Is the Church of Christ a Cult? (3)

by Richard Mansel, managing editor
orangesunset.JPGPeople claim that we are a cult because they think that we teach that members of the Church of Christ are the only ones going to heaven. Once again, they misunderstand what we believe. It is a false claim based on ignorance of what Scripture teaches./1
It is not true that being a member of a Church of Christ congregation is a prerequisite to entering heaven. A basic understanding of salvation and the church will answer this fallacious charge.
Christ promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18). He went to the cross and died for all humanity (John 3:16).
We are justified by his blood, when we are baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins (Romans 5:1; Galatians 3:27; Acts 22:16). Since most in the religious world do not acknowledge or practice immersion for the remission of sins, they are not in Christ.
Once we enter Christ, we must remain faithful. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, NKJV). We are to “walk worthy of the calling by which we have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
If we remain in Christ until death, we will go to heaven for all eternity (John 14:1-6). No one who is not in Christ will enter heaven. Christ’s body is the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23). Accordingly, we must be in the Church that Christ built and owns, if we will go to heaven for all eternity (Matthew 25:46).
Being in Christ is the prerequisite for entering heaven. The Lord’s Church exists, if we are what Scripture dictates, and we can be in it (Romans 6:17). What we call ourselves does not save us, in itself.
Being on a church roll does not mean that we are in Christ. Does being in a certain building bearing a certain name mean, unequivocally, that we will submit to Christ and be faithful to him and his word? Absolutely not.
Being in Christ is the true measure of faithfulness. If bearing a certain name guaranteed salvation, then the vilest sinners on earth could wear this name and be saved while continuing their heinous acts.
People accuse members of Churches of Christ of being strange and cult-like because we are different from them. Well, they are not our standard. Christ is our role model and we have Scripture to help us be the best that we can be (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We need to keep our eyes focused on Christ, rather than on those in error. Christ said, “follow Me” (John 21:19-21). There is no similitude between light and darkness and those wandering in darkness develop a distorted view of the world (John 1:4-5; Proverbs 4:19).
If we are observing the world through distorted lenses, we will not see things as Christ does. If we will see with his eyes, his plan will be clear and we will be in awe of his majesty!
Enter Christ and find true happiness and peace (Matthew 11:28-30).

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1/ http://tinyurl.com/2w3tmv

27 Replies to “Is the Church of Christ a Cult? (3)”

  1. The problem with your first paragraph is that some COC businesses actually teach this.
    They teach that if you don’t attend a local COC service; and mind you, attend it at every service, then you are hell-bound.
    That, and other things make this sect appear cultish and spooky.

  2. Kristin,
    Thanks for the comment. Many in the church are not accurate in how they phrase things and unfortunately, people have been hurt. I hope you will read the link I have provided. I have an indepth study of whether Churches of Christ are the only ones going to heaven.

  3. Are you saying that you can go to any church, denominational or not, and be baptized and you are automatically saved, even if they teach error, such as “once saved, always saved”, or have women preachers, or they teach that babies must be baptized?

  4. I did not think you would post my comment on this article. If you can’t post the comment or answer my question, then you can remove me from your mailing list, and I will remain very disappointed in you.

  5. I do believe one must be a member of the church of the Bible in order to be saved and that this is the church of Christ of which He is the saviour. Biblical baptism is the only way into Christ and his body, and this baptism has become lost knowledge. I commend “The Lost Mystery of Baptism” to your readers.

  6. We can do, and give and work, but none of these things will save us. We are justifid by faith in Christ Jesus “but because of His great love for us God, who is rich in mercey made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:5
    No sysytem or ritual saves out eternal soul, only the precious blood of Christ Jesus – we are saved by and through him alone.

  7. Jack wrote,
    Are you saying that you can go to any church, denominational or not, and be baptized and you are automatically saved, even if they teach error, such as “once saved, always saved”, or have women preachers, or they teach that babies must be baptized?
    Richard wrote,
    I don’t know how you got that out of my article. Denominationalism is contrary to God’s will and Scripture, in no way, endorses once saved, always saved, women preaching or infant baptism. I have articles against these things in my old Square One column, which you can find in the inactive column section of the Forthright site.

  8. Jack wrote,
    I did not think you would post my comment on this article. If you can’t post the comment or answer my question, then you can remove me from your mailing list, and I will remain very disappointed in you.
    Richard wrote,
    Jack, I have been out of town at a doctor’s appointment so I could not post it immediately. You can remain on our mailing list and we are happy to have you.

  9. Daniel wrote,
    I do believe one must be a member of the church of the Bible in order to be saved and that this is the church of Christ of which He is the saviour. Biblical baptism is the only way into Christ and his body, and this baptism has become lost knowledge. I commend “The Lost Mystery of Baptism” to your readers.
    Richard wrote,
    Thank you, Daniel for your comment. We must be a member of the Lord’s Church, which we enter by immersion for the remission of sins (Galatians 3:27).

