Keith Brenton: Ultra-Conservative

Methuselah MootIs that possible?

Well, probably not in terms of politics, but with regard to Christianity … yes, I think it might be.

You see — as I’ve shared before — I think there are a lot more things expressed by the Lord in imperative tones than just five or six “steps” and BING! you’re “saved.”

And I believe that everything the Lord asks of us, whether you want to call them commands or not, are necessary because He knows they are good for us, will bless us, will help us to grow spiritually and to grow closer to Him and to others.

Yet the preaching within too much of Christianity is centered — not on Christ who saves us — but on what we must and must not do (as long as it’s not more than five or six “steps”) in order to be “saved.”

And I put “steps” in quotes because you won’t find the concept of “steps to salvation” in scripture.

And I put “saved” in quotes because you won’t find many preachers willing to share with you a comprehensive definition of what it means to be “saved.”

Eternal life in heaven with God and a get-out-of-hell-free card, sure. I get that. Most people do. Is that all? Sure, it’s enough, but is it all? What does it mean to be “saved” in this life?

That, I believe, is at least as much of what Jesus’ teachings and example were concerned with as pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by.

Yet when was the last time you heard or read (or perhaps gave) a sermon on the imperative expressed in Luke 12:33? Is that not a salvific concept? Is it not a salvation “issue”? Or is it just about whether your bank account will take you through eternity when you get to heaven?

When was the last time you encountered teaching on Matthew 5:16? Why does 27-32 get a lot of press but 38-48 gets virtually none?

Why do we ignore 6:16-18 entirely? Did Jesus not say those words? Are they not in imperative mood? Do they not presuppose that we will elect to fast?

Is there any one of those things that God asks of us that doesn’t testify to (and live out before others around us) His goodness, His grace, His power to save, His willingness to do so, His love for us, His very own Son’s life?

I could rattle off another dozen, and they wouldn’t add to the value of the discussion because I’m betting you could too. Let me just cut to the chase:

We don’t preach those things because they’re our shortcomings and oversights and, yes, sins of omission — and if they were preached about with the same ferocity and intensity that marriage, divorce and remarriage or salvational step-jumping is preached then someone would get fired for infringing on our consciences instead of preaching hellfire and damnation against someone else’s sins.

There. I’ve said it. And I ain’t a-takin’ ‘er back.

So you just call me liberal all you want to. You’re wrong. I’ll bet I am at least as conservative about what Jesus said needs doing and what God wants for us to do as anyone else you know. Probably more.

It’s what man says about what scripture says that I have my doubts about.

‘Cause it’s not like scripture doesn’t say enough already to convict and still save every single daggum one of us.

16 thoughts on “Keith Brenton: Ultra-Conservative

  1. we preach what men must do to be saved because… that’s what men must do to be saved. what would you leave out that the bible teaches we must do? i’ve heard sermons on those scriptures you mentioned. there are other passages that deal with these questions also. as for selling all we have consider the case on annanias and saphira. what was their sin? it appears selling their possessions was optional and not required, read the text. many of us study our bibles and want to get it right. timothy said that some of the things written were hard to understand but i think we’ve got the basics hammered out pretty well. Jesus said “how readest thou the law” referring to the law of moses. so i ask you- how do you read what a man must do to be saved?

  2. Larry, with all due respect, I think you misread me. I’m not in favor of leaving out anything in the Bible; I’m afraid that the classic 5-or-6-step doctrine has left out many things that contribute substantially to our salvation.

    I don’t see how anyone could possibly construe the conspiracy of Ananias and Sapphira against the Holy Spirit to be a sin of giving, or to say that because they turned generosity into a selfish lie, Jesus did not ask us to give generously. I’ll need you to explain that to me. There was need; there were those who gave and obeyed, and Ananias and Sapphira turned the opportunity to be obedient into lies and disobedience. Does that make selling and giving optional? Where does that word appear, or even the concept? I don’t want nonexistent words like that to become a dodge or an excuse to not do what Jesus asks.

    • re-read acts 5:4. it was their’s to do with as they saw fit. you also mention fasting. please educate me from the new testament about how often we should fast, how long should the fast last? can it include water? anyway give me some new testament guidance on fasting so i can search the scriptures about what you say. thanks.

