Is one church as good as another?

This question is fraught with danger. To begin, the word “church” is understood by some to mean a denomination of one sort or another. For others, the word “church” refers to the building.

The English word “church” can mean building, but in a New Testament context it does not mean that at all. For instance, in Acts 11:22 (ASV) the Scripture reads, “And the report concerning them came to the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas as far as Antioch.” A building does not have ears!

Again, notice in Acts 15:22, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.” The word church in this context is not Paul, Barnabas having chosen to work alongside the “brick and mortar,” but certain members of the local church to travel with them.

In the above passage, notice who are identified: the apostles, the elders and the whole church. Should we understand the term “whole church” to refer to the building? Of course not. The word church, then, refers the people who are saved, that is, blood bought (Acts 20:28).

If the word does not refer to the building, then should one understand the word to refer to a denomination? No. The word “denomination” is associated with a man-made institution, an invention of the mind wherein some designate it a church (or one sort or another) with a distinct teaching. A man-made institution has no New Testament sanction.

The word “denomination” is also directly connected to the failure of man to hear and heed the Holy Spirit’s exhortation, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1.10, KJV).

Some think to themselves there really is no division among people called Christians on the major issues of Christianity. There is more significant division than might be realized. Some say salvation is by faith only, while others don’t. Some strongly affirm the necessity of baptism by immersion, while others say the mode (sprinkling, pouring immersion) is of no significance. Some observe the Lord’s Supper weekly, others not. The list goes on.

While many may not make a distinction in their minds, the distinction between a man-made church and the New Testament church is still to be made. In the New Testament, the word “church refers to those who are of the spiritual body of Christ, the church of which He is the head” (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). Thus, to equate a denomination (a man-made institution) with the blood-bought body of Christ is, at best, mistaken and misplaced, but at worst it is downright sinful. RT