To start, let’s define the terms.
Definition of most:
Greatest in amount or degree.
Definition of important:
Strongly effecting the course of events or the nature of things
So with God, what specific thing strongly effects the course of events or the nature of all things in the greatest amount or degree?
To me, three answers seem to stand out; there is love, there is free will, and there is holiness.
16 “For God so loved* the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes** in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned*** already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
*We know love is important to God because He died to redeem us so we might be saved from sin.
**We know free will is important to God because He gives us the opportunity to choose His Son, to choose to spend eternity with Him, and this is evident even from the beginning when God created man and woman in the garden of Eden.
***And we know that holiness is important to God because those who do not choose to believe in Jesus don’t just get a free pass, but condemn themselves to an eternity apart from God.
In contrast, we know it cannot be any of the three by themselves because the others clearly exist, as this is evident throughout all of the Bible.
What does this mean for us?
Well, with all the beliefs in theology, there seems to be 3 levels of importance.
A. Matters of Salvation – How one is saved, the most important. Jesus is God in the flesh. It is only through belief in Him that you can be saved. This is not by works but by faith.
B. Matters of Witnessing – Effecting salvation of others, second most important. Some beliefs can affect your witness to the lost and possibly the salvation of others. Such beliefs include the authority of Scripture, the role of Christians as missionaries, views on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc…
C. All Other Beliefs – The least important. These are the denominational differences that seem to divide believers but are really trivial beliefs; the proper way to baptize, types of acceptable music, religious traditions, etc…
Other theological stances on certain issues may inadvertently lead to violating A or B, for example: condoning homosexuality, gay marriage, or theistic evolution may seem innocent enough but by doing so, one would have to compromise on what Scripture says about those issues and could thus compromise the authority of Scripture leading to that person’s effectiveness in witnessing.
Also, taking something that falls under C too far could effect one’s witness, for example: if believers fight and argue about religious traditions instead of agreeing to disagree and acknowledge that traditions don’t save people, only Jesus does – that can tarnish the view of the Body of Christ for those who observe this division.
So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we can deduce that love, free will, and holiness are so important to God, we know that each person is first solely responsible for his/her salvation. After that, we all share a responsibility to present ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ and to bring the good news to the lost. And lastly, anything else we believe should be laid aside and not cause contention among one another. Let us strive to build each other up and spread the Gospel to all.
By Clark Campbell