Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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An Interesting Exchange

Note: The following email exchange is in response to an article posted on the Soundteaching website. The lady, who we will call “Alice” (not her real name) continues to respond. We will continue to try to teach her. This exchange serves to establish that our web presence is helping to spread the gospel.

Hi Stan,

I just read your message on belonging to a church to be saved. I must in all consciousness tell you that you are wrong. The ONLY requirement to being saved is calling and believing on the name of Jesus. The body of Christ is the church weather you are in a physical church or not. The disabled lady who cannot go to church…is she condemned? The Pharisees went to church but were condemned for their legalism. The thief on the cross didn’t go to church but he called upon Christ and Christ said He would be with him in paradise. At that moment he was part of the body weather he was in a physical church or not. I love church and I love going to church but going is not a prerequisite to be saved…ONLY believing on Jesus. With your message you condemn so many people to the sin of guilt or of not being good enough to go to heaven because they don’t go to church. I agree that the church is great for keeping people accountable to the rest of the body…it is important but NOT a requirement for salvation.

Thank you for your time,

“Alice”

“Alice”,

I truly appreciate your reading messages from our site, and would encourage you to go and read the article you refer to again, as you seem to misunderstand what I have written.

If my explanation here does not fully alleviate your misunderstanding, please send me an email telling me the title of the article to which you refer. I have written many articles which appear on the site, and your vague description does not reveal enough for me to know which article you are reviewing.

However, please note the following. I do not believe that membership in a church is a prerequisite to salvation. The Bible teaches that the Lord adds us to his church as we are being saved. (cf. Acts 2:47). In effect, salvation leads to membership in the church, not the other way around. This I have always taught.

Second, you are wrong in stating that the ONLY requirement to being saved is calling and believing on the name of Jesus. The Bible clearly teaches that repentance is necessary for salvation. (cf. Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38). That is another requirement.

Third, the Bible clearly reveals a responsibility on the part of those saved to work together with other Christians. The local congregation is the institution established by God to do his work, and to offer up worship to Him. If you say that a Christian can be acceptable to God and go to heaven without being a member of any church, then you are saying that a Christian can be acceptable to God and go to heaven, even though he disobeys God’s commands to:

  1. Assemble (Hebrews 10:24-25)

  2. Partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11: Acts 20:7)
  3. Sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)
  4. Contribute to the Lord’s Cause (1 Corinthians 16)

And we could go on and on. The Bible clearly reveals the responsibilities Christians have to be members of a church, submit to the elders of that church, do their part in carrying on the work and worship of that church. A Christian who refuses to do these things is in rebellion against God. As such his soul is in jeopardy.

Notice I said if he REFUSES to do so. We have several who are members of our congregation, but who are shut-ins. Their health does not allow for them to come to worship, though they have been faithful in their attendance and work in the past. God fully understands such circumstances, and does not require of any man what that man can not supply.

However, if one PREFERS not to do the Lord’s work as part of a local church. Or if he REFUSES to do what God has commanded, that one is not guiltless.

You mentioned the Thief on the Cross. This example is not germane to our point for two reasons. One, as I have said, I do not teach that church attendance is a prerequisite to salvation.

Two, Obviously, the thief was precluded from further obedience because of his death. My question is this… If he had lived, would he not have had a responsibility to continue doing the commandments of Jesus? Or could he say, “Jesus saved me, so now I can do what I want, with no regard to what God wants.” Obviously, death stops our responsibilities on earth. But if we live, we must obey God.

If you are going to say that you can go to heaven without “going to church”, you can go to heaven while rebelling against God’s commands.

One final point. You are obviously not fully comprehending the scriptural concept of the church. The church is not the physical building. The church is not a denomination. The church is the body of saved individuals. In scripture, those individuals who are members of the Lord’s church in a particular city or location band together as a local congregation to do the Lord’s work.

The Bible teaches that an individual has the responsibility to be a part of one of those local congregations.

If you have any questions or would like to study further, please feel free to write again. I am so appreciative of your interest, and pray God’s blessings upon you.

In Him,

Stan Cox
for the West Side congregation