I shared several weeks ago that we took a survey at our church to see what topics people wanted to hear in a sermon series. One of the topics was “What is the difference between Wesleyans and Baptists?” What should be made clear is that both denominations believe that Jesus Christ is the Way to Heaven. There is no other salvation for humanity.
I have also pointed out in the past that many people, especially in a Baptist culture, do not understand who The Wesleyans are. As a result, this becomes a barrier to church growth for us. This is unfortunate. Since Wesleyans and Baptists are Christians; a.k.a brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, this is important! We are all Christ followers first! Doctrine is man’s poor attempt to explain God. However, for some reason doctrine, which is supposed to help us understand God, has become a divider.
It has become a divider because there are too many clergy and laymen who insist that you beleive exactly as they do. Here is some damage that this has done and both sides are guilty.
- People leave a Bible teaching church to attend a church that teaches doctrine over Christ.
- People do not join a church even though The Holy Spirit has placed a desire in their hearts to join. Instead these people will go somewhere else because they will say they are their self-chosen denomination first instead of simply being a follower.
- When new Christians are touched by Christ they cannot help but share with family and friends about it. As a result, those family and friends who attend churches end up preaching what they want these “Babes in Christ” to believe instead of allowing The Holy Spirit to use the Word. People, if someone has an experience with Christ at a church there is a good chance that God is using that church. So there is no need to deliver them from that church especially if God is using that church to make disciples. In my opinion, those who insist on interjecting doctrine upon a new Christian are likely shirking their responsibilities of evangelizing those who are lost.
- I have seen sheep tampered with who are growing to become more like Christ over how they were baptized and whether or not they did it fast enough. Listen, I know there are those who say that baptism is the moment of salvation. That is fine, I happen to believe that you can go down a dry sinner and come up a wet sinner.
Those were real situations that in my opinion are silly.
Here are two issues that seem to really divide Wesleyans and Baptists.
First, the issue of security. Wesleyans beleive that since God has given us free will that we can choose to reject Christ and fall away. On the other hand, Baptists believe that although God has given us free will that there is nothing we can do to lose our salvation. Here is what is ironic; when we witness someone who lives a life of sin after a confession of faith Wesleyans will say that they have forfeited his or her salvation. Baptists will say that that person who confessed Christ were never saved. This is silly to have a divide over this. What difference does it make if that person lost his salvation or was never saved? They are still lost! And both denominations agree on that.
Finally, there is division over whether or not we must continue to sin. Wesleyans say that by God’s grace and our surrender to Christ that we can be Sanctified. In other words, God can change our hearts so that we can finally be delivered from sin. This means that we can desire not to sin. If a mistake is made, like going 60 mph in 55 mph speed zone, because we were not paying attention, while it is wrong it is a mistake only. We did not intend to willfully disobey God. Baptists would say that we cannot be changed until we get to Heaven. I can’t bend on this because this is why I need a Savior now. I need to be delivered from sin now. This does not mean that I will never sin again, but it means that I do not have to be bound to sin now. This is Good News!
So here we are. The last time I checked, God has worked through both traditions and continues to do so. Those of you who insist on tampering with God’s children for the purpose of taking from one church to add to your own, Stop it! Why? You are dividing Christ. Christ is the only loser in this debate. Besides, the Bible says that The Holy Spirit calls and leads His people to a local Body of Christ. This means that you may be placing yourself against God and His work.
Jesus said that those who are not against us are for us. This was after some of the disciples saw others, besides them, baptizing in the Name of Christ. Sounds very familiar doesn’t it.