Does The Church Save Us?

We know that the church plays an important part in the thinking and planning of God. Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:16). Jesus is the head of the church (see Eph. 1:22-23). Jesus purchased the church with his own blood (see Acts 20:28). The church is the expression of the eternal and manifold wisdom of God (see Eph. 3:10-11). So, if we had nothing else, these passages would show the importance of the church.

The word “church” is not an ecclesiastical term. It doesn’t refer to a religious organization or a building. The word was used in Bible times to refer to a gathering of citizens of a city or even a mob (see Acts 19:30, 41). In fact, the basic meaning of “church” is simply “people”, although in terms of Christ’s church the word refers to a special people who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ (see 1 Pet. 2:9-10). Since the word “church” is a collective noun, it refers to the people who belong to Christ viewed collectively. These same people are viewed as a “body”, a “temple”, or the “household of God”. But when it comes to the church, the Bible consistently teaches that there is only one body (Eph. 1:23; 4:5), one temple (1 Pet. 2:5) or one household (see 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:17). With these few facts before us, I now proceed to address the topic of this article.

There is a misunderstanding of the church in relationship to Christ. The church looks to Christ as Lord and Savior and the giver of all spiritual blessings (see Eph. 1:3-10). The church has no authority – Christ does. The church does not save – that is the role of Christ. Rather, the church constitutes the saved. The church does not dispense the blessings found in Christ. Christ has given the church no “sacramental system” whereby all blessings must flow through the church (usually referring to clergy), but rather, every Christian receives blessings directly from Christ. Christ is the only mediator between God and man (see 1 Tim. 2:5). However, many are taught that there can be no access to Christ except through the organized church (usually organized in ways unheard of in the New Testament). This may give some people power over others, but this power has been usurped from Christ and is not legitimate.

Here at the Lavon Church of Christ we recognize Christ as Lord, Savior, Law Giver, Mediator, and we strive to do all things in harmony with His will. We do not attempt to exalt one person or persons over others, for Jesus has forbidden His followers to do such things (see Matt. 23:7-12). We are all equal as brothers and sisters in Christ. We do have elders, but they are not “lords” (see 1 Pet. 5:3). We take our orders from Christ and not from some ecclesiastical board in some other part of the country.


Man has a tremendous capacity to rationalize bad conduct and morals. Jeremiah wrote long ago: "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jer. 17:9-10). Below are a few of the modern rationalizations for doing bad things.

“Everyone Is Doing It”

Usually everyone is not doing it, but some people feel better if they think others are guilty of the same things. It might just describe what Paul wrote in Romans 1:32: “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice such things.” It is so much easier to do evil if others are doing it also. But I have a saying, “Wrong is wrong no matter who is doing it. Or the Bible teaches, “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar,” (Romans 3:4). Very often others are not doing it. It is just that bad behavior seems to get the most attention!

Some, who flaunt their bodies by wearing scanty clothes, showing much cleavage say, “Well, God gave me my body and I am not ashamed of it! It is not my fault if people lust after me.” I am at a loss as to how to respond to this except to say that any conduct, no matter how outlandish, can be rationalized. Read Jer. 6:15. Have we lost all sense of modesty and propriety? The great lie that has been taught to many young people for years is that their bodies belong to them and that no one can tell them what to do when it comes to their body.

“God Wants Us To Be Happy”

This can be said to justify all kinds of behavior. We think it will make us happy. Happiness can here be defined as anything that will bring some momentary pleasure. This is the bait that Satan uses in setting a trap for us. When I played baseball, some players idea of happiness was having a girlfriend in every city even though they were married. Some find happiness by using drugs and alcohol. Others find happiness is doing bad things to other people. No, God wants you to do the right thing! God says through Paul: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 7-8). If you sow to the flesh, you shall of the flesh reap corruption. Yes, God does want us to be happy and He knows that will bring true happiness and what will not. If we are faithful to God He will give us a joy that is far greater than any temporary happiness produced by indulging ourselves in sinful activities.

