The Facebook Conversation Over My Post on Essentials

Facebook seems to be the breeding ground for comments rather than the blog, so I thought I would copy and paste the comments on here for posterity's sake.

The original post:  A Proposed Minimal Set of Essentials

Grady posted:

‎? should not the death, burial, and resurection be a part of those essential beliefs? How about forgiveness of sin, the how that happens as proclaimed from the scriptures? How about living a life after Christs example? Should not these all be a part of the "essentials"? Just questions not debate, have the answers they are in the scripture, just trying to decern your thinking on these matters.

By the way, I continue to pray for you and your family, be blessed in this day, love you!
 Regan replied:
I like to focus more on what it means to be a Christian rather than how we get there. The church is littered with debate and division over the latter. We get hung up on it and miss the former.

And when teaching what it means to be a follower totally surrendered to Christ, the basics of conversion are covered. They just don't remain the focus. I know people who are just baptized and never become disciples; same with people who say the sinner's prayer. But if you love God, love your neighbors, love one another, show the fruit of the Spirit (which would imply you have the Spirit, the seal of Salvation), and declare that Jesus is Lord, then you are Jesus'. It's about the maximum Christian life of total surrender rather than the minimal ritual life of baptism and church.

And this list is more of a "who can we accepts as brothers and sisters in Christ." What are the "essentials" to accept someone as a brother or sister? The "essentials" we will allow ourselves to be unified in. The Spirit of God is the sign of a follower. And that Spirit doesn't just come at baptism, or I would have had that in my essentials.  How People Received the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts?

I did not address doctrinal essentials in this post, but I will. Although, we still need a minimal list. That Jesus rose from the dead and was God in the flesh would be on that list. 
 Dan wrote:
When you say "what it means to be a Christian" are you only talking about the actions of the Christian? Are you including the why some one does these things?

One clarification: you say "Jesus said that He did not come to judge (John 12:47).  If Jesus did not come to judge and condemn in regards to eternal life, then we to avoid our natural tendency to judge others in that light." While I agree with judging eternal salvation of some is dangerous, aren't there are some the church is supposed to judge? Also, in using this verse, does that mean we need to save since in that same verse he says he came to save the world? What about the next verse(s) where he does point to the Judge (presumable himself as seen in these places:
 Laura wrote:
I'm not reading all this, but I propose not making a list of essentials.

Regan replied:
@Laura - That way we can have it change and be whatever we want depending on the mood we are in? Because whether we have thought it out enough to write it out, we do have a list.

@Dan - Besides me missing the word "need", here is responses.

Oh, yes in regards to judging. We are supposed to judge people to teach them, to help them out of sin, etc. But judging about eternal salvation is not something we can do because we do not know their heart. And as for saving, we do play a role in passing Jesus' salvation to the world. Through us being Jesus, we can show people Jesus and be part of the process of salvation. Although, we do not save by ourselves, we play a role in the salvation of the world. 

I am not including the why. We, in the position of accepting someone as a brother or sister, cannot know someone's motives.

Obviously, we are incapable of being a judge when it comes to eternal salvation at this point, whether or not Jesus does that judging. Although, I think he was clear that is not the reason he came. He came to save. And when we deal with the world that does not know Jesus, we are not judge. We are to be used in sharing Jesus' love which will hopefully lead to their salvation.

Unless, of course, we narrow salvation down to a prayer or baptism. If we do that, we can judge. But I think salvation is much more that that.

