Tag Archives: denominationalism

Soul-Winning For Jesus: The Oneness of the Church — Jon McCormack

Clark Stanley stood before a large crowd in 1893. The self-proclaimed Rattlesnake King held a burlap sack in his hand and pulled out his namesake, a live rattlesnake. He sliced into the fanged creature and tossed it into a waiting pot of boiling water. In little time, the fat from the snake rose to the surface. Thus the world was introduced to a concoction that Stanley referred to as Snake Oil. He sold his mixture to the unsuspecting masses and made a considerable amount of money. In 1906 the United States passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in order to protect the consumer from fraudulent claims and potentially harmful concoctions. Stanley’s Snake Oil was inspected and found to have no snake oil present in the mixture. It was a combination of mineral water, cayenne pepper, turpentine, and a little beef fat. Clark Stanley and other copycats that followed gave us a term that is still used today.

A snake oil salesman is someone who offers a solution to a problem, but in reality brings harmful consequences. Snake oil salesmen still abound in the world today peddling their “miracle” cures. Other hucksters operate on a religious level pushing their spiritual hoaxes on the unsuspecting masses. One such spiritual hoax, perhaps the biggest of them all, is that one church is as good as another. The 38,000 plus denominations in this country are a testament to the effectiveness of this hoax. Phrases such as, “All that matters is the crucifixion,” and “We are all headed to the same place, just on different paths” proliferate religious conversations. Is this true? Is a multitude of denominations what God envisioned when He established the church of our Lord? The biblical answer is no.

The situation is made all the more serious when we consider our own mortality and the frailty of life. The Hebrews writer confirmed, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Likewise the brother of our Lord declared, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14). Death is a reality for us all, and how devastating for someone to die in a church that cannot be found in the New Testament. Counter to that John wrote, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…” (Rev. 14:13). How sweet it is to die in a right relationship with God in the one true church. Yet spiritual snake oil salesmen are spreading the error that the church you belong to does not matter. Consider these three important warnings.

Don’t Die In A Church That God Did Not Plan

In his introduction to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes of the wonderful spiritual blessings we have in Christ Jesus. He continues that thought by writing, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). How comforting to know that church was planned by God before the world was even formed. The church of our Lord was not an afterthought or a “Plan B” but rather a masterfully calculated project from the divine Architect Himself, God.

We see His divine planning in the fact that He had His prophets talking about the church centuries before He established it. Isaiah prophesied of the place of establishment (Jerusalem, Is. 2:1-4), Daniel foretold of the time of establishment in the days of the Roman Empire (Dan. 2:44), and Joel portended the activity of the establishment day which was baptism of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). If you are part of a church that wasn’t established under these conditions then you are not a part of the church God planned.

Don’t Die In A Church That Jesus Did Not Build

The Lord speaks to the oneness of the church in His very promise to build said church. He told His apostles, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Consider the possessive nature of the church. Jesus said, “My church.” This eternal truth is seen in the name we carry. We are the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16), that is, the church which belongs to Christ. If you are part of a church that does not honor His name then you are not in a church that He built. Likewise, consider the singleness of the word church. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Jesus did not say that he would establish multiple religions but just one soul saving institution.

To a religious person who has spent years listening to spiritual snake oil salesmen this truth may seem shocking, even arrogant. Yet the Bible is clear on the fact that Jesus only established one church. The Ephesian Christians were taught, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Notice that the church is the body of Christ. When we combine these verses with the truth found later in the same book we see the singularity of the church. Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4). Jesus only has one body; therefore, Jesus only has one church.

Don’t Die In A Church Jesus Did Not Die For

Think back to a truth that has already been revealed in this article. Jesus owns the church. He owns it because He bought it. Acts 20:28 reveals, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” He paid the price for the church when He died for the church. That blood He used is the same blood in which we in the church have been washed (Rom. 6:3-6). Those in denominations (churches not built by Jesus) have no access to that soul saving blood. How sad to die in a state of separation from Jesus. This is the fate of all those who have not been added (Acts 2:47) to the one true church that Jesus died to save.

Snake Oil promised to cure many ailments. It pledged to fix your rheumatism, sciatica, toothaches and sore throats. It did not fulfill its guarantee. Denominationalism promises to send you to heaven. It won’t. It is spiritual snake oil. Please do not let a huckster convince you that there is more than one true church.

Jon is the preacher for the Lord’s church in Atlanta, TX. He is a 2002 graduate of the Southwest School of Bible Studies in Austin, TX. He and his wife, Holly, are the parents of three children.

How Is The Church of Christ Different From Denominations? — Michael Grooms, Guest Editor (Editorial: May/June, 2018)

“So…how is the church of Christ different from other denominations?” I have been asked that question many times, and I am happy to give an answer. First, let me address the question itself. The term “church of Christ” is a possessive term that demonstrates the church as belonging to Christ. It is not the name of a denomination. Paul told the church in Rome, “…the churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16b). Second, the question assumes that the Lord’s church is one of the many denominations that we see in the religious landscape today. This is a misnomer. Jesus Christ did not make denominations. He made His church, and He only made one (Matt. 16:18). Men made denominations as a result of leaving the truth of God’s Word.

The church of Christ is made up of Christians who have been added to the church by our Lord as they were baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; Rom. 6:3-6). Jesus alone has the authority to add men to His church (Matt. 28:18) and He only adds those who submit to His instruction that they believe and are baptized (Mark 16:16). Christ’s church is distinctive in nature because its members require authority from Jesus in all matters pertaining to worship, doctrine, and practice. This is the command of God. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 NKJV). Paul, also inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to the Christians in Colossae: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17 NKJV).

Since our Lord has thus instructed, true churches of Christ are determined to “speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent. Do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names.” In organization, each congregation is autonomous and overseen by a body of elders (Acts 20:28; Tit. 1:5). Deacons aid the elders in carrying out the work of the church (1 Tim. 3:18-13; Acts 6:3-4). Preachers have the charge to preach the word of God (2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15). The elements of worship are only those which we find in scripture. The church sings with the voice and heart, not with instrumental additions (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The Bible is preached, and the Lord’s Supper is observed each Sunday (Acts 20:7). Prayer is offered (James 5:16). Contribution is taken each Sunday (1 Cor. 16:2). We decry the names of men and call ourselves only “Christians” (Acts 11:26).

Before our Lord left this earth, He gave to His disciples a charge we affectionately refer to as “The Great Commission.” This charge, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16, continues to challenge us through the Word of God to go into the world and bring disciples to Christ. It is our charge to evangelize. It is also our charge to maintain that which has been placed into our stewardship. We are stewards of the grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10). As such, we are stewards of His Word and His church. We must maintain the purity of the church as we preach and practice the unfettered truth of God’s Word. It is up to this generation to pass on to the next generation a church which is true to the Word of God. Let us be ever vigilant to protect and preserve the truth of God’s Word, that we may be faithful stewards.

— Michael