What are the non-negotiables of the Christian Faith?

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There is constant discussion online about who is in and who is out. There is discussion over certain issues that people conclude put people outside of fellowship because they have left the faith because a congregation has done, in their opinion, the unthinkable. Obviously, there are things that set apart Christians from the rest of the world. Not all religions are the same and yet there is variety within every religious group in the world.

Having said all of that what do you believe constitutes the non-negotiables of the Christian faith? The lines that once crossed put you outside the kingdom? What is it that makes that issue or decision on that level for you?/How do you defend that from Scripture?

43 Responses

  1. Can (or should) we first discuss the “non negotiables” of what it is that makes one a Christian in the first place? Like, faith in Christ, repentance and being baptized into Christ?

    I mean, it seems pointless to discuss what is a “non negotiable” in terms of keeping one IN the faith if the person (or church) was never IN Christ to begin with…

    Like, before we considered “praying to the virgin Mary”, shouldn’t we first determine whether or not the Pope is even a member of the church, the body of Christ?

    1. Or, like before we consider whether or not teaching and practicing “infant baptism” puts people (or a church) “outside of the faith”, should we not first discuss whether or not those who have only been sprinkled as babies are Christians and members of the church to begin with. And, mor than the Catholics do that.

      And there are other “things” that would follow. Like, teaching and practicing the Sinners Prayer without being baptized at all.

    1. So we have come full circke. We possess informally that which we decry as traditions of men. So people defaukt to say the entire NT is our creed which redults in tbe issues we are seeing and have seen for some time – making rverything a sakvation issue or matter of fellowship.

    2. I thought he was asking for a list of the sins and/false doctrines/practices that result in an individual (or church) to be in a lost (unsaved) situation, until repented of?

      Keith, do you believe that there are in fact sin(s) and/or doctrine a and/or practices that an individual (or church) can be guilty of that would put them into an unsaved state until repented of?

      If so, would naming them constitute a “creed”? Not sure what you meant by that?

    3. Heresies and false traching is what led Christians in ybe first few centuries to establish things like the Nicene Creed to show what things needed to be believed to be “in”.

    4. To “be” in, “remain” in, or to “get” in?

      And to think, that was so many centuries before the real Christians even had to ever worry about infants being sprinkled or sinners being taught that they can pray their way into Christ?


  2. All, I’d be curious to know what everybody believes regarding the above questions? Namely, are sinners translated into the kingdom before and without ever being immersed? Further, are we to consider the individuals and churches that proclaim a saving power of the Sinner’s Prayer (or infant sprinkling) while denying the Biblical meaning and purpose of baptism, as faithful brethren?

    Either way, knowing it is false, what should be our response? Should we correct it and/or teach our people against it? Or, should we just act as though it is just as good and true and ignore it?

    1. Does even asking such questions make the asker “unloving”, ” judgmental”, “legalistic”, and/or “creed loving” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Shouldn’t we be remembering what Jesus said on these matters? There’s only one sin that God won’t ever consider forgiving with respect to His people, i.e. knowing(?) blasphemy or irreverence against the Holy Spirit of God [Mark 3: 28-29]. Apart from that, you need to believe in God, as witnessed thru Jesus, to have any chance of avoiding “the lake of fire”, and you need to be baptized as a sign of repentance to enable your salvation [Mark 16: 16]. I think, maybe, all the rest is advice and way-signs to focus the would-be saved on ‘the strait gate’ and put fear into the hearts of those falling away. As most of us are Gentiles (‘sons of Japheth’), as regards other matters, maybe the only ultimate restrictions on us as regards behaviour is the injunction of the Jerusalem Council [Acts 15: 28-29]. However, Hank’s point is surely very much to the point: it’s God who will judge us all – and according to our measures – therefore why would we be ‘looking for the skelf in out brothers’ eyes’? And this really worries me, when we set up standards of adherence that are not explicitly stated in the New Testament, but are inferred by the judgements of men, no matter how upright and faithful to the Lord. It’s worth noting that in the Arthurian legends, the collapse of the Round Table occurred because the purist of knights, Sir Galahad, claimed publicly that if he fell (lost himself), his own virtue was sufficient to save him. That’s when they saw the vision of the Grail – the cup of Christ!

