Sadly, the “Church of Christ” embraces a false gospel and a false Christ that cannot save. As a fatal consequence, the CoC system collapses and falls under the same condemnation as Romanism and the Israel of Apostle Paul’s day, which embraced God but rejected His message (Rom. 10:1-3).
This is not a matter of splitting hairs, for there is nothing more important than knowing the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. And the issue is not whether doctrine or Christ saves, which is just a false dichotomy. The issue is what the gospel really is, Who Christ really is, and how He really saves. We are commanded to believe the gospel (Mk. 1:15), not a false version of it, which God places under a divine curse (Gal. 1:6-9). The CoC’s baptismal regeneration gospel is a fatally false gospel that leads to eternal damnation.
When a system claims to be Christian but doesn’t have the doctrine of Christ, (the truth about the work and Person of Jesus Christ), it doesn’t have the true God and Savior, but falls under the condemnation of 2 John 7-11 as being a deceiver and an anti-Christ. That’s what makes this so serious.
Over fifteen years ago, I began to realize that the Christ of the “Church of Christ” was not matching up with Scripture, for God was leading me to seek, to know and to trust in the true Christ. But, before then, I had been a self-righteous “Pharisee of Pharisees,” a devout follower of the CoC my entire life, heavily involved in its advance, and knowing it’s doctrines inside and out. I unfortunately raised my children in it for many years, and even taught its Sunday school for well over a decade. After all, I was trained very well.
My grandmother would have had it no other way. She had already set the precedent for all of us to become strict adherents of the CoC. But God, in His great mercy, kept me from becoming another carbon copy, and He kept me too spiritually inquisitive to continue to conform to CoC obscurity.
No wonder grandma was never too enthused when I’d come running into her kitchen as a child, with new discoveries about God’s creation; like the beautiful designs I’d find on a butterfly or the design of His perfectly formed snail and periwinkle shells I’d collect from the nearby branch that inspired my artwork. She always made it clear that it was forbidden to talk about God on an intimately personal level, because it made her so uncomfortable.
Grandma would even shy away when I’d refer to the field next to the branch as “God’s Meadow,” a special place I’d go to pray as a child, for God always seemed to be revealing Himself there in the light of creation, as Creator of all things (Rom. 1:20). So it was very confusing to my quiet little spirit when grandma’s air of condescension always relayed the message that it was a waste of my time to write about it, or to express it artistically.
Because, as my Sunday school teacher, she would religiously teach me gospel hymns and Bible stories. Even so, the emphasis was strictly on good, moral behavior, to the exclusion of genuine faith in Christ, along with the mundane challenge of surface-level questions at the end of class…as if Jesus was just an impersonal, imaginary, storybook character with good morals.
So it would always throw grandma for a loop when I would ask her much deeper questions, like whether she looked forward to being with Jesus (sadly she never could answer in the affirmative), or about all the Scriptures concerning the link between predestination and salvation, for our church always seemed to skip (or stumble) over those parts.
When pressed for clarification, obscure answers were always backed with the same escape clause, “Well, we just can’t be sure what that means; we just have to try to do the best we can and hope for the best.” Yet I knew deep down that God must have revealed them in His Word for a reason, for “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever” (Deut. 29:29).
Looking back, it has become increasingly clear, that our minds were blinded by the CoC’s theoretical theories, which would cast such doubt, obscurity and confusion upon Scripture. However, God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). That is what deception does. It dismantles the capacity to think God’s Word through, according to the language in which it was written, its historical context, the identity and purpose of each author, and who it was originally being addressed to in each situation. True, biblical exegesis interprets what the original text actually conveys and means in context, whereas the CoC’s unbiblical eisegesis inserts foreign meanings into the text, which creates a pretext to hide the true meaning.
Without the standard rules of interpretation, people are led to believe truth and error are just differences in opinion. This began in the Garden of Eden when the serpent tempted Eve to doubt what God had actually said (Gen. 3:1). Those who are unstable and unlearned are still taking portions of Scripture that are hard to understand, and are twisting them to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).
So even if one acquired a Ph.D. in theology, it would still never be a cure for spiritual blindness. Because, when it comes to spiritually understanding God’s Word, and loving Who He really is, we must first be born from above and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. For “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
Sometimes the truth hurts, because it’s hard for our sinful flesh to accept God’s absolute sovereignty. We all have our weak points and blind spots. And, while it’s true that we can’t understand all of God’s ways, what He has revealed to us, we are to accept and shout from the housetops, and what He speaks to us in the dark, we are to speak in the light (Deut. 29:29, Mt. 10:27). For “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light” (LK. 11:33).
