It was an unusual gathering of people; not quite what we expected when we offered a small group in the home of a church member on the west side of town. The hostess mentioned the group to several neighbors and former coworkers and, quite to her surprise, they ALL came. That is how we ended up with a group of ten people, representing five different area churches.
My awareness of the doctrinal differences between the churches represented gave me a little bit of that "walking through a minefield" feeling. I was on alert each week, but as weeks turned to months, we rolled along without a hitch. With God's Word and our love for the Lord as the focus, we enjoyed lively discussions with fresh voices and insights. I considered it the best group I had been part of in my 20+ years of small group experience.
And then it happened … suddenly and from seemingly out-of-nowhere—"Once saved, always saved. That's what I was taught," said one young woman. My antennae were up. I recognized immediately the potential grenade-like effect of such a remark, but before I could throw myself on it, a counter remark was hurled from across the room, "Well, I don't happen to agree with THAT!" The conversation took on a life all its own, with volleys of scripture coming from all sides. Others, trying without success to enter the dispute, resorted to nodding or shaking their heads to indicate support or disagreement.
Inwardly I was screaming, "Help, Lord!" as I searched my memory banks for my church's precise stand on the issue of eternal security. I could not claim to know it with any degree of certainty, and if asked to support it, I am sure none of the scripture would come to mind. My confidence as a small group leader was waning. Should we ...