We know that there are no perfect people. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). With imperfect people making up congregations, it is safe to say that there are no perfect congregations. The Bible presents the imperfections of Apostles and the sins of congregations. From these truths, many have drifted from the truth in God’s ideal accepting all kinds of strange teachings and practices. Some have gone into a form of universalism, which is that they believe everyone will be saved no matter their denomination. The reasoning is that since there are no perfect churches than one church is just as saved as another. This would contradict the Scriptures that there are heresies as Galatians 5:20 reveals that those who practice “heresies”, in Greek meaning religious parties and sects, “will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven.” Religious parties are exactly the landscape professing Christendom today.
Should we accept what Christ has accepted and reject what He has rejected? Should we accept or even allow false teachings? Should we fellowship as brothers with those who reject the deity of Christ? What about those who reject the words of Christ given to His prophets via His Spirit (John 14:26, 16:12-13)? What about those who assert that they have further words of Christ through revelation of His Spirit (Jude 3, 2 Tim. 3:16-17)? What about those who reject the one baptism that Christ established for believers to be saved (Mark 16:16)? What about those who reject the order and decency of the Assembly (1 Cor. 14:40)? What about those who reject the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10)? What about those who neglect pasturing elders (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-4, 1 Tim. 3)? Should we be a part of churches that are not striving to observe all things that Christ commanded because all churches are not perfect?
“Well that’s just your interpretation. You’re narrow-minded and arrogant.” Are we? Can we not know the Truth (John 8:32) and yet Jesus neglected to mention that each person’s own interpretation is truth? Was Jesus arrogant to think that His disciples could know the Truth? We can know the Truth, God’s Word (John 17:17). Yet, there are hundreds of parties and denominated sects. Was Jesus mistaken to say that those who love Him will have His commands and obey them (John 14:21-24)? Was Jesus so ignorant to command that we observe all things He commanded even though we can’t (Matt. 28:20)? Was the Spirit of Christ wrong to instruct Christians to “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10)? Was the Apostle Paul wrong to test the Corinthian Christians to see if they were obedient in all things (2 Cor. 2:9)?
“Oh, but grace covers our sins?” Grace does not cleanse the sins that you practice. We cannot continue in sin that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1). We are justified and saved by grace through faith (Rom. 5:1-2, Eph. 5:8). How can we be saved acting outside of faith (Rom. 14:23)? This is why faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 26). The Spirit of Christ says in 1 John 3:6-10,
“Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”
The difference between saved person and lost person is the same for churches. Churches that practice lawlessness are not of God. Their willingly ignorant leaders and teachers will be judged strictly. There is a great different between an imperfect church that observes all things and occasionally stumbles from those imperfect churches that observe most things and yet practices sin (1 Cor., Rev. 2-3). All are capable of doing God’s will.