“We’re the only ones who get it right.” I hear this statement, quite often. Not, necessarily, from people in the congregation I serve, but from those outside. For example, there are some in ours and neighboring communities who have said “Doctrinally, your church is good, but you do <x, y, or z> and that’s unbiblical!” To be quite frank, usually whatever “x, y, or z” may be for someone, it usually has nothing to do with a biblical argument. Rather people take something that does expressly not occur within the New Testament (and, by omission, they think it’s unbiblical if any church does it), or a tradition they may have in the congregation they attend, or a letter written by someone some 200 years after Christ’s death, or, because of a church they split from and formed a denomination different than the one they left. Whatever x, y, or z may be. it is usually never expressly confirmed or denied within Scripture, and it is usually a matter of opinion which someone takes to be a salvation issue.
There is one fact: salvation comes from Christ alone, and not by the works we do. The early church would meet at the Temple before they were driven from Jerusalem, was made up almost entirely of Jews, and worshipped in the mode and style they were used to doing as Jews. Then Philip the Evangelist preached in Samaria, and the Samaritan Christians worshipped and followed Jesus in their way, and then Cornelius and his household joined the church, and worshipped Christ in their way. Whether Jews, or Samaritans, or Gentiles of various kinds, the Church was commanded to follow Christ through the Scriptures, even if their methods were not all the same. The entirety of the book of Romans was about reconciling the difference between the Jewish and Roman Christians within the church of Rome.
There are many things we all get right, and many we get wrong. We need to examine the Scriptures, not to look for omissions, but to do what Christ has commissioned us to do. We need to see if a church stands up to God’s word, and not man’s opinion and tradition. We’re called to obedience in Christ. Jesus told Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom we must be born again (John 3:3). The Jerusalem Council in the book of Acts when confronted with this issue of differences (gentile believers being circumcised and following Jewish custom to be saved) said this:
“Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)
The True Church isn’t a congregation following a set of rules, it’s born again believers following and obeying Christ. Jesus said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). We died to the law so that we are alive in Christ! Not that we can act lawless, but that we can delight in obeying and following Jesus. There is no fear in love, for His perfect love casts out all fear. As we follow Him, we grow more in love with Him, and as we express that love, through submission and obedience, we see what freedom and joy exist within His will. Search the Scriptures, be free from the bonds of slavery, and be a bondservant of Christ, where there is joy and peace and freedom.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.