There have been two families on earth with a divine origin. God was the maker and founder of one at the beginning when he made Adam and Eve, and called their name Adam (Gen. 5:2). This was God’s family upon the earth. From this family all nations came. Had these people lived up to the law of God, there would have been no necessity of the confounding of languages and scattering the people over the earth as was done at the tower of Babel when they tried to reach heaven by their works (Gen. 11:5-10).
When this family had fulfilled the work God ordained it should do, we are introduced to another person, Jesus, the Son of God, who came, lived, died, and lived again in order to save His people from their sins.
While Jesus was here perfecting His work, on one occasion when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, Christ pronounced a blessing upon him and said, “Upon this rock (Peter’s confession that He was the Son of God) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Paul called attention to this church and said it was purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28).
Paul refers to it as being a bride and being married to the Son of God (Rom. 7:1-4). Also he represents it as being the body of Christ (Col. 1:18), and represents Christ as being the Savior of the same (Eph. 5:23).
Seeing the importance that the word of God attaches to the church of Christ, claiming it was built by Him, that it was purchased with His blood, and that He is married to it, and promises to save it as His body, it is then sad to see how much the religious world under-rates its value, claiming a connection with the church has nothing to do with the salvation of man.
Often it is said that a man can be saved just as well in one church as in another. Why not argue that when the flood came a man could have kept out of the water just as well in some other ark as in the one Noah built ?
When God told the bitten Israelites to look at the snake Moses hung up in the wilderness would it have done just as well for Sam Jones or Bill Smith each to have made snakes and hung them up for the people to look at when bitten by the fiery serpents?
The charge is often made that my brethren teach that all will be lost who do not belong to “your church.” While the Bible says nothing about “your church,” yet the Son of God did say, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13). He also says, “In vain do they worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).
The question is often asked, “Don’t you think there are just as good people in one church as in another?” Most assuredly that is true. But it is also true that God never promised to save any man on account of his goodness. There are just as good people outside the Masonic lodge as belong to it, but no outsider is ever buried with Masonic honors.
There are as good people in France and England as we have in America, yet they have not the protection of our government because they are not American citizens. So it is in becoming a child of God, or a member of the church of Christ.
Jesus says in John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Inasmuch as the church of Christ is a spiritual institution, entered by spiritual law, not moral law, it matters not how good a man is he has no spiritual connection with Christ, the head of His church, unless he obeys from the heart said spiritual law as taught in Rom. 6:17, and is made free by the law of the Spirit in Christ Jesus, as taught by Paul in Rom. 8:2. This is the kind of a good life many lead here, working all the time in what they call “your church” instead of the church of Christ, doing, as they claim, many things in his name which he has not commanded. I am sure this will come under the head of their works of righteousness at the last day instead of doing the righteousness of God as taught in Rom. 10:3 and will be found building on the sand.
Then, as the Bible teaches that Jesus has a church, purchased with His blood, we conclude it is not only a divine institution, but is separated from all human churches. Salvation is promised only through the name of the founder (Acts 4:12). This salvation includes those only who build on the rock (Matt. 7:24). As those who build on the rock, or in the church, are said to be members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Eph. 5:30), it should then be a question of great importance that we know more of this church, and of the spiritual law that makes us members of it, and of the power by which we are kept alive after we get into this church.
First. When the prophet foretold the laying of the corner stone in Zion, he said this should be laid after the trial of the Son of God (Isa. 28:14-16).
Second. Jesus told the apostles they should commence work at Jerusalem after the Holy Ghost came upon them (Luke 24:4-9).
Third. We are taught in Acts 2, that the Holy Ghost came upon the apostles on the first Pentecost after the death of Christ, giving them a spiritual law, by which and through which, men and women become members of the church of Christ. But how did they become members? Peter taught they became members by “hearing” the gospel (Acts 5:7).
Paul taught them they must “believe” the gospel (Acts 16:31).
The Jews rejoiced when God granted unto the Gentiles “repentance” unto life (Acts 11:18). Philip taught they must “confess” the Son of God (Acts 8:38). The Holy Ghost taught they must be “baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Those people who gladly received said teaching were baptized and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:47). This church continued in the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, and in prayer (Acts 2:41-45). A leading act of their worship was to meet upon the first day of the week to break bread, as my brethren teach and practice today (Acts 20:7). If this was the church of Christ then, and if we teach and practice the same things, why are we not the church of Christ today ?
If the seed of a peach tree was planted A. D. 33 it grew and produced peaches and if the same kind of seed is planted today will it not grow and produce peaches as it did then? If not, why not? So if we have a peach seed that was planted and produced peaches 1,900 years ago, and we plant the same kind of seed today, it only remains to sow the seed and it will produce peaches. If not, why not?
The man who would argue that we cannot tell whether or not they are peaches today unless we can produce an account of each tree that has borne the same kind of fruit from now back to the apostles, would be illogical. So it is with the word of God. We have the same gospel they had then which is the word of God, or the seed of the kingdom. If it produced nothing but Christians then who were members of the church of Christ, it will produce nothing less nor more now. So if in any community we find something besides a Christian, and find a church which is not the church of Christ, we are forced to believe the word of God was not sown in that community, and said church, whether it be “your church” or “my church” is not the church of Christ.
As Jesus taught that all plants or churches not planted by His Father should be rooted up, we should be careful lest it may turn out we are working in some human church and will be rooted up at the last day.