Lucia's Blog: IS ONE CHURCH AS GOOD AS ANOTHER?
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, July 29, 2019

IS ONE CHURCH AS GOOD AS ANOTHER?

"And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.'"  
Ephesians 1:22-23


Churches that claim Jesus as Lord come in a great variety of sizes, flavors, and beliefs. Church attendance in our country can be from occasional to every time the doors are opened, but if one is really trying to please our Lord, he needs to consider that it really does matter what church he worships with.

Why are we so careful in physical matters and so careless or slack in spiritual matters?  Is one wife as good as another? Is one medical doctor as good as another? If you're traveling to a specific destination, is one road just as good as another? Is each companion in life as good as another? Is catching a bus, plane, or train as good as another? Is each medicine as good as another? You will likely answer “no” to these questions. Again, why is it that we’re so careful about material matters and at the same time so careless about the spiritual ones? Sadly, many people don’t see the need to be cautious about choosing a “church.” For many, all churches are of equal value, so it does not matter. There is little or no difference between the ones they must choose from, as long as they are recognized churches. But, is it true that one church is as good as another? What do you think?  Surely our souls are valuable enough to be worthy of our concern about their eternal destiny.

We live in a religiously divided world that causes us to be concerned, sad, and frustrated.  It is frustrating and sad when one strives to reason for hours with someone about the Scriptures whose prejudices and preconceived notions are too strong to allow a heart receptive to God's Truth.  It is also frustrating when we're unable to break the stalemate that results when people seek to justify remaining in error, saying, “Well, when all is said and done, it really doesn’t make any difference, for one church is as good as another.”  They claim that one church is just as good as another, but refuse to give us any Scriptural proof or defense to support their claim.  Have you ever wondered why there are so many denominations in the religious world, claiming to be "churches that belong to Christ"?   My question is, “If there is only one God, one Lord Jesus Christ, and only one Bible, why is it then that there are so many denominations and so much religious error?”  You see most of these religious groups have their own man-made form of doctrines and traditions that are peculiar to each particular denominationThey willingly ignore that the Word of God strictly condemns many of their practices.  They complain that it is impossible for us to believe and teach the things that God has precisely commanded us to follow and thus, unnecessary.  Do they not know that Jesus built and has only one church!

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, the apostle Paul said,
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now, this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

I wonder if each denomination were to reject each of their erroneous and man-made doctrines and traditions to follow only the New Testament pattern for the church as well as their faith, how many confessions would there be? The answer is only one!  So why is it so hard for them to obey 1 Corinthians 1:10-13?  When one challenges them to support their position about not following the New Testament pattern for the church as ordained by the Lord Himself,  they ask, "Why should we go back to the Bible pattern?"   Evidently, with this kind of answer or belief, they are claiming that it does not matter if we violate God's ordained divine pattern to satisfy their traditions.  Some don't even care or try to make an effort to show or prove with the Bible such practices or their denominational organization found and approved in the New Testament.  To them, it really doesn't make any difference.  Amazing!  The truth is it does make a big difference with God!


I.   IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE:

The only question at stake here is, Why is it so critical to follow only the New Testament pattern for the church as ordained by the Lord? To understand this critical question, it is crucial that we first acknowledge that the Word of God will be our Judge on that final day.  We will be judged for eternity according to what it is written in the New Testament, the Law of Christ.  Jesus said,
"He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."  (John 12:48
The teaching of the New Testament is the Message of Jesus Christ, the Gospel.   And though Jesus did not teach all things while he was here on earth, He left His inspired apostles and prophets to write His words after he ascended to heaven. The Old Testament was written at the direction of the Holy Spirit.
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21)
So, the New Testament was also given by the Holy Spirit.
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come."  (John 16:12-13)
Do we really believe this?


