Monday, June 14, 2010


I am a member of a Presbyterian church...Grace Community Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America, to be precise. I have dear friends who attend other Christian denominations...Baptist, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Roman Catholic, COGIC, Evangelical Free, and non-denominational churches, among others. I also have friends who profess no faith at all, and still others who are affiliated with what could most accurately be called cults.

Does my church affiliation provide me any assurance of salvation? In other words, can I be confident that I, as a Presbyterian, am a member of the true church of Christ? I ask this question because I've recently had conversations with three different people - members of three different denominations - who have asserted that there is no salvation outside of their particular denomination. Furthermore, these three very different individuals all expressed confidence that they would obtain heaven precisely because of their membership in their specific churches. I don't know that this is what their various denominations teach, only that it was the confident assertion of the three people themselves.

One of the doctrinal pillars of the Protestant Reformation was Sola Christus - Christ alone. I have told my kids that the one thing above all others I want them to take with them when they leave home is this tenet: Christ alone. I earnestly desire that when they stand in Glory before the judgement throne of God, they answer any and all charges brought before them with this one answer: CHRIST. No other appeal. None.

Should they be tempted then to recall their moral virtue or their service to the church or their good deeds on earth, I pray God gives them the grace to cover their mouths. If they are inclined to speak "Presbyterian" or "Protestant" or "Calvinist" or any other name, I pray God gives them the grace to cover their mouths. I pray that God, in His sovereign mercy, gives my children the ability to utter only one word at that moment - "CHRIST!"

I am a member of a PCA church because I believe this denomination most closely aligns itself with the doctrines and the church model presented in Scripture. But being Presbyterian doesn't save me - Christ saves me. During our particularization service at Grace, Pastor Wally preached from 1 Peter 2: 4 - 10, focusing primarily on verses 9 and 10. He reminded us of who we are in Christ, and of the work we have been called to carry out. What is our assigned task? To "proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." To proclaim the excellencies of Christ.

I'm not at all unwilling to engage in a discussion with my neighbor about the presbyterian system of church government. Or about Reformed theology. Or about Calvinism (or Arminianism, for that matter). God cares so much about doctrine and about the life of His church that He wrote extensively about these things in Scripture. They are important to God and must likewise be important to His children. Believers should discuss matters of doctrine and church government. But the topic that delights me most is the person of Christ, and He should be the topic most often on my lips. Christ pre-eminent.

Am I afraid my neighbor won't go to heaven because he is not Presbyterian? No, not at all. But, if his security lies in his church affiliation, rather than in his Saviour, I am very concerned indeed. His eternal soul is truly in danger, for no church can save him. Only Christ can save sinners. Christ alone.


J. K. Jones said...

Here is a Solus Christus quote for you:

“We incline to moralism by nature. In other words, not all theologies equally draw us. The theologies which draw us, as iron fillings to a magnet, are the ones that have to do with self-improvement, with the righteousness of the Law. As children of Adam, we are drawn to those that say: "I stuck in my thumb and pulled out a plum and what a good boy am I." We are not neutral toward the various theologies.

The one that is true - that Christ's death alone saves - we are hostile to, because we are children of Adam. Somebody will ask you, "Gee, don't you believe that we contributed anything to our salvation?" The Reformation answers, "Sure: sin, hostility, alienation, death, guilt." It's not the answer they are looking for, but sure we contribute all of those things and more. But we don't like that answer; we are resistant to this theology.

The reformers said that faith is of its very nature, assurance, the opposite of doubt. It rests upon the validity of the divine promise of the Gospel. Faith doubts not, though the Christian doubts often. This doubt must be reproved and combated.

But how is doubt combated? It is combated by hearing the doctrine done well. Somebody should answer back to you in terms of what the doctrine is in the promises of the Word. This is how the Spirit produces reliance and assurance. If you say, "Gee, I wonder if I'm really a Christian," and your friend asks you, "Why?" "Well, my life's just a total mess, maybe I'm not really a believer." If your friend tells you to pray harder, cry more, read the Scriptures longer, fast, and so forth - go find another friend.

Find a friend who will talk to you about Christ, what he did at the cross, the sufficiency of his death, the truth of the imputation of his righteousness to you; those are the things we need to hear. If the reformers were correct, you can relax about whether you're going to heaven, even if a lot of times you hate God. Christ died to save God-haters. And the death of Christ is greater than your hatred of God. The death of Christ is greater than your and my flabby Christian life. It is greater than that. The doctrine of justification is greater than our sin.

This doctrine is what makes Christianity Christianity. You've got to get across that the righteousness that saves isn't a change in the human heart, it's a declared sentence, "I declare you innocent." And we say, "But I'm not innocent, I'm guilty as sin!" But the judge says, "I know, but I didn't say that, I said I declared you innocent." That's what Christianity is. It's a declaration of innocence based on another's righteousness, and reckoned to you as if it were yours.”

-Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

Anonymous said...

Yes!!!! I love you.