Christ Is The Judge
Jack and Bill worked together on the same job. Jack was a member of the church of Christ while Bill was a member of a modern Protestant denomination. Their job was of such nature as to allow them to converse while they worked. Many times their conversation turned to religion since both of them were concerned about their eternal welfare.
One day, Bill said, "Jack, you are a fine boy and I think a lot of you, but it seems to me that you are wrong in judging others in the matter of religion."
'Why, Bill," said Jack, "I don't believe that I understand what you mean." I have never had the slightest intention of being a judge over anyone, and I believe that I have been consistent with that intention."
"Well," said Bill, "I mean such things as your saying that a man has to be a member of your church to be saved, that men in other churches will not be saved."
"I am afraid that you have misunderstood what I said. First of all I have never paid anything about anyone having to be a member of my church for I do not have a church. If I did, it would be no better than any other church which belongs to a man. I am a member of the church which belongs to Christ. It belongs to Him because it was purchased by Him. Don't you remember what Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 20:28? In the second place, I am not being the judge when I say that a man must be a member of the church of Christ in order to be saved. On the contrary, yea are setting yourself up as the judge when you say that a man can be saved in any church, that one is just as good as another!" Jack returned.
Bill was greatly surprised at this accusation. He had always prided himself on his tolerance of the viewpoint of the other fellow. For a moment he was at a loss for words, but finally he exclaimed, "Why! You accuse me of setting myself up as a judge when I say that men can be saved in one church as well as another? You are the one who is setting himself up as a Judge when you say that a man cannot be saved in a denomination!"
"No," Jack calmly replied, "I am letting Jesus Christ be the Judge when I say that. Christ is the Judge; I am merely His messenger boy to tell what He said to others. As long as I say only what Christ said, I am letting Him be the Judge. When I begin to give my opinion in the matter, I am setting myself up as a judge. Now, if you say that you are not setting yourself up as a judge you say that men can be saved in just any church (or as I have heard you say at times, no church at all), you are under obligation to show me where the Judge, Jesus Christ Himself, said that such was true. Show me in the Word of God that there are many churches which are pleasing to God."
Bill was very perplexed at this turn of events. He knew that he had never read such a passage himself, but he knew that the preacher of the church where he was a member had taught such, so he said, "I cannot remember ever having read it myself, but I have heard my preacher preach on it many times so I know that he has read it and could tell us where to find it if he were only here?
"Well," Jack answered, "It is almost time for our lunch hour. Why don't you call him then? If there is such a passage in the Bible, I would surely like to know about it, for Gal. 1:8, 9 plainly teaches that the anathema of God rests upon anyone who dare teach another gospel."
Bill agreed to this plan, for he very confidently believed that he would soon have the passage which taught that there are many churches and that one could be saved in any one of them. Both eagerly awaited their lunch hour. At last the time arrived, and Bill contacted the preacher by telephone.
"I want you to tell me," said Bill, "where I can find the passages which teach that one can be saved in one church as well as another — that it doesn't make any difference which church one is a member of."
"Now, Bill," the preacher countered, "you don't want to be a legalist. There are many things we do for which we can find no specific statement in the Bible."
"Are you trying to say that there is no passage which teaches that one can be saved in just any church?" Bill asked the preacher.
"Yes, I must admit that there is no such passage, but, after all, we must not set ourselves up as judges," replied the preacher. At this point Bill bade the preacher goodbye and hung up.
When he had returned to where Jack was, Jack asked, "Well, where is the passage? Did the preacher tell you?"
Bill had to reply that the preacher wasn't able to do so since there is no such passage. "But I still believe that one church is as good as another," Bill insisted.
"But, Bill," Jack asked, "who gave you the right to judge? Where did Christ ever designate you as the one to give the value of His church as compared with the ones men devise?"
"He never gave me that right — at least not in the Bible," Bill was forced to admit.
"Then He never gave you the right at all," Jack replied. "If you will read John 5:22 you will see that all Judgment has been given unto Christ, the Son. No man has the right to judge in the slightest matter so far as the religion of Christ is concerned. When one dares to express his opinion he is setting himself up as judge. When he merely quotes what Christ said about it, he is letting Christ be the judge. Bill, here are some things that you can read about the church in the Word of God: first, there is one (Eph. 4:4; 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18); second, Christ is the Savior of it (Eph. 5:23); third, reconciliation unto God is in it (Eph. 2:13-16); the saved are added to it (Acts 2:47); it is cleansed by the washing of water through the word (Eph. 5:26); every plant which God does not plant will be rooted up (Matt. 15:13). Now do you see why I say that I am not setting myself up as a judge when I insist that things about the church are true. Don't you see that by my saying what the Bible says about it I am letting Christ be the Judge?"
"Yes, Jack, I believe that I am beginning to see what you have been trying to tell me. When you insist that there is just one church, you are simply saying what Christ said and so are letting Him be the Judge," answered Bill.
"Then why don't you let Christ be the Judge and quit following preachers who set themselves up as the judge and that any way is fine so long as one is sincere when Christ never said a word about such a thing being true," asked Jack.
"Jack," Bill replied, "I have made up my mind that I will do that very thing. I can see that I have been deceived into being prejudiced against the true church. From now on I will let the Lord Jesus Christ be the Judge and follow wherever His Word directs."