II.   SO WHAT DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT HAVE TO SAY ON THE MATTER
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One God is as Good as Another: 
"One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."  (Ephesians 4:6)
So, is one God as good as another?  Different religions have different godsSo, are we free to choose the "god" we like?  Would the One and only true God be pleased with any other "god" we choose?  No, one God is not as good as another!  Take, for instance, Buddhism and Buddha, Islam and Allah, which are two different religions with two very different “gods.” Yet in the New Testament, we see that there is but “One God” (Ephesians 4:6). The truth is that since God does make a difference, then one church is not as good as another. To get the answer to this question, it is vital that we go to the only source of truth, the Word of God and read  1 Corinthians 8:5,6; Ephesians 4:4-6; Acts 17:22-31. No, one God is not as good as another!
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless They Both Believe in Christ as The “Only Begotten Son” of God:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."  (John 3:16
"Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him."  (1 John 4:9)
So not every church is as good as others. Why?  Simply because not all churches believe that Jesus is the “only begotten” Son of God.  In John 8:24, Jesus gave us an absolute warning about this.
“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” 

You see faith in the Sonship of Christ is not optional! Hence, any church that fails to believe in Jesus as the “only begotten” Son of God, His Sonship and Lordship, such a church fails to be as good as the one that has such faith in the Son of God.
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Founder is as Good as Another:
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  (Matthew 16:18-19)
One church is not as good as another church unless One Founder is as good as another.  Different men or groups of men have built different churches.  Jesus Christ is the builder of His Own church.  Read Matthew 16:18,19; 1 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 127:1; Matthew 15:13. Most religious organizations that exist today have different founders. But the true church that we read of in the New Testament was founded by Jesus (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:11). The church founded by Jesus is 100 times better than one that has been founded by another man (Psalm 127:1; 1 Timothy 3:15). These religious organizations can only turn to man for their point of origin, and thus they shall be rooted up, while the one planted by our Lord Christ will stand the test of time for all eternity (Matthew 15:13).
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless The Blood of Christ is Unimportant: 
"Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood."  (Acts 20:28)
So one blood is not as good as another. We learn from Acts 20:28 that the church was purchased with Christ's blood. Christians have been washed in Christ's blood (Revelation 1:5).  A church which cost Jesus nothing is not as good as the one that cost Him His life. Do you think Jesus was a fool? 
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless Churches That Are Not Mentioned in the Bible Are as Good as The One Spoken of in The New Testament:
 In Romans 16:16, Paul addresses local churches in his greetings, saying, “All the churches of Christ greet you.” Thus, those churches that call themselves by other names, names that are not mentioned in the New Testament, indeed are not as good as the ones that are mentioned.
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Head is as Good as Another:
"And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.'"  (Ephesians 1:22-23)

So one Head is not as good as another.  Jesus is the one and only Head of His body, the church (Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). Other churches have other men (or women) as their heads. Consider the claims of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the Pope.  The Pope’s teachings and decrees are equal to the Bible in authority.  The Pope became the “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ and the ‘visible’ Head of the Roman Catholic Church.”  Eventually, his authority became supreme in all matters of faith and morals as head of the church.  Without a doubt, Catholics have placed authority in the wrong places.  Why? 
  1. Because all authority is not in the body but in the Head (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). 
  2. Because all rule of government is not in the kingdom but in the King (Heb. 7:1-2; Rev. 1:5-6).
  3. Because all authority is not in the church but in Christ alone (Matt. 28:18; 1 Peter 3:22).  
  4. The church is not the savior of souls, but rather the body of the saved souls (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:22-24).  
  5. Christ the Head warns the church, His body, repeatedly not to depart from His teachings (Acts 20:25-31; Ephesians 4:17-24).
Christ’s true and only church is mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 16:18). It is undeniable that in the religious world, each man-made church has its own head. But the Word of God tells us that Christ is the Head of the true church mentioned therein (Ephesians 1:22, 23). Undoubtedly, the church that has the sinless Son of God as its Head is better than one that does not.  What do you think?
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Foundation is as Good as Another:
"For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."  (1 Corinthians 3:11).
So, is one foundation as good as another?  All different churches in the religious world have been built upon different foundations. Christ is the foundation of His church (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20; Matthew 16:18).  We cannot build on a sandy foundation (Matthew 7:24-28). But Christ’s true church was built upon the unique Truth that He is “the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 16:16-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another if The Worship of The Church is Important:
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth."  (John 4:24)
It is quite evident that different churches worship in different ways, ways that are not authorized by God. But we can see according to the New Testament that one worship is not as good as another (John 4:24; Matthew 15:9). We can argue all day and night about one worship being as good as another, but the Truth of the matter is, it isn’t so and never has been! (Genesis 4:3-5; Leviticus 10:1, 2)
  • One Church is Not as Good as Another Unless One Doctrine is as Good as Another:
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."  (1 John 9-11)

