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What is the church?
The church is the called out by God. Specifically, the church is composed by those that have been called out by the gospel of Jesus. The church is the body of Christ and He alone is the head. (2 Thessalonians 2: 14; Colossians 1: 18)
We must realize that the word, church, is used in several different ways. At times “church” refers to the invisible church, the body of Christ. God adds to the body of Christ those who are being saved. Man cannot add to this body nor take from it. All who are saved are included in it. (Acts 2: 47)
But “church” can also refer to a local congregation, to a national. or even an international association of people of similar religious beliefs and doctrine.
Obviously the saved are in the invisible church, the body of Christ, but many churches claim that you must be a member of their church to be saved. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and is not dependent on membership in some local or even international church. Salvation is based upon “Jesus affiliation”, not “church affiliation”. (Ephesians 5: 23)
God has ordained that we meet, worship and associate with fellow Christians, not because He needed to give commandments, but because it is best, even essential for us. We need the examples of mature, spiritual Christians; we need the admonition of the Scripture; we need the prayer of the saints; we need the communion of Christ. Yes, we should assemble together, not just because God has commanded it, but to encourage one another and stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Those who are attempting to live their lives by faith will recognize the need to attend; those who are living by rules can always find some reason why they do not have to attend.
All who are children of God are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not select brothers and sisters in the family of God any more than children select their siblings in the natural family.
When we receive Christ by believing in His name, God begets us. The word, the seed, is implanted in our hearts and begins to develop. Those who come to faith are given the right to become children of God. But we are not children until we have been born into God’s family. This birth takes place when we are born of water and the Spirit. If this line of reasoning is valid, all those who have been born of the water and the Spirit are my brothers and sisters.
This question is based on the assumption that one church is as good as another. However, this question needs to be examined. Most churches instill a respect for God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit but are they equally good in their salvation theology? Are they equally good in their organization, doctrines and practices? Certainly not! Some are closer to the New Testament church than are others. For me, the overriding consideration is, “Can you be saved by practicing what they teach about salvation.” If you cannot, you might want to consider another place.
The basic meaning of “denominate,” the verb, is having a specific name or denomination; thus, 7 feet is a denominate quantity, while 7 is a mere abstract quantity or number. It is difficult to refer to numerous entities without denominating. Thus the Church of Christ, the Methodists, and the Roman Catholic are all denominations. They all have a specific name. There is nothing wrong with recognizing this truth.
Thus, when speaking of the Church of Christ (capital “C”), we are naming or denominating.
When speaking of the church of Christ (small “c”), we are not denominating; we are speaking of the church in abstract.
The problem comes when we think of a denomination as a sect, a part of the whole. The church of Christ is not the sum of the denominations even if there were some from every denomination in the church of Christ. The Church of Christ has claimed it is not a denomination. This is, I believe, not true. It is true, however, that the church is not the sum of the denominations. I hope this makes a little sense.
All of those in denominational churches, who believe in the deity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, share a common faith with me and I respect them for that. God has begot them but they are not born again until they are born of water and the Spirit. We pray for all, that we may be united in Christ.
Do you believe children of God can be found in the denominational churches?
Yes, I do. I believe that all who are obedient to the faith are children of God regardless of denominational affiliation. Unfortunately one can apparently be a member of a denomination without being obedient to the faith as described in the Scriptures. (Acts 6: 7; Romans 1: 5; 16: 26)
Most of us worship, at least at the beginning, with the churches with which our parents were affiliated. I did. Years ago I believed that the Church of Christ had all the answers and that if you were not a member of a Church of Christ, you would not be acceptable to God. I don’t feel that way any longer. I know we don’t have all the answers. I know that we have not stressed the grace of God and spirituality, but that is slowly changing. Nevertheless I cherish my Restoration Movement heritage because it taught many solid values and an appreciation for the Word of God. I continue to worship with the Church of Christ because its teaching about salvation allows those that would come to Jesus to be obedient to the faith. This is very important to me. I can’t imagine affiliating with a church whose theology of salvation does not allow the seeker to come to Christ in a biblical way. I worship with them because they have avoided some, not all, organizational structures that plague others. I worship with them because, I believe, their worship is closer to that of the first century than others.
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Last Update 09/26/12