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.
3 months ago