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Kingdom Living

When Church Becomes the Messiah

December 9th, 2021 · 16 Comments · Uncategorized

One of the biggest issues I have seen over the years in Churches of Christ is that in some corners of our movement the church replaces Jesus as Messiah and Savior. That is never taught in an overt manner but it is the logical conclusion of some of our arguments.

Jesus is the only savior…the only name by which we must be saved. But you have to be in a church with the right (biblical) name to be and/or remain saved.

Jesus is the only savior…it is by coming to only Jesus to find salvation and no one else. But you have to be in a church that worships correctly for his salvation to “stick”.

Jesus is the only savior…he is the only way to have your sins forgiven. However, if you are in a denomination that means you are in error and that means you are perpetually in sin so you can’t be saved. Jesus can’t save that!

Many more examples can be cited but the result is the same…being in a church other than one labeled a church of Christ is insurmountable for Jesus to save.

This line of thinking results in this conclusion – the church you are in trumps Jesus’ salvific efficaciousness.

This is a false teaching of another gospel – that the gospel is that salvation comes through the work of Christ + joining the right kind of church. Anything short of that makes Jesus’ work a moot point.

Israel wasn’t looking for a church. They were looking for a Messiah. The church is not to be confused with the Messiah nor is the church a trump card over the salvific acts of Jesus. That doesn’t lessen the importance of the church. It just keeps everyone in their proper lane with their proper (biblical) purpose.

If neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus? Can being in a non-church of Christ church condemn us? Can our participation with denominations put us in a position Christ is powerless to work with?

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Rudy Schellekens

    I guess you will get a lot of comments on this one. You are right: Affiliation does not equate salvation.
    There is a flaw in your thinking, though. Jews could not continue following the law, making the sacrifices, the trips to the temple, etc.
    So can one continue honoring he Pope as head of the church? Keep following the WBTS (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society)? Remain loyal to the ELS? Artemis?

    • Matt Dabbs

      It’s a good question…certainly it isn’t “anything goes” but the problem is minutia has been equated with salvation issues that Jesus is incapable of handling…makes for quite a small Jesus…not the Jesus of the Bible.

      • Rudy Schellekens

        THAT I understand! One of the interesting differences between Western Europe and the US was the “flavor listed” congregations. With the change in the kinda, sorta annual directory from just a name/address/phone # to listing the kinds, one almost had to have a PhD to remember all the distinctions!
        For the longest time, those differences were minimalized in mission areas. The “instrumental” side of the family would invite some of the on-instrumentalist as speaker, and respect the difference enough not to use the piano, organ, whatever… Or to demand the presence when the invite was extended to them.

  • ellis blankenship

    Amen! I was converted in 1978 and all I heard was, live for the church, serve the church, support the church, don’t hurt the church. When the brethren said, the church they meant an organization instead of a living organism. I was about to pull out the last 3 hairs I had on my head!

    Thanks brother, appreciate all you and others are doing to serve Jesus. God Bless

  • Michael Arena

    My thoughts exactly. Thanks for putting them into words.

  • Mark Horton

    Awesome post- “Church” is a terrible translation of “ecclesia”… if we actually study the prophets (rare to do so in the CoC) we find overwhelming evidence that Elijah’s return, Messiah, the New Covenant and resurrection life (and much more) were all promised to Israel (not the “Church of Christ”!) When Messiah came, all twelve tribes of Israel were to be restored by gathering in the nations to which they had been scattered from the four corners of the earth. I would suggest the “ecclesia” refers to the in-gathering of Israel from all nations and it corresponds to the kingdom which came without observation. Messiah reigns on the throne of David- who was king of Israel, not the CoC!

    All that to say “Assembly of God” is actually more accurate than “Church of Christ” yet our congregations still contain many who believe that salvation depends more on the (erroneous) lettering on the building than JHVH’s eternal purpose to recreate Israel as a perfect spiritual bride/kingdom by healing her sin on the cross.

    Yet I have been accused of heresy and impugning Christ’s church for even hinting at these truths.

    • Matt Dabbs

      Oh boy I bet you have but you are absolutely correct!

    • Larry Rushing

      If you are referring to “Israel,” you need to remember that TO THEM was also promised a New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) and that promise contains no “land” promise or physical elements. We do find a new definition for “Israel” in Rom 2:28-29 NAS77  “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  (29)  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” That promise is said to have come to fruition in Heb 8:8-13.
      It is Messiah/Christ that makes us all one and brings us to the REAL, not the physical. He compares the physical with the spiritual and tells us: Heb 12:22-29 NAS77  “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,  (23)  to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,  (24)  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.  (25)  See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.  (26)  And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.’  (27)  And this expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  (28)  Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;  (29)  for our God is a consuming fire.”
      He will draw us together….Those who have passed from physical life with those still alive (1 Thes.4:14) for even our struggle here is a spiritual one (Eph. 6:12)

      • Mark Horton

        Just what I was saying!- we have been gathered into the spiritual Jerusalem v. 22. I join with the eastern church in asserting that Christ emptied Hades as he fulfilled the old covenant and dedicated the new temple with a great spiritual feast per Mt. 8:10-12 & Is. 25:6-9

  • Dawn burgess

    I totally agree Matt! I have tried to state this in some of my previous comments to your articles, but haven’t been able to articulate it the way you have.

  • Guy Wood

    Well said, Matt.

    Thank you for articulating clearly that just because a person has “left the building” (i.e., one of the corporate churches of Christ) they have not necessarily left Christ.

    To equate leaving the church of Christ to abandoning the faith is to discount the saving grace of God.

    Onward…
    Guy

    • Matt Dabbs

      Thank you Guy! We did an end around on the term Church of Christ. We claimed the phrase then used it to create exclusivity in a way that goes leaps and bounds anything found in the Bible. Appreciate you Guy!

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