I tried to deal with all of your questions. If I missed one, feel free to ask again. I'm not trying to avoid any.
Grady replied:
How can you focus on what it means to be a Christian before you get there, it is ok for those of us who have become a christian according to the scripture , but leaves those who haven't hanging out to dry trying all on there own with out the spirit of God providing for the walk of a Christian. Hey the whole book of Acts addresses this, why would you "like to focus on something other then what the scripture focus's on???? It is the Church's responsibility to focus on the "HOW", it is our marching orders. We are going to not have unity with the world, and if some one wants to come and accept the grace God has given then they would be free to do so and become united with the church. And when that happens they recieve all the bennifits associated with being in Christ or apart of the ones called out. What does it take by the way to BECOME a CHRISTIAN?
 Regan replied:
@Grady - I actually shared a link with you of a Bible study of the book of Acts that showed people receiving the Holy Spirit at different points. People did receive the Holy Spirit outside of baptism. And the Holy Spirit is the seal of s...alvation. If God gave us examples in Acts of people receiving the seal of salvation outside of baptism, who am I to say that it could not happen again?

Does that mean that we no longer teach baptism? Of course not. But it does show that we cannot be as legalistic as we would like on the subject of baptism. The Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation. Jesus and Paul did not tell us to check to see if people were baptized to know that they are Jesus' followers. They told us to examine their fruit and to see if they claim that Jesus is Lord.

Our marching orders are to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them follow Jesus' commandments. I don't think we disagree on that. The issue I was addressing here was not about our mission. It's about our judgmental attitude about other people's salvation; it's about how we discern who to accept as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our judgmental attitude has made many of the churches in this area ineffective at going about that mission. We often behave in such a way that nobody is tranformed by Jesus' love lived out in our lives. We have forgotten the major, love, and focused on the minor, baptism. In the end, we have created a lot of fruitless baptized people who think they are saved because they participated in the "salvation" ritual.

We have forgotten Paul's teaching to always interact with one another in a spirit of humility, gentleness, patience, and love. Without that, our message is lost.

What I will teach is a different topic than what are the essentials to accept someone as a brother or sister. I realize that everything that I believe Scripture teaches is not an essential. My understanding of all of Scripture is not completely accurate, although I currently believe it to be. I will teach Scripture unabashedly but in a spirit of humility, understanding that my interpretation could be wrong.

When it comes to who I will accept as a brother or sister in Jesus, I will stick to the passages I cited in my post on how Paul and Jesus taught we could tell if someone is a follower of Jesus.

This post was not a conversion message focused on how to be a Christian. If it was, I would first encourage people to surrender their heart to Jesus and become His disciple. Then, the next step is repentance and baptism, followed by living a life of total surrender to Jesus and His will. All of it is meaningless if their heart is not given to God.

Will I judge people to hell for not following the path of conversion I understand Scripture to teach? Jesus' taught that we will know His followers by their fruit. Paul's taught that they will claim Jesus is Lord. God will judge people's hearts. I will accept people based on Jesus' and Paul's criteria. And I will teach my understanding of Scripture to the best of my ability. In the end, God will be the judge; for now, I will teach the conversion message of Scripture and accept people as brothers and sisters based on the criteria of Paul and Jesus.
Dan replied:
I hope I wasn't coming across divisive. I just wanted to see how you clarified some things that I didn't think you meant. The big point is how we reach across walls of denomination right and not quite who is saved or not right?

But one thing... I would caution is one of the roles/fruits of the Holy Spirit is to Glorify the Son and the Father as the reason for we do what we do. Because of our identity, we do what we do. We don't do X to become Y. We are Y so we do X.

If we do not attribute glory to him as the why behind the what we could be practicing a form a works righteousness that is no difference than the elevation of baptism seen in Christian Church circles and may not have the Gospel. WE should call each other to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith if we see this going on no matter what (which is something we take for granted). Obeying out of Love and obeying out of fear of Going to Hell are two very different why but can produce very similar whats to an untrained eye. Jesus treated those people differently than the "pagan sinner" who may not have known better. The church is probably in the state it is in because we love judging outsiders and refuse to collectively judge those inside the church. We have completely backwards maybe because we have not challenged each other's motives. Is that enough to disfollowship with someone? Not at first but over time maybe not.

But at the same time we are slaves to Christ and one another so that means we don't give up on people but bear together a fuller understanding of the Gospel.
 More of the conversation can be found here.