"Christians ONLY and the ONLY Christians"
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
The Greek word christianos is used only three times in the Greek New Testament (cf. Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). It means, "a Christian, a follower of Christ" (Thayers, Lexicon, p. 672).
Some brethren are having difficulty determining who Christians are and where they are. I believe the recent discussions concerning this issue prove a fact, which has been my judgment, based on observation for some time, viz. there are some "among us" who are of the opinion that there are saved persons in all churches. Consequently, they are forced by the implication of their own statement of affirmation to support the view long held by denominationalists, that the heaven born, Spirit revealed, blood-bought, and heaven destined church of the living God is just a denomination among the various denominations; hence, membership therein is not essential to pleasing God and being saved! I believe that the implication of their statement is heretical, schismatical, and sectarian. I intend to show why in this brief article.
All Churches Do Not Please God
There are not saved people in all churches because all churches do not please God! Denominationalism is a state of religious division and chaos such as the Bible condemns in explicit terms (Gal. 5:20). There is no way that one can be saved (i.e. a Christian) and exist in such a state. But, denominationalism is such a state that the Bible condemns. Therefore, one cannot be saved (i.e. a Christian) and be in denominationalism. Remember, a Christian is "a follower of Christ." One cannot be a Christian and go where Christ does not lead him through His word (Jn. 12:48)!
Christ Did Not Die For All Churches
Secondly, there are not saved people in all churches because Christ did not die for all churches! According to the Bible, Jesus "with precious blood as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" purchased one and only one church (1 Pet. 1:18-29; Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25,26,29)! Denominationalism is no part of the one church which Christ purchased with "his own blood," and is, therefore, not a system for which Christ died.
One Must Be In Christ
Next, there are not saved people in all churches because one must be in and remain in Christ in order to be saved! People who are in denominations are not in Christ, consequently, they are not saved. If they are not saved, they are not Christians. Salvation and all other "spiritual blessings in the heavenlies are in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Out of Christ are no spiritual blessings and no salvation. Those in denominations are out of Christ and are, therefore, without spiritual blessings and salvation!
Not All Have Been Redeemed
There are not saved people in all churches because people in all churches have not been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ! Redemption is "in Christ through his blood" (Eph. 1:7). Those in denominations are not in Christ; hence, they are not redeemed through His blood. And, if they have not in their present state, been redeemed through His blood, they are not saved! And, if they are not saved - redeemed - they are not Christians! One cannot be a Christian, and be not saved - not redeemed! To say and believe otherwise would be a contradiction of terms.
Not All Have Obeyed
There are not saved people in all churches because people in all churches have not rendered full obedience to the gospel of Christ. It is the gospel which is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1: 16), and one must obey the gospel or be "punished with everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord and the glory of his might" (2 Thess. 1:79). Obeying the gospel includes faith, repentance, confession, baptism and growth in righteous living (cf. Rom. 10: 17; Acts 15:7; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 2 Pet. 1:5-12; Phil. 1:27). Those in denominations have not done these things; hence they are not saved.
Not All Offer Scriptural Worship
There are not saved people in all churches because people in all churches do not worship according to the apostolic pattern! God's people "broke bread on the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7), put into the treasury whatever they were "prospered" (1 Cor. 16:1-2), "prayed unto God through Christ" (Acts 2:42; Col. 3:17), taught "one another in psalsm, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Col. 3:16), and "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" (i.e. what the apostles taught, Acts 2:42). One must worship according to the pattern in order to be saved. Those in denominations do not worship according to the pattern; hence, they are not saved (cf. Heb. 8:5; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Jn. 9-11).
Not All Wear The Right Name
There are not saved people in all churches because people in all churches do not wear the name Christian, through which one glorifies Christ in particular! Their religious names are divisive and give glory to some man or doctrine peculiar to that particular denomination. So, one often hears of "Baptist Christians," "Methodist Christians," etc. No such terminology is found on the pages of God's holy word! One cannot be a Methodist and a Christian at the same time, nor can one be a Baptist and a Christian at the same time! In other words what makes one a Christian will not make him a Baptist or Methodist! You are as likely to plant corn and get watermelons as you are to preach the word of God and get a Baptist or Methodist based on the word of God alone! Men are made Christians by "the seed which is the word of God" (Lk. 811). One seed will not produce two different kinds of fruit. God's immutable law of reproduction is, "seed after their own kind" (Gen. 1:11-12)!
What does the foregoing have to do with our title "Christians only and the only Christians"? This is it: When men do what has been enumerated from the sacred text, they will be Christians only; nothing more and nothing less. And, if the same men happen to be the only ones on earth who "obey from the heart that form of teaching whereunto they were delivered" (Rom. 6:17-18), they will be the only Christians! Members of Christ's church are the only ones who have done thusly, for when one obeys the gospel, the Lord adds him to the church (Acts 2:41,47)! And, it is not narrow and sectarian to insist on what the Bible authorizes; it is right to do so (Matt. 7:13-14; Lk. 13:24).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 11, pp. 323, 344-345