A troubled reader writes: “I was a member of a particular Church of Christ for 13 years, where I came to know the Lord. However, the hostility toward anyone who didn’t agree with everything the preacher said was overwhelming. Through much prayer and hurt, I left and eventually began to attend a Baptist church. My former preacher told me that Baptists are not part of the Lord’s church, and that I have no chance of going to heaven. I still partake of the Lord’s Supper at home weekly. Am I sinning against the Lord by attending a Baptist church?”
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Knowing that I will have to answer to God for this response, as for all my other deeds and words, I write it prayerfully and with a good conscience (James 3:1). No, you are not sinning by attending worship at a Baptist church. The modern-day “Churches of Christ” (in which I am a preacher, teacher and former elder) have absolutely no right to claim that they alone include God’s people (Luke 9:49-50). There are many fine Christians in Churches of Christ, to be sure — but so also are there in Baptist churches and in all other parts of the larger Christian family (2 Tim. 2:19). Baptists do not have it all figured out, but neither does anyone else, including the Churches of Christ (1 Cor. 8:2-3; Phil. 3:13-15).
I encourage weekly communion, but the Bible does not require it. Jesus said, “As often as” you eat and drink the bread and wine. He didn’t say how often that had to be (1 Cor. 11:25-26). The early church “broke bread” daily (Acts 2:46) — we don’t know if that refers to the Lord’s Supper or to common meals. The same expression appears in Acts 20:7, where Luke reports that Paul once met with some disciples in Troas on the first day of the week to “break bread.” The truth is that we in the Churches of Christ have been far more definite about some of these things than the Bible is. Unfortunately, we sometimes confused our own opinions and inferences with the precepts of God’s Word.
I love the Churches of Christ, many of which are pointing to Christ, basing salvation on trusting in Jesus, baptizing people but not making that overshadow Jesus’ sacrifice, loving each other, worshiping God, and becoming what the name “Churches of Christ” ought to signify. I also love God’s people in Baptist churches, Methodist, Presbyterian, Adventist, charismatic, Episcopalian churches and elsewhere. The issue is not the sign over the door. The issue is whether Christ is in the heart, and whether the life is devoted to Christ, trusting him as Savior and following him as Lord (Rom. 2:28-29; Phil. 3:3). God bless you and your family as you continue to seek to follow him.