“One body in union with Christ” -Romans 12:5
Without knowing exactly how it happened, Charles was praying with the pastor, asking Jesus to come into his heart and forgive his sins. He’d been attending this church for several weeks, feeling drawn to be there each week, pulled by some strange force, which in part was the obvious love of this man. “There’s something different about Pastor Jim,” he told his friends. “You can see his love is real. I can’t explain it, really, but I know it’s there.”
As time passed, and Charles shared his experience and new-found faith in Christ with others, something strange happened, some Christians he met seemed more intent on which church he attended than the glorious fact of his salvation. It usually went in this manner: “Well, that’s wonderful, Charles, what church do you attend?”
“Berean Baptist,” he would say.
“Oh, is that American Baptist or Conservative Baptist?”
“What’s the difference, we’re all Christians aren’t we?”
“Well, of course but it’s important to know if they believe once saved always saved, don’t you think? I mean, you don’t want to think you can lose your salvation do you?”
“Lose my salvation??” he would say; which opened the door for theological ramblings bent on causing division rather than unity. “Does your church believe in the gifts of the Spirit? How about speaking in tongues? What about baptism? Do they sprinkle or dunk, is baptism essential to salvation, are people predestined for salvation; do you think it’s ok for women to wear jewelry and cut their hair? What about the Holy Spirit, what part does He play in your faith? You have to know these things to choose the right church!”
I need to talk with Pastor Jim, Charles thought. I can trust him.
“Pastor, my head is spinning. I am very confused with all the potential divisions in Christianity I’m hearing of. I thought accepting Christ as my Savior was opening a wonderful door into total forgiveness and a new life trusting my Savior.”
“You’re right, Charles. That is what happened. You must not allow the doubts and divisive thinking of some people to derail your faith. God is not a God of confusion but of unity. When you hear people telling you that you must now do this or that to be assured of your Christianity, look to God’s Word. If their statement does not line up with the Scriptures, then it is not true. God doesn’t want opposing teams in the body of Christ, tearing at the unity Christ died for. He wants us to be servants, loving and serving each other, just as He did when He was walking this earth.
“Tell me, Charles, how did you receive your salvation and forgiveness from Christ?”
Beaming with recollection, he said, “Well you know, Pastor, we prayed together and I asked Jesus into my heart!”
“Amen, my friend. I was there and we cried together as your heart was filled with God’s love. So, let me ask, do you think Christ is in heaven, at the right hand of God saying that you need to do this or that to experience the full-deal meal of Christianity? Do you believe that Christ’s death on the cross was something like step one in the process of salvation? What kind of God would we have who kept the next step dangling in front of us like a carrot on a stick. “Just one more thing to do, to learn, to prove that you are saved, to experience the fulness of God?”
“Yes, I see,” Charles said. “That sounds more like something man would say or add to what Christ has already done.”
“Let’s look at Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.”
“Even though you were not aware of it, the Holy Spirit was drawing you to God. God’s grace. Now that you’ve said yes, He can reveal the good deeds He has already prepared for you to do. Our unity with Christ and other Christians accomplishes God’s plans to build His kingdom.”
Romans 12:1-2 “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”
Romans 12:5-6 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us. If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith that we have.”
Romans 12:10 “Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another.”