    1. I am asking for people to give a view based explicitly on what the New Testament says. That is the whole point of the post…to get people looking at ehat is actually tsught in regard to these matters rather than drawing lines where they are not.

  4. The Nicene Creed (with Scriptural references)

    We believe in (Romans 10:8-10; 1 John 4:15)
    ONE God, (Deuteronomy 6:4, Ephesians 4:6)
    the Father (Matthew 6:9)
    Almighty, (Exodus 6:3)
    Maker of Heaven and Earth, (Genesis 1:1)
    and of all things visible and invisible. (Colossians 1:15-16)

    And in ONE Lord Jesus Christ, (Acts 11:17)
    the Son of God, (Matthew 14:33; 16:16)
    the Only-Begotten, (John 1:18; 3:16)

    Begotten of the Father before all ages. (John 1:2)
    Light of Light; (Psalm 27:1; John 8:12; Matthew 17:2,5)
    True God of True God; (John 17:1-5)

    Begotten, not made; (John 1:18)
    of one essence with the Father (John 10:30)
    by whom all things were made; (Hebrews 1:1-2)

    Who for us men and for our salvation (1 Timothy 2:4-5)
    came down from Heaven, (John 6:33,35)
    and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, (Luke 1:35)
    and became man. (John 1:14)

    And was crucified for us (Mark 15:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3)
    under Pontius Pilate, (John 19:6)
    and suffered, (Mark 8:31)
    and was buried. (Luke 23:53; 1 Corinthians 15:4)

    And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures. (Luke 24:1; 1 Corinthians 15:4)

    And ascended into Heaven, (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:10)
    and sits at the right hand of the Father. (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55)

    And He shall come again with glory (Matthew 24:27)
    to judge the living and the dead; (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1)
    whose Kingdom shall have no end. (2 Peter 1:11)

    And in the Holy Spirit, (John 14:26)
    the Lord, (Acts 5:3-4)
    the Giver of Life, (Genesis 1:2)

    Who proceeds from the Father; (John 15:26)
    Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; (Matthew 3:16-17)
    Who spoke through the prophets. (1 Samuel 19:20; Ezekiel 11:5,13)

    In one, (Matthew 16: 18)
    holy, (1 Peter 2:5,9)
    catholic, (Mark 16:15)
    and apostolic Church. (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 2:19-22)

    I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. (Ephesians 4:5; Acts 2:38)

    I look for the resurrection of the dead, (John 11:24; 1 Corinthians 15:12-49; Hebrews 6:2; Revelation 20:5)
    and the life of the world to come. (Mark 10:29-30)

    AMEN. (Psalm 106)

  5. “There is constant discussion online about who is in and who is out.”

    “Having said all of that what do you believe constitutes the non-negotiables of the Christian faith? The lines that once crossed put you outside the kingdom?”

    Matt, are you also interested in discussing the lines that UNTIL crossed keep you outside of the kingdom?

    More and more, it seems that if a person believes, teaches and actually stands behind what the Bible teaches regarding what God requires of a sinner, before God forgives said sinner and translates him into the kingdom of his dear Son, that the person standing on the word if God is called – a legalist, a Campbellite, a victim of the Galatian heresy, in favor of Creeds, and worse.

    More and more, people are arguing (even people who have written on Wineakins), that NOTHING is required of a sinner to be saved. That there is NOTHING he must obey in order to be saved by Christ.

    If its a worthy question to discuss any potential lines that if crossed “put one” outside of the kingdom, then surely if would be just as good to discuss the lines that UNTIL crossed, “keep one” outside of the kingdom?

    Like faith (belief in Christ)
    Being immersed INTO Christ

    You know, just for “listing” those three Bible requirements will prompt many to call me all sorts of names.

    And we all know, that many who read this consider many to be IN THE KINGDOM who have never even “crossed” these three lines required to get in the kingdom…

    1. Of course i am interested in that. I have already said that above when i said that was partbif whatbi was asking for. I will find sime time kater to respond to more of that.

