By Michael L. DuBose
As Joshua was addressing the nation of Israel for the last time he said, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt: and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:14-15).
Joshua did not give the people a choice between serving God and choosing idolatry. He said, “serve ye the Lord.” But, if you are insistent on rejecting the God of heaven, then choose whom you will serve. It really doesn’t matter. You can serve the gods of the Egyptians, the gods of the Amorites, or the idols of some other nation. It all adds up to the same – rejection of God and eternal suicide. If you are not going to do what God says to do, then choose whatever makes you happy. You will have your reward here and nothing in eternity.
This same principle applies with equal force today. God had revealed Himself to us in a way which is clear and simple to understand (Eph. 3:3, 4). He has furnished us with everything necessary to our salvation (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). We are prohibited from changing in any way that which God has revealed (2 Jn. 9). If you are not content to abide in the doctrine of Christ, but desire to add to or subtract from God’s word the doctrines and commandments of men, then just add whatever you will. Change it wherever and however you choose. Follow any doctrine that pleases you and affiliate yourself with whichever denomination you like best. It really doesn’t matter.
You can choose to wear some man-made name that is not found in the Bible like Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian. You can choose to follow some false prophet like Joseph Smith or Ellen G. White. You can decide to become Catholic and let the pope make all of your decisions in religious matters. You can even become a disciple of some Eastern religion that denies the one true God. Perhaps you would prefer to practice Judaism and claim to serve God while denying Christ. If you are not going to follow God by doing as He commands, then the end result is always the same regardless of what you do or don’t do religiously. So go ahead. Attend the church of your choice. It really doesn’t make any difference which one you choose.
But, if you are concerned about pleasing the Father in heaven and you want to go to heaven when you die, then it does make a difference – an eternal one! Jesus condemned those Jews in His day who were doing as they pleased in the worship of God rather than what God had commanded. The Savior said of their worship, “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” And again, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Mt. 15:9, 13).
Paul rebuked the church at Corinth for ‘being divided and following men rather than the gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10-15). He chastised the Galatians telling them that by turning away from the gospel to the teachings of men; they had been bewitched or hindered and were rejecting the saving power of Christ’s gospel (see Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1-5).
There is in the midst of all the confusion and uncertainty in the religious world, a course that men may follow which is infallibly safe. This course is to read the Bible and then do what it says, all that it says, nothing more and nothing less. God has promised eternal rest to all of those who love and obey him (Heb. 4:1-3; 5:9).
You can become a member of the church of God’s choice by obeying the gospel of Christ. Those who obeyed God on the day of Pentecost were added by the Lord to His church (Acts 2:47). If you do the same things those early people did to become children of God (i.e., believe, repent, confess your faith before men, and be baptized for the remission of sins), then the Lord will add you to His church. By continuing to serve the Lord as He has directed in His word, heaven will be your home.
Joshua knew the folly of vanity and conceit in exalting self above God. Thus, he proclaimed boldly ” . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Will you serve God as He has directed? If not, then worship with the church of your choice. It really doesn’t make any difference as far as your eternal destiny is concerned. You will be lost because you refused to do the will of the Father in heaven (Mt. 7:21-23.)
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 16, p. 494
August 18, 1983