by Richard Mansel
This is the rhetorical version of a trump card. Intended as a verbal deathblow, it nonetheless needs an answer. Sadly, many who ask this question have accepted denominationalism as God’s plan and closed their minds to any other option. There is a better way.
We immerse ourselves today in a denominational mindset foreign to Scripture. These various religious bodies did not exist in the first century. They are part of the apostasy prophesied in Scripture (2 Timothy 4:3). If we maintain this mindset, we will never understand and fully appreciate God’s plan for unity. We will continue to create a worldly version of unity outside of the body of Christ./1
Denominationalism is not God’s plan. He created one church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4). We are in this body or we are lost, just like the ark. Noah and his family, being inside the ark, survived the flood, while those outside perished (Genesis 6-8). Noah’s family, spared due to their faithfulness to his name and word, is the model for everyone today.
The question is whether members of Churches of Christ are the only ones who will enter heaven. This supercharged question must first be deconstructed.
Jesus built his church (Matthew 16:18). Entering this church requires a new birth through water and the spirit (John 3:5). In Acts, the apostles, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, proclaim that we must have our sins remitted in the waters of baptism, so we can be added to the church (Acts 2:37-47). Later, Paul wrote that salvation occurs because of the grace of God, but he washes our sins away in baptism (Ephesians 2:8-9; cf. Acts 22:16). Entering Christ’s church is not a result of merit but because of the shedding of the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:8-9). However, obedience to God’s Word is indispensable to salvation (Ephesians 2:10; John 14:15; James 2:26; Revelation 20:13). While we cannot earn salvation, we please God by bearing fruit in his kingdom (John 15:1-8). The failure to do so is to refuse to live an open faith before men. Being ashamed of Christ will lead us to be rejected by God (Mark 8:38).
A life of righteousness portrays to the world the blessings of being in Christ. We stand accepted in Christ because of his blood (Ephesians 1:6). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace which He had to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:7-8, NKJV). We are the “praise of His glory” after we trust him and are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). The “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe,” works because of his “mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19). Being in Christ is the only place to be if we wish to enjoy the blessings of God.
We get into Christ through baptism. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). If we are not baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, then we are not in him. If we are not in him, then we cannot be in the Lord’s Church. “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” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
by Richard Mansel