    2. Too, if brethren are going to refuse to adhere to and proclaim the “lines” God has drawn in termsbof who and at what point one is “put into” the kingdom, is it any wonder that those same brethren will be at least as unconcerned with any “lines” that if crossed, would put one outside of the kingdom again?

    3. It makes no sense to have no lines of distinction between Christians and the world. There is certainly a distinction between those who are in Christ and tbose who are not. There are also things that differentiate between or among Christians that take place that dont keep us from being Christians. It is important we know the difference.

    4. I hear you, and I agree. Its interesting to “watch” the one side dray lines of fellowship over “x, y, and z” and then to observe the reaction of the other side, to said lines that are drawn.

      It looks like this:

      Side “C” – Individuals and entire churches are now believing, supporting and even practicing the unbiblical and therefore sinful “x, y, and/or z”. They have gone beyond the things that are written and have not God anymore. Until they repent, they are outside of the light lost. We must no longer fellowship them or their evil deeds.

      Side “P” – Well, where exactly does it say in the Bible that “x, y, and/or z”, even IF wrong, (which we don’t believe anymore that it is wrong), is SO sinful that those that believe and practice as much are worth of being viewed as lost and unworthy of fellowship until they/we repent? Where is the “Bible Precedent” for such a harsh response? Why dont you go ahead and tell us which sin(s) or false teaching(s) are SO severe that it causes one to be put outside of the kingdom! Can you do that? Does ANY sin or false teaching result in that? If not, where is the list that says which ones are worthy of which level of toleration/patience/fellowship? You guys seem to believe that you have to be perfect in deed and in doctrine to be saved. Which is impossible! You guys are like the Pharisees of old, and in great danger of the Galatian heresy!

      Side “C” – And you guys seem like since you don’t have to be perfect in deed or in doctrine to be saved, that you’ll just go ahead and fellowship any sin and/or doctrine than man can come up with! And, in so doing, you’ll consider yourselves to be the most loving and humble around?! Shoot, you guys are so weak, you don’t even know (or won’t say) whether or not the Pope is your brother in Christ. Or, the Morning elder, or the JW that just knocked on your door. You will write about and teach the necessity of being baptized/immersed in water IN ORDER TO be put into Christ and translated by Hod into His kingdom, but when someone says a certain prayer (with which even you admit is unbiblical), in lieu of being immersed, you just go ahead and treat the individual as though he we immersed. No wonder you get so upset with people drawing lines over “x, y, and z” — you guys are afraid to dray any at all. Anywhere. And even where you know they should be drawn, you guys say “well, I’m not going to take a total and consistent stand against “a, b, or c” because I’m going to leave room for Gid to make some exceptions”

      Side “P” – Well, you guys are worse. You act like you have to take everything so literal and be sure to err on every side that is “safe”, but you don’t even actually do that. Do your women have their heads covered in worship? Why not just use one cup? Dobyour men lift holy hands in the air every time they pray? Don’t you think we should read Paul through Jesus and not the other way around? Isn’t time you guys actually join us in accepting the fact that not all of the Bible is equal? Isn’t it more like Jesus to err on the side off giving those we believe to be in error the benefit of the doubt?


      I still say that it is at least as important (actually more) to consider which lines must be crossed in order TO BECOME a forgiven member of the kingdom, than to discuss which lines must be crossed in order to put a once forgiven person, outside of the kingdom again.

      And, I’d love to read what any has to say about that. Just don’t make it look like a list, or God forbid, anyHaving said all of that what do you believe constitutes the non-negotiables of the Christian faith? “steps” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Oops, copied and pasted something on accident. Last paragraph should read:

    “And, Iโ€™d love to read what any has to say about that. Just donโ€™t make it look like a list, or God forbid, any โ€œstepsโ€ ;)”

  7. The basics of the Christian Faith: The Trinity, the Atoning death of Jesus, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and His literal return are non-negotiables of the Christian faith.
    Along with with I would place non-resistance, or Christian pacifism as a moral stance of the Christian faith which is non-negotiable. I am more fluid about forms of baptism, instrumental music, women preachers and elders, church names and secondary practices.

