How Big is Your God-Part Four
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What a person believes on the following doctrines does not determine if they are a follower of Jesus Christ. And we should not let these doctrines prevent us from having fellowship with those who believe different than us.
State of the Dead: Many Christians believe when a person dies, they go straight to hell or to heaven. Other Christians believe that the dead ‘sleep’ until Jesus returns.
Hell: Many Christians believe that hell is eternal punishing forever and ever. Others argue that the final punishment is punishment, not punishing. They believe in annihilation.
Water Baptism: Many Christians believe water baptism should be by immersion only. Others believe it is by pouring or sprinkling.
Return of Jesus: Many Christians believe that Jesus second coming will be a secret rapture where unbelievers will not see Him. Others do not believe in the secret rapture and that His coming will be evident to everyone.
Tribulation: There are those who believe in Pre-Tribuatlion, Mid-Tribulation, or Post-Tribulation. All of them are followers of Jesus Christ.
Arminianism or Calvinism: Some Christians believe a person can walk away from their salvation (sometimes called ‘lose your salvation’). Others believe that salvation is secure and that no one can choose to walk away from Christ (sometimes called ‘Once saved, always saved’).
Vegetarianism, Clean and Unclean Meats: Some Christians believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit so you should not eat pork, seafood, etc. Others believe that the best, most healthy diet is vegetarian and Christians should not eat foods that are harmful to your body. Most believe that you can eat any food you want, even if it is not good for you.
Predestination: Some Christians believe in predestination (that God chooses ahead of time who will be saved) and others believe every person has a free will.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Some Christians do not believe this is a separate experience from salvation. Others believe it is a separate experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Others believe it is a separate experience, but tongues do not occur. And others believe this experience can happen more than once in a Christian’s walk.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Many Christians believe the gifts of the Spirit are for today, others believe they ended in the First Century.
Not one of the above doctrines has anything to do with salvation. And each ‘side’ can find scriptures to defend their belief. So why did our Almighty God allow for there to be "discrepancies" in scripture? Maybe because He is a Big God, and that each position reflects a portion of God’s character.
Again, there is nothing wrong with having strong doctrinal beliefs (and of course, I believe mine are the correct ones), but we should not allow them to cause division among the body of Christ. The above doctrines are not a test of fellowship (who is Christian and who is not). It becomes sin to put doctrine above fellowship with other Christians. This does not mean that we need to attend a church that has doctrine different than ours. (However, I don’t know about you, but I have yet to find a church that has doctrine that lines up exactly with my interpretation of scripture). This does not mean that we must always be silent on doctrine. At the right time and the right place I am very outspoken on my doctrinal beliefs. And I believe some of the doctrines listed above are wrong and if believed can mislead a person.
However, we need to remember what Jesus said, "They will know you are Christians by your love". Not what you believe about the state of the dead, hell, predestination. This make sure we are not living our lives like the Pharisees.
Here is a couple of interesting Scriptures to take a look at:
 John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to hinder him because he was not following us."  But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who shall perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.  "For he who is not against us is for us.
Jesus was not concerned that the person was not part of 'their group'. Why are we so worried about people who are not part of 'our group'? To the point that we judge them and speak evil of them if their doctrine does not match ours.
 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;  the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;  the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.
Paul expressed gratitude that Christ was being proclaimed. We should do the same.
One last comment on this subject. What is really sad is when a person has not even studied out their doctrinal beliefs, but is willing to allow their beliefs to put walls between them and others. That type of person is then living their life based upon traditions of their family or church and not conviction by the Holy Spirit.
One more point for clarification. We probably should list what we believe to be the essentials in regards to Christian Doctrine. If a church teaches something different than these doctrines, we believe they are a cult and we would state this in love.
a) The Bible to be the inspired and only infallible and authoritative Word of God.
b) There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
c) In the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal, future return to this earth.
d) In the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, the one to everlasting life and the other to everlasting death.
e) The only means of eternal life is through Jesus Christ by Confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.
f) When feasible, a Christian should be water baptized as a public confession of their commitment to Jesus Christ.
How Big Is Your God?
Is your ‘box’ getting any bigger with these nuggets? I hope so. Do you disagree with this nugget? Can we Agree to Disagree and still be brothers in the Lord? I hope so.
In the next nugget we will talk about "Who Can Be Used By God?". Does your God only use righteous, holy people, or is your God Big Enough to use people who you and I believe fall short. Or, maybe we need to look at our definition of righteous, holy people.