Putting Things in Perspective

At a time when our attention is unnecessarily drawn the continual division over nonessentials in the SBC, I would like to remind us all of what our brothers and sisters are facing around the world.  For instance, consider our brothers and sisters in Orissa, India.  They don’t wake up to find what the next comment or blogpost has to say; they wake up to discover who lost their lives for the sake of Christ.  Consider these staggering reports:

300 villages have been pillaged and plundered, 70,000 Christians have been left homeless, many of them having been forced to live in the jungles.

4,000 homes have been destroyed.

3,000 people are missing and 77 people have been burned or hacked to death.

450 churches have been burned to the ground.

One Christian worker who was attacked by a mob while praying, said, “It’s like a never-ending nightmare . . . we’re living in constant fear of more attacks.”

The violence in Orissa, according to Voice of the Martyrs, is due to the increasing number of Indians converting to Christianity.

At a time when those of us who either write or read blogs, I felt that it is necessary to call us back to Christianity 1.0 where there’s a cross to carry and a price to pay far greater than anyting we have known in front of a computer screen. Let us pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, and by their lives, determine to have a right perspective about the gospel, the church, and the kingdom of God where the weight of glory conforms our character and characterizes our conduct as we seek to follow Christ.

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12 Comments on “Putting Things in Perspective”


  1. But for the Grace of God, it could happen here. Christians are hated in America. They would kill us if they could. Let’s remember our brethren in bonds, as our Lord has commanded us to do.

    Dr. Paul W. Foltz

  2. Jeff Hill Says:

    Hello Timmy.
    First I want you to know that I am overwhelmingly burdened for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted. In fact, my wife and I will be ministering in the Middle East, and our ministry will specifically be to our persecuted brethren.
    But in your post you said we are talking about nonessentials on a continual basis. From the posts I have been reading I assume you are speaking about Calvinism in the SBC.
    I was wondering why you(and everyone else I have ever talked to) would categorize the sovereignty of God in salvation as a nonessential. It seems to me that those who teach otherwise are false teachers and (as far as I can tell from Scripture) on their way to hell. All other teachings on salvation are works based. So as I see it Johnny Hunt will go to hell if God does not move on Him.
    Simply asked, why is the sovereignty of God in salvation a nonessential and how does teaching that acceptance precedes regeneration not make your gospel a false one? This is heavy on my heart. Thank you
    Sincerely,
    Jeff


  3. First of all, I don’t know why my tags and categories are not showing up on this post. But that’s a side note.

    Jeff,

    I don’t know of any Calvinist who argue that it is essential to believe in the doctrines of grace to be in Christ. The essentials are those which are necessary to be a Christian, such as the deity of Christ, His incarnation, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, second coming, inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture, the Trinity, etc. Perhaps the five solas would be best describe orthodoxy (sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, soli deo gloria).

    You do not have to believe in unconditional election to be a Christian, but you do have to believe that salvation is God’s work perfected in His Son and we receive Christ by repentance and faith. No lordship salvation who deny repentance would be false teaching as would Pelagianism as would hyper-Calvinism as would an Open Theist. While I disagree with classical Arminianism, I cannot (and Calvinists will not) argue they are false believers.

    As far as I can humanly tell, Johnny Hunt is a faithful devoted follower of Christ. Does he agree with the doctrines of grace? No. But does he believe that salvation is the work of God saving sinners through the person and work of Christ and appropriated by the Holy Spirit? Yes.

    There was a time when I was not Reformed in my soteriology, but that did not make me lost. I was largely ignorant and to some degree opposed not because of the doctrines but more by the way they were being communicated to me. I knew I was a sinner separated from God and that Jesus was the only one who could save me. I cried out to Him in faith, and God saved me. In my childhood, I did not understand all the doctrines that accompany the gospel, but one thing I did know was that I was once lost and then I was found by Christ.

    To make the case that one must be a Calvinist to be a Christian is to make an argument that every Calvinist I know would disagree. Having said that, there is nothing more important than to know the gospel as fully as we can. We should devote our lives to this. We will be judged by this. In fact, not giving ourselves, we are endangering our souls as well as those who listen to us (1 Tim. 4).

    The gospel is entrusted to us, and that means as stewards we are to know/experience it deeply and share it widely. I did the latter well as a non-Calvinist but not the former. Some Calvinists do the former and neglect the latter. Stewardship means both, and that goes for all Christians whether Calvinist or Arminian.

    I hope that makes sense. This in no way diminishes the importance of the doctrines of grace, but it does mean that we cannot elevate them as a requirement to be a true believer in Christ.

  4. Pregador27 Says:

    Timmy,
    I was thinking along these lines earlier today when I went on our weekly evangelism outreach here in Brooksville. When we were able to lead a lady to Christ it did not matter that I am Reformed and the brother I went with is an KJV-Only Independent Baptist.

    Souls being impacted for the Kingdom and brothers and sisters under persecution have no need of debates, but of prayer. The debates are good and all, but when some try to dis-fellowship brothers in Christ over what I agree are non-essentials (even if they are important). We can debate over these issues, but we need to be able to work together for the Gospel when our academic and theological exercises are over.

    Just my $.02.


  5. “I was wondering why you(and everyone else I have ever talked to) would categorize the sovereignty of God in salvation as a nonessential.”

    J.I. Packer said it best in pointing out that we’re all the same in the prayer closet. The very fact that our non-Calvinist brothers and sisters pray to God for the salvation of those close to them displays their functional theology. Whether they can get their minds around the doctrine or not, every Christian is a Calvinist in the closet.

  6. Jeff Hill Says:

    Thank you Timmy for your response. I think I must have miscommunicated something along the way. I agree that you do not have to believe in the doctrines of grace in order to be a christian. My argument is that those who are teachers (who are held to a higher standard) and teach a works salvation, which as far as I can tell is any other soteriology but the doctrines of grace, are unconverted. Galatians 1, 2 John, Romans, etc. lead me to this conclusion. I would love your thoughts on those who teach?


  7. […] the timing of the rapture, or concerned about what they are going to buy for Christmas.  No, as Timmy Brister points out, they wake up every morning wondering which believers were killed in the last 24-hours.  They live […]


  8. […] … December 3, 2008 A recent post by Timmy Brister begins: “At a time when our attention is unnecessarily drawn the continual […]

  9. Darren Casper Says:

    great post Tim

    Pray for our new work in the south St. Louis Bevo neighborhood…

    Many immigrant and refugee communities live here


  10. […] Things in Perspective Timmy Brister: At a time when our attention is unnecessarily drawn the continual division over nonessentials in […]


  11. It’s amazing how God uses persecution to purify His church. Do we call persecution good or evil? The enemies of God intend to do evil. God intends it for good. It’s horrifying to see, but focuses us on what is important. Good post.

  12. Keith Says:

    Paul made the above comment “But for the Grace of God, it could happen here. ” I wonder whether we have a clear handle on thinking about grace when we use phrases like this. Is the corollary that if it happens here, it becomes from a lack of the grace of God? Are our Christian brethren somehow out of the grace of God? Where does grace reside? If God should allow the forces of darkness to sweep across America or Australia (my country) is somehow His grace removed? Is it against grace that persecution comes upon His church? Does grace run in genes or nations? No – grace is deep and rich – grace upon grace – whether in persecution or in relative peace. Grace is that is that which is sustaining our brothers and sisters under persecution – God’s giving all of Himself for our good. So I would beseech us all to think clearly when we use phrases “there for but the grace of God it could happen here”.


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