  8. Gary,

    Since you “would place non-resistance, or Christian pacifism as a moral stance of the Christian faith which is non-negotiable”, does that mean that you would not consider any soldier, law enforcement officer, or arms bearing citizens to be your brothers or sisters in Christ? Since, pacifism/non resistance is a non negotiable to the faith just like the atoning death of Christ?

    Also, you write “I am more fluid about forms of baptism..” By “forms of baptism”, do you include those who have been only sprinkled/poured upon as non believing infants (like the Pope and his followers)? Would you consider them your brethren in Christ?

    Or, what about those who have prayed the Sinners Prayer and have not (yet) been baptized? Do you consider them to be forgiven Christians? Basically, by “forms of baptism”, do you mean anything called “baptism” at all? And also, do you include the Sinners Prayer to be a “form of baptism”?

    Hope those are fair questions. Thanks

    1. I am not a proponent of infant baptism, and do not even think infant baptism is really a true baptism. I think we are baptized because we have been saved, not to be saved. I regard all who have saving faith in Jesus as brothers and sisters, immersed or not.

  9. โ€œCall upon the name of Jesus and you will be saved.โ€, I think Paul wrote that to the Romans. That is the one step of salvation.”

    Okay, but what does the above (calling on the name of the Lord) entail? How does one do that? Does the Bible ever give an account of anybody ever actually doing that, anywhere?

    Gary, if/when you ever encourage one to “call upon the name of the Lord”, what do you tell them to do?

    1. I believe that Gary, illustrates my point. He says that calling on the name of the Lord is “the one step of salvation”. If he is correct, than that (calling on the name of the Lord) would also be a non negotiable. Would it not? I mean, how could something that is “the one step of salvation”, be negotiable?

      Surely, nobody here would deny that “the one step of salvation (calling in the name of the Lord)” is in fact, a “non negotiable”.

      Accordingly, it’s incumbent upon us to determine what God has in mind when he promises that ” whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Does he mean praying a “Sinners Prayer”? Does he mean repentance and baptism? Which is it? Are there a number of acceptable ways by which a sinner may “call upon the name of the Lord” and be saved? Or, is there merely one acceptable and prescribed way?

      If there is but one way, would then “calling upon the name of the Lord” in the one prescribed way be a “non negotiable”

      Why or why not?

  10. Interesting discussion, and one well worth the time. Wile i don’t know everything, I can offer my opinion…

    Dad jotted down some 95 things over which the brotherhood had either differed over or divided over. Some, were ‘big deals,’ while many were not, and over time have been allowed to ‘die’ peacefully (e.g. women’s head coverings, women wearing pant suits, playing cards, going to the movies, fellowship dinners in the building, Joy Buses, Serving in the military and going to war, etc…) While others, have been allowed to continued to define and divide us (cups, Bible classes, cooperation, instrumental music, clapping in worship, raising hands in worship and prayer, miracles, etc…) The question is, should we allow these to ‘define’ us?

    A proper understanding of what the “non-essentials” are, should at least help us move away from being “Issue oriented,” and help us in “keeping the unity of the Spirit.” The original question of “What are the NON – negotiables of the Christian Faith?” should be pretty simple for us, for our ‘creed’ has always been “Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

    Perhaps it would help to consider several things:
    1. What puts one “into Christ”?
    Obviously, one must be ‘born’ of water and the Spirit (John 3; Acts 2), being cleansed by the blood and filled with the Spirit. Since the Lord is the One who ADDS… and the Spirit “FILLS,” who among us is qualified to do the “taking away or draw arbitrary lines?” A Christian is one who has “obeyed the Gospel.” He may not be a very ‘good one,’ in our way of thinking, but may be totally accepted by God (Romans 14: 4, 10).
    What puts one into Christ is an ‘essential’, non-negotiable.

