Is One Church Like Another?

Miss Jane Doe:  “I have been to many churches and I do not understand you Church of Christ folk.  You all think that you are the only ones going to heaven.  I want to know if one church, one faith, one name, one period is as good as another.”

Brother Preacher:  I am so glad that you asked that question I do not know what to do.  Praise the Lord!  I am going to deal with your question but, at the same time I am not going to sentence you to hell.  Let us see what the Bible says about that situation and then you and I should listen to the Word of God.  Is that alright with you?

Douglas Corrigan acquired the title “wrong-way Corrigan” in 1938 when he took off in his plane from Brooklyn, New York, on an announced flight to Long Beach, California.  A little over 23 hours later, however, he touched down in Dublin, Ireland, and asked officials, “Is this Los Angeles?”  For years people laughed at his “miscalculations,” but finally, in 1963, he admitted that his trip across the Atlantic had really been planned.  Unable to get official clearance to cross the ocean, he just went ahead and made the flight “by mistake” on purpose.

I’m afraid that many people worship the wrong way, in a sense, on purpose–by using one little phrase (“one is as good as another”).  If you are calling a doctor, is one as good as another?  (Answer the same question concerning seeking a wife, catching a bus, buying a house, finding a mechanic).  If any name is as good as another, put my name on your paycheck and you will see clearly what I am trying to say.  The obvious answer to all of them is a resounding NO.

It’s funny how people can be so particular in material things and so careless and “broad-minded” in matters pertaining to eternal destiny.  HOW OFTEN DO YOU HEAR “ONE FAITH IS JUST AS GOOD AS ANOTHER?”  HOW OFTEN DO YOU HEAR “ONE CHURCH IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER AS LONG AS YOUR HEART IS RIGHT?”  Maybe you’ve even said something to that effect.

I have often heard people comment concerning heaven that there is one destination, but many ways to get there.  Is one faith, way, worship, baptism, church, name, or doctrine just as good as another?  Let’s turn to the Bible and find out.

FAITH

Is one faith as good as another?  If so, then why did the inspired writer Paul record, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, ONE FAITH…” (Eph. 4:4-5 – Note: emphasis mine, EGS)

Just as there is only one Heavenly Father, there is only one true faith in Him.  There are many faiths, but God rejects them all except the one true faith that is in Him.  If one faith is as good as another, then a dead faith would be just as good as an active faith–and it’s not.  God will reject dead faith–one that is not actively seeking to do His will correctly (Jas. 2:14-25).

If one faith is as good as another then simply believing would be enough–but it’s not. Jas. 2:19 has recorded, “You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe; and tremble!”  True faith goes beyond simply believing only–the demons believe, but they will not be saved.  So, one faith isn’t as good as another.

WAY

Is one way as good as another? If so, then why did Jesus say “I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Kind of sounds like there is only one way to me, doesn’t it to you?

There are many “ways of salvation” as deemed by man. There are many “ways of righteousness” as deemed by man. There are some people that think one church is as good as another. You can not go to any church and go to heaven. Amen Walls and Electric Lights. If you are not a member of the Church of Christ you are going to have gate trouble on judgment day. And the Bible is right and somebody is wrong. But Pro. 16:25 clearly tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death.” There is only one way to heaven. There are many ways to hell–but only one way to heaven.

Matt. 7:13-14 states, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

How do we know that we are on this one and only way to heaven? Matt. 7:21 has Jesus saying, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” We know because we will be doing the Lord’s will and not our will. It will be the Lord’s way and not our way.

The account in Matt. 7 continues, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” (v.22-23). We can do things our way–we can even do things for the Lord our way, but it will not be good enough unless we do it God’s way.

I once read about a man who found two pairs of deer antlers permanently interlocked. Apparently the animals had been fighting fiercely, and their antlers became so tangled that they could not be disengaged. As a result, both deer perished from hunger. I would like to carry those horns into every home and school as a warning against fighting to the last ditch to have your own way! I would also bring them into every church so that their silent message might sink deep into the hearts of those who seem to delight in ‘locking horns’ with other Christians at the least provocation.

We could each argue, “My way is right.” Rather than that, how about saying, ” The Lord’s way is right.” So, one way isn’t as good as another. I encourage you to investigate your way to make sure that your way is the Lord’s way and if not you need to make a change…

WORSHIP

Is one worship as good as another? If so, then why did God reject Cain’s worship and accept Abel’s? Heb. 11:4 tells us it was because “Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous…”

In Leviticus we are told how the priests of the Old Testament were to offer a special fire before the Lord. In Lev. 10 we can read of two priests who offered fire the way they felt rather than the way God authorized. They died as a result.

If one worship was as good as another, then why did Nadab and Abihu die? They died because they offered an incorrect kind of fire. They disobeyed God and worshiped the way they wanted to, and they died as a result.

A modern-day example of this would be the introduction of mechanical instruments as a part of worship. This is man’s addition to God’s word: God has not instructed it in the New Testament. Col. 3:16 says that we should be “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Eph. 5:19 reminds us that we are to be “making melody in your heart to the Lord.” The truth is there are many different kinds of worship, but God does not accept them all. In Acts 17:23 we can read of ignorant worship. We can worship ignorantly or unknowingly in error and God will reject that worship. In Matt. 15:9, Jesus accused the Pharisees of vain worship because they made the traditions of man on balance with the doctrines of God. God will reject that kind of worship. In Col. 2:23 we can read of self-worship. Man can and does worship himself. But God rejects this kind of worship.

Ignorant, vain, and self worship God rejects (John 4:24). So, one kind of worship isn’t as good as another.

