5/13/13 Demus about 40
Today at the park I had a very positive conversation with a bicyclist there who had stopped to rest at a bench. Demus, a Catholic and whom I believe to be a genuine Christian, agreed with my assessment that the basic difference between Catholics and non-catholic Christians like myself is our understanding of the authority of the Bible. Demus agreed that, when there is a conflict between official church teachings and the Bible, it is a matter of conscience to take a stand for the Bible, just like Martin Luther did so many years ago when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door. Demus said he often compares Church teachings with what he reads in his Bible, and he has begun to notice some differences. My role today was to clarify some key differences in regards to salvation, and to help him better understand and become more secure in his own faith in Christ. As a protestant Christian, hoping to be able to share the Gospel with whomever the Lord might put in my path, I have to be ready to deal with denominational differences like this. I’ve met enough people to know better than to have a knee-jerk opinion of people based only on their participation in denominations I agree or disagree with. I’ve met Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, and non-denominational evangelicals alike whom I believe to be Christians, and even people from non-Christian sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses whom I believe have a genuine faith relationship with Jesus. I’ve also met many people from these groups who clearly do not. Granted, some may be believers in spite of their denomination’s beliefs while others are believers because of them, but ultimately, it is repentance and faith in Jesus, not membership in a denomination, that determines one’s eternal fate. This is a matter for discernment that comes from reliance on Scripture and the counsel of the Holy Spirit, for the same Jesus who said “Whoever is not with me is against me”, also told His disciples “whoever is not against you is for you.” The Kingdom of Heaven is far greater than any one group, but it is no greater than those who are in Jesus.