    2. After that, Christians need to “grow in grace.” We grow at different ‘rates,’ and who has not “grown” through the up’s and down’s of life? Are we “in” and “out” of Christ every day? Maybe that’s why one Christian said, “Every day from morning till night, I repeat in my mind, “Forgive me Lord,” “Forgive me Lord,” etc., until bedtime.” Grace is another non negotiable (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 5:4), if we could just gain some ‘balance’ in it. What about I John 1:7? Does the blood of Christ continually cleanse us, or is it a one time thing, and after that “Good luck”? God forbid. It takes time to grow, and change. It takes love and patience to allow for this.

    3. Christians may indeed fall away and be lost (Hebrews 6:4-6), but between the ‘sinning’ and the ‘falling away’ and ‘being lost’… there needs to be someone who is “spiritual” to go and at least try and restore (Galatians 6:1-2). It is easy to fall away from a law/works system, but difficult to fall from a grace/faith relationship, (Luke 15:11-32).
    (What may help us in deciding what is NON NEGOTIABLE, would be to ask the question, “What would you literally, lay your life on the line for? What were christians back then, willing to die for? Which “issue,” would motivate you to give your life? “I would give my life for Jesus,” someone says, “but I wouldn’t give my life for a ‘cup’ or …”)

    4. What were “lines” which were drawn by Jesus and or the Apostles? Paul spoke “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:20), and “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done” (2 Timothy 4:14). Paul also instructed the Corinthians to deal with this person who was living with his Dad’s wife, (I Corinthians 5). (By the way, there is no example in Scriptures, where one congregation has ‘withdrawn’ from another congregation.) If the Corinthian church existed now, they would be ‘written up,’ and ‘black-balled.’ Paul calls them “saints.” Then what about a Diotrophes (2 John)? Bottom line… my opinion… be careful drawing line… let God ‘draw the line,’ and deal with the ‘weeds.’ Go win souls to Christ.

    5. Non-negotiables are just that. These are what puts one in Christ and keeps him there, and results in Heaven as his eternal home. All who are penitent believers, having repented of sins, and been immersed in water, indwelt by the Spirit, are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Over time, hopefully we all will grow and change in grace.

    1. I heard a priest one time say that a witchhunt showed a lot about the hunters and never got rid of the witches.

  11. God decides what the “salvation issues” are. He’s the judge. Pretty sure my opinion won’t be asked. However, non-negotiables become relevant when deciding who you’re willing to go with on a mission to teach and/or establish a new congregation. Especially in a foreign country. If you can’t agree on what the bible says about how one becomes a Christian, whether the women should preach, or if your going to use instruments, then get ready for great disfunction.

    1. Dan, I agree that only Christ is the final judge. I’ve heard it said that we as Christians only have one question on the final exam. “We we saw the hungry, did we feed Him……”, I don’t have the exact scripture here, but you and others will recall the one I”m speaking of.

      We may all think we are “right”, but this scripture tells the story of those who are redeemed in the end. Only in Him, with our heart, mind and souls is what matters. I’m not in the judging business anymore. Been there and done that. Now I preach Christ and Him only. His blood takes care of all of the rest.

    2. Thanks for your comment Vicki. I have a specific example of a situation I am facing:

      We have been establishing house churches in Mexico and supporting local, native, ministers in this work for the past few years. A young mother has recently been attending one of the assemblies alone with her children and wants to become a Christian. A friend of mine, Charles, happens to have a Presbyterian background. He wants to teach the 5 points of Calvinism (essentially that we’re saved by God’s divine election and that baptism is NOT required). I want to teach the examples of conversion given in Acts. He is adamantly opposed to any mention of baptism as part of conversion, and he thinks that would be trying to earn your salvation and would actually disqualify you for God’s grace.

      What do we do? Teaching the biblical examples of baptism is a non-negotiable for me. Not teaching them is a non-negotiable for Charles. I believe Charles is wrong. He believes I am wrong. I would never presume to have the authority to determine his eternal destiny because of his views. But I do have the ability to direct what is taught, and I have a sincere desire to teach the gospel to our dear lady in Mexico who, like me, is in desperate need of a Savior.

    3. Dan, something to consider and i believe Jay Guin is blogging on this very issue right now – https://oneinjesus.info
      Baptism in Greek is always in the passive voice. That means it is an action that is done to someone rather than a work someone does on their own. So it is not a work tvat attempts to earn salvation it is a submissive response to God.

