Membership Class - Week 4

Doctrines 7-9 are so awesome!  (They are all awesome, but for different reasons.) Doctrine #7:

We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation.

Repentance, faith and regeneration.  Repentance is a change of mind.  We sometimes forget that and make repentance about a change in actions.  That comes later.  It's really a change of allegiance from one god (usually yourself) to another God (Jesus).  Repentance is a one-time action and a continual action throughout our Christian life because we tend to drift from following after Jesus.

Faith is incredibly important to understand.  The ESV Study Bible, in its notes on Hebrews 11:1, says:

…faith is a settled confidence that something in the future—something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God—will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable “leap in the dark”; rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy—the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation, and who will “never leave nor forsake” his own.

Our faith is only as good as the object of our faith.  We can have all the faith in the world, but if the thing that we have faith in fails us, we lose.  Jesus will never fail us and it is faith in Him that saves.

Regeneration is about being made new.  Salvation transforms us into "new world" people.  We can have confidence in our relationship with Christ.  We can know that we are saved.

Doctrine #8:

We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that He that believeth hath the witness in himself.

Grace is one of the "big ideas" of the Christian faith.  It is so hard for us to grasp the idea that we do not earn, and do not maintain, our salvation through our own effort.  We often desperately want to be thought of as useful when it comes to acquiring our faith.  It's all Jesus and none of us.  We make a decision to follow, but that's it.  There aren't any good deeds or right views that can enhance or change that.  It's the glorious truth of the Christian faith that is unparalleled throughout other religions.  God really loves us.  He loves us with an unending, everlasting love that is totally dependent on his character and totally independent of our actions.

Doctrine #9:

We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.

This was the biggie.  I was literally beaming at the prospect of "discussing" this controversial topic with the group.  We have about 25 in the class, so we broke up into 5 groups and I laid out a chart comparing Calvinist and Arminian soteriology with verses to back up each of the 5 points of either view.  The group wrestled with the text of the scripture for about 30 minutes.  It was fun (for me anyway).  Everyone came away with their opinions, but I hope we all realized that godly, biblical men and women have taken both sides of the argument for hundreds of years and that we are free to hold to the view that we see as the most biblical as long as it doesn't 1) downplay personal holiness, 2) discourage evangelism, 3) magnify human works, or 4) cast doubt on the omniscience of God.