Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
You guys say you are not "denominational", but isn't church of Christ just the main branch of the "Restoration Movement" which started in the early 1800s in the United States? From what I understand, the Restoration Movement has since split. The three main branches are the "church of Christ," the "United Church of Christ," and the Disciples of Christ.
Just Another Church
Dear Just Another Church,
Historically speaking, the Restoration Movement is a bunch of different churches that adhere to similar doctrines… biblically speaking, the movement to restore New Testament Christianity is a principle, not a denomination. The Monroe Valley church of Christ isn’t affiliated with any other congregation; we aren’t associated with a grouping of churches or national religious body. Our congregation is completely independent of all others – our responsibility is to the Lord and none other, just like the first-century churches (Acts 14:23).
In the darkest days of the nation of Israel, a young king named Josiah rose to power. The nation had reached such a state of wickedness that the temple was near ruins and in complete disrepair. Josiah made a decision to have the temple repaired (2 Kgs 22:3-5). In the process of repairing the temple, the workers found a copy of the Bible (2 Kgs 22:8). The Old Testament Law was brought to Josiah, and he read it for the very first time (2 Kgs 22:10). Josiah was mortified when he heard the words of the law; never before had he realized how wicked the nation was and how deeply entrenched in sin Israel had become (2 Kgs 22:11-13). Josiah decided then and there to simply return to doing what the Bible said. Josiah let the Bible be his guide in restoring the nation of Israel to what God intended it to be (2 Chr 34:30-31). That is the ideal of the Restoration Movement. Regardless of what man says, the church in Monroe is not a part of a denomination or some earthly hierarchy. We appeal to the New Testament as our guide and daily attempt to restore biblical Christianity in our little corner of the world. If other congregations around the globe take this same attitude, that doesn’t make us a denomination; that makes us brethren all serving the one true head, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23).
Do you have to go to church to go to heaven? I know you have to be saved, which I am, but I don’t go to church. I read my Bible, so will I go to hell if I don’t go to church?
The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Why are there different religions?
Having Trouble Counting
Dear Having Trouble Counting,
There are several reasons why there are so many different religions out there:
- Paul condemned the Jews because they worshipped God without knowledge (Rom 10:2). Many people follow whatever seems best to them and when our feelings design our religious beliefs, confusion ensues.
- Rom 1:18-23 says that when people suppress the truth about God, they exchange the truth for a myriad of other false beliefs.
- God warned that there would come a day when false teachers infiltrated Christ’s church and started teaching things contrary to Scriptures (2 Tim 4:2-4). Paul told the first-century christians to watch out for the “falling away” (2 Thess 2:3). Division and false teaching in the name of Christ is a very common thing. Wherever there is an opportunity for selfish gain, false teachers crop up and attempt to lead people astray.
There are tens of thousands of different religions in America that refer to themselves as “Christian”, and even more than that when you add things like Islam, Buddhism, etc.… yet God says there is only one true faith (Eph 4:4-6). So how can you know whether a church is Christ’s church?
Jesus says that we can know them by their fruits (Matt 7:15-20). A church is faithful if the way they worship, preach, and live is in accordance with Christ’s teachings. A faithful church keeps Christ’s commandments (Jhn 15:14). Most churches today have added all sorts of things to their worship (from rock bands to belly dancing) and leadership structure (popes, community boards, franchised churches, etc.) that were never intended by Christ. We should never add to God’s Word, and we should never take away from it (Rev 22:18-19). A faithful church should be able to give you book, chapter, and verse for everything they do. We recommend the posts “Down With Denominationalism”, “Finding A Church”, and “Preacher Interrogation” for further information on what questions to ask. If you would like us to help point you in the right direction of a congregation in your area, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to put you in contact with a Bible-founded congregation.
Is the Baptist religion one that goes by the Bible?
Looking For The Truth
Dear Looking For The Truth,
We will admit that Baptist churches are much more Bible-centered than most of the denominational world, but just because they say that they do exactly what the Bible says doesn’t make it true. Many of the things that the Baptist church believes are right, but there are some glaring practices that simply ignore Scripture. Remember, if you avoid or ignore verses, that is just as bad as adding to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19). We have to take every Bible teaching, no matter how unpopular, and accept it in order to truly call ourselves a “Bible-only” congregation. So let’s take a look at a couple of areas that this Baptist church is ignoring obvious Bible text.
- Baptism is necessary for salvation. This is one of the clearest teachings in the New Testament. Peter literally wrote, “Baptism saves you” in 1 Pet. 3:21. Mark 16:16 teaches that when you believe and are baptized, you are saved. There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism. If a church is teaching that baptism is only symbolic… it is ignoring the text. In fact, the Baptist church’s manual specifically says, “Baptism was the door into the church; now it is different” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22). Feel free to read our article “Baptism” for further Scriptures on this topic.
- The Bible openly teaches that you can lose your salvation. Gal 5:4 says that people can be “severed from Christ” and “fall away from grace”. 1 Tim 4:1 also warns that people will fall away and follow false teachings. Heb 3:12 also mentions falling away because of an unbelieving heart. The clearest verse on this topic is Heb 6:4-6 because it talks about someone who was “enlightened” and had “tasted the heavenly gift” and yet were “crucifying Christ again”. Once again, these are simple verses with clear and direct implications. Most Baptist churches teach that you cannot be lost.
- The Lord’s Supper. The Baptist church only takes the Lord’s Supper every once and a while. Where is the Bible authority and support for that? Where in the Bible does it show christians taking communion every four months, two weeks, yearly, etc.? Acts 20:7 mentions christians taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Once again, this is a plain teaching with a simple consequence. If we want to be like the first-century christians… we take communion every first day of the week.
This is hardly an exhaustive answer to everything that the Baptist church does, but it should be enough to give you an idea that there are some clear verses that are being avoided. God tells us to test all teaching against the Scripture (1 Jn 4:1). No congregation advertises that they are ignoring parts of the Bible, but many churches do exactly that.
I have always heard, and still do, that a congregation cannot have one elder. I cannot seem to find any Scripture to support this. Thanks again for your help.
Count Me In
Dear Count Me In,
The more accurate way to deal with this issue is to make your statement in the positive – a congregation must have a plurality of elders. In everything that a congregation does, it needs to find biblical authority. Acts 14:23 says that they appointed elders in every church. Acts 15:2-6 points out that the church in Jerusalem had multiple elders. In Acts 20:17, Paul called for the elders of the church that met in Ephesus. Jas 5:14 recommends that the sick call for the elders of the church to pray for them. Also, Peter exhorts the elders of each congregation to tend the flock amongst them (1 Pet 5:1-3). There is not a single example of a lone elder in the New Testament. Every congregation was led by a multiplicity of pastors. The final kicker on the issue is that Paul specifically commanded that elders (plural) be appointed in every congregation (Tit 1:5). If we let the Bible be our guide, we have no precedent for a single elder congregation.