By Steven J. Wallace
You may have been driving down the road and by chance saw a sign on a vehicle which read something like this, “Start the week off right, join the church of your choice.” This saying implies that any church is sufficient, it must only be deemed good by your choice! This saying does not say or give any thought to what God’s choice is. It does not say, “Start the week off right, join the church of God’s choice.”
There is no consideration for what God’s choice is but only that of man. Consequently, those who have this mind set make the choosing of a church equal to the choosing of a flavor of ice-cream. One church is just as satisfactory as another depending on the individual’s choice, like chocolate is just as satisfying as vanilla, depending on choice alone.
If this is true, what difference does it make whether one is a member of the church of Christ or the Baptist Church? And if this is true, what difference does it make whether one is a member of the church of Christ or the church of Satan for members of both have chosen whom they serve. I wonder if those who advocate the standard of “choice” alone will consent to those who follow Satan? I think not! Most will deny that it is acceptable to be a member of the church of Satan, but if they deny it, they have shot down their philosophy of choice. What then makes it right or wrong to be a member of the church of Satan? Is it not the word of God? If it is not the word of God, then what is it? If we agree that the word of God condemns those who are members of Satan’s church, then should we not use the same word to justify our membership? Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
He also asked, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Does the church where you worship do the things Jesus has asked? Do they teach what Jesus taught and do what Jesus commanded? Concerning salvation, do they teach as Jesus did, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), or do they teach faith only? Does the church of your choice partake of the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), as the first century church did, or does it “choose” to do it once every month, quarter, or year?
Does the church of your choice teach that one must remain faithful to Christ until death in order to inherit life (Rev. 2:10), or does it teach falsely that once someone is saved, he is forever secured for salvation with- out regard to his conduct (1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:12; 2 Pet. 3:11, 14)? Does the church of your choice have Jesus alone as the head (Eph. 5:23), or do they have some man residing in that position?
The Catholics have chosen the pope to be their governing head; the Mormon’s have chosen their so- called “apostles”; the Episcopal and Presbyterians have their councils, but where in the Bible do we see such positions authorized for mere
men to occupy? I ask those who think that we are mean spirited for condemning the Catholic’s pope or the Mormon’s apostles, are you mean spirited when you condemn Satan, the obvious head of the church of Satan? There are some who have openly chosen and confessed Satan as their head! The fact remains; however, that any church which doesn’t submit fully to the authority of the King, Christ Jesus, is headed by Satan (Matt. 12:30; 28:18)! Does the church of your choice hold fast to the written word of God as their standard for authority, or are they governed by some man made written confession or creed? “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Why be governed by creeds of men when the Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? Does this sound like you need anything other than God’s word?
Imagine if Jesus came down to earth and wanted to start a church of man’s choice rather than God’s? Imagine if Jesus wanted a church that is more tolerant on perversions like homosexuality and adultery. Wouldn’t this make the church so much more attractive to the masses? Why not have a church that calls drunkenness a disease rather than sin? Why not have a church that justifies stealing (on the grounds that you really need what you are taking)? Why not build a church that tolerates unrighteousness? Why build a church that teaches “ . . . the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God . . .” (1 Cor. 6:9ff)?
Imagine if Jesus wanted to build a church that would tolerate religious diversity. He could have enjoyed a longer life, perhaps, if he never stirred up and accused those religious teachers around him of being hypocrites, blind guides, fools, whitewashed tombs, murderers, serpents, brood of vipers (Matt. 23:13ff.). Wouldn’t it have been easier for Jesus to remain silent, concerning their “choice,” rather than openly rebuking their sin?
What if Jesus wanted to build a kingdom of people who were allowed to deny him if they ever need to do so as to promote peace in certain environments? If Jesus would have denied himself as the Son of God, he probably could have lived a longer life (i.e., Luke 22:66-71). But Jesus never did deny himself and he expects us not to either. The inspired apostle Paul wrote, “If we endure we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:12-13).
Finally would not Jesus have rather built a church with a lesser amount to purchase? If it was up to him, would he not have rather purchased the church with his words rather than his life? Could he say, “Father, I want to build the church of My choice with the price of my choice and not yours?” Yet many think they can join a church of their choice and not God’s and still be acceptable. Was it a small cost to be taken by lawless hands, beat on, spit on, stripped, ridiculed, literally nailed to some wood in the form of a cross, and publicly erected so that all who had eyes to see with could witness? Was this Jesus’ personal choice? This was God’s choice (2 Tim. 1:8-9)! Was this not rather a big price to pay for the church of God’s choice? How much would you be willing to pay for it? Jesus purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28), yet sadly some will not even sacrifice their own selfish lust for it.
The cross was not fun. In fact the Bible teaches that he despised the shame of the cross (Heb. 12:2), but endured it because of the reward. The reward was worth the price. This is why Jesus so often prayed, “Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). Is the church of your choice the church of God’s will?
Not all churches are genuine because they are built on sand (man-made doctrines, creeds, opinions, etc.) and not on the holy word of God. Jesus never promised to accept any person or church who fails to do the will of God (Matt.
7:21-23). Jesus never died so people (or churches for that matter) can live the way they want, but he demands that we live the way he wants us to (John 15:14; Rom. 12:1-2). The Bible is clear that there is just one body or church (compare Eph. 1:22-23 with Eph. 4:4). The question is, however, is that one church your choice? “. . . The churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16).