OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew

            When one obeys the gospel of Christ, he is added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:47).  Paul affirmed this in his letter to the Corinthians.  “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” (I Cor. 12:13, emp. mine, vme).  The “one body” into which individuals are baptized is the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18).  The word “church” literally means “the called out ones.”  By means of the gospel (II Thess. 2:14), Christians have been called out of the world and have been translated into thekingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13).

            Life within this body is governed by the Word of the living God (II Tim. 3:16-17).  These words come forth from the Savior, the head of the body (Col. 1:18).  Members of the body seek to live lives of holiness and purity (Matt. 5:7; I Peter 1:13-16).  They develop and maintain relationships based upon unfeign love one for another (I Peter 1:22).  They pray (I Thess. 5:17), study their Bibles (II Tim. 2:15), and worship the God of heaven (John 4:24; Heb. 10:25).  As disciples of Christ, they seek to follow the Lord in service to others (John 13:12-17; Gal. 5:13).  Members of the body of Christ appreciate the spiritual blessings they have in Christ (Eph. 1:3).  They want others to know of these riches, therefore, they spread the good news of the salvation in Christ Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  These individuals want to be faithful to their Lord (I Cor. 4:2).  They want to be ready to meet their Savior when He comes in His glory (I Thess. 4:16-17).

            The way of life for a member of the church is simple.  His work is simple.  His message is simple.  His worship is simple.  Everything revolves around the New Testament of Jesus Christ and the practice of the first century church revealed in God’s Word.  These things set us apart from the world.  They make us distinct from the man-made religions of the world.  They make us strangers and pilgrims within this world (I Pet. 2:11).

            Each time this writer approaches someone who is not within the fellowship of Christ’s church, he knows that he is approaching an alien.  This is especially true when speaking to those who are caught up in the sin of denominationalism.  Denominationalism is filled with subjectivism, Calvinism, emotionalism, entertainment, and varying degrees of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit.  These individuals speak in a foreign language.  Oh yes, they speak of God, Jesus, the Bible, Calvary, sin, salvation, the second coming, heaven, and hell, but many of these things are couched in speech that does not harmonize with the Word of God.

            This writer has compiled a list of things that are evidence that those in the denominational world are from a totally different religious culture than those within the churches of Christ.  These things are not listed in any particular order of importance.

1.                These individuals often speak of personal experiences they have had with Jesus Christ.  They have seen Him in dreams and visions.  They have held conversations with Him.  They have seen Him perform miracles in their lives.

2.                Closely connected with such experiences are their personal testimonies.  Each person seems to have a unique and dramatic conversion account to tell.

3.                They love to talk about their relationship with Jesus Christ.  However, their words are filled with truth and error.

4.                Feelings’ instead of objective truth, are their standard of belief much of the time.  They often say that they know they are saved because they feel it in their heart.

5.                Salvation for these individuals involves grace alone through faith only.  Anything more than this is said to be a work, and works, they say, do not save.

6.                Their worship services are often quite long.  However, these services take the form of entertainment rather than paying homage to God.  Instrumental music and special music play a very important element in their worship settings.

7.               Oftentimes these individuals have been taught by one or two spiritual mentors.  They rely heavily upon what these individuals teach.  These things are foundational to their belief system.

8.               The personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit plays a prominent role in their life.  He speaks to them.  He directs them.  He comforts them.  He helps them endure all types of circumstances.  They do not hesitate to speak of the Holy Spirit’s leading, guiding, and nudging them through life.

9.                Premillennialism is a major component of their belief system.  Jesus is coming soon, they say, because the signs of His coming are present.  The frequently speak of the anti-Christ, the rapture, the thousand year reign, the battle of Armageddon, and other premillennial beliefs.

10.            Most of these individuals look forward to the religious holidays of Christmas and Easter.  These two Sundays involve special worship services that commemorate Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ resurrection, respectively.

11.             Many of these individuals take a post-modern view of the Bible.  Truth is based solely upon one’s interpretation of the text.  Differing beliefs can be tolerated and accepted.

12.             These individuals speak often of the unseen spiritual realm.  Demons and angels are referred to as if they are literally present.

13.             These individuals and groups seek union with others who acknowledge Jesus as the Christ.  Tolerance is the key to this union.  However, they will not tolerate any judging and condemnation.

14.             They do not accept all Bible teachings.  They vehemently reject such doctrines as the one church, baptism for the remission of sins, no instrumental music in worship, and weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.

15.             They see God as loving, merciful, forgiving, and tolerant of man’s sins and doctrinal errors.  His justice and vengeance seems almost non-existent.

16.             On major moral/political issues, they take strong stands (i.e., abortion and homosexuality).  Yet, they will tolerate gambling, dancing, social drinking, immodest attire, and some cursing.

Most certainly, they are from a different spiritual culture than members of the body of Christ.  The things they believe make it very difficult for us to teach them.  We must remember that when we speak to them we sound like the foreigners and aliens.  They believe that we are the ones from some strange planet.  In order for us to guide them, we must follow Paul’s instructions to Timothy in II Timothy 2:24-26.  “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”