The word doctrine means teaching. So is one teaching or doctrine as good as another?  Do you really think so? Why not read and find for yourself the truth about this in Acts 2:42; Hebrews 13:9; 1 Timothy 4:1,2; 2 John 9-11?  Again, when we carefully consider the teachings of the different religious groups that exist today, we immediately notice that many preach different doctrines that are not authorized by God. Why are there so many different churches then? The New Testament stresses that one doctrine is not as good as another (Galatians 1:6-9). As a matter of fact, most of the New Testament was written to correct the doctrine of those who were in error, teachers who had corrupted it.
  • One Baptism is Not as Good as Another:
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."  (Ephesians 4:5-6)
 So is one baptism as good as another? Paul said there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). This "one baptism" is a burial in water (John 3:23; Mark 1:4,5; Romans 6:3,4; and Colossians 1:12). This one baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It is essential for salvation in Christ (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26,27).  Matthew 28:19 says,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them… “  
Jesus did not say, “baptize them when they are infants and teach them when they grow up.”

Christ put teaching before baptism.  In Mark 16:16, Jesus said,
“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  
Jesus did not say, “Baptize them in infancy and let them believe when they grow up.”  Our Lord and Savior puts belief (faith) before baptism.

Peter said,

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 2:38)

Peter did not say,
“Baptize them in infancy and let them repent when they become old enough.”  

He put repentance before baptism.  When the eunuch asked in Acts 8:36-37, “What prevents me from being baptized?” Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  Every positive law implies a negative one.  Hence, a baby cannot be baptized. Why?  Because in baptism we obey from the heart that form of doctrine (death, burial, and resurrection of Christ) and then we are made free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:17-18).  It is impossible for a baby to obey from his heart as it is also impossible for him to be baptized.   An infant cannot become free from sins, past, present, or future, even if he had any sins.  Parents can take a baby to be baptized, but it is just a wet baby.  He is not a baptized baby.  The Bible affirms that there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:5), forbidding two.  The fact that Jesus commanded to baptize believers (Mark 16:16) prohibits the baptizing of infants since they are not believers.  God commanded Noah to build the ark with gopher wood.  That prohibited steel or anything else.  Likewise, when Jesus explicitly commanded to baptize believers, that prohibited the baptizing of infants.  Regarding communion, Jesus commanded that we take the bread and the fruit of the vine.  This prohibits taking milk or something else at the Lord’s Supper.  Therefore, there is no command in the Word of God from beginning to end for infant baptism!  They are demonic and man-made doctrines.
  • One Priest is as Good as Another: 
"But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, 12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. 17 For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth."  (Hebrews 9:11-17)

We are living today under the New Covenant, with Jesus Christ serving as our High Priest. "By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also, there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood." (Hebrews 7:22-24).  So is it acceptable to God that we accept just any person as our High Priest?  (Hebrews 9:11-17; 10:10-22)
  • Being Lost is as Good as Being Saved? 
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body."  (Ephesians 5:23)
Accepting other gods, founders, blood, heads, foundations, baptisms, priests, man-made doctrines, and traditions will cause us to be lost for eternity! Please consider reading Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 2:16; Matthew 25:31-46.

