Should I just keep grounding my young ones in the Word and tell them the truth, that I believe that anyone who adds to Christ's finished work is lost or what? Do I try to shield them from visiting other kid's churches when I don't believe in their churches way of salvation? I don't want to sound dogmatic on what I believe about salvation but I am, other people are dogmatic the way they believe and argue just to argue even though they really don't understand the Bible, just what their denomination feeds them. anonymous
Herein lies the trap. You and I find ourselves put into this position of playing the game. I mean by this, the doctrinal or dogmatic or schism game. Realize that you are pulled outside of all this in Christ. As a matter of fact, so are all those who are in Christ, but they think they have to play it just like you and I have played it.
Consider what it means to add to Christ's finished work. I say they do it, and they say I do it ... and then we set out to rightly divide the word with one another to prove how MY beliefs are more in line than yours. my problem is that I do, in fact, spend most of my day adding to Christ's finished work by trying to justify myself in so many different ways. But unfortunately, when we think about standing for the truth we separate the real stuff of our lives from our beliefs .. and seek to determine it based upon the realm of the arguable.
So, am I lost because I try to justify myself during my day? Are you? Are their religious friends? I have found that many who fought hard against the grace of Christ were believers that had to struggle through their own complications. I have also found that some who talk it real well have no idea as to the life that they doctrinally hold to. We are saved, not because of a belief, but through faith. Huge difference. Beliefs are often nothing more than glorified opinions ... something that can be held to as if the holding to it is what matters. But it is Christ who has saved us. It is a reality that we have received in Him. One is either dead or alive.
How can you best serve your children? Be real. Don't separate reality from truth in their minds. Witness life to them. Share the good news of Christ that puts everything in ONE basket and judges it as death and then declares the freedom of real life in him. Shielding your children will only cause harm. The fact is that your children are struggling to figure out the world around them just as you and I have. They seek to show themselves right just like you and I have. What if they were to discover that religion - yours and mine and even theirs - has no answers?
Brother, avoid the game. Tell your children about the real you. You know, the one that is alive in Christ because of what HE has done, but one who also struggles every day with the same kind of things they struggle with. Your children want to know if they are worthwhile, if they are important, if they are loved, and how they can be right. If you level with them about your own futile attempts to justify yourself through your day then they may be able to see that others, even religious others, are trying to do the same thing. They will really see truth when they realize that that is exactly what they are desperately searching for in the world around them. When it ceases to be a mystery then they won't be enticed to go chasing after any system of man for their worth. Show them Christ vs. everything else!! :)
Here are some thoughts to your questions. The answers will overlap in the same way the questions do, so if I don't seem to totally answer a question just keep reading and adding them together, okay? :)
Let me see if I read you right regarding your e-mail. Do I tell my children that all faiths are Christian just in different ways? anonymous
Quite the contrary, I think these faiths are simply systems that somehow attempt to get a handle on the miraculous faith that has been given in Christ.
Are denominations a result of lack of knowledge on the person, work, and nature of Christ, or just different levels of maturity? anonymous
A denomination is as complex as its past and present history and all parties combined. They do seem to develop based on particular issues or stands. And yes, as you suggest firstly I do think that they result through a lack of true understanding of Christ. I am not saying that nothing of Christ can happen within a denomination, but when it does it is not because of the denomination but in spite of it. Non-denominational used to mean simply that, but just like any other system a sense of unity and, therefore, validation has grown out of being a part of this nondescript group that is not supposed to be a group. Ironic, huh?
How do I tell my kids to deal with people in different religions claiming to be Christian? anonymous
Let's get down to the real aspect of religion. You see, we have a concept of what religion is and it is something akin to the tip of the iceberg. We describe it by what it APPEARS to be based on its surface view. But as with the iceberg most of it is underneath, and it is ONLY because there is a huge hidden quantity that we can see anything at all. What does this mean? Simply that religions are merely the things we see by which we define religion.
Do your kids belong to any clubs ... or have they made up their own over the years? Have they ever been part of any cliques ... even within their own sisterhood where two have excluded the other? Have they ever witnessed any kind of prejudice or segregation (not just racial, mind you)? What I'm saying is that your kids have already been heavily involved in religious activities having nothing whatsoever to do with a church ... as have you.
I have related religion to my girls in these very real ways using their own history (the more current, the better) to make the connection. When one of my girls was having problems with the kids in her church youth group and not understanding how Christians would treat her so bad I asked questions like: Do you remember that 'Friendship' club you started for the purpose of EXCLUDING the friend you were mad with at the time? I explained the whole nature of religion in terms like that. What it does is to demystify religion and allow us to see it for what it really is. The religious approach to rejection in religion is to assume that some other group is better. But the truth is that it is merely different.
You have a wonderful opportunity before you in what you tell your kids. See it not as a problem that needs to be addressed, but as real-life stuff that will bring them to a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them. Here are some suggestions to consider telling them:
- truth is not found in a group, but in Christ alone.
- life is not found in a group, but in Christ alone.
- the religion or religious beliefs don't make people into Christians, but that only the miracle of Christ brings that to pass.
