A Proposed Minimal Set of Essentials - A Discussion on Essentials (Part Three)

In the previous two posts, we have talked about essentials and division in the church.  In this post, I would like to propose four passages of Scripture that should be the cornerstone of what we believe is essential:  Love God, love our neighbors, love one another, accept people as brothers and sisters in Christ who show fruit and claim that Jesus is Lord.  That’s it.  Once we start broadening beyond that, we start alienating people and continually add to our essentials creating a list that will keep growing and never stop.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.  And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  [Matt 22:34-40 (ESV)].
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  [John 13:34-35 (ESV)].
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. [Matt 7:15-20 (ESV)].
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. [1 Cor 12:1-3 (ESV)].

So where does teaching come in?  When we say that we will accept people who show the fruit of the Spirit, what do we do with right doctrine?  When it comes to what Scripture teaches, we keep teaching what we believe is right, but if you are like me, you need to be humble in doing it.  Over the years, things that I once thought were solid as a rock have shifted and thinks I thought did not matter, have gained in importance.  Humility is the key when it comes to being a teacher.

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.  Let us be studious of the Scriptures, sensitive to the Spirit, and full of love.

We don’t even have to agree with others on everything that we think are clear teachings of Scripture.  Riverside Christian Church has a list of core convictions.  One is that “We believe in a minimal set of essentials in order to foster unity and freedom in Christ.”  If we make every teaching that we believe Scripture teaches an essential, then we will soon be dividing amongst ourselves because there are not two of us that probably agree on everything.  Somewhere we must draw a line, and the best way to do that is with a minimal set of essentials.

More Tomorrow.

For further reading:
Being a Church Involved in the Community - A Discussion on Essentials (Part One)

Christ is not Divided - A Discussion on Essentials (Part Two)