“The End Justifies the Means”

This is used as an excuse for a young woman to sell her body so that her children, born out of wedlock, could be fed? I heard that recently. Why not just ask for help and start making responsible decisions? What about those who profit from pornography (which is a Billion Dollar business that destroys people) and then give money to charity. Maybe that helps their conscience, but God is not impressed.

“They Are Going To Do It Anyway”

This is used by many adults justify their failure to lead and guide young people properly. I have heard adults use this argument to justify their allowing young people to have drinking parties in their home. They reason, “They are going to drink anyway and so it is better to allow them to drink at home under my supervision.” What supervision?! And why do we think that bad behavior is written in concrete. I happen to think that people can actually change. But why should they change if they are encouraged to do wrong? Yes, young people make mistakes, but we do not need to encourage them in such things. The same argument is used for giving “condoms” to young people. They reason, “They are going to do it anyway so why shouldn’t they be safe.” The fact is that condoms are not safe and provide little protection against many sexually transmitted diseases, and more importantly, such parents are totally abrogating their God given role as parents. I read where the government is involved in clean needle exchange programs with drug users. This is more of the same warped thinking. Yes, there is no end to how much we can rationalize in order to do wrong.

“I’m Not Hurting Anybody”

In the first place, God is aware of all conduct, whether private or public. Secondly, you are hurting yourself, and you are hurting those who are encouraged to sin because they know what you are doing. Some say, “Two consenting adults can do whatever they please as long as they don’t hurt someone else.” How do seemingly smart people come up with such stupid and naive ideas? We are in no position to judge what “hurts” and what does not “hurt”. None of us live to ourselves and none of us die to ourselves. One of my fellow teammates with the New York Yankees used to say, “Just because I do so and so, that doesn’t make me a bad person.” He had the knack of justifying any bad behavior not matter how bazaar. So you are not hurting anybody. By whose standard? All conduct which violates the laws of God is sinful and is hurtful to all who practice such and in so doing influence others to do wrong.

“I Can’t Help Myself”

This is used to justify just about everything. It means that we cannot altar our conduct. Some believe that they were born a certain way, and that they can do nothing to change the way they feel and act. The Bible does teach that a person can find himself in bondage to sin. But in Jesus Christ, God has provided a way of escape. God has also given us a “free will” so that we have the power to choose. No one is compelled to be a sinner. By hearing and believing the gospel, the power of sinful conduct can be broken. Paul, who once was a great sinner himself, wrote: “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:17). He wrote this to combat the idea that Christians can “continue in sin” (see Rom. 6:1).

“I’m Going To Die Anyway”

I have talked to a number of people who justify wild and sinful behavior on the belief that they will die young. So they had better live it up while they can, because they might die tomorrow. I asked one of my teammates, who had quite a wild reputation, what was he going to do when he got old when he could no longer do all of these things. He said, “I will never get old, so I am having all of the fun I can now.” Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him he did live to grow old and paid a steep price for his wild living by going bankrupt, never knowing the joy of a true wife, children, grandchildren, etc. Sometimes I am often reminded, “why is youth often wasted on the young?” Having a good life has very little to do with youth, but it has everything to do with bringing life in harmony with God and enjoying His blessings whether young or old. On the other hand, when life is based solely upon physical things (youth, health, wealth), and these things are lost, our life is basically over. Yes, we are all going to die, but the life in Jesus will be forever and transcends life on earth. Since life is precious, maybe we should make the most of our opportunities to serve God, rather than wasting our time investing in things that will never last and never produce true joy.

Here are a few other rationalizations: “It’s just a little white lie” or “It’s OK to do as long as you don’t get caught.” You are always caught on God’s camera! I wonder how many used that one in the baseball steroid scandal? You can probably think of many other ways people justify bad conduct.

–Lindy McDaniel


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