    4. Dan, your friend cannot teach Calvinism in the assembly of Christians without you having to confront it openly. Best to have a private sit down where there is no ‘pressure’ and just explain to him,
      1. It’s not who is right that matters in Bible study, it’s what is right. Obviously no one has perfect understanding all scripture.
      2. Scripture is the final authority… not Calvin. Calvin has some good thoughts, and studies, but TULIP is not right.
      3. I’m not really sure if he wants to have an open, objective study as much as he has something to ‘defend to the death.’
      In any case you have to stand on things that are non- negotiable, and just present truth in a loving way.
      4. Dad said, in his study of the Holy Spirit, that he would direct people to John 3. Jesus says, we have to be born of water and Spirit. “A waterless Spirit birth is no better than a Spiritless water birth.” Jesus here joins the water of immersion with the Spirit. Will one argue with Jesus? Will one argue about baptism when Jesus teaches plainly, ONE BIRTH consisting of TWO ELEMENTS. Will he try and say, “Well, Jesus was wrong… there is no water involved in the new birth.” or He will try and explain ‘water,’ away with physical birth, but context will not let him get away with that.
      Act 2:38-39 simply reflects this, when Peter give two commands and two promises. Water (baptism) and (gift of) the Spirit are ‘joined’, and cannot be separated.
      Glad to talk with you more and share more materials which may help. Grow in grace.

  12. I would say that faith in Christ is basically the “non-negotiable”, as in Romans 1:16-7 as far as salvation goes. As far as violence goes, I think it is out of the question for the Christian, just like being an abortionist would put a person outside of the Kingdom of God.

  13. What are the doctrinal issues that would keep you from teaming with (or commiting money to) a missionary if he planned to teach and/or practice those things?

    I might use the answer to that question to help define a “non-negotiable”. This of course is not judging their ultimate standing before God, but it is a good measure of who you would “fellowship”.

  14. And so, from just the handful of people commenting here, we have those who believe and argue that:

    1) All soldiers, police and arms bearing citizens are lost.

    2) The only determining factor in terms of who will be saved is “when we saw the hungry, did we feed him?” Nothing else we believe or do matters because “his blood takes care of everything alse” (beyond not feeding the hungry).

    3) “we are baptized because we have been saved, not to be saved.”

    4) We know that the one and only “step” of salvation is to “call upon the name of the Lord” but we don’t know how one actually does that.

    5) We shouldn’t tell people what to do to be saved.

    The above beliefs put forth by (some) readers of this blog illustrate just how ridiculous and unbiblical our positions have become.

    Seems to me, that before we discuss what “puts one outside of the kingdom”, we have a whole lot of things to get straight ourselves.

    It might be worthwhile to discuss how to correct and stop the people that believe and argue the unbiblical positions mentioned above? Or, is it more pleasing to God to let people believe and teach such things unabated?

    And that’s an honest question.

  15. I mean, suppose we are in a “Bible Class” and somebody there is arguing that “feeding the hungry” is all that matters to be saved? Or that our soldiers and police are all lost? Or that we are baptized BECASUE we are saved? Or that we don’t know exactly HOW a person is to call up on the name of the Lord? Or that its not our job to tell people how to be saved at all?

    What should we do? Should we correct them? Would it be wrong to just allow one to teach those ideas?

    What about when people argue such positions online? How shall we respond?

    1. We make these things either or and that isnt necessary. If it is grace then what you do doesnt matter? Well, no. The fruit of tbe Spirit will be evident in the lives of thise who love the Lord and follow Him. At the same time our acts of love don’t add up to save us. These things go together and flow out if each otger and yiu dont have to deny one in order to support the other. This is why both Paul and James were right on grace and works.

  16. “We make these things either or and that isnt necessary.”

    Matt, what are the “these things” you have in mind?

    You also wrote: “These things go together and flow out of each other and you dont have to deny one in order to support the other. This is why both Paul and James were right on grace and works.”

    Can you elaborate? What things are you talking about when you say “you don’t have to deny one to support the other”?

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