Post by Lee Stephenson on January 13th, 2011
What does it mean that a church is a non-denominational church?
The simplest way to answer this question is that a non-denominational church is a self-governing church. Over the history of the church denominations have formed. Most of which formed over small and a few large doctrinal or theological differences. Some examples of such denominations are Roman Catholicism, the United Methodist, Southern Baptist, The Assemblies of God, etc. Each of these denominations have different governing systems…but in each of these cases the church (including its leadership) are held subject to the rulings of authorities of the denomination.
Now please don’t hear me saying that all denominations are bad. There are a lot of great things that denominations offer such as…financial accountability, doctrinal stability, mission opportunities, and many more. However, Harvest operates as a non-denom church…meaning we have the right to call into action the things that best pertain to our church. We operate in the midst of several tight relationships and networks that help us in many of the areas I listed above. The overall benefit of being a non-denom church is that there is no group of people calling the shots of the church who are not apart of that local body of believers.
In each case the choice of whether to be a non-denominational church or to align with a denomination needs to be the decision of the governing leaders of the local church.
Post by Lee Stephenson on January 5th, 2011
Is baptism a necessary step in order to be saved? If not, can you please explain Acts 2:38 regarding baptism?
Acts 2:38 says…”And Peter said to them, ”Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
As with any verse in the Bible, we determine the interpretation of a verse by first filtering it through the broader context of the passage and through what we know the Bible already teaches on a particular subject. In the case of baptism and how it relates to salvation…the Bible is clear that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Works in this case would also include the act of Baptism.
Then why does the passage read as though baptism is included in the process? (Another verse that often times gets quoted in this position is Acts 22:16) Both arguments surround the interpretation of the word “for” or “eis” in the Greek. As you are aware, even in English the word “for” can have many different meanings. In both of these cases the word sometimes get translated as one needing to get baptized for repentance to take place. However, in view of other uses of the word “for” and when looking at the broader context of the Bible the more proper interpretation of the word is that they got baptized because they repented. In short, baptism followed conversion because it was a wonderful outward demonstration of the internal change that just took place.
There is nothing magical that takes place when someone gets baptized. Baptism is an outward confession of the change of heart that took place because of Jesus. It is a great way to go public for someone’s faith, it is a great outreach tool to cause people to take notice of the change in someone’s life, and it is commanded for believer’s because it is a step towards God that everyone can look back to and celebrate.
Another reason that we can’t look at Acts 2:38 as inferring baptism as a necessary step for the remission of sins is the “negative inference fallacy.” Simply put…just because a statement may be true we cannot assume that all opposites of the statement are true. When it comes to reading Acts 2:38, we cannot assume that if one doesn’t get baptized and yet has placed their faith in Jesus that their sins have not been forgiven. There is a huge difference between conditions for salvation and requirements for salvation.
In the end, humanity is saved from their sins because of God’s gift (grace) and faith in Jesus Christ. What needs to be remembered is GRACE ALONE, FAITH ALONE, CHRIST ALONE!