Cled E. Wallace
Notions and opinions contrary to plain Bible teaching, or at best unsupported by the scriptures, multiply in the minds of the people. They are barriers to the reception of the truth which are very often difficult to remove. Objections to the truth are always based either on ignorance of the truth, or prejudice, which is the handmaiden of ignorance. It must be recognized that both ignorance and prejudice in religious matters may exist in a character well informed and culturally developed along other lines.
Some very capable people have rejected the law of God and made it void by their traditions. A querist, more informed about nearly everything else than New Testament teaching, makes some inquiries about the church:
“What positive proof have you that your church is the only one? Can you prove that this is the church that Christ founded? All Christian people are working toward the same goal. What possible difference can the church make when the heart is right? Do you think that your church can save you?”
It is not my manner of speech to speak of “my church” and “your church,” as is commonly done. I am not a party man and belong to nothing in religion that had a human origin. The New Testament contains “positive proof” that the Lord established “one body,” and that is “the only one” which He approves. “There is one body…” (Eph. 4:4). “…Many members, yet but one body” (1 Cor 12:20). “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body…” (1 Cor. 12:13). This body is the church. “And he is the head of the body, the church…” (Col. 1:18). “…The church, which is his body…” (Eph. 1:22-23). All other bodies are unauthorized and condemned. They set up rival authority against the Head of the “one body.”
In New Testament times “all Christian” people were working toward the same goal in this one body. It included all the people of God. They simply became Christians in their obedience to the Lord, and He added them to the body, the church. It was not a human setup at all.
The querist is wrong in his very assumptions regarding the character of the New Testament church. The way for a man to know that he belongs to the true church is to do what the New Testament requires in becoming a Christian and leave it to the Lord to add him to the right body. The Lord has not added anyone to the wrong church yet. The surest way to know that you do not belong to the right church is to accept the doctrines and commandments of men and join something the New Testament says nothing about. Usually people who ask such questions as the above have made the mistake of doing just that.
Since the church is the body of Christ and includes all Christians because they are Christians, it makes a lot of “difference” whether a man is a member of the church or not. It would be as sensible to ask, what difference can it make whether a man is a Christian or not “when the heart is right?” The heart is not exactly right, to say the least of it, when it leads a man into unscriptural church relations.
It is a favorite saying with the sectarians that, “your church cannot save you.” Just a little New Testament information drives that fallacy out into the light where its absurdity is manifest. The church is the family, including all the children of God. “For ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:26-27). The church was established that both Jews and Gentiles might be reconciled in it. “Reconcile them both in one body…” (Eph. 2:13-16). Christ saves in the church, or adds them to the church when He saves them, which all amounts to the same thing. Surely parties do not save, and a man can be a Christian and keep all the commandments of God and stay out of all denominations, which is reason enough to do so.
If people generally would spend as much time and energy in seeking the will of God that they might do it, as they do in hatching up excuses to evade it, more of them would be on the Lord’s side of that line which separates those who love Him from those who don’t.