Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone, who is not a member of the church of Christ, say to me, “You people in the Church of Christ believe you’re the only ones going to heaven.” Or, they will have something similar to say along those same lines, just in slightly different words. Has that ever happened to you? If you’ve been in the church any amount of time, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. So, is it true? Is that what we believe? Let’s respond honestly to the accusation and answer those questions.
Is That True?
First of all, I have never heard anyone from the church of Christ ever actually say that, preach it, or write it! From my own experience, I grew up in the church, have been closely associated with the church most of my life, and have been a full-time minister for twelve years now. I have been to numerous lectureships, Gospel meetings, and seminars where I’ve heard some of the best and most prominent preachers in the brotherhood. I’ve also read hundreds of articles, blogs, and commentaries by our brethren. Out of all of that, I cannot point to one single occasion where someone actually spoke those words! So, where did it come from? Well, it came from an inference someone deduced (obviously denominational) about the church of Christ from a sermon they heard, an article read, or the like. It is what someone else thinks; it is an opinion they have formed about us.
Secondly, we can’t help it if people form opinions, but we can at least answer their allegations. So, is that, indeed, what the church of Christ believes or teaches? The answer is “No.” The church of Christ has no official, nor formal statement of faith, creed, or a mission statement registered anywhere in the world. We have no overseeing, governing authority in a headquarters somewhere to mandate such a thing. We simply adhere to what the Bible teaches regarding the church and try to replicate it. The name we use, the “church of Christ” is simply a description of the body, or assembly of the saints (Romans 16:1-16; 1 Corinthians 1:2), not some formal organization’s name. Therefore, to make such an allegation regarding the church of Christ is evidence that the accuser doesn’t really understand the true nature of the church – as presented in the Bible. Instead, they are thinking from a more worldly, man-made institution point of view
Thirdly, the real question that should be asked, in order to respond is this, “Who do you think will go to heaven?” Or, perhaps, “Who (how, or what) determines who gets to go and who doesn’t get to go?” If they’re honest, their answer should be exactly the same as “what the church of Christ believes.”It should be, “God decides!” (Matthew 7:21) If they don’t believe that, then there’s a whole other issue to deal with. Thus, where do we find the rules for God’s decision? Only in the Bible. Any member of the church of Christ should be able to answer, “Only those who obey the Gospel will go to heaven,” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10, Matthew 25:31-46). We, that is, the people who have been added to the church (Acts 2:47) believe that anyone who adheres to the plain, clear doctrine of the first century church of the Bible will go to heaven. In the first century, they were called just “Christians” (Acts 11:26), the “Way” (Acts 9:2), and the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19), to name a few. They obeyed that Gospel plan of salvation and were all part of the body of Christ, the church of our Lord, Jesus (Matthew 16:18).
Therefore, if the church you go to doesn’t line up with, or match the church of the first century church, as it is presented in the Bible by name, doctrine, organization, headship, leadership structure, worship, membership, and fellowship then your soul is in jeopardy! It doesn’t matter what I believe or think. What matters is what God has said
While it can certainly be discouraging to see so much blatant immorality in our society today, we need to realize that people have always been this way. I know this because of what I find in the Bible. Specifically, this is seen among the people of Israel who were living during the times of the Judges, more than 3000 years ago. They had definitely lost their moral compass. They were going in the wrong direction. Their example can serve as a good reminder for us – of what NOT to do!
Look at the situation Judges 17:1-13. Here, we are introduced to a man named Micah and his mother, who apparently was wealthy. He had stolen eleven hundred shekels of silver from his own mother. But, she had placed a curse on the thief, not knowing it was her own son who had stolen from her. The curse was apparently severe enough to scare her son into confessing his crime! Yet, what followed wasn’t a reprimand, or even an offer of guilt before God. Instead, her response was: “May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!” (17:2) Wait, what? Why would she say that? Why did she not correct, or punish her son and set things right? Yet, it gets worse!
Look what she says in V3 “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image.” Unbelievable! In one breath, she consecrates the money to God and then wants to make an idol out of it to worship. This is paying lip service to God and then sinning against Him at the same time. All of this is completely outrageous – but it’s true – these are real people and real events. She was oblivious to the irony of it all. Her moral compass was so far off, that she couldn’t see that she was off course! Yet, it gets even worse.
After Micah makes the idols, he then installed one of his own sons as a priest! This is also against God’s commands because only Levites were permitted to serve as priests (cf Deut 18:1). Micah was an Ephraimite. However, in V7 along comes a young Levite from Bethlehem, so Micah offers to pay him and house him as his own personal priest. This situation is a complete mess of corrupted morals and disobedience by a descendant of Israel – God’s own people.
Here’s how we can make application to us today. People still do this same thing, even in our society. They still set up their own religions, appoint their own priests, make their own idols, and espouse their own faith which is all completely against God’s commands in the New Testament. They do it because they are just like Micah and the misguided Israelites. Why does this happen? The answer is within the same passage, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what wasright in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) In other words, when Jesus isn’t one’s Lord, then people will doing whatever they want to do, thinking it is okay, instead of doing what God said.
The Apostle John wrote, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4). So, the bottom line is, God expects us to obey Him. If we obey Him, then we have fellowship with Him and we can have assurance of eternal life. Therefore, just because people think they can say or do whatever they want without consequence, does not mean what they think is true! It certainly wasn’t for Micah and it isn’t for anyone who has ever lived, is living, or will live. Ultimately, Micah had to answer to God for his actions. All of us will too!
(Heb 9:27; Rev 20:12) So, make sure your “moral compass” is properly calibrated and pointed in the right direction, by seeking out the will of God in Scripture and submitting to it through obedience. (cf. Eph 5:17, 6:6; Matt 7:21; Mark 3:35)