A Thorny Issue

by Pastor Paul M. Sadler

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We often hear from grace believers who have been told, by someone who should know better, that those who belong to a denomination could not possibly be saved because they have no understanding of the Grace message. In their mind, they are entangled in a form of “religion” and merely going through the ceremonial motions. To them their hearts are far from God; therefore, those who attend a denominational assembly should be called “anathema.”

Those who hold this extreme position have a short memory, seeing that many of them are the fruits of one of these churches. According to them I was not saved when I was a Baptist. With this I would take issue. It is my firm conviction that it is not a prerequisite to fully understand the Mystery to be saved. Anyone who believes the terms of salvation set forth by the Apostle Paul—that Christ died for their sins and rose again—is saved by the grace of God and is a member of the true Church, the Body of Christ.

This means that anyone who has believed the gospel of salvation is saved, no matter what their denominational affiliation. Even though they may not have the understanding that we have of Paul’s gospel, we owe them both honor and respect as members of Christ’s Body. In light of the coming Judgment Seat of Christ, we are well served never to speak disparagingly of them. Mark these words of the Apostle Paul, and mark them well, “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought [despise] thy brother? for we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ…So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:10,12).

We most certainly acknowledge that Catholicism spiritually binds its hearers with the need to earn their salvation through good works. This false “religious system,” with all its unfounded traditions, must be exposed as heresy. But even here we must give thanks that there are Catholics who have believed the gospel and eventually recanted Catholicism. Protestantism, on the other hand, with all its shortcomings and denominational bias, does at least in varying degrees preach faith in Christ. Even though they have many times opposed us for proclaiming the gospel of the grace of God, we like Paul, are grateful that Christ is preached (Phil. 1:15-18).

Rather than criticize those of the denominations who are saved, we have a responsibility to share the Word rightly divided with them so that they too might be delivered from the commandments of men. As Paul says, we are to “speak the truth in love,” something that is oftentimes lacking in the Grace movement.

To the Reader:

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