Aaron Dean, Treasurer of the United Church of God (UCG) wrote the following in the current edition of the United News:
Forward: Separating Salvation From People
What makes some seemingly dedicated people leave the Church?
I have been asked this question before by members who have seen many brethren and even ministers fail. Having spent much of my life at the heart of the work, some have asked me, “Why are you still here?”
I think it comes down to something my dad said when I graduated college and was asked to work on the Church’s Gulf stream jet: “Be sure and separate salvation from people.” What he knew was that I would witness some things that would build my faith; but I would also see and hear things that could discourage and tear down my faith.
Indeed no Christian’s life is without its pitfalls, but we expect them to be attacks from the outside. While ready to face the world, often we are not prepared for problems from the inside. People who meet with us each Sabbath at church—brothers and sisters whom we trust and love—sometimes might not show godly character in word or deed. And we can tend to expect more Christlike behavior the higher the position a person is in.
But when an offense happens involving someone in a visible position, what do we do? Many take sides, deny the action happened or make excuses, blaming others as the cause. They might reason that someone in that position certainly couldn’t have done whatever the offense was.
Emotional reactions like these may leave one at peace with themselves, but if they find out later that a knowingly wrongful act was committed or they were lied to, it’s very easy to become disillusioned. They might leave the faith or go searching for a more perfect church—usually to find that the next one is no better than the last.
Every good biblical character sinned, except Jesus Christ. He never sinned and kept all the commandments. But even He was accused for drinking wine, talking to sinners and disregarding men’s rules of Sabbath observance; and some people became offended by these accusations. To let someone else’s perceived mistake—or actual mistake—put us in a wrong attitude is to let someone else “take our crown” (Revelation 3:11).
We must work to control our own thoughts and actions. Seek truth and prove all things before reacting emotionally. “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Our salvation rests on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone. If we pray for wisdom and react spiritually, we will make progress toward separating our salvation from other people’s mistakes. And in the process, put Christ—our hope of glory—in us (Colossians 1:27).
Like Aaron Dean, I too, have seen many who claimed to believe fall away from the faith. Offenses do come, but since God has always used imperfect human leaders, people need to be careful to, “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Revelation 3:11).
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
What is the Gospel? True religion should be based upon the true gospel. What are some of the different gospels and where did they come from? Do you believe the true or a false gospel?
Are You Saved? Do You Love Jesus? What is a True Christian? What is the Gospel? Evangelist Richard Ames answers those important questions.
True vs. False Conversion Are you really converted or willing to be? What is true conversion? What is false conversion? What are the dangers of false conversion? Evangelist Roderick Meredith provides information on those important questions.
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?
What is the Unpardonable Sin? What is it? Can you repent of it? Do you know what it is and how to avoid it?
Hope of Salvation: How the Genuine Church of God differ from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
John Calvin, Calvinism, TULIP, and What is Predestination? Who was John Calvin? Did he believe in sola Scriptura or did he hold to unbiblical doctrines? TULIP analyzed.