Quentin A. Dunn
We often hear the expression, so and so joined the church. Another expression that we frequently hear is, join the church of your choice. We only have to look around us to learn about many man made churches, wearing different names, and teaching different doctrines. Man frequently feels that he needs to join some visible religious group. Since there are so many of them, he feels that he is justified in joining the church of his choice.
Men frequently say, that it doesn’t make any difference what church you are a member of, as long as you are honest and sincere. They say that one church is just as good as another. If this is true, why wouldn’t it be all right for a man to join all the churches? Men join various clubs, fraternal orders, and very little is thought about it. A man joins the Lions Club because he thinks there is some good in it. He later learns that the Odd Fellows do some good things that the Lions are not doing, so he joins the Odd Fellows. And still later he joins the Rotary Club, because he thinks it has some good that the Lions and Odd Fellows do not have. He is now a member of all three organizations, we see that his joining one organization, does not prevent his joining others. Let us see how this principle works in joining churches.
A boy is reared by Methodist parents, he learns the Methodist doctrine, and as a result he joins the Methodist Church. Later he marries a woman who is a Baptist, from his wife he learns the Baptist doctrine, and as a result he joins the Baptist Church. At a future date, he begins to realize that nearly all his business associates belong to the Presbyterian Church, he wants to be in good standing with them, so he learns the Presbyterian doctrine, and joins the Presbyterian Church. Is he now a member of all three of these religious organizations at the same time? Have you ever heard of such thing happening? No, you never heard of such thing happening. The reason that you never heard of such thing happening is because it does make a difference what you believe, and it does make a difference what church you are a member of. You will not find any one of these three religious organizations mentioned in the word of God. Neither will you find the expression, joining the church, or joining the church of your choice. Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13).
Peter said, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God (2 Peter 4:11). Paul wrote “There is one body, one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6). Nearly everyone understands that there is one God, yet many people do not understand that there is one body, and that the body is the church. When the question is asked, How many Gods are there? Nearly everyone will answer, there is one God. This answer can be found many places in the Bible. Why can’t men realize that there is but one church? The same Bible that says there is one God, also says there is one church (Eph. 4:4). It is the Lord’s church, and it cannot be joined. Men can join the man made churches, but one must be added to the Lord’s church. (Acts 2:47)
There are not various ways of entering the Lord’s church; there is only one way to enter it. On the first Pentecost after Christ had ascended to the Father, Peter preached to a large multitude. He preached in the name of the risen Lord, convicted them of their sins, and convinced them that Jesus was the Christ. Peter plainly told them to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). We do not have to guess what they did, and we do not have to guess what church they were members of. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). They did not join any church, they simply obeyed the commandments of God, and the Lord added them to His church.
The same things that save a man also puts him into the Lord’s church. A man must hear and believe the gospel (Rom. 10:17). He must then repent of his sins (Acts 17:30). He must confess his faith in Christ and confession is made with the mouth (Rom. 10:10). The final step one takes to get into Christ is baptism, and baptism is a burial. (Rom. 6:4) There is no other way to get into the death of Christ, one does not have to be a Greek scholar to understand that baptism is a burial, Romans 6:4 plainly declares it to be a burial. This also puts one into the church, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized; into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). When we tell sinners to hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized, we are speaking as the oracles of God. When men advise sinners to join the church, or to join the church of their choice, they certainly are not speaking as the oracles of God, but are speaking the language of Ashdod.