  10. Tom wrote,
    We can do, and give and work, but none of these things will save us. We are justifid by faith in Christ Jesus “but because of His great love for us God, who is rich in mercey made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved” Ephesians 2:5
    No sysytem or ritual saves out eternal soul, only the precious blood of Christ Jesus – we are saved by and through him alone.
    Richard wrote,
    Thank you. I hope you will buy a copy of my book, “The Most Important Question” because it addresses what you have written.
    http://forthrightpress.com/#MostImportant

  11. Richard, I don’t know what church of christ YOU went to that doesn’t believe they’re the only ones going to heaven. I was raised coc from the cradle until I finally got out at age 33ish. The congregation I was raised in until age 18, the congregations I attended near Freed-Hardeman University as a student, the congregatios I attended afterward, ALL taught that only people in the church of christ denomination (yes I know yall don’t think you’re a denomination, lol) had a chance of going to heavan. I’ve known just a few coc members who believed others could go to heaven if they did everything “right”, but you’re the first person I have EVER heard claim that the coc doesn’t teach they’re the only ones saved. Maybe you’re from up north where things are a little different, but down south they taught me from a young age that all my little baptist and methodist friends were going to hell and it would be my fault for not converting them!

  12. P.S. If they didn’t believe it, why would they go around disfellowshipping and slandering people who try to leave???

  13. You wrote,
    If they didn’t believe it, why would they go around disfellowshipping and slandering people who try to leave??
    I think this will help you understand better:
    http://tinyurl.com/nnngwu
    This is a complicated issue. Removing fellowship from people is Biblical, slander isn’t.

  14. Cindy,I grew up in Churches of Christ in the South. This is a very complicated issue. My article says that where we attend is not the criterion for going to heaven. We must be in Christ if we wish to be saved.
    People are weak and make mistakes and some in Churches of Christ do not phrase things properly and say things that they shouldn’t. But that is human nature and not the Church. Sin is the culprit, not the Church.
    Those outside of the body of Christ cannot go to heaven. Those who are not immersed into Christ for the remission of sins cannot be saved (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4; Acts 2:38).
    Those in the body of Christ cannot be a denomination, Cindy.
    I very much hope that you will read my series of articles on whether Churches of Christ are the only ones going to heaven.
    http://tinyurl.com/2w3tmv

  15. So then, to be clear, do you believe that there are congregations out there that contain Christians who are going to heaven but do not have “church of Christ” on the sign out front? (if you have no personal knowledge of such a congregation, do you believe that one could exist?)

  16. Sophie, I have tried to be precise and state what Scripture says. This issue is complex and to make sweeping statements creates an unbiblical situation.
    I have tried to remedy that situation. Consider:
    1. Christ built His church (Matt. 16:18).
    2. The Church is Christ’s body and He is its head (Eph. 1:22-23).
    3. We enter this body, the church, by being immersed into Christ (Galatians 3:27).
    4. We must walk in Christ in order to be pleasing to God (Ephesians 4:1).
    5. The Church bears the name of the owner. Thus, Church of Christ is a proper designation. It belongs to him, just as a field that belongs to Bob is not called Joe’s field.
    6. If we are to be Christ’s church, we must conduct ourselves as Scripture dictates. Most in the religious world do not. They cannot be in Christ because they do not enter Christ as Scripture teaches. So, they are disqualified.
    7. Not everyone in Churches of Christ is living as Christ dictates. They are still outside of Christ.
    8. If we are bearing the Lord’s name, living as Scripture teaches, then those in the Lord’s body will go to heaven.
    9. I believe the Church of Christ to be the Lord’s church [or I wouldn’t be here] but there are far too many in congregations of Churches of Christ who are not saved/living as Scripture commands. Hence, they have no hope, regardless of where they worship.

  17. Perhaps I should be more specific with my question. With regard to point 5 in your answer, do you believe that signs out front of a building such as “Church of God” or “Assembly of Christ” or “Christians Meet Here” or “Random City Community Church” or “Church that Meets at Main Street” or even having no sign at all are acceptable?
    I include Church of God as it is used several times in the Bible and Assembly of Christ as assembly is the literal translation of the Greek word that is traditionally translated to church. The others are just indications that the building is the meeting place of Christians in a particular area. I also understand that many of these names (though not all) are associated with denominations but I am wondering about the name in and of itself.
    Thanks for bearing with me. I am really trying to understand your position!

