When I lived in West Virginia, several denominations began getting together every Sunday evening for a joint worship service. After all, they say, “One church is as good as another.” You can pass trucks on the highway with signs on the back which read, “Attend the church of your choice. The implication is clearly as so many believe: “One church is as good as another.”
But, is that a true assumption? Is one church really as good as another. Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
If one church is as good as another: DIVISION IS ACCEPTABLE
The religious world in this nation is deeply divided. You can drive down the highway and see churches of all different shapes and sizes and beliefs and practices. Those who say that churches are all the same, tell us that this is wonderful for this gives people a choice.
The New Testament teaches that religious division is not acceptable. The night before he died, Jesus prayed that his disciples might all be one (Jn. 17:20-21). Paul pleaded with the Corinthians that there be no divisions among them (1 Cor. 1:10); the phrase “be perfectly joined together” in 1 Corinthians 1:10 refers to a surgeon’s mending broken bones, making them whole again.
Christians cannot be divided; one church is not as good as another.
If one church is as good as another: DOCTRINE IS NEVER FALSE
One can find a church that teaches anything he wants to hear. One church says Jesus is divine; another says he isn’t. One church says baptism is essential; another says it isn’t.
If one church is as good as another, these views are equally valid. You would be free to believe what you want, and I would be free to believe what I want. Whatever anybody teaches is right.
Yet, the New Testament teaches that false doctrine is real. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to charge people not to teach false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3-4). False doctrine ran rampant in Ephesus where Timothy was working. Many had turned “aside to idle talk” (1 Tim. 1:6). Timothy was to reject “profane and old wives’ tales” (1 Tim. 4:7). Timothy needed to be in Ephesus to defend what is true.
False doctrine causes one to be condemned. The one who does not abide in Jesus’ teachings does not have God (2 Jn. 9); those who do not have God have no hope (Eph. 2:12). The one who preaches anything other than what the apostles taught shall be accursed (Gal. 1:8); “accursed” refers to one who is doomed to destruction. Those who teach what is false will be lost.
False doctrine is real; one church is not as another.
If one church is as good as another: DISAGREEMENTS NEED NOT WORRY US
If one church is as good as another, we don’t need to come to a consensus in what we believe. We can all believe different things, and that is perfectly acceptable. We could simply agree to disagree.
Yet, the Bible exhorts us to be of one mind. Paul told the Corinthians to all speak the same thing (1 Cor. 1:10). Peter told the Christians to whom he wrote to be of the same mind (1 Pet. 3:8).
Christians must agree. We need to say what God has said (1 Pet. 4:11). As we say what God has said, we will agree.
Disagreement isn’t acceptable; one church isn’t as good as another.
If one church is as good as another: DEVOTION CAN BE MAN’S WAY
If one church is as good as another, it doesn’t matter how we worship. We can use the instrument or not use it. We can take the Lord’s Supper weekly or not at all. We can allow either men or women to preach.
But, God does care how we worship. Nadab and Abihu learned this lesson (Lev. 10:1-2). They offered fire before God which he had not commanded them, and fire went out from before the LORD and they died. Jesus said that people worshipped him in vain (Mt. 15:9).
The multiple ways to worship aren’t acceptable; one church isn’t as good as another.
If one church is as good as another: DISCERNMENT BELONGS TO MAN
If one church is as good as another, man can decide for himself what to believe and what to practice. If I like having elders, I can have them; if I don’t like having elders, I done need to have them. If I want to sprinkle for baptism, I can sprinkle; if I’d rather immerse, I can immerse. I can do whatever I want.
Man is not able to determine what is best. “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). God has made foolish the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:19-20). God told us to listen to Jesus (Mt. 17:5); if we listen to Jesus, we won’t take any man’s word as gospel—we’ll take God’s Word as gospel.
Man cannot decide for himself what is right; one church is not as good as another.
One church is not as good as another. Jesus built his church (Mt. 16:18). Jesus is head of the church (Col. 1:18). Jesus gave himself for the church (Eph. 5:25).
We need to be members of the church Jesus established. Those who are baptized for the remission of sins become members of Jesus’ church (Acts 2:41, 47). Are you a member of Jesus’ church?