That there is one and only one God can be proved. That the Bible is the Word of God can be proved. That the Bible teaches that there is one and only one God, one Lord, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, one body, and one hope is made clear beyond doubt (Eph. 4:4-6). In spite of the above noted facts, some people adamantly affirm that there are many churches and that any one of these churches is as good as any other church. In fact, many claim that one can be a Christian without being in any church at all. Sadly, even some in the Lord’s church do this.
In contradiction to the immediately preceding, the Bible plainly teaches that there is one—and only one— church which is approved by God and that salvation is in that one church; that is, no can be saved by the blood of Christ without being in that one church! No one has a God-given right to declare to others, “There are many churches and any one of them is as good as any other.” Jesus died and bought the one church (His church) with His own blood (Acts 20:28). I affirm, without equivocation, that the Bible only makes Christians only and the only Christians! I claim to know that this affirmation is true (cf., John 8:32). Because I am so strongly convinced of the truth of the first three paragraphs of this article, I have written a book (217 pages) entitled, The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians.
This is a book which explains this matter in much greater detail than can be done in this brief article. Some people, including some who are members of the Lord’s church, claim that while members of the church of Christ are Christians only, members of the church of Christ are not the only Christians. When people affirm such a doctrine, they are clearly implying that there are Christians living in the world today who are not members of the church which Jesus bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12-14; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:9). The Bible teaches otherwise. The Bible teaches that there is not one person who has been saved in any way other than by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22; cf., Lev. 17:11). And Jesus bought nothing with His blood other than the church (Acts 20:28).
The claim is made here that—by knowing what the Bible teaches about the matter—one can know that the Bible Only makes Christians Only and the Only Christians. How can this be the case? Because people can know, not merely guess: (1) that God does exist, (2) that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, (3) that the Bible can be understood (it can be correctly interpreted, John 8:32), (4) that men must obey what the Bible teaches them to obey, (5) that the Bible only makes Christians only, and, (6) the Bible only makes Christians only and the only Christians (this means that no one is a Christian who has not both learned and obeyed what the Bible teaches people must do in order to be saved by the blood of Christ (Heb. 5:8-9; cf., Phi. 2:8). It must be repeated: there is not even one person who is a Christian who is not a member of the church which Jesus bought with His blood (Acts 20:28; cf., Gal. 1:4; 2:20).
Contrary to the views of many people, it is neither self-righteous nor arrogant to point out and defend the truth that members of the church for which Jesus died—and only those members— are Christians. I repeat: The Bible teaches that no one else is a Christian! This is the case because the Bible plainly teaches such (involving both explicit teaching and implicit teaching).
May it be carefully noted that salvation is in Christ (2 Tim. 2:10). This passage makes absolutely clear that one must be in Christ to be saved; i.e., to be a Christian. To be in Christ is to be in the spiritual body of Christ which is the one and only body which He has purchased with His own blood (cf., Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23; Acts 20:28; Heb. 9:22; Rom. 5:8-9). God gains no children (saved people, Christians) except by means of His seed (the same basic way any man gains children). His seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). No one becomes a child of God (one saved from his sins by the blood of Christ) by believing and obeying any other message (“seed”—1 Pet. 1:23). When the seed which is the Word of God falls into the heart of a dishonest person (one who is not willing both to accept and to obey that Word), the result is rejection of God—the dishonest person rejects God’s Word, and God rejects the persons who reject His great message of salvation (the gospel—Rom. 1:15-16; John 8:32; Gal. 1:6-9).
However, when God’s seed falls into the heart of an honest person, that seed is both accepted and nurtured. It grows into a full-blown plant (a child of God, one saved by the blood of Christ— Luke 8:4-15; Acts 2:1-42; 8:26-40; et al.). When one obeys the truth (the gospel, the power of God unto salvation—Rom. 1:15-17), being baptized into the one body (1 Cor. 12:13), all of his sins are washed away by the blood of Christ. Then, insofar as he walks in the light, the blood of Christ keeps on cleansing him from the “isolated sins” which he may commit (1 John 1:7-9). This will not be the case for children of God who forsake the pathway of faithfulness.
It bears repeating: There are no Christians who are not members of the one-and-only church which Jesus Christ purchased with His own blood (Eph. 2:13-18). Thus, it is clear that the Bible only makes Christians only and the only Christians.
How sad it is today to hear men who formerly were great proclaimers and defenders of the truth (the gospel of Christ) now cry out, “We are Christians only but not the only Christians!” If this assertion were true, then it would follow that there is at least one other way (i.e., in addition to obeying what the Bible teaches) by which the sinner (the non-Christian) can be saved without obeying what the Bible teaches about the matter! I deny that contention with all of my being, and I urge everyone (in order to see that it is false) to study carefully in the Bible the following passages: 2 Thessalonians 1:79; Romans 1:15-17; Matthew 7:13-27; Hebrews 5:8-9 and many others.
I lovingly urge, in the light of: (1) the eternity which faces each and every one of us (Mat. 25:46; 2 The. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:10-15; et al.), (2) the glory of heaven (eternal life), and, (3) the horror of hell (eternal punishment) that all of us learn and submit to the true teaching of the Bible. I have written in genuine concern for the eternal destinies both of other people and of myself. May we all love and obey God. May we all be deeply and abidingly faithful to God because of His love in giving His Son for us and to Jesus Christ for giving His own life on the cross of calvary for us (by the grace of God, Jesus “tasted of death for every man”—Heb. 2:9).
The contemporary cry (even among some members of the Lord’s church) that we should accept the view that “unity-in-diversity” is in harmony with what the Bible teaches even when such pertains to obligatory matters should be rejected by all.
-Thomas B. Warren