Christians Only, And The Only Christians

Statement number two on the doctrinal statement for the Bawcomville Church of Christ states:

We believe that all faithful Christians are in the Church of Christ, and that none are found in denominations.  (John 10:1-14; Acts 2:47).

John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Acts 2:47, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily [them that were being] saved.

This statement of biblical fact asserts, first of all, that it is not possible to become a faithful Christian without becoming a member of the church of Christ.

Acts 2:47 says that when a person is saved the Lord adds them to the church. We need to ask, “what church?” The only reasonable answer to the question is the New Testament church. That was the only one in existence when the events of Acts 2:47 took place. As a matter of fact, the establishment of the New Testament church had just been recorded in the preceding verses of Acts 2. Jesus told Peter, and the rest of the apostles, that he would give them the keys of the kingdom (Matt. 16:19). The “keys of the kingdom” is the gospel preached (cf. Lk. 8:11; 1 Cor. 1:21). The apostles had just preached the gospel to open the gates of the kingdom (Acts 2:14-36). When the audience heard the preaching of the gospel they had the way into the church opened to them (Acts 2:37). Peter told them what they had to do to enter into the kingdom of Christ (Acts 2:38-40). Those who received the word of God entered into the kingdom by doing what Peter said (Acts 2:41). Immediately after, the first assembly of the New Testament church and their continuing worship and work for God is recorded (Acts 2:42-47). The last verse says as people were being saved they were added to the church by the Lord. There was only one church for them to be added to! It had just been established.

The term, or even the idea of, “join the church of your choice” is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Acts 2:47 makes it abundantly clear that the person being saved has no “choice” in the matter whatsoever. The only “choice” is whether to be saved in the first place. When we hear the gospel preached we choose to obey or to reject it at that time. When we hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17), we then choose to believe it or not. If we choose to believe it (Jn. 8:24), we then choose to repent or not. If we choose to repent (Acts 17:30), we then choose to confess Christ or not. If we choose to confess that we believe Jesus to be the Son of God (Acts 8:37), we then choose to be baptized or not. If we choose to be baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27), Christ will wash away our sins in his own blood (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5) and add us to his church (Acts 2:47; Col. 1:13). Then we can choose to remain faithful or not (Col. 1:23) but we cannot choose which church we will be faithful in. Our choice is to be faithful or not. As long as we are faithful we are in the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28).

Secondly, it is not possible to leave the church of Christ and still be faithful to Christ.

There was no such thing as denominations until the Protestant Reformation Movement of the 16th century. Up until that time there was the Roman Catholic Church, which had apostatized from the truth, and the faithful church of Christ (Dan. 2:44).

Christ only established one church (Matt. 16:18). His church is his body (Eph. 1:22, 23), and there is one body of Christ (Eph. 4:4). It is no more possible to be faithful to Christ outside the church of Christ than it is to be faithful to Christ outside the body of Christ, for they are one and the same. All spiritual blessings are “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). To be “in Christ” is to be in the body of Christ, which is to be in the church of Christ.

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