By these truths many are strengthened in their faith, for “he that doeth truth cometh to the light that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (Jn. 3:21). But, there will be some who reject and rebel against the truth, for “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (Jn. 3:20).
Today, the “hive mind” stronghold in our technologically advanced era is also dumbing down minds to the point of disabling the ability to think theology through. And when false notions are called into question or exposed, many have a theologically conditioned response, where they automatically assume a false persecution complex that triggers a hostile defense mechanism. Instead of a willingness to submit to the judgment of Scripture with a teachable spirit, many take personal affront.
Through the subtle art of redefinition, many are being tempted to compartmentalize between the character of Christ revealed in Scripture and the character of another Christ that’s being promoted by society’s false religious systems. Many are willingly brainwashed against deep theological studies that challenge faulty interpretations and preconceived notions. A false gospel that’s hammered home repeatedly, programs minds to shut out anything that challenges it, and blinds them to its spiritual ramifications.
Still, we must not get discouraged, for Jesus said His people will be led by the Spirit into all truth (Jn. 16:13). They will be given the “Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive” (Jn. 14:17). They will know the truth and the truth will set them free from the dominion of sin and false religion (Jn. 8:31-32). They will “be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), for God teaches them by illuminating Scripture to their heart and mind (Jn. 6:45). Those who savingly believe in the true Christ will not abide in darkness (Jn. 12:46), for God has ordained the means to rescue them.
This is why I write and “endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). It is my duty as a servant of the Lord, to use the means that He provides, in order to unpack the truth, where Scripture interprets Scripture. It speaks for itself. What seems obscure in one place will be made clearer in another, so that it can all be taken as a whole to get the full meaning.
Acts 17:11-12 tells us of Apostle Paul’s encounter with noble-minded Bereans. These men and women were not only ready to receive God’s Word, but they also searched the Scriptures daily for themselves, to see if all they were being told was true. Not only does this scenario show us that women are to be involved in theological matters too, but that we all need to apply ourselves to know the truth, even if it threatens our status quo.
Therefore, Theological Thoughts are prayerfully woven throughout the fabric of this work, to help readers to think their theology through, for we are commanded to commit ourselves to the Lord so that our “thoughts shall be established” (Prov. 16:3). And comparison/contrast writings are often the means that God uses to bring our thoughts into sharper focus. Proclaiming the light of the gospel and exposing the lies hidden in darkness, helps God’s people to discern the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 Jn. 4:5-6). By evaluating the evidence, they can make informed decisions on what to believe, based on what God’s Word actually conveys.
“Group think,” on the other hand, thrives on spiritual ignorance, and manipulates minds on the basis of gaining control and authority. This is why many, who embrace the CoC system of thought, don’t even realize what they’re being taught to believe, or the serious implications of those beliefs. And when false religion convinces people that absolute truth is not really knowable or obtainable, it blasphemously implies that God is not able to reveal Himself and His truth to His people. That’s when the devil slips in. The more people can be convinced that God has failed to preserve and reveal His truth…. the easier a replacement system can be carried out.
Philippians 4:8 says our thoughts are to be upon things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report, all of which are a perfect description of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, mixing the gospel with worldly views, shows a low esteem for the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Worse yet, truth mixed with error is no longer truth at all (1 Jn. 2:21), but becomes false, dishonest, unjust, impure, ugly and a bad report. Sowing seeds of the gospel mixed with worldly philosophies and opinions of man, leads to a false Jesus, and therefore, becomes a false gospel. No wonder Scripture warns us to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). For what could be more manifestly evil than a false gospel that leads to Hell?
The idea that one can “chew up the meat and spit out the bones,” also has its limits when it comes to bad theology, because it can lead to becoming an excuse for tolerating deceptive doctrine, or for allowing it to go unchecked. Scripture warns that “alittle leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). It also warns that we cannot be partakers of the Lord’s Table and of the devil’s table (1 Cor. 10:21). Even common sense tells us that chewing meat that’s mixed with bones can be a choking hazard.
When Paul identified false brethren, he was being wise, discerning and loving by warning others. Yet the world still continues to accuse faithful Christians of being unloving and judgmental when they warn of God’s judgment. But we are to never cower or shrink back from exposing serious departures from the Christian faith behind an unbiblical concept of love.
While “the truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth,” Christians are still commanded to commit themselves to pulling down strongholds and “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5). This extends to stern warnings to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11), for true “love rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).
Therefore, exposing error and proclaiming the gospel are two aspects of the same task, which may be one reason this documentary has proven the old adage true… that “truth shines brightest against the backdrop of error.”
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19).
Copyright ©2019 by Lee Anne Ferguson