I wrote recently that it is sad and unfortunate that a local church has to give itself a name, that either highlights the Denomination’s founder e.g. Luther, Wesley, or its form of Church Government, e.g. Presbyterian, Congregational, or Episcopal, or its particular Doctrinal emphasis, e.g. Baptist, Reformed, Holiness, or Pentecostal/Charismatic, I know I am an idealist but why can’t it simply be “YOUR LOCAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH”?. Sadly I guess this will never happen.
Then I began to think of my personal church roots, gloriously saved in the Salvation Army, then exposed to the Pentecostal teaching of being filled with the Holy Spirit and introduced to the Gifts of the Spirit. I will thank God throughout eternity for the journey He has led me on, and that I am alive in 2018 and see what God is doing in the earth today.
But what am I ? if I say I am a Pentecostal, this conjures up a thousand often incorrect pictures of beliefs and practices and behavior many of which I would strongly disassociate myself from. If I say I am an Evangelical, I again put myself in a particular “camp”. There are simply so many “types” and “camps” of Christians, I could go on and list them for hours.
Do I dare ask the question WHAT IS A NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN? I would like to suggest he is one who holds to the statement:
IN ESSENTIALS UNITY,IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY; IN ALL THINGS CHARITY
These are the words of St Augustine the 4th Century Theologian & Philosopher and Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. I personally love this statement as there are some essential truths which we will mention in a moment, but there are other though important truths that are non-essential in say to our relationship with the Lord and our Christian brothers. I do not want people when they think of me to immediately think of some particular doctrine and truth that they know I hold. I confess in the past I have proclaimed from the rooftops particular truths, (which I am convinced are clearly taught in the Word of God) but God helping me in future my priority is going to simply let PEOPLE SEE JESUS IN ME, (to be Christ centred NOT doctrine centred) and will seek to do everything in my power both to show true charity (AGAPE LOVE) to all my brothers and sisters in Christ, (whatever “camp” they belong too) and will not break fellowship with them because they don’t believe what I believe, and trust they won’t break with me, but are surely committed to the essentials.
So what are the essential truths as declared in Augustine’s statement? Whatever I say here I guess there will be those who will disagree. I want to suggest that we look at the Reformation and see what truths God has seen necessary to restore to the Church (since then), I will just spell out the Truth:
- Justification by Faith, (we MUST be born again)
- Believer’s Baptism
- Sanctification/Holiness in the life of the Believer
- Priesthood of all Believers
- Fulfilling the Great Commission (Aggressive Evangelism)
- Divine Healing
- Being filled with the Holy Spirit and embracing His gifts
As I understand it, these are the major truths that have been restored to the Church from the days of the Reformation, and if God felt they were essential then so do I.
So much of what we argue about is really our own personal preferences, and practices, church styles and emphases and interpretations. As far as I am concerned I am committed to the 7 essentials above, my attitude is simply expressed in the statement below, and therefore on these I WILL NOT ARGUE.
GOD SAID IT I BELIEVE IT, THAT SETTLES IT
So what is a New Testament Christian? someone who is truly born again, and seeks to live the Spirit filled life and is practically committed to the essentials and seeing them fulfilled, and will not break fellowship with his fellows believers over the non-essentials.
I DECLARE TODAY I BELONG TO THE JESUS ‘”CAMP”
I trust my readers may respond, I would love to hear from you.