Yesterday, Cory Collins shared three ways to answer those who accuse us of teaching that we’re the only ones going to heaven. Check out his post, well worth your time.
The accusation obviously works only within a denominational framework. (See chart, click to enlarge.) People today have been blinded by Satan. They can’t think of being a Christian outside that framework. The recent description of the church of God being “predenominational” is a good effort to knock that notion in the head. The church of God existed before the first denomination appeared.
Sometimes, however, we have lent ammunition to our denominational friends. Our language slips at times into their phraseology. We have buildings that look just like theirs. We have “ministers” who often do turn out to be clergy. Now we have the multiple staff with pulpit ministers, lead ministers (what a contradiction in terms!), youth ministers, involvement ministers, etc., etc., etc. All of these came from the denominations. Some of them are expediencies, indifferent tools; others are abominations to God. We need to clean up our act, in some places.
But the real answer to the accusation is to ask who they think “we” are? Who is “we”? We are not just another denomination. We are saints who follow the New Testament model. Brethren have answered often and well by pointing to the oneness of the Lord’s church. We are the ones who take the Lord at his word. As Cory replies so well in the link above, we let the Lord define who is and who isn’t saved. We have no say in the matter, except to repeat faithfully what our Lord has stated.
What we are not saying is that our denomination is better than anybody else’s, that our denomination is the doorway into heaven. Let’s be frank: nobody’s denomination is getting into heaven. Denominations are divisions, nothing more, and divisions are condemned by the Lord. We must chunk all divisions and rejoice in being in Christ, in his body.
Denominations are not harmless appendages to the Way. They are the death of it.
Spiritually, we cannot be in Christ—which is the same as being in his body, the church—and be in a denomination. We can’t be, in this sense, in two places at once. For to be in a denomination is to be outside of Christ. Divisions are worldly, “devoid of the Spirit” Jude 19. And no one devoid of the Spirit can be saved.
Hence, we make a strong and impassioned plea: Let us be Christians and Christians only. Let us speak where the Bible speaks. Let us put aside all speculations, theologies, creeds, catechisms, and rulebooks and stick with the Bible alone as the Word of God. Let us obey exactly what one must do to be saved and belong to that one, united church to which God adds all the saved.
There is no other way.