[forthright] Are Members of the Church of Christ the Only Ones Going to Heaven? (4)

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 15:02:26 -0500
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: Square One

Are Members of the Church of Christ the Only Ones Going to Heaven? (4)
by Richard Mansel

We must be in the Church that belongs to Christ if
we wish to enter heaven. In his church, we must
conduct ourselves according to the New Testament
plan. Since the New Covenant is not a list, we
must read the New Testament and determine what he
desires the church to do. Since it is not man's
church, we must seek above all to be pleasing to
Christ. His will is the only criterion, as
outlined in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16,17;
Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 8-10).

We are in the Lord's church today if we have
entered it as commanded in Scripture. If we
continue in the Word of God, as he has given us in
the New Covenant, we will be in the Lord's church.
The Church begun by Christ cannot be anything but
right. Which is not the same thing as saying that
the people in it are always right (Romans 3:23).

The person asking the question is actually
wondering if those who have "Church of Christ" on
their signs are the only ones going to heaven.
This is backwards. We are in the Lord's church by
Christ's standards, not man's opinions. A name,
sign, or label is not the defining factor. Not
everyone who is in congregations with the name
Church of Christ on their signs will enter heaven.
There are those who are not living as Christians
in behavior, attitudes, and doctrine in some of
these congregations. If the sign were the only
determining factor, we could practice all manner
of evil and God would approve as long as we had
painted the proper letters. Obviously, Christ has
higher standards (John 14:15, et al).

Can we be outside of the Church of Christ and be
saved? Once again, this is a bad question. A
better question is, in light of the fact that in
Scripture there is only one church (Ephesians
4:4), can one be saved outside of the Church
Christ built? Obviously, not.

In our ecumenical world, many have a skewed view
of Christ's will concerning his church. We see
thousands of denominations with their own signs
and doctrines. Many take this distorted view and
project it onto Scripture.

We can search the New Testament for a name of the
Church. However, there was only one Church, not
thousands. These children of God were in the
Church Christ built. The one he purchased; the one
that bears his name, the Church of Christ (Acts
20:28).

If we had only one church today, how important
would a sign be? However, it is not the case that
there is one church. Instead, there are thousands.
A sign sets the Lord's church apart [in addition
to doctrine, etc.] from those who are simply
borrowing a name. As we know, calling ourselves a
lemon will never make us a lemon. We must give
proper credit to the owner of the Church we are a
member of. After all, it is all about him.

The name matters because it signifies ownership.
The car of Richard is outside my door, for
example. We all understand this concept in secular
thinking. Why is it so difficult to grasp in
Scripture?

We are a group of people who, despite our foibles,
seek to be what Christ desires in his church in
doctrine, practice, and service. We must remember
that we seek to please Christ, not each other, and
to be holy in all things.

We must not be ashamed of being in the Lord's
church or of bearing his name. Following Christ's
plan will always divide people, so we should not
be shocked when people reject truth (Matthew
10:34). Christ said, "For whoever is ashamed of Me
and My words in this adulterous and sinful
generation, of him the Son of Man also will be
ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father
with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38, NKJV). This also
extends to being ashamed of his church.

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