Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Essentials to Faith
It seems to me most fundamental or evangelical circles want to sit around and scream and holler about issues that don't seem to be essential to salvation or critical to a person's faith according to the Bible, yet they are topics that they seem to want to harp on or carry on about the most.
I am not here to tell anyone what is acceptable and what is sinful behavior for you, nor am I here to accept, condone, or justify any certain beliefs, that is between you and God, but I can tell you, you need to read, study, and understand scripture in context of the way and how it was written and not base it on the way you were raised, the way your church group or denomination teaches, or the way a certain preacher or teacher you adore may have taught you. I can also tell people what I read in scripture as warnings, examples, or commands based on my study. It's simply a matter of whether God's Word says it or not, gives you freedom/liberty or restricts you, and most of all what you feel convicted about according to the Holy Spirit and God's Holy Word.
I for one, am tired of people and churches spewing their ignorance of scripture, hate toward others they disagree with, or carry on about "sins" and things because they think they are wrong, or most of all try to make certain things a matter of salvation or a matter of fellowship with others. That my friends is a tragedy and a greater sin in my humble view.
I hear many people constantly carry on about drinking alcohol and I always want to ask, do you have a bunch of drinkers in your church? Unless it's an issue in your church, then be quiet. The abuse of alcohol is the problem, not drinking it. As a matter of fact, alcohol isn't at all related to your salvation or the salvation process. Drinking alcohol is both mentioned in the bible as normal practice among people and also speaks of warnings against drunkeness or getting drunk. So, the best I can tell as a Pastor when people ask me about drinking, I say it's between you and God and a personal conviction. I tell them the warnings of getting drunk or letting alcohol or anything for that matter affect or control you. Many people choose to abstain from alcholic drinks, and many people may only drink a few alcholic drinks a year, that is their right and choice. There is a HUGE difference between someone drinking an occasional drink or someone hanging out in a bar every night or clubbing it on the weekends gettind drunk. So, yes, there are warnings in scripture for good reasons. Drinking alchol can be dangerous, especially to those who have no self-control or addictive personalities, and yes many people choose not to drink out of convictions and that is great, and there are some christians who may partake on occasion and still respect the rights of others to not partake and strive not to be a stumbling block or bad example to others
I've heard the same gripe about playing the lottery. Again, my question is do you have a bunch of gamblers in your church who gamble all the time? Again, buying a lottery ticket or gambling is not mentioned in scripture as having anything to do with your salvation or losing your salvation. It is like anything else, there is a HUGE difference between someone buying a powerball ticket or a scratch off a few times a year or someone spending every day in a gambling parlor or not paying their bills or feeding their families because they are addicted. Again the key in alcohol, gambling, or any other issue is whether it's an addiction, whether it's a problem in your life, if you are out of control and don't have self -control or practice moderation, or it's hurting your witness.
I know some might read this article and think I am liberal or encouraging gambling or drinking, I AM NOT! I am simply using these two items as an example to show that we focus on things and make things "a sin" or a "saved" issue when we do not have the right or authority from God. Can gambling and drinking in excess cause a lot of problems? Yes. Can they both cause Sin! Yes! So does obesity, gossip, anger, greed, judgemntal attitude, and trouble-making, which ALL are bigger problems in the most churches than then a social drink or periodic scratch off lottery ticket. The church has a lot bigger issues going on in our churces than these two issues. We must do a better job as a church focusing on more vital issues and allow others to practice personal liberties in their own life.
We got people who won't give, won't serve, aren't committed to faithful attendance, and who are struggling in their faith and it has nothing to do with powerball or budweiser. We focus on the wrong things in our world and we make issues out of things that should be non-issues and ignore the greater needs and bigger issues.
Again, I am not condoning drinking or playing lottery, but I am saying we need to focus on essentials of the faith and deal with real issues going on in our church. We want to carry on about things like this and smoking, and dancing, and bible versions, and church music, when we are not truly studying scripture but more going along with what our churches or denominations teach us.
Many of us are hypocrites plain and simple. We judge others harshly because they do something or we don't do or agree with, then we ignore our behaviors or attitudes that may be far worse. I am saying we need to get our hearts back in tune with the Holy Spirit and get our minds back into reading and studying God's word and let essentials be essential and let non-essentials be personal liberty or freedom no matter the issue or topic. There are black and white issues in the bible, but yes there are also areas of personal freedom and conviction for the believer in there, and we must give people that right and if they abuse, or do anything that leads them to sin or a sinful lifstyle it is then we deal with it and God will certainly deal with them.
These are just my thoughts as a man who reads and studies scripture on a variety of topics and issues because I want to teach, preach, and practice truth and nothing less.
I Cor. 6:12-14(NIV) (talking about sexual sin, but can apply to anything that causes us to sin)
12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.