Is The Lord’s Church Changing for the Better or Worse?
In 2004 one of our Christian Universities held a Lectureship that has clearly defined the terms for reforming the Churches of Christ in the 21st century. These reforms will fundamentally change the Church of Christ as we know it unless we stand for the truth. A few of the key elements of this reformation movement are as follows:
- We should cease our elite and sectarian behavior, and ask our brethren in all denominations to forgive our sins, especially that we said they were not saved.
- We must not say that we have the truth, but that we are on a spiritual journey, just as our brethren in the denominations are on their spiritual journey.
- We should have open fellowship with all who say they believe in Jesus. We should follow the example of brave reformists who ask denominational preachers to share pulpits with their congregations. We should also share major social and religious events with our denominational brethren. We should be ecumenical (promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches.) in our thinking and practice, and should openly align ourselves with the current evangelical ecumenical movement.
- We should continue to say that baptism is important, but that it is not essential for salvation. We should recognize that there are many non-immersed believers who are saved.
These four elements should cause any faithful Christian to stand for the truth and insure with all diligence that this type of attitude is never allowed into the faithful of the Lord’s church. The sad thing about it is that so called Christian universities are teaching our young people this type of reformation. Because of this, the Lord’s church is changing almost on a daily basis. This reformation movement can have a negative effect. We have all witnessed the reformation of the Quail Springs Church of Christ now called the Springs Church of Christ. They began by instituting instruments in their worship service. As a result, they lost 300 members. At one time, they had joint social events with the Quail Springs Baptist Church. I am not sure why that has stopped. Therefore, let us see what the scriptures have to say about the four key elements that were presented by the Christian University.
First, we do not sin by teaching the scriptural teaching of salvation and have no need to ask for forgiveness. When the apostle Peter was ask by the Jews what they must do to be saved, Peter responded in Acts 2:38
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…”
Jesus commanded his disciples in Mark 16:15-16—
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
These two passages teach that baptism is essential for salvation. Therefore, folks that believe that faith only is all that is needed for salvation cannot possibly be saved. Furthermore, if we must ask the denominational world for forgiveness when we teach that they are not saved, we must also ask Satan because he believed in God.
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!” — James 2:19
This word “tremble” occurs nowhere else in the Bible. The meaning is, that there was much more than faith. It was a faith that produced some effect. The demons faith did not produce good works, or a holy life; and, consequently, the existence of mere faith was not all that was necessary to save men. A man should not infer, therefore, because he has faith in God that he is safe. He must have a faith which will lead to a holy life.
Second, the only spiritual journey that we can possibly be on is the one that God authorized. While it is true that there are many people in the world that believe in God, it is also true that many people in the world do not believe exactly what God teaches in order to complete this journey. Jesus said in John 14:15—
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
The only spiritual journey that God will accept is one that is a working and obedient faith. The apostle Peter said in I Peter 1:13-16—
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Jesus was not on a spiritual journey.
Third, the scriptures do not teach that we should have open fellowship with all who believe in Jesus. In fact, it teaches that we should keep ourselves separate from these false teachers. The apostle John tells us in 2 John 1:10, 11—
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
Paul told the church at Galatia in Galatians 1:6-9—
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Based on these scriptures how can any faithful Christian have an open fellowship with the denominational world?
Fourthly, not only is baptism important but the scriptures tell us that it is essential for our salvation. Jesus told his disciples in Mat. 28: 19—
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
When Jesus came to Saul on the road to Damascus, He said in Acts 9:6—
“…. Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
In Acts 9:17, 18—
“And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and … said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, … has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”
While we might be living in a reformation movement, Christians should keep their eye on the target. In the book of Revelation, we find that in the church at Sardis, there were some Christians that kept the faith until the end: Rev. 3:4—
“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”
They had not defiled themselves by coming in contact with the profane and the polluted. They had kept themselves free from the prevailing corruption.
Update: The four points cited at the beginning of this article are from: ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY, Jim Waldron, 2004, http://waldronmissions.org/BB_files/bb2004/bb2004-07.pdf.