I think the first time I heard the story was at high school baccalaureate. It is apparently an illustration relaying to us how Christian sacrifice works. Continue reading
Part 5: The Scheme of Redemption
and the Ministry of Regeneration [see previous post]
Growing up as many people did in Churches of Christ, I heard countless sermons that ended with a call to baptism, including a quick rehashing of the five steps leading up to baptism, the opportunity for which all were given as an “invitation” song was sung. It was communicated that if your heart was right and the sermon had stirred you, then you had heard and believed the word, and the next step was to repent and confess before being baptized. This has helped lead me and countless others to the Gospel.
Part 2: A History of the “5-Step Plan of Salvation” [read the intro here]
While the Gospel has been around for about 2,000 years, the “5 Steps of Salvation” list is much younger. We can trace it back to Walter Scott, a Restoration preacher associated with the growth of the American Churches of Christ/Disciples of Christ of the 1800’s.
Growing up in the Churches of Christ, it was advertised to me as long as I can remember—in sermons, in Bible classes, at camp, in outlines and tracts, on bulletin boards, on websites, and in personal Bible study with someone about to become a Christian. God had a plan for us to be saved, avoid Hell, go to Heaven. It was obtainable in five simple steps: Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, be Baptized. It was easy to memorize, easy to count. It was a bullet point plan to perfection. It was a reachable solution that I myself could perform to be a good Christian. And for a number of years in my youth, I assumed it was the best way to view the operation of being saved by God.
Have you ever walked about a room in darkness? You’re bound to bump into something.
Have you ever walked about in a lit room with your eyes closed? You are slightly less likely to bump into something.
Thanks for the free parking.
From the Conclusion:
“When I wrote these, I wrote them
for children who were told that dancing is tantamount to sex.
For girls who were taught that their bodies were shameful by preachers who blamed Bathsheba for David’s sin.
For families where brothers and sisters were not even allowed to swim in the same pool for fear of arousing unnatural passions.
For those who have lived in constant fear of hell because of a soteriology that can only be described as, “Once saved, always in jeopardy.”
For those who have been deprived the comfort of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their life by preachers who told them that the Spirit dwells only in the Bible.
For entire families of preachers who have literally been kicked to the curb without notice because of a homiletical misstep or a personality conflict with a power-hungry eldership.
For those who have been told, “We will not even baptize you until you divorce your wife, because your marriage is unscriptural. It is better to break up your family than to burn in hell.”
For the women who have been “put in their place.”
For the LGBTQ family members who have spent hellish years trembling in the closet.
For the young alcoholic booted out of the Christian college without so much as an offer of help or treatment.
For the young man with a porn addiction who confided this to an elder and was threatened, “I’ll bet your momma would be real ashamed if she knew what you were doing.”
For the men with porn addictions who were told in the Open Forum of a Christian college lectureship: “I don’t see how it’s a problem. I love to go fishing, but if Jesus told me not to do it, I’d get rid of my rod and reel. It’s that simple, boys.”
I wrote these for everyone who has ever felt the need to pray, “Lord, protect me from my brethren.”