And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. - Acts 2:42
Sheep can sure be distracted and taken up with things that really have nothing to do with the primary issue, Christ and His Gospel. It’s easy to get caught up with the things of religion, with the things of the world, and elevate them to levels of importance that we really shouldn’t.
And when we are gathered to worship and fellowship in the Lord, we must keep the primary issue, the Gospel, primary. Some people, however, can do or often have the tendency to elevate secondary issues to the same level as the Gospel, or even above it! When this happens, things are definitely out of whack, and steps need to be taken to correct the issue.
Below are a list of some secondary issues that are often elevated above the Gospel:
- Water Baptism: There are numerous ways in which water baptism can be elevated above the Gospel. The primary way water baptism is elevated is by stating that baptism is a requirement for salvation. Baptismal regeneration is a false doctrine, but there are many churches that teach this error today. These places must be avoided. Others also place barriers to fellowship based upon the mode of water baptism or whether or not babies should be baptized. Baptism is strictly one’s testimony of belief in the Gospel, and to elevate this wonderful gift of God to something far greater than it should be is hurtful to the proclamation of truth and Christian fellowship.
- The Lord’s Supper: Again, like water baptism, some find saving merit in participating in this ordinance of God. They sometimes refer to it as a sacrament, or a means of obtaining grace. There can be no redemption found in partaking of the bread or the wine. Some also believe in closed communion and erect barriers to fellowship by closing the table off to those they do not approve of or are not members of their local assembly. The Lord’s Supper is served on the Lord’s table, and it's not our table to guard! It’s the Lord’s.
- Denominational Views: Some people believe that you have to be a Baptist or a Roman Catholic in order to get to heaven. Or they will state that there is no way a Roman Catholic or a Baptist can be saved. In heaven we won’t be walking around with buttons on our garments that say “Baptist,” “Methodist,” “Orthodox,” or “Catholic!” Elevation of one’s denomination or church membership is placing the secondary issue of church membership ahead of the primary issue and is a perversion to the Grace of God.
- Judgment of others: Others, especially recently amongst some in the Sovereign Grace camp have elevated the judging of other people above the Gospel. They erect barriers to fellowship by stating things like, “Don’t talk to this person, he’s a tolerant calvinist.” Or they will say if you don’t agree with them on who is or is not a believer, you cannot possibly be their brother or sister. They have elevated the practice of judging and discernment above the Grace of God and traded the truth for another gospel.
- Miscellaneous: If someone will errect barriers to fellowship because someone else drinks alcohol, smokes cigarettes, listens to rap music, or whatever fill in the blank type of sin or issue, then they have become legalists and elevated living standards above the Gospel of grace. They have elevated secondary issues above the primary issue.
Let us continue steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship (Act 2:42), not allowing secondary issues to become primary. Let us keep the Gospel at the forefront of our lives, of our congregations, and of our worship meetings. It’s easy to twist things so that secondary issues become primary. May God’s grace never let it be so with those of us who believe!