  18. Signs help people find something and to know what is housed in a building. There is no inherent problem with a sign. Neither is it sinful, as some propose, for a church to have a name and a sign.
    Names matter because if I address you as Bubba, you will correct me. Why would the name of the Lord’s Church not also matter to the owner?
    Church of God in our culture identifies a Church that is teaching a great deal of error. Would it not be very confusing to people if we called ourselves Church of God?
    As I have said, denominationalism is sinful. I hope this helps. I not exactly sure what you are asking if it isn’t. 🙂

  19. Richard,
    With all due respect, I think that you are evading the question asked. Allow me to put it this way. I have the “CHURCHES OF CHRIST in the UNITED STATES” directory published by 21 Century Christian. Would you say that there are Christians in the US who do not belong to any of the churches listed in that directory? I believe that is a very simple yes/no question.
    Thanks for your time,
    Dave

  20. Dave, I am being as precise as I can. I am NOT trying to avoid the question. For too long, people have been imprecise on this question. I am trying to bring some clarity to the subject.
    Everyone who is in Christ is in His body. If they are somewhere else but His body, then they are outside of Christ. Denominataionalism is outside of the body of Christ. So, those who are in denominations are outside of the body of Christ and therefore lost.
    There are people and congregations of Churches of Christ that are in Christ and calling themselves Churches of Christ does not change that.
    I do believe that the Churches of Christ are the Lord’s body IF we are what Scripture teaches we should be.
    If I make a blanket statement that people who attend Churches of Christ are going to heaven, I have erred. Only those who are in Christ will be saved. We match up with what He wants, not the other way around.
    That is as precise as I can be.

  21. The Jews tried to pinhole Jesus, “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). They wanted a yes or no answer, but didn’t get it, since Jesus had already told them, demonstrated it, but they didn’t want to believe. Often, questions that press for a yes or no reflect that same unbelief.
    Richard has spoken plainly. There are those who refuse to see that there was one church in the NT, that church was the one that Jesus established, it had nothing to do with a denomination, and that we today must belong to that same church to be saved. Calling the church of the Lord a denomination does not make it so, in spite of some sectarian attitudes that some brethren may have. That church is identifiable through its teaching and practice in the NT.
    It’s not complicated, very simple, but people want to impose their modern-day views of a broken and divided religious world upon the NT, and to that Jesus will be no party, nor shall we.

  22. I’m going to try asking this one more time in a different way – then leave it be. There are groups of people out there claiming to be Christians but rejecting the name “church of Christ” because, as you point out, many in the world believe the name to be currently used by a cult (similar to your rejection of Church of God because it is being used by a denomination). Such groups generally have names such as “XYZ Community Church” or “church that meets at Main Street” and do not belong to a larger denominational group. Are all of those people outside of Christ’s Church or do we need to look further to see what they believe and preach (for example, do they practice immersion) before we make that determination? Another way to ask this is: should we (members of the church of Christ) ever reach out to fellowship with such groups of people? Thanks for bearing with me!

  23. I have tried, Sophie, to understand what you are getting at. Yes, there are people claiming to be Christians,but are not. If we are not in Christ, we are lost, regardless of what they call themselves.
    Are you asking if community churches are part of the Body of Christ? Depends on whether they match up with Scripture. If so, they need to use a possessive, descriptive name that shows that the church belongs to Christ, the anointed King.
    Yes, we are in the Lord’s body or not based on what we teach and practice. We must see whether what they teach is aligned with the New Testament pattern.
    We can have physical fellowship with everyone and try to bring them to the Lord. But, we who are in the light [in the Lord’s body] cannot have spiritual fellowship with those in darkness [those outside of the body of Christ].
    God Bless.

  24. Richard,
    Thanks for bearing with me! Yes – the below was exactly what I was asking! Sorry for being so obtuse.
    Richard said: Are you asking if community churches are part of the Body of Christ? Depends on whether they match up with Scripture. If so, they need to use a possessive, descriptive name that shows that the church belongs to Christ, the anointed King.
    Now as a final follow-up, what “possessive, descriptive” names can those community churches use (i.e., are authorized by the Bible) other than church of God (which you mentioned above should not be used b/c of its denominationalist context today) and church of Christ?

  25. Guys, I have been attempted to be converted to the COC. Its pretty simple, the COC, believes they are the only true body of christ, and if this is true, then only they can go to heaven. However, I don’t believe this to be the case because of their skewed view of the scriptures. In my opinion, they are not the “only true body of Christ”, and therefore are not the only ones going to heaven. What a slippery slope, to have to judge other Christians based on their interpretation on a level of obedience. This is a travesty of the gospel message and plays into the devils hands.

  26. Dear Brother,
    I am a member of the Church of Christ and have been for 45 years. I am a member because the Church of Christ is a scriptual based church that follows what the Bible says about the first church. It DOES NOT follow what “man” has added to the Man made organizations. I am a member, but I realize that being a member with in itself will not give me a free ticket to Heaven. I have certain responsibilities that I have to live by. It is up to me to get “me” through.
    I do not have any problem understanding completely what the Church of Christ is. What I have a problem with is people that have pinned this subject of being a member on us.
    “………..work out your own salvatiion with fear and trembling;…… (Phil 2:12 RSV)

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