Therefore, to admit that one church is as good as another, there must be some standard for determining good or evil.  All churches must equally measure up to that standard, for if one church falls short of other churches in measuring up to that standard, then it is not as good as the others are. Moreover, to claim that one church is as good as another is the same as saying that all churches are equally good or bad!   Friends, if you are a member of some church, do you believe the church where you are a member is as bad as others? If your answer is negative one (and I suspect it is), then you do not really believe that one church is as good as another.  Think about this!


III.  WHAT ABOUT TRADITIONS?
  • The Problem of Tradition:
One of the problems that the churches faced from the beginning was the power of traditionTradition (customary ways of doing things) is not necessarily bad.  In fact, the apostle Paul praised the church in Corinth for holding “firmly to the traditions, just I delivered them to you.”  (I Cor. 11:2).  Assembling with other Christians every Lord’s Day, praying at a regular time every day, studying and meditating on the Word of God every day, gathering with family members to celebrate certain special days are all examples of good traditions since they encourage each other.  However, we must be careful since traditions can also hurt the church and even violate the Word of God.  Our Lord Jesus said that keeping man-made traditions can cause others to neglect and ignore God’s commandments.  Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, who would hold on to the tradition of giving money to the Temple rather than honoring their mother and father by supplying what they needed (Mark 7:6-13).  They obviously violated God’s commandment.  Perhaps, the tradition of giving to the Temple had an honest beginning, namely to enable the maintenance of God’s holy place.  However, the Jewish leaders enforced such a practice, using their human reasoning and thinking that giving to the Temple was, in fact, honoring one’s parents when in reality that was not what God had ordained by the fifth commandment at all.  This is something they invented out of their stubborn and carnal heartWhen man insists on keeping man-made traditions, such traditions become more important than the Word of God, keeping all believers from obeying His Word.  To them, it is easier and wiser to follow the lead of their religious leaders, than to follow the leadership of Christ.  When something is done over and over again, being justified, we have what is called a “tradition.”  Let us make sure that we keep traditions that are for our edification and not our destruction.

The commandments and inventions of men gradually lead to apostasy, and the development of false religion and doctrine. And even though many men tried to reform the Catholic Church, bringing her back to the Truth, back to the Light, their efforts only resulted in the establishment of more man-made churches led by false teaching.  Their man-made efforts only gave birth to denominationalism along with their false doctrines.  Denominationalism is the offspring of Catholicism.  The true and pure church that Jesus died for, purchased with His own blood, and was founded by Him and the apostles in the first century was neither Catholic, nor Protestant, but merely the church that belonged to Christ composed of Christians (saints).  Thus, one might ask, "Is it acceptable to practice the traditions of the church fathers?" Indeed, this is an excellent question and one that we must consider.  Again, traditions are not sinful as long as they do not become doctrinal and depart from all Biblical Truth.  God never accepted, in either the Old or New Testament, a departure from the Truth, that is, adding to or taking away from His Word. Especially not to make room for traditions. The Israelites were commanded strictly not to change the Old Law,
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2
The New Testament also ends with this warning to those who would presume to change or moderate God's word for any reason,
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:18-19)

In the divine wisdom of the Proverbs of the Bible,
"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add not thou unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."  (Proverbs 30:5-6
Though this is in the Old Testament, the principle continues today under the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote,
"...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."  (Romans 3:4)

Jesus explicitly warned us about not changing God's Word to make room for man-made traditions, for it destroys the effectiveness of His Word.  God's Word becomes ineffective when we replace even a small part of it with man-made traditions!  Take heed!

In Mark 7:5-9 we read,
"Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
Also Mark 7:13,
 "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye."
Jesus is speaking of those whose hearts are far from Him. Well, someone might suggest that as long as our heart is close to God, then, our traditions would not have the same effect.  But Jesus said,
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."  (John 14:21).  

Notice what Jesus said in verse 23, "If a man love me, he will keep my words..." So we must obey the teachings of Jesus for our hearts to abide in Him, for this will reflect our love for Him.  But if we choose to disobey Him by keeping the traditions of men, though we might claim to love Him, Jesus said we do not love Him.  Take heed!  While we might have great affection for Him because we're keeping the traditions of the church, He said we do not love Him.

