If you are talking about man-made churches, the answer is yes. But, if you compare Christ’s church to the churches of man, the answer is no. We often hear the phrase, “Join the church of your choice.” Even though this sounds good it is NOT in harmony with the Word of God! One church is not as good as another. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Lord spoke in the singular when he said, “I will build my CHURCH.” He did not promise to build many “churches” so that we might choose the one of our choice, instead he promised to build “my church.” The apostle Paul wrote, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). What is the “ONE BODY” that Paul refers to? In Colossians 1:18 Paul writes, “And he is the head of the body, the church:...” We read in Ephesians 1:22,23, “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” According to both of these passages the church and the body are one and the same! To talk of “the church of one’s choice” is no different than saying, “Accept the Lord of your choice” or “the God of your choice.” The same passage that says that there is “one Lord” and “one God” says that there is “one body (church)” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
In 1 Corinthians 12:13, 20 we read, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (20) But now are they many members, yet but one body.” In Romans 12:4,5 we again read that there is but ONE body (church). Paul wrote, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”
Other designations in the Bible suggest the oneness of the church. For example, Romans 7:4 and 2 Corinthians 11:2 teach that the church is the BRIDE of Christ. How many brides does Christ have? If Christ has many churches (brides) then he is guilty of polygamy (which the Bible condemns). In 1 Timothy 1:15 the church is spoken of as the (family) house of God. How many families does God have?
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ has only ONE church! In Acts 2:47 we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” No where in the Bible do we read of anyone being told to “join the church of his choice!” In the New Testament we only read of ONE church and the only way to become a member of it was to obey the gospel. In Acts 2 on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus, Peter told his Jewish audience, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (2:38). Verse 41 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
Are you a member of a man-made church or “Christ’s church?”
Having confidence in salvation can be good – or bad. Paul, in a final inspired statement, declared: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Just how sure are you that you are in the right way, on the way to heaven? Could you say what Paul said? Is it possible for anyone to “know” they are saved? Or must we live always in doubt, never able to have the assurance of the forgiveness of God? Men in history have declared their doubts, their fears on this subject. Criminal attorney Clarence Darrow wrote: “Life is like a ship on the sea, tossed by every wave and every wind; a ship headed for no port, having no harbor, with no rudder, no compass, no pilot, simply floating for a time, then lost in the waves.” What a sad perspective, with no hope. Bertrand Russell, a renowned skeptic, had a similar view: “The life of man is a long march in the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, toward a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long.” Where do you fit into this issue? Are you with Paul—or with Darrow and Russell? What assurance do you have? And, is that assurance based on the Bible, God’s Word? Or is it just a “feeling?” Some have a false assurance; but claiming assurance is not the same as having real assurance. The same Apostle Paul quoted previously later told King Agrippa he had been mistaken: “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). Paul just “knew” that killing Christians was pleasing to God. But he was dead wrong, and he made it right by becoming Jesus’ disciple.
Perhaps some of us are full of false confidence, having convinced ourselves that we are ready to meet the Lord. Jeremiah the prophet told Judah: “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). By God’s inspiration, Solomon wrote: “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
We have all been “certain” of some things, only to find later that we were mistaken. We cannot afford to be mistaken about our eternal destiny! We cannot know we will stay true to God, nor can we know how we will deal with future temptations. However, we can take God’s Word — the Bible — and compare our life, our “conversion” with what God has commanded therein. There we will discover how we stand in our relationship with God. John wrote: “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).
Compare your life with the Bible’s instructions, lest you have a false assurance. See if your “conversion” is in harmony with New Testament conversions in the book of Acts. Don’t depend on feelings and emotion. How did Paul gain such assurance? Paul was assured of his eternal destiny at the end of his life because he had finished his course. He had “kept the faith.” There had been many trials, many temptations to go back to his old way of life. Instead, he “fought a good fight,” beating back each of Satan’s assaults. He ran the entire race. He resisted Satan, and he won the victory. You and I can do the same, but we must let God’s Word be the judge, not our own feelings.
Isn’t it about time man learned what God’s Word says about becoming a Christian? A “crown of life” awaits those who seek the truth and obey it, John 8:32, 17:17. Will you seek that way of truth? Will you live by it? That is the only way we can have God’s “Blessed Assurance.”
A brief study of the Bible reveals the seriousness of disobeying God. But many do not understand that there are several different ways of disobeying God. How does one disobey God? In this article, space will only permit noticing a couple of ways.
One of the most obvious ways of disobeying God is TO DO WHAT GOD HAS EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN. When God forbids our doing a certain thing and we do it anyway, we sin! In Genesis 2:16,17, Adam and Eve were expressly forbidden to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The devil, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve and she ate of the fruit and gave some to Adam and he also ate of it. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by doing what he had expressly forbidden and they suffered the consequences. They died spiritually on that day (Genesis 3:16-19). This is the first sin recorded in the Bible.
In Genesis 19, God instructed Lot and his family to leave the city of Sodom before He destroyed it. Through His angels, God instructed them to leave quickly and also not to look back. Lot's wife disobeyed God by looking back. She did exactly what God had expressly forbidden and she was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.
We read in 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. ” Even though something may appear trivial to us, if God has forbidden it, we must not do it. When God forbids something, we must respect his will and not do it!
A second way we disobey God is BY REFUSING TO DO WHAT IS COMMANDED. In the book of Jonah we read of God’s instructions to Jonah to go and preach to the wicked city of Ninevah. Instead of obeying God, Jonah boarded a ship that was sailing in the opposite direction. Because of his refusal to do what God had commanded, he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish that God had prepared for Jonah. Jonah learned the hard way that there is no hiding from God or escaping our duty to God! We will either do what God commands us to do and be rewarded or we will suffer the consequences of our failure to obey God.
King Saul is another example of one who refused to do what God commanded in exactly the way that God commanded it (1 Samuel 15:1-23). God’s instructions to Saul were to destroy all of the Amalekites and all of their livestock (1 Samuel 15:3) because of their wickedness and rebellion against him. Saul disobeyed God when he spared the life of King Agag and also spared clean animals that were suitable for sacrifice to God. His intentions were good, but he was still condemned because he had failed to carry out God’s orders. The prophet Samuel told Saul that the kingdom would be torn from him and given to another. This Old Testament example should remind us of the importance of doing ALL that God commands, EXACTLY as God commands! When we only do a part of what God says, we have not obeyed God. King Saul lost his throne because of disobedience and we will lose our souls eternally if we disobey God! James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
We can learn a valuable lesson from these Old Testament examples that we have studied and that is: God says what he means and means what He says!Our eternal destiny depends upon our obedience to God!