      • Sure, bro … just as soon as you can show me from scripture how many times one should be dipped when baptized; whether its should be in still or running water; how the baptismal candidate should be dressed. Or how many songs we should sing in gathered worship; what kind of songs; whether we’re permitted to use songbooks.

        Larry, while I maintain that we should not subtract from scripture’s instructions, neither should we add to them.

        If you want to read about fasting in the New Testament, try Matthew 4, 6, and 9; Mark 2; Luke 5; Acts 13-14. Draw your own conclusions. Don’t settle for someone else’s. Then be prepared to answer for what you believe and practice.

      • And let me just add a response to “it was theirs to do with as they saw fit.” Is the earth and the fullness thereof the Lord’s, or ours to do with as we see fit?

        If we give only to satisfy a command from God, is that not “under compulsion”? …

        “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

  3. hey Bro– i’m back. i would have replied earlier but i took my wife to a medical appointment and it took all day. i believe in “pattern” salvation. you say you don’t believe in “steps”. i guess you mean hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized in water for the remission of sins and live a christian life. that sounds pretty good to me. i guess you also don’t like the words sequence, progression, pattern or anything like that. you said you won’t find the concept of steps to salvation in the scripture. i disagree. Consider Philip and the Ethopian. Philip was asked what does hinder me to be baptized? (Acts 8:36) Philip replied “If thou believest with all thy heart then thy mayest” . Philip has placed belief before baptism. is this a pattern or progression or “step salvation?” evidently philip taught it. as you read the accounts of conversion in the book of acts you will see that belief always preceeds baptism. i’ll bet you believe that too. not all the world does, though. some do something they call baptism to infants. — to them baptism preceeds belief. do you consider that correct? God told Noah to build the ark after the following pattern. Look at the pattern for the temple. Evidently God is not as down on patterns as you are. i’m also happy to discuss your other issues with you. i have a lady friend who is an elder in the local Christian Church. she doesn’t like patterns either. but we are able to discuss things. i trust you and i can also. larry

    • I don’t see a whole lot of point in responding to your questions if you have no response to mine.

      Brother, do you really think either of us is going to persuade the other?

      My prayers will be for your wife’s health – let that be foremost on your mind, okay? You don’t need a distracting argument with me right now.

  4. by the way– how do ya’ll do it where you attend? does belief preceed baptism? or is a person baptized before they believe? or does it make any difference? how does the progression or the sequence or the steps go? i don’t understand why you are so critical of others when i suspect you do exactly the same thing we do. think about it. larry

  5. aw come on. let’s keep talking. what question you want me to answer? give me one and i’ll answer it tomorrow. but when you ask the question tell me what you do where you meet. somehow i’m not surprised you have trouble telling me which comes first– belief or baptism. a tougher one for you might be which comes first- repentance or belief? do you see repentance as a tool to help a person reach a state of belief and therefore repentance often comes before belief? larry

  6. I don’t believe I ever said I don’t believe in steps … only that five or six probably ain’t-a-gonna cover it. Salvation, that is. Because I believe it’s more than just a checklist and you’re done and you’re saved and you’re going to heaven.

    I even linked this old post, , which you’re welcome to explore.

    You see, I believe that salvation is far more than a ticket to heaven and it was accomplished by Christ at the cross and the tomb, and all the steps we could possibly take will never, ever earn or merit even one drop of His blood or one second in heaven. He has accomplished it. It is finished.

    It’s up to us to accept that salvation, not just on a Sunday morning in front of a future church family, but every moment of every day of our lives from that point on. Does that make anything I’ve said clearer?

  7. it seems you are developing a cult where you take people to a retreat and enter several days of fasting, praying, singing, repenting and confessing sins one to another. this results in a heightened emotional state which you call belief and which you say is sufficient for salvation. then you tell them that annanias and saphira’s sin was that they withheld their money from the church. this leaves people, particularly young people, scarred for life. i personally know people who went through something like this 40 years ago and they have still not recovered from the experience. is this Boston part 2?

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