Every week I post my sermon manuscript to my blog, but this is an extra. I used to write on other things more often, and I would like to write more, but because of time I haven’t, so here is one for you to think about.
Recently, I was talking with someone who challenged or compromised certain orthodox Christian beliefs. It was no surprise that he would compromise these views, but it got me thinking.
If we compromise belief in the exclusivity of the Gospel, it has a cataclysmic effect on the every other part of our eternal hope. It changes the churches gathering into purely another club. There is NO eternal hope. I want to substantiate that claim here.
Further, if we compromise the claim for the inspired, infallible value of the Scriptures it also has cataclysmic effects on everything else including salvation. Without a firm belief in the Bible we have NO hope of salvation. It was commented something to the effect: “People are torn between whether the Bible is an inspired and inherent book or if the Bible is an inspired book about life…” That quote is a summary. It was also commented that there are two kinds of churches. There are churches that focus on the the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to go and make disciples. Then there are churches that focus on the greatest commandment, being love (Matthew 22:36-40).
These are not in contradiction. My belief in the Gospel and my love for other people convicts me to share the Gospel. It is hatred, at least indirectly, to not share the Gospel. It is negligence to not share the Gospel. This could be likened to child abuse. It could be likened to saying that you love your baby while you intentionally leave your child in a car on an eighty-degree day with the windows up in the sun. No one who loves their child intentionally does that.
So, salvation overall must fit together like a puzzle, you cannot take one part out. So, salvation is exclusive through Jesus, but this is because Jesus said it is, but more than that. We can lump Biblical history into creation, fall and redemption. We also know there is a future consummation.
God created all of humanity good: Genesis 1:1 and 31.
The first people, Adam and Eve, had freedom to live in friendship and trust with God, yet chose to rebel (Genesis 3:1-7). The one trespass led to broken relationship with God. We all died spiritually (Romans 3:1-20; Ephesians 2:1-10). Romans 3:23 talks about how we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.
God chose to redeem us. He chose to save us. He would have been perfectly just to leave us the way we were. But 1 Corinthians 15:3 shows that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. John 3:16 is a key passage about this as well.
God will restore all things (Romans 8:21; 2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 21). (some of the previous material regarding creation, fall, redemption, consummation was summarized from: Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004. pages 442-445)
But if we believe in universalism, compromising the exclusivity of the Scriptures, then we also compromise the holiness of God.
Lev. 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16 talk about the holiness of God. But we also see that in the worship plans of Exodus 19 and the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 40.
Because of the holiness of God we have a sin problem and our sins separates us from God.
The Bible teaches that we have a sin problem:
The Bible even says that we have placed a separation between God and us for the fact that we have sinned (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible also says that because we sin we have to pay by death (Romans 6:23). God tells us that God will punish those who don’t know him and they will be punished (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). God says that He is unchanging and that He won’t change His mind (1 Samuel 15:29). He already declared that He will not let the guilty go unpunished (Exodus 34:7b) so, because we committed the crime we must face the consequences. God can’t tell a lie, or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19).
Going back to the beginning comments:
To distort one doctrine means that our Theology, meaning study of God, is totally compromised because of the holiness of God. Because God is holy we need Jesus. Furthermore, our orthodox, not just recent, study of salvation is messed up. Our study of salvation, soteriology, is skewed when we distort or change any doctrine.
For example, If we start saying that certain things are not sin, then we are playing God ourselves. It gets to the point where we have to ask, is there a sin problem at all? It can get to the point where we must wonder, do we need a sacrifice at all? But the Bible teaches that we do need a sacrifice. We sinned against a holy God.
Another example, when we start believing in universalism, that means that all people end up in Heaven, or end up in Heaven in the end, we REALLY compromise the justice of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God (mentioned over 700 times in the Bible), we even compromise the love of God. Realize that the love of God corresponds with God’s wrath on sin. Sin hurts people and sin hurts God; therefore, there are consequences. This is loving. If we start believing in universalism that means that God is not holy and we have not sinned against Him. But starting in Genesis the Bible teaches that we need blood to cover sin. How do we deal with sin? Jesus took care of my sin.
So, to be clear, just messing with our belief in salvation, changing this to universalism, changes my Theological beliefs by compromising the holiness of God. Then we must get rid of Leviticus.
Rob Bell must have realized this. He was an influential pastor and then wrote a book called Love Wins. This book seemed to at least infer all people go to Heaven. But Bell did not stop there. Now, he seems to have compromised other orthodox Christian beliefs.
I have only written about how soteriology and theology connect, but they all connect. Condoning homosexuality (notice I said condoning, this is not to say not to love all people. We must love all people regardless of struggles, or sexual orientation) has ramifications that distort theology as well. When we consider that the Bible pictures the sexual union of a man and a woman as a refection of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:21-31). In theology we can talk about God creating humanity as male and female (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4). It takes male and female to reflect God. God created two sexes. When we start attempting to change the Bible or the purpose of humanity we are changing Theology and we are messing with our view of God in greater ways than we may realize.
Lastly, when I references certain sins, this is not to say that we do not all have temptations and struggles. But Christians are called not to live-in sin (Living-in sin means that one has given over to it and they do not care. They are condoning it, as if saying, “I’m a liar.” One can struggle with sin, meaning they fall to it, but are trying to overcome it.). If we live-in sin, than did we really repent and turn to Christ to begin with. Christ calls to to turn from our sinful ways and follow Him. That is Luke 9:23. Repentance means turning around. I am not meaning to lack compassion, grace or understanding. But having compassion, grace and understanding does not mean condoning or changing definitions. Actually, condoning sin lacks grace, because the Truth is we will all stand before a Holy God some day and we need to be ready (2 Corinthians 5:10). Some say Christians who stand uncompromising on truth are unloving. That is not true. Actually, those who stand uncompromising on Truth are loving God first (Matthew 22:36-40) and even loving others more because they are not allowing them to live in self destructive behaviors.
Some thoughts for reflection.
Nice article, Steve.
“It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate…A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.” A.W. Tozer Knowledge of the Holy Lord God help us to see You rightly. Romans 11:33-36
wow, thanks for that great quote!
Great article. It’s a slippery slope to deny the truth!