According to the traditions of the church fathers, the decisions made at the councils or synods represented God's Law. But this tradition itself represents nothing but a departure from the teachings of Christ, His Law. If their decisions are not what the Bible teaches, we must reject them!  So we must ask, "Is there something in addition to or does it retract from the Bible?"  No one is authorized to teach or add anything different from what has already been written as the Word of God. In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul warned the brethren about following other doctrines.
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

To understand the depth of this command, we must consider the meaning of the ancient Greek word for 'accursed' which is 'anathema' and means to execrate or condemn as abominable. Those who dare teach a changed and different Gospel will lead their followers to hell and are condemned!  So we must be cautious about whose teaching we are going to believe and follow.  We must remember that our eternal destiny will depend upon the choices we make.  Unfortunately, all the denominational bodies of today hold traditions that are nothing but a complete departure from the New Testament pattern. We must stress that the church of Jesus Christ, the One He purchased with His own blood exists today, and it only includes those people who:
  1. Speak where the Bible speaks.
  2. Are silent where the Bible is silent.
  3. Do Bible things in Bible ways and with the authority of their Head, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
  4. Call Bible things by Bible names.
Everyone is invited to become part of the New Testament church by simply obeying the pure Gospel of Christ. When we choose to do this, we are no longer part of a denominational body. We will be merely Christians, nothing more, nothing less, a part of the only church which Jesus built and purchased with His own blood.  The Lord has commanded all men everywhere to examine everything and accept no substitutes for the Bible, to reject all man-made material written by men, and to learn exactly what the Bible teaches and obey it.  Period!


CONCLUSION:

Are you in the church that Christ purchased with His blood? If not, you can be, and you must be to be saved eternally.  We must carefully consider the truthfulness of the saying, "one church is as good as another." Is one person as good as another?  I must stress that my question does not include those who have never made an effort to follow our Lord and His Lordship.  I'm speaking of those who profess to being Jesus' disciples. In the Gospel, we often read of some who are “weak in the faith” (Rom. 14:1) and of others who are “strong” (Rom. 15:1).  Some who are likened to “gold, silver, and precious stones,” and others who are likened to “wood, hay, and stubble” (1 Cor. 3:12). Some who are “carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1), and others who are “spiritual” (Gal. 6:1). But can we really say that all of these persons are equally as good, and therefore equally as bad?  The truth is that we cannot determine whether one person is as good as another person without qualifications whatsoever.  Each local church is composed of people who are joined together in faith and practice. Their “faith and practice”  determine the rightness or wrongness of the church that was formed by their together relationships. But if any church, composed of people, fails to comply with God's terms, the terms that define true discipleship, such a church is not as good as the true church founded by Jesus our Lord.  On the other hand, if a church consists of those who freely comply with the scriptural teachings (doctrines) and requirements for true discipleship, then such a church is  “as good” as the one established by Jesus our Lord.

In Revelation chapters 2-3, we find letters that were written to the seven churches in Asia. One church (Ephesus) had some who had left their “first love” (2:4). Pergamos had some members who held “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,” a doctrine which the Lord said “I hate” (2:15). The church in Thyatira permitted “that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (2:20). The Lord described the church at Sardis as being “dead” (3:1), and the church at Laodicea as being “lukewarm” (3:16). On the other hand, there was not one word of condemnation against the church at Smyrna (2:8-11),  the church at Philadelphia was described as being approved by the Lord (3:7-13). So can an intelligent person read the seven letters written to these churches and then honestly conclude that every one of these seven churches was “as good” as the others?   What do you think?  My friends, if we can’t say that about all churches then, why is it that you say that one church is as good as another? 

