Is the Church Always the Right Church?  No.3
by Tommy Thornhill

This is the concluding article of this series. The last issue closed with the building of family life centers and gymnasiums to bring the local church into the 21st century. Members see the church they grew up in as stagnant. So to solve the problem, they simply deny that the NT reveals a pattern for what a local church can do, or not do. They accept this premise because they want to be accepted by modern society that rebels at the idea that the church has to be patterned after the NT order. After all, the majority of religious people feel that a church that believes that all religious teaching and practice must be based on Bible authority is not only old-fashioned, it is obsolete.

Years ago, Rubel Shelly, a leading spokesmen for this trend in the latter part of the 20th century said, "My children will not stay with the church I grew up in. They will not be a part of an irrelevance." He, and others like him, began calling for a "healthy, creative, and liberating change, whereby we can reach millions and become a more attractive, robust and resourceful body to our head, the Lord Jesus Christ…The last thing we can afford is inflexibility and defiance toward change." Sadly, what they have accomplished is just establishing a headless body. They want to claim Jesus as their head while refusing to allow Him to direct them. Jesus said, "But, why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord' and not do the things which I say?" Lk.6:46. Do you really think a local church, resting on such ideas, is the right church to be the part of?

 When people continue to hold membership in such a local church as described above, they have committed themselves to "a denominational concept" of the church, i.e., just one part of the whole. To them the church universal is made of churches, an idea foreign to the word of God. As pointed out in the first article, the NT church, whether in the universal sense, or local sense is composed of saved people Acts 2:47, with Jesus as head Eph.1:22-23; Col.1:18. The difference being, the church existing in the universal sense is a relationship with the Lord, having no earthly location or function; whereas the local church (a group of saved people banded together to serve, work and worship God), has both location and function, organized in order to carry out the work of evangelism, edification and benevolence. They exist independently (with no organic tie), of other groups of people. The only ties that bands them to other local groups of Christians meeting and working in other locations, is the like precious faith 2.Pet.1:1 and salvation Jude 3, gained by faithful adherence to the Word of God 1.Pet.4:11, and refusing to go beyond what is written 1.Cor.4:6. Those who would treat the local church as a denomination are ignorant of what the scriptures actually teach on the subject. With this attitude toward the church, they reveal a deep irreverence for God, the architect; an appalling disrespect for His Son, Jesus, the builder; and a great disregard for the Word the Holy Spirit inspired men to write. Yet, they still want to be known as people who follow the Bible in everything. Who do they think they are kidding? Brethren, it won't work with God! The church exists to reveal God's "manifold wisdom," not man's, "To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" Eph.3:10-11, 21.

I close this series of articles with this. Having a church (building)  sign designating that the people who meet here are "the church of Christ at ___" or "the church of Christ meets here" is no guarantee that the members who compose it are a true church. The true church is not a denomination of any sort. To remain the true (right) church in any location, the members must not be committed to human tradition or movements, The members must be committed to follow God's pattern in ALL things 2.Tim.1:13; Heb.8:5; Col.3:17.