BAPTISM

Is one baptism as good as another? If one baptism is as good as another, then why were those who had been baptized with John’s baptism rebaptized in Acts 19? Because the baptism they had was no longer valid.

As we noted earlier in Eph. 4:5, there is now only ONE BAPTISM. Man has intervened in this day and age with many different kinds of baptism, but let’s see what the Bible says. Mark 16:16 tells us “he who believes and is baptized will be saved.” There are a couple of things to note here about the one true baptism that God ordains. One is that baptism is necessary for salvation (he who believes and is baptized WILL BE SAVED). Some men have said that baptism isn’t necessary, but God says that it is necessary: I Pet. 3:21, “there is an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism.” The second thing concerning a correct baptism is that belief must precede baptism (he who BELIEVES and is baptized will be saved). That rules out infant baptism. Man has introduced infant baptism, but God has never approved of it. Babies cannot believe and thus are not fit subjects for baptism. Nor do they need it. Babies are born innocent and do not need forgiveness of sins because they never sin. It’s only when we sin and are held accountable that we need baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

That brings us to another point to consider concerning correct baptism–the washing away of sins. Some men say that sins are forgiven prior to baptism, thus baptism is OK but not necessary–but the Bible doesn’t say that. In Acts 22:16, Saul was told to “arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.” Baptism does indeed wash away sin. Upon the day of Pentecost, Peter told the Jews, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Upon baptism, we receive the remission (the forgiveness) of sins. Also note from Acts 2:38 that repentance (a change of mind) must occur prior to baptism.

Finally, let’s note the mode of baptism. Men use sprinkling, pouring, and immersion as modes of baptism. Are they all correct? NO (Rom. 6:4) compares baptism to a burial (complete immersion). In Acts 8, when Philip baptized the Ethiopian treasurer, verse 38 states that they went “down into the water.” (again an immersion) In fact the word baptize in the Greek literally means, “to dip, plunge, immerse.” Thus the only mode acceptable to God is obviously immersion.

Let’s tie it all together–baptism as God has had it recorded in His word is a believing, repenting, person being immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is something that must be done to inherit salvation.

The proprietor of a dry-cleaning and dyeing business hung this quaint sign in his shop window: “We dye to live, and live to dye; the more we dye, the more we live; and the more we live, the more we dye.” For the child of God, it is also true that the more he dies, the more he lives!

Baptism is an act of the old man dying–dying to live. So, one kind of baptism isn’t as good as another.

CHURCH

Is one church as good as another? If so, then those built and established by man would be as good as the one established by God. But clearly they are not.

The Psalmist declared in Psalm 127:1 , “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…” Any attempt by man to establish a church is in vain–this includes divisions of the one true church, the one that Christ built.

In I Cor. 1:10, the inspired Paul pleaded that there be no divisions in the Lord’s church. There are to be no divisions of the Lord’s body. Remember Eph. 4:4, “There is one BODY…”

What will happen to all the divisions that man has made of the Lord’s church? Matt. 15:13 tells us. There the words of Jesus are recorded, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” There is only one church–the one the Lord established. So, one kind of church isn’t as good as another.

NAME

Is one name as good as another? If so, then why did the Lord change some names, as in the case of Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, etc.? Also, why did the Lord teach in Acts 4:12 that there was salvation in no other name but Jesus?

Suppose I was going to start a Christian movement (a denomination) and call it Gardner’s Church. Of course, since I am beginning this movement, I am going to incorporate some of my own interpretations of the Bible in there. For example, all Christians have to wear white robes (since they are mentioned in Rev.) And since prophets, priests, and kings were anointed, we will have to anoint one another as a symbolic act. And I think that we should be baptized in fruit of the vine (grape juice) since Jesus said that we are to use that to remember His blood and since His blood does wash away our sins, as baptism does, it makes perfect sense to do so. Oh yes, and none of us can wear any shoes since we are always in the presence of God and Moses had to take his shoes off when he was in God’s presence.

Well, what do you think–can you be saved through Gardner’s Church if you are faithful to it? Of course not. And yet, many today say that “you’ll be OK as long as you’re faithful to wherever you go to worship.” Even though Gardner’s Church uses the Bible, it uses the Bible incorrectly.

Is it acceptable to call this new denomination “Gardner’s Church?” NO– when we would use the name “Gardner’s church”, who would we be glorifying? Why, Gardner, of course. And yet, some denominations are named after a human being.

Ok, let’s keep everything the same but call it the “Repentance Church” instead. Is that name acceptable? NO–again it gives honor to a religious act rather than the one who created the act. And yet, some denominations are named after an act.

OK, let’s now change our church name to “No Shoes Church” since that identifies a procedure that we do. Is that name any better? NO–and yet, some denominations name themselves after a procedure.

What about naming ourselves after the members of the church–like “The White Robe Throng Church.” Again, this will not do, because we are bringing honor to ourselves and not the Savior. And yet, some denominations name themselves after the members.

All men should be concerned with glorifying Christ, but today there is a lack of regard for His precious name. The name by which a religious body goes is also important, because every time it is used, honor is given to the one for whom it is named. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” We should honor the name of Jesus in our name. So, one name isn’t as good as another.

CONCLUSION

The notion that “I’m OK, you’re OK” on a religious basis does not hold water as far as the NT is concerned. Surely we can see that one faith, way, worship, baptism, church, and name is not good as another.

We encourage you to seek out the one true New Testament church that worships as God desires them to. Seek out the congregation of the Lord’s people who use the Bible only as their guide. There and only there will you find the church that God approves of.

This is vital–because your salvation depends upon it. You can do what you feel is right, but you’d better do what the Lord says is right.

I believe that answers your question Miss John Doe.