Let us be very careful and not use a false standard!  Why?  Simply because when one says “I am as good as another,” he is making the same mistake made by some at Corinth. They measured “themselves by themselves,” and compared “themselves among themselves,” and Paul rebuked them, saying they “are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).  You see they used the wrong rod for measuring.  If someone says, “I am as good as you are,” he proves that neither of us is as good as we ought to be. When someone sets his watch by another man’s watch that is wrong, both watches are then wrong! Don't you think?  Thus, it is the same in religious matters! Since “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23), neither a man’s life nor his individual doctrine is to be the standard for determining religious conduct. We must seek the only true standard!  So which is the true standard?  Consider the following Scriptures.
“God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son.” (Heb. 1:2)
Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken,  the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Through Jesus' death, He became “the mediator of the New Testament” (Heb.  9:15), and it is explicitly through this new covenant or testament that Christ speaks to us today and nothing else. Thus, this is the only divine standard that determines what man must do to become and to remain Jesus' disciple.  So how does one become a disciple of Christ, and what does it involve?  Consider the following critical steps to follow.
  1. Believe in God and his Son (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24).
  2. Repent of all sins (Acts 2:38; 17:30).
  3. Confess one's faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:32; Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10).
  4. And be buried with Christ in baptism for the remission of sins (Rom. 6:3, 4; Acts 2:38). At this point, one rises to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) and is “added to the church” which the Lord established and bought with His own blood (Acts 2:41, 47).
It is distressing to see how many churches have failed to follow the divine pattern that Jesus ordained for the one and only true church that He purchased with His own blood.  Most of these churches do not comply with Jesus' terms that make for discipleship. Those who refuse to comply with the simple terms that Jesus authorized for discipleship because they have chosen to follow a different pattern not laid out by Jesus but by men have not yet obeyed the Lord's requirements for true discipleship, true disciples of Jesus.  So if the members of one church have become disciples, and the members of another church have not, then is the latter “as good” as the former?  What do you think?  Well, a true disciple or follower of Christ must be a person who became a follower of Christ and continues to follow Him faithfully. Besides living a morally upright life, he must unite himself to a group of disciples of the like precious faith and be joined together by a common faith and practice. You see in the first century those who obeyed this pattern were “called Christians” (Acts 11:26), and “they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  Moreover, upon “the first day of the week” they “came together to break bread” or to partake of the “Lord’s Supper” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20-28), and to “lay by . . . in store” or to give as “prospered” (1 Cor. 16:1, 2). They also sang praises unto God (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), their music was vocal or acappella in nature. Their “together activities” involved membership in a local congregation whose entire organization consisted of “bishops” (or elders), deacons, and saints (Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5, 7).  Each congregation was autonomous and had its own appointed elders (Acts 14:23) whose oversight was confined only to that one church (Acts 20:28). A denominationally structured organization of churches was unheard of in New Testament days.  It is unscriptural and violates the divine pattern that the Lord gave the church to follow!

The Gospel teaches us what it takes to become and to remain a Christian.  It also shows us how Christians comply with the Lord's terms to make them the only true New Testament church!  Those who claim to be Christians but refuse to follow the conditions set by the Lord Himself to observe have not and are not following the terms set by Him for discipleship.  So are they "as good" as the true church that follows the correct pattern ordained by Jesus?  What do you think? We must stress that it is not just a matter of moral uprightness, but rather a matter of showing respect or reverence to the Lord as they comply with His correct standard or pattern.  There is no middle ground here!   You either obey God completely, or you disobey what He commands we do. Remember that in Matthew 15:9 and Colossians 2:2, Jesus condemned the doctrines and precepts of men.  I seriously doubt that anyone truly thinks that it does not matter which church one attends because there are criteria that each one uses to choose a particular church with which to worship. The real question is whether the criteria that we use is that which pleases Him whom we intend to worship and honor. Let me urge everyone to give more serious consideration to the pattern that Jesus has given us in the writings of His apostles and prophets. It really does matter to our Lord!
"And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  (Matthew 16:18-19)

May we all honor our Lord Jesus by respecting His wishes in the way in which we worship Him.

Luci


3 comments :

  1. Thank you my sister. Good thoughts there. Its distressing that many are failing to see th plainer truth.

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