Can We Just Be Christians

by Craig Thomas

In a world filled with religious traditions and denominational churches, the concept of being simply Just a Christian is difficult to communicate. Yet a careful reader of the New Testament will realize Jesus did not die so His followers could be divided into sects and parties (John 17:20-23). Jesus died to reconcile all men in one body to God (Ephesians 2:16). To belong only to Christ, to have been baptized into the one body of which Jesus Christ is the Savior, is something altogether different from belonging to any one of the over 30,000 or more religious bodies in this country (I Corinthians 12:13; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:23).

The Bible teaches there is only “one body” and “one faith,” just as there is only “one God, one Lord, one baptism, and one hope” (Ephesians 4:4-6). This “one body” is Christ’s church (Ephesians 1:22-23) which Jesus built (Matthew 16:18), not men (Hebrews 8:1-2). This spiritual house is made up of Christians who are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5), citizens of God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13), and saints of God (Colossians 1:2). They have been born again “of water and the Spirit” into God’s family (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:19). The church of Christ is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20), not on the sand of denominational creeds and traditions. Jesus is the “chief cornerstone” (I Peter 2:6-7; I Corinthians 3:11) and the only head (Ephesians 1:22) and “all authority” in heaven and on earth rests in Him (Matthew 28:18). This leaves no room for Popes, Presidents, councils, synods, conventions or so-called “latter-day prophets.”

Jesus built the church according to God’s divine pattern. A house built by any other (e.g., Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Joseph Smith, Ellen White, Mary Baker Eddy, the Popes of Rome, the Watchtower Society, etc.) is not recognized by God. “Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalms 127:1; Matthew 15:13). Jesus condemned the various sects and parties of His day (Mark 7:6-9, 13) causing great offense to those sectarians (Matthew 15:12). Does the appeal to be simply Just a Christian interest or offend you?

Simply Christians

When people on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death complied with the conditions of grace for their salvation (Acts 2:38-41; cf. Romans 5:1-2) “...the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). To which church did God add them? Were they Lutherans? Mormons? Roman Catholics? Was Peter a member of one denomination and John another? When Paul was baptized (Acts 22:16) did he become an Episcopalian, Methodist, or Catholic? Do these questions seem absurd to you? Certainly, because no one would claim that those baptized in Acts 2, or Peter, or John, or Paul were anything other than simply Christians! If they were alive today, no denomination could claim them for the apostles’ teaching made people just Christians, not Protestants or Catholics.

The “Seed” Principle

In Matthew 15:13 Jesus makes this statement: “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” How do you get plants? Everyone knows the first step in the process is to sow seed. Furthermore, everyone knows if you plant corn seeds you get corn plants, if you plant tomato seeds, you get tomato plants. The Bible says seed also produces Christians. What type of seed? “The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:4-15; I Peter 1:23) . In I Corinthians 3:5-7 Paul tells us it was his duty as a minister of God to go about sowing this seed, the Word of God. (also see I Corinthians 2:6-13) Now I ask you, fair reader, “What did the seed Paul planted produce?” Methodists? Presbyterians? Baptists? Catholics?

No, it produced just Christians, because he simply planted the Word of God. Remember, seed always produces after its kind. Recall, to get corn one must plant corn, to get tomatoes one must plant tomatoes. Thus, to get Methodists one must plant the Methodist Discipline, to get Baptists one must plant the Baptist Manual, to get Catholics one must plant The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Why can we understand this inviolable principle in tending our farms and gardens, but can’t when it comes to the plain teaching of God’s word?

Do You Realize What This Means?

It simply means that all the creeds, traditions, “revelations,” and institutions of men that have cropped up over the past 1900 years to clutter the religious scene and confuse our minds are at best unnecessary; unnecessary to life and godliness, and unnecessary to the hope of heaven. But it also means the whole concept of modern denominationalism is not part of the true Christianity originating in the mind of God, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the New Testament. God purposed the church of Jesus Christ before He made the world (Ephesians 1:3-4; 3:10-11). Did He purpose the Lutheran Church or the Episcopal Church from eternity? Did anyone ever become a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon simply by obeying the scriptures only? Did the Holy Spirit, who guided the apostles in the first century into “all truth” (John 16:13), reveal to them the doctrines, teachings, and names that make the Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Catholics distinctly different denominations?

Can We Be Simply Christians?

Certainly! No one ever became anything else by following the Bible and Jesus. Follow the Word of God as it stands, not after it has been filtered through the human-written creeds and doctrines of men. Let God’s Word make of you what it will. It will make of you what it made those in the book of Acts. Those who continued in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42) were believers, disciples, saints, and Christians; it made a group of them the church of God or the church of Christ, and that is all the apostles’ doctrine will ever make of anyone.

Our Claim and Our Aim

We do not claim to have special knowledge of God’s Word others cannot obtain. Paul instructed that man can understand God’s Word (Ephesians 3:1-5). All men can understand God’s Word if they will simply read it with an open mind (Acts 17:10-12) and recognize Jesus and His Word are the source of all truth (John 14:6; 16:13; 17:17). The only worship of God that followers of denominational doctrines, traditions, and teachings can offer is vain (empty/useless) worship (Matthew 15:9). Regardless of how good it may seem, it is sheer folly to listen to and follow these doctrines, traditions, and teachings. For these reasons: our love for God and men, the shortness of life, and the certainty of judgment; we will use great plainness of speech. We speak this way, not with the purpose of offending, but to challenge you to “examine yourself to see if you are in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5).

Our claim and our aim are neither boastful nor arrogant. We are Just Christians, nothing more and nothing less. We are not associated with, and have no allegiance to, any denomination; because the concept of denominationalism is condemned in God’s Word (I Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-4). Denominationalism is in opposition to the singular nature of the church Jesus built (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; Colossians 1:18).

The church to which we belong has no earthly head and reports to no earthly headquarters. Its head is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:20-23), and He resides at the right hand of God in heaven (Hebrews 1:3; Ephesians 1:20). Our aim and sole desire are to imitate those in the New Testament who were members of Christ’s church (Acts 2:42, 47). To this end, we use God’s Word as our only guide (I Peter 4:11; Colossians 3:17) for we believe, as Jesus Himself said, that “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

Won’t you join us in following the Bible alone and letting it make all of us just Christians?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email