- groups are made up of those who have Christ and those who don't
- every group has its problems because every group is made up of other people who are just as confused as you and I are, and that the reason you favor one group over another is that, at least in what you can determine, there is a stronger general leaning toward the miraculous reality of Christ, and that this is the only reality that will cut through our confusion.
- Don't be afraid to tell them that many groups are simply built around the name and concept of Christianity and have become social clubs ... and may be pretty good social clubs if you were to ignore the religious factors.
- religions will often shift and sometimes do things simply to protect itself.
- are you prepared to go elsewhere if the group is causing more harm than good in your family?
Where do we draw the lines on salvation and how to appropriate faith in Christ? anonymous
Simple ... in Christ alone. You will be fought on this everywhere you go. The truth is that you have probably already discovered that YOU have fought yourself on this more than anyone else has. Just make sure not to let it become an issue. By that I don't mean don't address it, but don't let it become relegated, or downplayed, into the realm of issues. It is life. Issues will always degrade into the realm arguments based upon written texts and doctrines and will be separated from actual life.
Maybe you're not following me here, but what I'm getting at is the heart and core of life instead of the form of it. A logical, doctrinal, scriptural argument almost always by-passes what is really going on within those who engage in it. The Pharisees are a good example of this. Jesus never denied any of the truth in their words but always got underneath the talk and addressed the real stuff. If you will read through the gospel accounts you'll notice that most of the time Jesus answered them with stuff that seems to have missed the point. We don't recognize the discrepancies, or gaps, in the Biblical account mostly because the words are ancient and we have just learned to read it without thinking. What I'm saying is that when you think it is a doctrinal problem in front of you, it probably has nothing to do with it because the other is most likely trying to cover up his/her own doubts and insecurities, etc. Listen long and hard ... and then ask the more obvious questions that present themselves to you.
Most denominations and cults deny eternal security and are working to attain salvation and denying the complete forgiveness of sins and life in Christ. anonymous
This is a good example of what I'm suggesting. WHY do they deny this? WHY are they working to gain what you and I know cannot be gained through our effort? Listen to what the person is saying and don't be side-tracked by their use of buzz words and phrases. You will hear something akin to FEAR under everything. A person will make an issue of eternal security (either pro or con) to help cope with pressing fears. One who is born of God can easily reject the doctrine because, being subjected to Law, he cannot ignore all the sin and failure before his eyes. He is afraid to to let go of the only thing in his life that seems to keep him on the straight and narrow. On the other hand, one who is not born of God can claim the doctrine because he hopes that if he holds on tight enough to it that he will end up in the good place and not in the bad place. Another scenario: a believer will make an issue out of believing in eternal security because he thinks that salvation takes place after we die (in these bodies) instead of the fact that salvation deals with real deliverance that is ours right now (and of course the right now never ends). Salvation is not about destiny, but about true life. It is not about believing the right things so that we can go to heaven, it's about having been made new in Christ through nothing of our own (faith).
To sum up, man without God spends his whole existence attempting to justify himself because he senses that there is no such thing as a real forgiveness or real life, so he will organize his perceptions in any way possible (especially religious) to pacify these fears and will phrase his words to make himself look as right as possible within his own little world. When those who are born of God are tricked into law-based living they will display all kinds of insanity because the life within throws them into heavy conflict. I seriously believe that those who truly doubt their salvation are those who HAVE a salvation to doubt, while those who have no life, but have plenty of religion, will desperately hold onto the system of belief that allows them to cope with the emptiness of their lives. Don't mistake these two opposites ... they usually are.
There just seems to be a line where I tell if what people believe in Christ and salvation that there are those that are lost according to what they believe and where they place their faith, in works or by grace. anonymous
According to what they believe. Good wording. Our words come from what is inside us. We get deceived because of the pretense of words, but even this is revealing! When the words are realized to be nothing but empty claims then we must address THAT reality without being taken down rabbit-trails by bogus claims. Is it a believer that is trying to cover up an overwhelming sense of failure by legalism? Or is it an unbeliever that has found a comfortable form? Either way, ONLY the good news of Christ breaks through the facade. It is power to those who are of Christ, and foolishness to those who are not. Declare HIS life and let the rest take care of itself.
I'm definitely not ecumenical and maybe I should be more but it's hard to tolerate any doctrine that adds to what Christ did at the cross and resurrection. anonymous
Oh, no, please don't do the ecumenical thing!!! :) True life destroys that bogus sense of unity. We don't keep the unity of the Spirit by trying to make the unity of fragmented groups. The only true unity is found in the reality that HE has made us one through His Spirit and not by a common belief system.
I know there are people in these religions who are saved despite their church beliefs but don't we have to draw a scriptural line somewhere? anonymous
Hopefully I have answered that through what I wrote. But let me add this: Don't try to draw the scriptural line, but instead let the scriptures convince you that the only line is Christ, and Him crucified. For it is the Bible that has convinced me that the Bible is not the answer!! The truth of Christ (declared in the written letters) blows right past all the denominational and philosophical lines created by man and declares that though all were dead, those who have been made alive are alive unto God!