Thursday, November 03, 2011

Essentials vs. Non-essentials

Essentials vs. non-essentials

Essential:  Necessary; indispensable; vital; critical; required
Non-essential:  Not necessary, despensable; not vital; not critical; .not required.

Pretty basic defintions of the word essential and non-essential.  However, when it comes to christianity, our faith, God, the Bible, basic beliefs and doctrines of our faith, etc...those words get clouded, confused, and boundaries are crossed. I want to keep this simple today. The problem we make God, salvation, and being a Christian so complicated because we are worried we'll go to hell, sin, or not look smart or something, I don't know?

What I do know is that we make being a Christian, going to church, and serving the Lord a lot more complicated than it has to be and I believe not at all what God desired or intended for His people or His church.

The simpliest of examples is for us to go back in the Bible to Acts 2:42-47, the church in it's infancy gives a basic example of what the church is supposed to look likeand how Christians are supposed to be.   Devotion to teaching, devotion to fellowship, breaking of bread(eating together), praying, filled with awe, miraculous signs and wonders being done.  Everyone(i.e. the church/christians) had everything in common. They were generous selling things and giving to everyone who had a need.  They met daily and had each other in their homes to fellowship/eat, they were glad and sincere, they praised God and enjoyed each other.  The Lord blessed them and people were saved daily!

Does that sound like a church you'd like to be in?  I sure would!  Does that sound like the type of Christian you'd like to be?  I sure would too.  But, through the years we have allowed Satan into our lives, and our churches and he has manipulated us, tricked us, and led us astray.  We think we are doing God a favor by being so dogmatic and harsh,but really we are helping satan.  Satan is the enemey and He's using you who act this way, not the things we think are the enemy.(Get out our list, bible versions, church music, salvation process, eternity beliefs, spiritual gifts, etc).  Not even drugs, or alcohol abuse, or sexual sins hurt the church as much as legalisitic/narrow-minded bigoted christians.  We preach, protest, holler, and condemn everything that isn't the old ways, old paths, the old time religions, like papaw used to say, or not the way I was taught or raised, yet satan thrives on this division I believe in all my heart.  Nothing hurts the church or spreading of the gospel or people staying in church more than this type of attitude, the narrow-minded, legalistic, and hateful spewing that tryies to make non-essentials into essentials.  

Think about it.  Some preachers preach the same things every weeks, they say it 100 different ways, but it's the same message with their personal agenda or issue they are "passionate" about.  How many churches spend most of their time against something or tearing down other christians or churches with their personal crusades and messages, instead of sharing the love of God through Jesus in the Bible or other biblical topics?  How many christians and churches are more known for WHAT THEY ARE AGAINST INSTEAD OF WHAT THEY ARE FOR?

Whether it's ignorance, the way we were taugh, raised or mentored, or whether its something personal to us, we cannot truly reach a lost and dying world with the message of Jesus with hate, pride, arrrogance, ignorance, hypocracy, manipulation, or stupidity.  Too many preachers, churches, christians, publications, etc.. are doing this in the name of God and they are hurting more than helping!  (again I am promoting common sense and spiritual guidance, not anything goes and is ok!)

These people promote with pride their "essentials" to salvation, but they decided what were essentials, not God.  Take whatever issue you like there are many.  Some say you can only use ONE version of the bible and all other translations are not-inspired and even some go as far to say they are a sin or won't accept you as a Christian if you don't agree with them.  Some say you can only sing one type of worship music.  If you use any other music, it's a sing, it's of the devil.  Some say you can't use any music at all, one can only use an organ or a piano, no drums or guitars, those are an abomination. Other say only a few are predestined to be saved, or others once your saved your always saved While others say you gotta speak in tongues, or others you don't have to be baptized and others baptism is all that matters.  We are picking and choosing what we want and screwing it all up with all these different beliefs, but we cross a line when we make certain things essential that the Bible does not back up.

