H. Osby Weaver
As a Gospel preacher, I am always happy to have people ask me where the Bible teaches certain things which I say that it teaches. It is not all insulting or disrespectful to me to have someone check up on me or differ with me. To me, it indicates an interest in things spiritual and, since preachers are not perfect, to call attention to an error I may have made, is considered by me an act of friendship. If I am preaching something which cannot be found in the Bible, I surely ought to quit it, and if the Bible does teach it, then I should rejoice to know there are those who are so interested in their salvation as to want to know where the Bible teaches it. Hence, when I suggest that you “Ask your preacher,” that includes me.
Allow me to suggest some questions to ask your preacher, about which you have often thought, and regarding which you have a right to know. Be sure and get book, chapter, and verse! Remember, you are not asking the preacher just to find out what he says. You already know that, for you have been hearing him say it. What you are asking is where the Bible says what he has been saying. Now, if the Bible doesn’t say it, in language plain enough for you to understand, don’t you accept it! You don’t have to have a college education in order to understand the Bible. God speaks to all alike, and He says it where we can all understand it.
The first question which I suggest that you ask your preacher is this: “Where can I find the name of my church in the Bible?” If it is there he will know where to find it; if it is not there, you have a right to know that you are a member of a church that the Bible says nothing about. Your preacher might tell you that the name which is put on a church building doesn’t mean anything. Please tell him that you are not asking for the name that goes on a building but for the name of the church of which you are a member; that you are a member of a church, not a material building. If he insists there is nothing in a name, show him Acts 4:12 which says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Ask him, then, what name is that in which, and by which alone, we are saved. If it is the name of the church which you are a member of, get him to show it to you; if that name in which we are saved is not the name of your church, then you are trying to be saved in another for surely you are a member of the church in order that you might go to heaven. If you can go to heaven without being a member, then why belong to the church? If the preacher says you are not trying to be saved in the name of the church but in the name of Christ, ask yourself this question, “What am I religiously?” If the answer is something other than the name of Christ, then you are trying to be saved in the name of Christ and some other name, and that is the very thing which Acts 4:12 says you cannot do!
I recall that Jesus said, in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church.” The church was to belong to whom? Christ said it was to be his—“my church.” In 1 Cor. 1:2 it was addressed as the “church of God which is at Corinth.” Acts 20:28 calls it the “church of God, which he purchased with his own blood.” Hebrews 12:23 speaks of it as the “church of the first born,” but Col. 1:18 informs us that Christ is the “firstborn from the dead,” therefore it is “Christ’s church.” When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome he said, “The churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16). From the section where Paul was writing, there were a number of congregations who were sending greetings to the church in Rome, hence Paul said, “The churches of Christ salute you.” We know, of course, there cannot be a plural of anything until there is first the singular. It is rather obvious, then, that if a number of congregations were called “churches of Christ” one of them would be a “church of Christ.” From all these scriptures we have “my (Christ’s) church,” “the church of God,” “the church of the firstborn,” and “the church of Christ.”
These were not different religious organizations but different designations for the same church. Most of these congregations had been planted by the efforts of the apostle Paul as he was guided by the Holy Spirit of God. Do you suppose the Holy Spirit led Paul to establish one congregation at Corinth, and then led him to establish an entirely different church at Ephesus? Do you suppose the Holy Spirit would guide him to establish one church at one place that would deny the teachings and practices of another church which he was guided to establish at another place? Is Christ divided? But is it possible to read anywhere in the Bible any mention of the name of the church to which you belong? This is a very important matter. The only way we have of getting to heaven is to follow the Bible; therefore we should not want to belong to something the Bible says absolutely nothing about. So ask your preacher to help you find the name of your church in the Bible.