Is It Possible to be a Christian Only
Ralph and Sue Seeker were like many young couples in their early 30's. They had been married for several years, had two lovely children, Kerry and Stephen, and a pleasant house in the suburbs with a not too large mortgage. Ralph had a good job with a promising future. The Seekers were a resonably happy family but there seemed to be something lacking in their lives.
Ralph and Sue were not church goers and gave little thought to spiritual matters. When they were first married they did talk about finding a church to attend but couldn't agree on which one so they finally dropped the subject. Ralph had grown up in a religious home, was christened as a baby, attended religious instruction classes and was confirmed at the age of 12. Sue likewise had come from a Bible believing family. She attended Sunday school as a child and at the age of 12 made a profession of faith, and sometime later was baptised. In here teenage years she had gradually drifted away from her church, and except for the occasional wedding, had not been back for years.
When Kerry was born, Ralph's parents felt she should be christened according to the teaching of their church. Sue refused. She felt that Kerry should be left free to make up her own mind when she was old enough. The matter was dropped and religion hadn't been discussed since. But now Kerry was beginning to ask questions about God. She would ofter take Sue's old Bible and turn through it looking at the pictures and asking questions about them. One Sunday Stephen had come in from playing with his friend Todd and asked, "Mommy, why can't I go to Sunday school? Todd does."
This promted Ralph and Sue to start thinking, "Perhaps we do need to go to church. Our children ought to have some sort of religious foundation." Sue said. Ralph agreed. They decided that next Sunday they would attend the church which met nearby and then would visit a different church each week until they found one they both liked.
Ralph and Sue were true to their resolution and during the next six months visited most of the churches in town. However, the more they went to church, the more confused they became. The people in all the churches they visited appeared to be good, sincere people. They all used the Bible and prayed to God but they all worshipped in different ways from all the other churches. It wasn't long before Ralph and Sue were able to detect differences in teaching too. The sermon they heard on Sunday pointed out that baptism is immersion and is for believers only, but is not necessary for salvation. A few Sundays before this they had heard another sermon in a different church which declared that babies should be baptised to take away the stain of original sin. The form of baptism practiced by that church was sprinkling.
The more churches they visited, the more differences they saw, and the more confused they became. Finally Ralph and Sue decided to stop going to church for awhile. Their spititual appetities had been wetted and they desired to serve God but they wanted to do it in the right way. "Surely there must be a right way, but which one is it?" they wondered.
Since the Bible seemed to be held in reverence as God's Word by all the churches they had visited, Ralph and Sue decided to read it together to see if it could direct them to the right way. As they read through the New Testament, they were quite surprised to find no mention of any of the well known denominations on its pages. Instead they were struck by the fact that Christ, in keeping with His promise in Matthew 16:18, had built His church and all the saved were members of it (Acts 2:36-47). Whenever a hint of division arose, it was dealt with immediately (1 Corinthians 1:10). Instead of the divergence of doctrines they had observed in the various churches they had visited, Ralph and Sue were impressed with the fact that the different congregations of Christians in the New Testament were all of one faith and practice (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:3). Unity was greatly stressed by the Apostles, they found (Ephesians 4:4-6).
One night after reading the Bible together, Ralph remarked, "You know, there is one God and He sent His one Son to die for our sins. God had given us only one Bible and we have one hope, that of Heaven. So why shouldn't there be just one church too?" "That makes sense," replied Sue. "The Bible claims in Luke 8:11 that it is the seed of the kingdom. If we plant that same seed today, why shouldn't it produce just one thing, the same thing it produced when planted in honest hearts in the begining, that is, simply Christians, members of Christ's church?" "Right" exclaimed Ralph with enthusiasm. "Why, if we'd simply follow the Bible only, we'd be Chistians only!" Ralph and Sue prayed fervently that evening that God would continue to bless them in their search for truth.
On Saturday of that same week as Sue was turning through the morning paper, her eye caught an advertisement in the corner of the church notices. "Ralph," she called excitedly, "Look at this! It says 'Pre-Denominational church, pleading for New Testament Christianity.' Could this be what they we're looking ?" They decided to investigate. The next day they met with the little congregation whose ad had captured their interest.
The service was simple and included only those acts of worship which Ralph and Sue knew were taught in God's Word. The sermon was plain and the preacher took care to substantiate each point he made with an appropriate quotation from Scripture. An invitation to become a Christian was extended at the end of the sermon. The preacher carefully explained each step required by the Scriptures: Hearing the gospel (Romans 10:17), Belief in Christ (John 8:24), Repentance from sin (Luke 13:3-5), Confessions of Christ as God's Son (Romans 10:9-10), and Baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). In speaking of baptism, the preacher showed from the Bible that baptism is a burial in water (Romans 6:4; Col. 2:12), and that it is the means by which one puts on Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).
Ralph and Sue were elated! Had their prayers been answered? It seemed so but they wanted to be absolutely sure. They made an appointment with the preacher to study further. Eagerly they awaited his coming. When he arrived, they plied him with questions. To their delight, each question was answered from the Bible. He reinforced their conviction that the Bible only will make Christians only. He said. "If we take the Bible as our only guide, obey the gospel as believers did in the first century, and pattern the work, worship, organization, and life of the church after the model found in the New Testament, then we will be what all believers in Christ were in the beginning, Christians only, members of the church of Christ." The preacher also pointed out that thousands of believers around the world had discarded human creeds and doctines and were doing this very thing.
The Seekers knew that their long search for truth was ended. They had found the way that was right and could not be wrong. That very hour they both confessed their faith in Chirst as God's Son and were buried with Him in baptism so that their sins would be washed away and they would be added to the Lord's church (Acts 8:36-39; 22:16). They arose from the waters of baptism to walk in "newness of life." (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 2:36-47). They were now Chirstians, and only Christians, members of the same church which they had read about in the Bible.
Dear reader, what about you? Are you confussed with the multiplicity of denominations with their diverse and divisive doctrines? Do you also long for the way which is right and cannot be wrong? Then why not discard the creeds, doctrines, and traditions of men? Follow the Bible and become simply a Christian, a member of Christ's church! We stand ready to assist you in any way we can. Enternity awaits us all.