The Bible and guidance of God's Holy Spirit is what helps us interpret Scripture and God's will for us as to what is essential or non-essential to our salvation and that is the biggest question.  Is this topic, issue, or believe essentail to me being saved, or is it a non-essentail item?   I think where God speaks in scripture directly and with clarity, we obey whether we like it or agree with it or not.  However, we must be careful to pull out certain scriptures and take them out of context or misuse them in order to get them to say what we believe.  Christianity is the opposite, we shoud read scripture and mold our lives around it and do what it says.  It's hard for some people to accept, but not all things are wrong or sinful.  I think scripture is very clear on that(READ Romans).  We want to make issues out of things God never intended to be divisive issues and certainly not us going around saying we are christians and others are not because they don't worship or teach or believe everything we do.

I think for some it comes down to fear.  Some are afraid if you change anything, you might end up compromisng God's word or truth. For some it's simply comfort and enjoyment.  Others its just spiritual habit, some  it was way they were raised and I'm sure reasons are as many as the issues/topics we can choose to divide/aruge over.

My point today is there are essentials to our salvation.  Jesus is the ONLY way to God (John 14:6), no other person, religion, denomination, or doctrine is going to save you or get you to heaven, only through the blood of Jesus.  Another essenatial, Jesus was born of a virgin, lived, died, and raised from the dead to be our sacrifice for sin, death, and hell.   Another essential, the bible is the inspired word of God.   Essentials.  These are just a few, but wanted to give you some examples of what is essential beliefs to your salvation.

Non-essentials:  translation of the Bible.  Sure not all translations/versions are good, but use some common sense, but I believe most scholars who translated the Bible from original manuscripts were trying to make studying/reading the bible better, and if we believe the Bible is our guide, scriptuer does not tell us there is only one translation we have to use.  saying all but one is "inspired" is ignorance. It's  Non-essential.  Worship music.  Music is styles, genre's, and in taste of the listenter.  The key in worship music is to be sincere and worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  Jesus looks at our heart, not our voice, not the instruments, and certainly not the style/genre of our choosing.

Non-essentail, church denominations.  These should have never been started,  God established THE CHURCH(Acts 2) not denominations, that mostly started because people can't get along, have different views, can't agree to disagree, have agendas, etc...God never intended the 30K plus denominations out there.  What is essentials is Love God, Love your neighbor(everyone).

We need to stop putting God in a box and making our christianity a religion and making our faith a narrow legalistic set of rigid rules that people have to agree with or be shunned.  Many churches and christians today have become modern day  Pharisees and teachers of the law, they worship rules/laws over truth.  They like the comfort of religion and not the freedom of relationship.

Jesus is relationship not religion.  He wants us to stand for truth, but enjoy the freedom we have in Him. Not everything we say or do is going to send us to hell or is committing a sin.  We have got to start using some common sense and realize that we have the scriptures for a reason to guide us, to teach us, and to help us. We are to be the church, christians, worship God, serve God, and spread the gospel.  We need to realize that every church and christian doesn't have to look alike. We can be ONE as HE is ONE without making everything a sin or wrong.  We can get out of our boxes, we can open our narrow minds up, we can share the truth of ONE way to Jesus in MANY ways. We can preach and teach the SAME message in a variety of methods and forms to reach various audiences, cultures, and peoples.

We all need to spend some time with God in prayer and studying His word and decide before we argue, condemn others, or die on that hill, is this really essential or is this a non-essential i've been making an essential.  The easiest way I can say it is we can sit around and worry about when to pass the offerings in church services, whether someone dresses up for church, or sings an upbeat song, or we can be more concerned about lost souls and people dying everyday going to hell.  I think when we compare unsaved people to our agendas, it's no contest, our opionions/beliefs/agendas pail in comparison to what's really important, people knowing Jesus and growing in Jesus.  That is essential!

I leave you with the words of Titus, you may want to go read Titus 3, but his advice is good reminder to us about being divisive and wasting our time on things that don't matter!

Titus 3:5b-11(NIV)

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

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