Ruling Elder, Agros Church
In this article series, we will explore the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its scope in the Christian life. The purpose of these articles is to exalt the breadth of Christ’s domain over all creation and to encourage the believer to subject more of their life to His will. The first portion of this article series will examine the various components of the Gospel, and explain their importance in the believer’s life. We will then examine the term “adiaphora”, which is commonly called, “open hand issues” in today’s church. The case will be made that matters of adiaphora have increased significantly, to the church’s detriment. The purpose and goal of this series is to help Christians understand various theological terms in plain english and apply the concepts to their life. My hope is that the reader will have a deeper grasp of the riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and further conform their mind to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. As with any theological study, we must apply Biblical teaching to the heart and resist the temptation to let the beauty of the Scriptures remain in our life as head knowledge. The Puritans called this, “experiential religion.”
The Gospel - All of Life
Christians in recent history have had mixed thoughts on what is considered “open hand” issues. Open hand issues being those that do not impact matters of Christian faith pertaining to salvation. It is important to pause here and define what is meant by “matters of salvation”. There are three primary stages of salvation that must be considered: justification, sanctification, and glorification. All of these are referred to in scripture as “salvation” - having been saved (Ephesians 2:8), being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and will be saved (1 Peter 1:3-5). Defining these terms is imperative, lest the believer perceive the Bible to teach that, 1) evidence of faith isn’t necessary, or 2) falling away from Christ may happen in the true believer, or 3) that assurance of salvation remains impossible until you are dead or Christ returns.
It is of chief importance that the believer understand the call of the Gospel and develop for themselves a framework for determining what is a “Gospel issue” and what is tertiary (secondary) to matters of faith and practice. The lens that all people view the world through is called, “worldview”. The difference between a Christian worldview and a secular worldview is drastic and radical. It shapes the way the believer views matters of family, politics, science, religion, recreation, education, and culture. It is the distinct lens that draws a bold dividing line between the Christian and the world they live and operate in.
The first installation of this article series will look at salvation, focusing on the justification, sanctification, and glorification which are found clearly in Scripture. The goal of building a worldview that is both consistent in idea and practice is imperative to living consistently to the glory of God. Worldview is the mechanism that the believer reconciles their experience with the reality of Scripture. In exploring what Scripture says on salvation, the hope is to reveal to the reader that this is the chief dogma that the world is to be interpreted through.
"And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV)
Void of the event of the cross, humanity is left without hope, and all efforts of human advancement are worthless. Any amount of kindness, love, or charity is without meaning without the work of Christ. All pursuits of science, medicine, and industry are pointless and found without purpose without the God of Scripture to give them meaning. The purpose of all things is to glorify God - and mankind cannot do so without first being made alive in Christ.
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36 ESV)
Purpose and Scope
The purpose of these articles is to demonstrate how the gospel does not stop at the moment of justification and to make a strong, biblical case for the examination and shrinking of the realm of adiaphora, or secondary issues. All of the Apostles and Jesus emphasized heavily the active component of salvation. This is not to say that this active component gains you merit before God, it is the means that Christ works in the believer to preserve him or her until the very end when they will be glorified. The concept of “being saved” from 1 Corinthians 1:18 is the evidence that Christ has truly done a transformative work in a person’s life, and a reassurance that He is with the believer always. Any and all increase in godliness in the believer is completely and entirely accredited to Christ, and it is purely by His good will and loving kindness that He continues to work in the believer after their justification.
It can be easily shown that American Christianity has been infected by the culture severely, and as a result every single believer in America should realize that the presuppositions they carry might be completely anti-biblical. Even the idea that the Christian does not need to provide scripture when offering a critique or defending a position is prevalent in the American church. In the western church, final authority is not the word of God, and as a result the Christian church in America has crumbled into postmodern dust. The believer must be willing to examine their presuppositions and ask themselves, “Is this truly biblical? Or is it my opinion?” If the former proves to be false, and a doctrinal position is not truly biblical, the believer absolutely must ratify their position according to scripture.
The most dangerous theology is the one that convinces a person that they do not have to submit their entire self to Christ (Matthew 12:30) - that there are spheres that either, 1) He doesn’t care about, or 2) doesn’t have authority over. In either case, this person has made for themselves a Jesus that is different than the Jesus from Scripture. There are thousands of false depictions of Jesus around today, and one of the most dangerous ones is the Jesus did not say:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
It is not an easy task to die to self and live to Christ daily. It defies all of the secular catechism and rejects the cultural identity of the last 100 years. Abraham Kuyper’s response to this explains the Biblical position well:
"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
There has never been a time more important in American history than now that Christians stand up and stand on the foundational principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My hope is that this article series gives the believer something to think about and plenty of scripture to examine.
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