The churches of Christ say that only members of the church of Christ Jesus are going to Heaven (Heb 12:23) — in addition to children who are safe with Christ (Matt 19:14). The church are those bought with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). Those in the church are the only ones saved (Acts 2:41, 47, Eph 5:25-27). Because the churches of Christ proclaim this biblical teaching, many are mistaken to assert that the churches of Christ mean only those with name “church of Christ” on the building’s sign are going to Heaven. The churches of Christ are made of imperfect people and they are not perfect in themselves. Only Christ perfects Christians in their faults and weaknesses.
As a minister trained by loving evangelists within the church of Christ, this Christian has never heard that only the “Church of Christ” denomination, only “church-of-Christers”, or only those with the sign “Church of Christ” on the building are going go to Heaven. My brethren in the churches of Christ do not make that judgment. God makes that judgment of who is going to Heaven. “The Lord knows those who are His,” (2 Tim 2:19). In the Scriptures, no one was baptized into the Baptist church, Catholic church, or any man-made denomination or sect. No one was baptized solely into a local congregation, but rather into the church of Christ (Acts 2:41, 47, 1 Cor 12:13). Because believers are only baptized into the churches of Christ, the Scriptures do not assure the salvation of those baptized into denominations. The Scriptures teach against denominations, which are by definition named divisions (1 Cor 1:10-13, Gal 5:19-21). Jesus prayed that Christians be one (John 17:20-21). Did His prayer fail? Certainly not! Christ is the Head of the one church (Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:18).
Did Jesus build His church as He promised (Matt 16:18)? Did He purchase the church with His blood (Acts 20:28)? Jesus certainly did for the church of Christ is a part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph 3:9-10). Where is that church? Look to the Scriptures. Many denominational leaders slander the churches of Christ and do not desire that their members look into the Scriptures to see the church that Christ built and bought with His blood. The plea of the churches of Christ is to abandon the denominations and join as one church of Christ. Interdenominational churches may boast of working together despite their differences, but their differences are apparently trivial opinions and man-made traditions or they would not compromise them. Certainly, ecumenical churches can compromise their own traditions, opinions, and inventions. No Christian should divide over opinions (Rom 14). Yet, Christ’s church cannot compromise His words. Whatever churches are teaching that can be set aside is clearly not the Word of God. God commands that Christians speak the oracles of God rather than the doctrines of men (Matt 15:1-9, 1 Pet 4:11).
Consider the difference between joining the church of Christ and joining another church or denomination. If someone must do something to join a local church that a believer does not have to do to join the church of Jesus Christ, then those church leaders are adding to Christ’s words and they are not the church that Christ built. Adding and annulling parts of God’s Word is the foundation and source of divisive sectarianism (Gal 1:6-9). If joining a denomination is the same as joining the church, then all Christians would be a part of the same denomination. Must one be a member of another person’s church or a denomination to go to Heaven? Must one be a member of the church of Jesus Christ to go to Heaven? Yes. Which church should we be a part of: a denomination or the church of Jesus Christ? My brethren believe that all believers join the church of Christ when they are baptized through water in Jesus’s name (Acts 2:41, 47, 1 Cor 12:13).
How can all churches unite? The church of Christ is solely built upon the Rock, who is Christ, by the confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matt 16:16-19). Because Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone and Head of the church, His church finds Jesus Christ to be infallible (John 6:63, 2 Cor 5:21, Heb 4:15, 1 Pet 2:22). Therefore, Jesus’s words are infallible, and He gave those words to His Apostles and prophets in the Scriptures (John 15:20, 16:12-13, 17:8, Eph 3:3-5). Christ’s church will not compromise Jesus Christ and God’s commands for man’s traditions (Matt 15:7-9, Mark 7:6-9). My brethren in the churches of Christ believe the Scriptures that Christ only saves the church of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:25-27 confirms,
“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.” (emp added)
Clearly, Christ saves the church. Are Christians in the church of Christ the only ones saved (Heb 12:23)?
Jesus commands believers to become disciples and be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:18-20). “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). Therefore, Peter commanded, “to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47-48). The Scriptures teach that Jesus saved the baptized and added them to the Church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 1 Cor 12:13, cf. 1 Cor 6:11). As Ephesians 5:26 depicts, Jesus washed those in the Church with water, and Ephesians 4:5 says that there is only one baptism and one body, the church. That is the baptism Jesus commanded in His resurrection to make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28:18-20). Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16). Christ saves believers through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). Therefore, do not reject Jesus’ resurrection; be saved by being raised with Christ from baptism (Rom 6:3-6, Eph 2:4-6, Col 2:12-13).
Now, are those of the church of Christ the only ones going to Heaven? Yes! The church consists of the saved apart from denominations and sects. Divisions are destructive, and those who cause and maintain such division will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (Gal 5:19-21). Christ established and bought the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Christ cleansed the church of their sins by His blood (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, and 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, churches of Christ proclaim this church urging all believers to leave denominationalism behind and let all come to Scriptures.
Some have seen the opportunity to attack the churches of Christ and claim that they are an exclusive and sectarian denomination — a borderline cult. Why? Because churches of Christ refuse to bear a denominational name or form a man-made organization. Christians bear the name of Christ by being called “Christian”. By the name “Christian”, the church is “of Christ” and there are no dividing walls of denominationalism in the church. The church carries the name of God and Christ in descriptions such as “church of Christ”, “churches of Christ”, “Church of Jesus Christ”, “Christians”, “disciples of Christ”, and so on with Scriptural names. That is why most congregations of Christ’s church almost unanimously use the name “church of Christ”.
My brethren in the churches of Christ seek to be the church of Christ. The churches of Christ are neither perfect and nor were the churches in the first century. Like in the first century, churches of Jesus Christ are made of imperfect people who are only perfected by the death of Jesus Christ (Col 1:21-23). Some churches will continue to struggle in their immaturity, but those who are truly believers will unite in love for Christ and one another (Eph 4:16, Col 3:14). Christ makes these Christians holy, blameless, without spot, and blemish (Eph 5:27, Col 1:21-23). Therefore, the churches of Christ diligently strive to unite and not to divide by denominationalism and divisive names. Although, churches in the first century struggled with divisions and false teachings too (1 Cor 1).
My brethren stand against the leaders and teachers of denominations, and plead with all believers to be Christians only following Christ only through His words. Because of our confident stance upon the Scriptures as our sole authority for doctrines and practices, churches of Christ are diligent to “observe all things” that Jesus instructed (Matt 28:20). The churches of Christ strive to not go beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9). Because of this, many judge the churches of Christ and scoff at the church’s love for God, love for one another, and obedience to His commands (John 14:21, 23; 1 John 5:2-3, 2 John 6). Let it be clear that members of all denominations are welcome and urged to become Christians only — apart from the denominations. If you disagree with these churches, kindly plead with erring churches by the Scriptures, and if they are honest, they will repent. If you are honest, you may also need to repent. All may visit and enter the assemblies of the churches of Christ. The church welcomes all as honored guests. The churches of Christ are at their service; the church proclaims the praise of Christ (1 Pet 2:9).
All Christians are in the church of Christ. Let it be clear. Only members of the church of Christ are going to Heaven (Heb 12:23).