“Are you Calvinist or Wesleyan?” That was the question I was asked a little while back. I was speechless for a moment, which anyone who knows me knows that is a rare moment. I hadn’t thought about it before. I didn’t know how I fit in with these two great theologians. I hadn’t spent any time studying either’s teachings specifically, so that was my answer. It evidently didn’t satisfy the person asking me the question.
The conversation continued something like this:
Questioner: “Well do you believe in eternal salvation?”
Me: “Sure. Jesus is eternal. My salvation is in Him. My salvation is eternal.”
Questioner: “So you don’t believe you can lose your salvation?”
Me: “No, I don’t believe you can lose it. I do believe you can give it back though.”
At this point the person was obviously not happy with my answers, but he allowed me to continue. Here’s what I told him and share with you.
First, I don’t consider myself a Calvinist or a Wesleyan. I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, gave up that life willingly on a Roman cross to pay my sin debt, descended into Hell and beat Satan, rose again on the third day, ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for me and everyone else who calls Him Lord and Savior. I am a Christian, not a Calvinist, Wesleyan or anything else.
Second, some would say that I am arguing semantics. Well, we have semantics for a reason. I do not believe you can lose your salvation. I do not believe God will take it away. I do believe you can give it back to Him, and unfortunately many do. Is that losing it? I guess so if you consider throwing out the trash losing it. How do you keep from giving it back? James 1:27 describes one way. Matthew 25:33-46 also describes how you can keep from handing your salvation back to God. You’ll see that both passages refer to you doing something. It refers to the Christian serving in the name of Christ, and Christ being the only motivation.
Third, I want to address theologians. I admire theologians. I am not one. Yes, I study the Bible. I study it fervently and seek wisdom from God in prayer each time I spend time studying it and I share what the Lord reveals to me in it. I read what great theologians have surmised and concluded about the scriptures. I appreciate how they, through careful study, can help me understand the cultural and social context of the passages as well as the linguistic nuances in the Bible. However, I do not follow them, I follow Jesus with them. Any theologian, evangelist, preacher, teacher, or church leader that expects you to follow them to Jesus instead of them pointing you to Jesus yourself is a dangerous person.
Obviously the person asking me these questions was more interested in dividing the church than growing God’s kingdom. Jesus addresses this in Mark 9:38-41. There is no place for division in the body of Christ. Yes, there are different viewpoints or perspectives, but when the day is done, what is important is what we have accomplished each day in the name of Christ to serve our fellow man.
It boils down to this. Are you building your kingdom, or are you building God’s Kingdom? Are you following a theologian or a pastor, or are you following Christ? What’s your motivation? Is it to be right or to love? Is it to be set above or to serve? Is it to inflict justice or give grace and mercy? If we continue to focus on Jesus, these petty disagreements of doctrine, that have little to do with our salvation, become very dim in the light of serving our Lord by loving and serving people in His name.