems like we have a lot of people running around treating Jesus like the Sheriff with them serving as His deputy. It doesn’t work like that. We don’t know what will be a point of condemnation. So why pretend like we have that knowledge or right (when it comes to ancillary doctrinal issues)?
It seems to me that there is only one definitive issue with which I have been given the knowledge (from the scriptures) and authority (again, from the scriptures) to call a salvation issue – whether or not a person has a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ which can only be initiated by faith through baptism. Now, that’s a definitive statement and I may very well be mistaken. I’m going to continue thinking about it.
The second problem I have is this. If something is wrong, then it’s wrong. For example, if musical instruments is wrong then it’s wrong. If it’s fine, then it’s fine and we need to drop it. Right and wrong, just like truth are not relative concepts. They are definable, distinct and predetermined by God. For me to understand that the scripture identifies that something is wrong and then do it anyway with the understanding that it’s not going to cost me my salvation, well . . . that seems like playing Russian Roulette with all but one chamber loaded.
I do understand the thought behind some people believing or concluding that using musical instruments will not cost another person their salvation (this is assuming that instruments are wrong and the person using them is honest in their belief that its not wrong). For those of us (yes that includes me) who think this way, it seems like that conclusion is based on both the grace and nature of our God. In this example, it’s not a matter of a life lived in willful disobedience to God. So therefore, the thought is that grace would cover such a mistake. Back to the initial point though, I didn’t die for the right to hand out the grace in the first place. So I struggle with saying that some specific decision has removed a person from the covering of that grace.
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