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Why I Believe

Why I Believe

In the past I have put together lessons explaining why I am a member of the church of Christ and often these lessons have noted that the church of Christ has:

  • A Scriptural name or designation: Romans 16:16
  • The correct organizational structure: 1 Timothy 3:1ff; 1 Peter 5:1-3
  • Authorized worship: Acts 20:7; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
  • The correct understanding of the work of the church: 1 Timothy 3:15
  • The Scriptural plan of salvation: Mark 16:15-16
  • A faithful determination not to add or subtract from Scripture: 2 John 9
  • A determined emphasis on being united on the teachings of Christ rather than following the views of men or what is culturally popular: John 17:20-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10

In this lesson I would like to add a few more reasons:

The Scriptures and the Power of God

Jesus told the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead at the last day, that they were mistaken and did not understand the Scriptures or the power of God (Matthew 22:29).  I could not be a member of a group that would deny that the Scriptures are the word of God, and have been faithfully preserved for us.  The Bible clearly teaches both the inspiration (1 Timothy 3:16) and continued preservation of Scripture (Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:23-25).  Even in the text we started with in this paragraph (Matthew 22) the faithful preservation of Scripture is stressed.  Jesus quotes from Exodus chapter 3 and then says, “Have you not read what was spoken to you by God”.  Over 1500 years separates the events of Exodus 3 and Jesus’ generation, yet the text of Exodus chapter 3 that existed in Jesus’ day was still the word of God, and God was still speaking in that text.

Application

  • So I could not be a Mormon who would need to deny the accurate preservation of the Bible in order to believe in the book of Mormon.
  • Neither could I be a member of a group that denies the genuineness of Mark 16:16 in the attempt to ignore the clear teaching that baptism as well as faith are both essential and placed prior to salvation.

An Odd View is Never

I cannot think of a single teaching or practice that is taught by the Lord’s church that depends upon an off the wall rendering of a Bible verse, or a translation of the New Testament that is at odds with all the standard recognized translations.

  • For example, in order to believe that Jesus is not Divine, the Jehovah Witnesses must embrace a translation of passages such as John 1:1 which is at odds with the overwhelming rendering of that passage by all other standard translations.  In addition, the view that Jesus is not God is equally at odds with many Bible verses as well.  Jesus is not “a god”, rather He is God (John 14:9; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3,8).

Another way of looking at it is that what the church of Christ teaches is not a strained or twisted rendering of what the text actually says.  For example:

  • The New Testament clearly places baptism prior to salvation (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).  In fact to claim otherwise is forcing the text to say something other than what it says.
  • It is also clear that baptism is immersion (Acts 8:36-38; Romans 6:3-5).
  • Elders must be married men with children who believe (1 Timothy 3:2ff; Titus 1:6ff).

Catholic commentators have tried to argue that the “wife” in the above section is the church, i.e, he must be married to the church.  Yet such is an abuse of the context (3:4).  In the context the elder’s family is clearly distinguished from the church.  In fact, the argument being made by the Holy Spirit is that the only way we know if such a man can truly shepherd the flock is to first look at how he has shepherded his own family.

  • The authority and oversight of elders is limited to the flock of which they are members (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
  • Congregational singing is the music that God desires in the worship of the local congregation (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
  • Christians met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
  • They were commanded to assemble (Hebrews 10:25).
  • When they assembled they partook of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:18ff).
  • We are to give as we have been prospered (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).
  • Jesus is the only head that the church is to have (Ephesians 1:21-23).    

An Interpretation Directly at Odds with the Text

I could not be a member of a church which teaches exactly opposite of what the text says:

  • There are groups that teach that baptism does not save, which is exactly opposite of, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21).
  • There are churches which proclaim that one cannot fall from grace, which is the opposite of Galatians 5:4 “you have fallen from grace”.
  • Many churches now teach that homosexuality is inborn or natural, which is the complete opposite of what the Holy Spirit says in Romans 1:27 “in the same way the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts”. 
  • Others teach that homosexuality it is not a sin, which is the complete opposite of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
  • Jesus told His disciples to call “no man father” (Matthew 23:9), yet there are groups today who are taught to address their (or a) spiritual leader(s) as “father”.
  • There are groups that have women elders or elders who are teenage boys, while the Bible teaches that the elder “must be…the husband of one wife”    (1 Timothy 3:2).
  • A number of churches either deny the existence of hell or the ongoing nature of the punishment in hell.  Yet, Jesus spoke of hell more than any other person in the Bible.  He repeatedly mentioned both its existence and the ongoing aspect of its punishment (Matthew 5:30; 8:12; 25:46; Mark 9:43-48).

This obviously must or should bother people in the above groups at some level, because if they are reading their Bible, and people in denominations do read their Bibles, one would continually be reading passages that are at odds with what they are being taught.

John 17:20-21/1 Corinthians 1:10

I am a member of the church of Christ because it does not give lip service to the above passages.  We are truly determined to be just the church that you can find in the Bible.  We have no loyalties or allegiances to any denomination or religious organization.  We do not talk about unity and then defend denominational beliefs and practices which naturally create division among professed believers.  Rather, we seek to make the same appeal Jesus made, to be united upon the teachings of the apostles (John 17:20-21); period. 

Consistency Is Essential

If would be very difficult to convince people to follow the Bible if one is not following the Bible.  “Why should I submit to that passage if you are not submitting to that or other passages?”  “If you can pick and choose what to believe and practice, why can’t I?”

Mark Dunagan/mdunagan@frontier.com