by Richard Mansel, managing editor
On January 31, 2010, The Tennessean newspaper published a story by Bob Smietana entitled, “Churches of Christ drop isolationist view, work with other faiths.”
Doug Sanders at Otter Creek says, “In the Church of Christ, we had all the answers, and if we had the answers, that meant everyone else didn’t. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it, but that’s the way it was.”
His quote can be applied to the larger issue of understanding the Lord’s church.
Previously, we discussed how the Lord’s plan was that there would only be one church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4). The church was his body and its purpose was to advance the gospel and bring glory to Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 3:20-21).
We would be immersed into the body of Christ for the remission of our sins and added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:37-38,47; 1 John 1:7). Accordingly, are to be sanctified, set apart from the rest of the people in the world (Romans 12:1-2).
We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). We have been called “into His marvelous light” to live as “sons of light” (1 Peter 2:9). “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
If we are in the Lord’s church, we are set apart from the world like Noah and his family. The ark and the church are alike in that they separate the righteous from the unrighteous. Clearly, they could not be in the ark and outside of the ark at the same time.
Christ is the head of the body, the church. He decides how we enter his body. We can try to claim that people are in the church, but if the Lord did not add them, then they are not in the Church that Christ built (John 14:6).
If we consider the Word of God to be true, then we must understand that we cannot change it (Psalm 119:89). The problem is that man wants the power to decide who is in Christ and who is not. However, our puny efforts have absolutely no bearing on what God has decided. We can call an orange a Mercedes all day and it will still be a citrus fruit.
Scripture is absolute truth and if we go outside of what we have authority for, we cannot be pleasing to God. When we do not enter Christ, because we refuse to accept what Scripture teaches on salvation, or we do not worship or organize ourselves like God’s Word dictates, then we cannot be in the Light.
Churches do not have any truth outside of God’s Word. If we take the Word and mishandle what it says, we will not please God.
If we are in the Lord’s church, we must not develop the Lot’s wife syndrome (Genesis 19:26). She looked upon the world of sin longingly and coveted their way of life. We must look to Christ as the source of all fulfillment and peace (John 10:10).
The Lot’s wife syndrome leads us to be embarrassed at the church because our sole focus is to make the world happy. If we follow behind the world like a puppy, we cannot be pleasing to Christ. We can only have one Lord of our life.
If our model is the denominational world with its carefree attitude about Biblical authority, we will naturally find Christ’s way too restrictive and we will be embarrassed at the idea of one church, truth and salvation. We will do all that we can to soothe souls and put a smiley face upon Satan’s façade.
At the same time, we need to be sober and remember that God cannot validate our error, no matter our feelings or intentions.
by Richard Mansel, managing editor