By Dr. Henry Waiters: Is one church as good as another?
With comments by Joe T. Odle
Joe T. Odle and I agree that many believe it makes no difference what church you are a member of just so you are saved. One church is just as good as another. That belief is a popular one and seems to be the attitude of a large number of people, but is it true?
It is true that salvation is one’s primary concern. Every person who has been convicted of his sins, repented, confessed and trusted Christ as Savior is saved, regardless of their church membership. All truly saved people wherever they are have been saved the same way. There is but one way to be saved. If they have not repented and believed, they are lost. When we say that one church is not as good as another, we are not talking about salvation.
There are hundreds of denominations in the world today, teaching almost every conceivable kind of doctrine. They cannot all be right, for they do not all teach the same thing. Indeed, many of their teachings are in direct conflict — one church proclaiming a doctrine that another denies. Can both be right? If not, then the one that is right in its teaching must admittedly be better than the one that is wrong.
Five points can be made that will help us to think clearly about this matter.
- A church established by man is not as good as a church established by the Lord. Christ established his church while he was on earth, “And I say also unto thee, upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Several times the church was called the Church of God: Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 10:32, 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 3:5. Christ is head of the church: Ephesians 5:23, 28; Colossians 1:18. The church is called Christian; Paul and Barnabas taught the Gentile disciples in Antioch, Syria for one whole year. They were so receptive of the Gospel and so impressed by the person and life of Jesus Christ until they were compelled to be like this Christ and attempted to imitate him. All who observed them began to mock them rather than compliment them, calling them “old Christlike people.” Christian is the derivative of Christlike (Acts 11: 19:26).
- Churches that teach error are not as good as churches that teach truth. There are many kinds of doctrines in churches today. Some groups accept as inspired, books that contradict the Bible, the Word of God. Some deny that Jesus was the Son of God. Some deny existence beyond the grave and say that Bible teaching about the resurrection is folly. Can churches that teach such heresies be as good as those that teach truth? Surely not! Other churches do not go so far in their false teaching but do teach doctrines that are not true to the Word. Certainly they cannot be as good as churches that accept and teach the whole Word of God, taking as doctrine only the things taught there. True believers believe the whole Bible and seek to teach all that it teaches without one addition or subtraction of truth.
- Churches that only teach part of the truth are not as good as those that teach all the truth. There are many churches that teach many things that are true teachings of the Word of God. We must contend, however, that churches teaching the whole message are better than those teaching only part of it. Christian churches believe and teach the whole Word of God.
- A church whose doctrines gives glory to man is not as good as one whose doctrines give all glory to God. Such doctrines as salvation by works or the believer’s need to keep himself, give glory to men. Christian doctrines, such as salvation by grace and the security of the believer, give all glory to God.
- A church that refuses to obey Christ’s commands and the inspired Word of God and takes for doctrines the commandments of man is not as good as one whose sole authority is the Lord. Christians seek to be obedient to the Lord in all things.
A careful study of these points should quickly convince anyone that one church cannot be as good as another in the sight of the Lord.
The fact that one church is not as good as another does not mean that we cannot have Believer fellowship with all other True Believers. We are united as brothers and sisters in Christ with all True Believers who are “children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” There is in out hearts “love toward all the saints,” and we sincerely desire that every believer shall have the right to worship God as they see fit, even though we cannot approve the false doctrine they may be teaching.
I believe in Believer unity and long for the day when it may come, but True Believers can never enter into any union that is not based on the acceptance of all the truth of God’s Word. That attitude toward others is not one of arrogance, bitterness or hostility; it is the attitude of broad, sympathetic love alongside a clear, definite loyalty to Christ and His Word. It is in that spirit that True Christian Believers can mean most to Christ and the world.
Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.
By Mark Wineka firstname.lastname@example.org SALISBURY — Back in April 1999, Emily B. Stirewalt celebrated Easter by holding her recently born... read more