Garden City, Michigan church of Christ Bulletin


Jesus Christ built and established only one church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4; 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 12:20). Even casual reading of the New Testament reveals there were no denominations in those early times.  People became members of the one church by obeying the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).  When they obeyed, they were “in the body” which Jesus will save (Ephesians 5:23), “in the church” which was purchased by the blood (Acts 20:28), “in ChRist” where are all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), “in the kingdom” which will be delivered up in the end (1 Corinthians 15:24), and “in the family” where one becomes an heir (Galatians 4:7).  If one is not in the New Testament church, he is not a saved individual and has no spiritual blessings.

The inspired writers plainly revealed that a great apostasy would occur. Paul said, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).  Among other things, this group that would fall away would be “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods” (1 Timithy 4:3). Paul revealed in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 that the apostasy was already at work in his day (verse 7), and would continue until the second coming of Christ (verse 8).  He showed that in the great falling away one would exalt himself and would sit (or rule) in the temple (or church) of God (verses 3-4). Paul said to the bishops of Ephesus, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).  Peter said, “But there were false prophets also among f even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies - - the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:1-2). Paul added, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).

That time of apostasy, departure, and many deceivers is mightily upon us now.  The new Encyclopedia of American Religions by J. Gordon Melton lists 1,200 different religions in America.  Dr. Melton uses this criterion for inclusion in his list—it must be big enough to have two congregations or one congregation with over 2,000 members.  Many in our time try to teach that there are saved individuals in all churches.  They say that saved people in the various churches make up the one church of the New Testament.  This cannot be true because many of these churches plainly contradict one another.  God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).  For example, will God save people in one church who believe and teach that Peter was a Pope and at the same time save others in another church who believe and teach that Peter was not a Pope?

Furthermore, if there are saved people in all churches, it would mean that doctrine really doesn’t matter.  Distinct doctrines make up the various churches. That churches plainly contradict one another in doctrine none can deny.  For example, some churches say that sprinkling is baptism, others fervently deny it. Some teach there will be no place of eternal torment; others rigidly affirm the opposite.  The Bible shows that doctrine is important—indeed, it determines one’s relation to God and eternal destiny (2 John 9-11; Matthew 15:9; Romans 16:17).  If there are “saved people in all churches,” and “one church is as good as another” as some claim, why can’t one join a church which caters to his own sinful desires?  For example, why couldn’t he join a church which promotes worship and obedience to Satan?  (Dr. Melton lists eight churches of this type.) Also, if one was inclined toward the sin of homosexuality, why couldn’t he join a church which condoned such?  (Dr. Melton lists five homosexual churches.)

People today can be members of the New Testament church without being members of any denomination.  Anytime and anywhere men obey the gospel, they become exactly what people were in the New Testament—saved individuals, Christians, members of the body or church of Christ.