Vol. 6, No. 7
~ Page 13 ~
Many of us who do personal evangelism have made a basic mistake in our response when a person asks us what is the difference in the church of Christ and any denomination. We begin to point out such things as, "Your church practices sprinkling. We immerse. Your church does not take the Lord's Supper each first day of the week. Ours does." And so on through the line of things we think are important. We thus strengthen the concept that they assume that we think "our church" is a better denomination than "their church."
Suppose their church quit sprinkling and started immersing. Suppose they "communed" each Sunday. Does that solve anything? Suppose you knock all the rotten apples from an apple tree? Does that make it a peach tree?
Let us try to make the point even clearer and more emphatic. Suppose a dozen of us decide to get together and organize a church. We call the meeting to order and raise some pertinent questions. First, what are we going to call the organization? After extended discussion about what names are better -- those that signify an act, an attitude, the structure of the organization or something else, the decision is made by a vote of 7 to 5 that we call it "The Church of Christ."
Next, we must decide the terms of membership. We debate about that at some length, and the minimum requirements we can all agree on are that one must confess some sort of belief in Christ, confess his sorrow for sin and be immersed. That passed by a vote of 8 to 4!
Next, we must come to some conclusion about activities the corporate body will perform. We discuss it at some length, and eventually conclude to do at least 5 things: Sing (preferably without musical instruments, for most of us feel we cannot afford good ones), pray (for most of us think the rest of us need it), take the Lord's Supper each week (for a lot of people think that if "taking communion" is worth anything, once a week is not too often), give (because we must have money if we are going to operate) and appoint someone who will deliver a homily.
Without belaboring the point any longer, can you not see that no matter what we decided in the meeting, or practiced after we left the meeting, we do not have a church of Christ as described in Matthew 16:18, even if we appoint elders and deacons, and refuse to call the preacher (or whoever delivers the homily) a "pastor"! Do you not see why? The whole thing was started on the wrong foundation. It does not matter what the superstructure looks like, if the building is not on the right foundation.
No denomination of our acquaintance was founded on the right foundation -- the authority of our Lord. It may well be that there are also things called "churches of Christ" and those individuals who are called "Christians" that did not start and do not operate on that basis. Calling a thing a "Mephitis" or "woods pussy" does not keep it from being a skunk!
If a person comes to you and says, "I want to be baptized into Christ for the remission of my sins, but when I do that, I will decide if and when I will attend the services, give, or do anything else, on my own terms," you have no authority to baptize him! But if you do baptize him and he attends a local congregation of God's people, he is not a disciple of Jesus (a Christian, Acts 11:26), for Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me." He did not do that! Have you ever thought carefully what the Great Commission says: "All authority is given to me -- go ye therefore -- " If a person does not do what he does, whether teaching, baptizing or anything else, in submission to the authority of Christ, it does not matter whether his mother wants it, his pastor wants it, his church wants it or he wants it; it is of no value!
The difference in your church and mine (if we each have one) is probably not worth discussing. But the difference in the Lord's church and everything else is as great as the difference between time and eternity. He will add you to it when you accept him as Lord, and do what he says, when he says, how he says, for the purpose he says.