Is One Church as Good as Another?

Church building

As we talk with people in the world, particularly those who are religious, one idea with which we are often confronted that one church is as good as another. Many people believe this. This can make it difficult in trying to lead someone to the truth. After all, if one is already part of a church, they can simply ignore what you say because their church is just as good as yours. So he has no reason to consider any discussion that might lead him to decide to leave his church. If one is not part of a church, and should he decide to attend one, it would not have to be where you attend. He could go anywhere, limited only by how far away from home he wants to drive. This concept that one church is as good as another must be eliminated if we want to have any success in leading souls to Christ. So it is good for us to consider the idea so we might be better prepared to handle various situations.

Different Churches are Not the Same

This is a simple fact, but is one that many overlook. While believing that one church is as good as another, many believe this is because all churches are basically the same. They are not. There is a reason why there are so many denominations – they all teach and practice different and, sometimes, conflicting things. One church may baptize infants. Another may not baptize one until he is grown and believes he is already saved. One church may allow women to preach while another teaches that women are to be silent. Some churches today are allowing practicing homosexuals to hold leadership roles while others believe and teach that homosexuality is a sin. Can all of these be right? Certainly not! Yet so many people say that one church is as good as another. To say that these churches are as good as the others is to say that these differences do not matter.

Joining the Church of One’s Choice

For many, deciding what church to attend is based upon personal preference. People want to do whatever they want. The area of religion is no exception. Multitudes have been told to join the church of their choice. Churches have then rushed headlong into promoting the “social gospel,” offering whatever they believe will appeal to prospective churchgoers. They market themselves as if they were a business (in fact, that is what many of them have become), hoping that their church will be the one people will choose.

However, instead of telling people to join the church of their choice, we need to tell them to join the church of God’s choice. One church is not as good as another. The churches of men can never measure up to the church of our Lord. Sure, man can make a choice. This is because God has given us free will. Throughout the Bible there are calls for men to make a choice. In all of these, there are ultimately two options – God’s way or man’s way (cf. Exodus 32:26; Joshua 24:15; Matthew 6:24; 7:13-14). We need to do what pleases God, not what pleases ourselves (Ephesians 5:10). This includes the church with which we choose to work and worship.

Our Decisions Must Be Based upon What is Right

In everything we do, we must strive to do what is right. That which is right is determined by God’s revealed word (John 17:17). Therefore, we need to use His word to determine what church is right.

Some will object to this point. After all, to say that one church is right implies that the others are wrong. Some will say that there is some truth in every religion/denomination. But we must not be interested in some truth. We should be interested in the whole truth (Psalm 119:160).

There are many churches that are wrong. Which ones? Those that are not the right church. That answer almost seems too simple, but any church that is not the right church is wrong. The right church is the one Jesus built (Matthew 16:18), purchased (Acts 20:28), and will save in the end (Ephesians 5:23). This is the church of which we must be a part. No other church will be good enough.

How Do We Know Which Church is Right?

How do we know which church is Christ’s church? We must look to the New Testament. There we can see how the church He built, bought, and is saving is described.

  • Establishment – The Lord’s church was established in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Any church that was established by someone else, in a different place, at a different time is not the right church.
  • Organization – The church we read of in the New Testament was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” and has Christ as “the corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). This is the only organization we find beyond the local church. Local congregations were to be overseen by qualified elders with deacons helping to carry out what needed to be done (1 Peter 5:2; Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1). God’s plan does not allow for a one-man pastor system or a hierarchy of men who oversee various congregations, both of which are common in denominationalism.
  • Message of salvation – The first century church taught that in order to be saved, one must believe in Christ, repent of sins, confess his faith, and be baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 10:9-10). Churches that teach that one is saved by faith only or by saying a “sinner’s prayer” are the wrong churches.
  • Doctrines – Again, the church built by Christ was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). This means the church followed “the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). The Lord’s church does not follow the opinions, traditions, or commands of men, whether they are contained in a formal creed or an informal one.
  • Work – The works that God has given the church are evangelism and edification (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:11-16) with a provision for limited benevolence (Acts 4:32-35). The church is not to engage in expanded benevolence (to non-Christians, in particular) or provide entertainment and recreation.
  • Worship – We are to worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). We read of the Lord’s church engaging in certain activities in the assembly – singing (1 Corinthians 14:26), praying (Acts 12:12), preaching/teaching (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14:26), giving (1 Corinthians 16:2), and partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).

Are you part of the Lord’s church – the one, true church? If not, you need to be. No other church will be good enough because no other church has Jesus as its Savior. If you are not part of the Lord’s church, why not do what the Bible teaches one must do to be added to it?

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