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Forward: Separating Salvation From People

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Separating Salvation From People

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I have been asked this question before by members who have seen many brethren and even ministers fail. Having spent much of my life at the heart of the work, some have asked me, “Why are you still here?”

I think it comes down to something my dad said when I graduated college and was asked to work on the Church’s Gulf stream jet: “Be sure and separate salvation from people.” What he knew was that I would witness some things that would build my faith; but I would also see and hear things that could discourage and tear down my faith.

Indeed no Christian’s life is without its pitfalls, but we expect them to be attacks from the outside. While ready to face the world, often we are not prepared for problems from the inside. People who meet with us each Sabbath at church—brothers and sisters whom we trust and love—sometimes might not show godly character in word or deed. And we can tend to expect more Christlike behavior the higher the position a person is in.

But when an offense happens involving someone in a visible position, what do we do? Many take sides, deny the action happened or make excuses, blaming others as the cause. They might reason that someone in that position certainly couldn’t have done whatever the offense was.

Emotional reactions like these may leave one at peace with themselves, but if they find out later that a knowingly wrongful act was committed or they were lied to, it’s very easy to become disillusioned. They might leave the faith or go searching for a more perfect church—usually to find that the next one is no better than the last.

Every good biblical character sinned, except Jesus Christ. He never sinned and kept all the commandments. But even He was accused for drinking wine, talking to sinners and disregarding men’s rules of Sabbath observance; and some people became offended by these accusations. To let someone else’s perceived mistake—or actual mistake—put us in a wrong attitude is to let someone else “take our crown” (Revelation 3:11 Revelation 3:11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.
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We must work to control our own thoughts and actions. Seek truth and prove all things before reacting emotionally. “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
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). Our salvation rests on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone. If we pray for wisdom and react spiritually, we will make progress toward separating our salvation from other people’s mistakes. And in the process, put Christ—our hope of glory—in us (Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
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