The churches of Christ say that only members of Christ’s Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, are going to Heaven. Because the Church of Christ says this, many are mistaken in asserting that we mean that only those with name “Church of Christ” on the building’s sign are going to Heaven. After going to dozens of congregations of the churches of Christ, being a minister of the Church of Christ, a student under professors at colleges of the Church of Christ, reading numerous books and articles from preachers and leaders within the churches of Christ, I have never heard that only the “Church of Christ” denomination, only “church-of-Christ-ers”, or only those with the sign “Church of Christ” on the building are going go to Heaven.
Reports like this does come repeatedly from others outside of the churches of Christ, but not from the teachers, preachers, and elders of the churches of Christ. The truth is that this claim that “They think that they are the only ones going to Heaven” has come from spiteful, malicious, and antagonistic preachers and teachers of denominations. They do not desire their members to look into the Scriptures and see the Church that Christ built and bought with His blood (Acts 2:41-47). Such churches may boast of working together despite their differences, but their differences are traditional and man-made rather than a matter of God’s Word. Certainly, they can compromise their opinions.
The churches of Christ are solely built upon the Rock of the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the Chief Cornerstone of the Church and He is the only Head. Jesus Christ is infallible and so are His words given to His Apostles and prophets in the Scriptures. We will not compromise Jesus Christ for the traditions of men to reject the command of God (Matt. 15:7-9, Mark 7:6-9). My brethren in the churches of Christ believe that the Scriptures teach that Christ only saves the Church of Jesus Christ, only Christians. Ephesians 5:25-27 says,
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.“
Clearly those of the Church are saved, but are they the only ones? The Scriptures teach that all the saved at baptism are added to the Church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). When one is baptized, then one is added to the Church by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13, cf. 1 Cor. 6:11). As Ephesians 5:26 shows, Jesus washed those in the Church with water and Ephesians 4:5 says that there is only one baptism. That is the baptism Jesus commanded in His resurrection that Christ said is to be made a disciple and to be saved (Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16).
The Church is the House of God according to 1 Timothy 3:15, which states,
“if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the House of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”
The Church is to uphold the Truth and not compromise it. Being the House of God means that the Church of Christ is the Temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22, 1 Cor. 3:16-17, 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). The Church is not to bend or reject God’s commands for unity with others. The Church is to be holy and not be among those, who do not believe in all that Jesus has spoken (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
The Church of Christ are those who are saved by obedience to the Gospel, since those apart from the Gospel are eternally condemned (Matt. 7:21, 2 Thess. 1:7-9, Heb. 5:9, 1 Pet. 1:22-23). The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). First Peter 4:17 says of the Church and salvation,
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
The Church obeys the Gospel. Those who have obey this Gospel are in Christ’s Church, but those who have not obeyed the Gospel are not in the Church. There is no difference between the Church and the saved for these are the same (Acts 2:41, 47). Christians are stand and are saved by the Gospel, which is the death, the burial, and the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Christians obey the Gospel by dying to sin, being buried in baptism, and being resurrected in the newness of life (Rom. 6:3-7, Col. 2:12-13). One cannot be resurrected with Christ without dying with Him being buried by baptism into His death. Anyone, who claims to have been saved before being raised with Christ from being buried by baptism into His death, has not been saved yet. My brethren in the Church of Christ teach that those who have not been baptized in Jesus’ name are not in the Church and these are not of the saved, but the Bible teaches that baptism is essential and necessary to salvation when the Lord adds one to the Church (Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). This is the Church that we read about in the words of Christ and His Apostles and prophets in the New Testament.
Now, are those of the Church of Christ the only ones going to Heaven? Yes! The Church is saved and not any denominated body of believers, but the one and only Church of Jesus Christ. It is the Church that Christ established and bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28). It is the Church that is cleansed of their sins by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:7; Matt. 26:28; Rom. 3:25, 5:9; Col 1:20; Heb. 9:12, 14, 13:12, 20; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:5). Ephesians 4:5 says that there is only one body, which Ephesians 1:22-23 says that this is the Church. Because of this Scriptural teaching that those of the Church of Jesus Christ are the only ones saved and going to Heaven, then when a member of the Church of Christ preaches this truth, then some have seen the opportunity to attack the churches of Christ and claim that they are an exclusive sectarian denomination and a borderline cult. Why? Because we refuse to bear a denominational name or form such an man-made organization. We bear the name of Christ as Christians in the Church of Christ, so that there are no dividing walls of denominations in the Church.
Therefore, the churches of Christ do oppose denominations, which to denominate means to divide into divisions into named groups. This is condemned in Scripture and those who practice such will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven (Gal. 5:20, 1 Cor. 1:10). My brethren in the churches of Christ seek not to be a denomination and do not claim to be a denomination, but only members of the Church of Christ. We refuse to be divided by denominationalism and names. Therefore, we carry the titles “Church of Christ”, “churches of Christ”, “Church of Jesus Christ”, “Christians”, “disciples of Christ”, and so on with Scriptural names for the Church and members thereof. I only know of our signs having the name “Church of Christ” and I do not know any of the churches of Jesus Christ who do not have that sign on their buildings though there may and should exist. We do not set ourselves apart from any other Scriptural congregation based on what Scriptural name that they have on their building sign.
We stand against the leaders and teachers of these denominations, and we plead with their members to be Christians only following only Christ through His words. If the leaders of a congregation change the Gospel of Christ and do not follow the commands of God, we are told to note, mark, and avoid those who do denominate and who teach contrary to what the Apostles and prophets teach in the Scriptures (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; Tit. 1:10-13, 3:10; 2 John 10-11). Because of our confident stance upon the Scriptures as our sole authority for doctrines and practices by which we “observe all things” that Jesus instructed (Matt. 28:20). We strive to not go beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9). Because of this, then we are judged and scoffed for our love of God and our obedience to His commands (John 14:21, 23; 1 John 5:3, 2 John 6). Let it be clear that members of all denominations are welcome to be Christians only – apart from the denominations. All may visit and enter the assemblies of the churches of Christ. Our friends and family being burdened and conned by denominations attend our assemblies. All are welcomed to be our honored guests. We are at their service.
Consider this if you are a member of a denomination. What did you do to become a member of your denomination that you did not do to become a Christian? If there is no difference, then why are not all Christians members of your denomination? If there is a difference, then why does your denomination differ from the Church of Jesus Christ in becoming a member? Must one be a member of your church or a denomination to go to Heaven? Must one be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ to go to Heaven? Which church should we be a part of, the denomination or the church of Jesus Christ? My brethren believe and are convinced that we can and will only be members of the Church of Christ.
Some might declare that we are still a denomination even though we claim not to be. This is the same as saying that though someone is not a member of a political party, and yet voted in an election for a member a political party, then that person must be a part of that political party. The foolishness is clear. We must not be of any Christian party, but be Christians only. We refuse to be a part of any denomination or to even side with a particular denomination. We wish that others would respect that and not scoff, revile, and slander our beliefs. Members of the churches of Christ are only members of the Church of Christ because these are not two but the same thing. Let it be clear. Only members of the Church of Christ are going to Heaven.
Find out more about the churches of Christ via this online video, “Searching for the Truth“.