THE INTERNATIONAL CHURCHES OF CHRIST
There is an interesing christian group out there who has been penned "...one of the fastest growing christian churches in the world". Yet others in the christian faith say they're a dangerous cult. They are the International Churches of Christ.
In 20 years, the church had grown from 30 people to 170,000 people meeting on Sundays all around the world. What is so incredible is that every member of this church is fully committed to what they believe. There is no special drug or technique they use. It is merely teaching others that the bible is the word of God and to be a christian, one must give up everything, become a disciple of Jesus Christ, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
What can be so harmful in that? Well for one thing, it's not exactly what the majority believe. In fact, ICoC is the only non-denominational group of churches that believes in water baptism as a necessity for salvation. They also believe in discipleship. Each convert has a "discipler" (One who is older spiritually) who looks after them. They help them grow to spiritual maturity. They believe it is absolutely necessary to have someone in your life, just as Paul was in Timothy's life (1Timothy and 2Timothy).
The reason why so many are against this movement is mainly because it challenges the lives of those who to be a christian. If you were to sit down and study all of the early christian writings, you will plainly see that this church has not only brought back first century christian doctrine, but they live it. Many have preached about it and many have written about it, but no group has ever had the guts to actually live it.
There is an organization called the "Christian Research Institute". Their main focus is to expose those groups that do harm to others by scripture twisting and brainwashing. I really respect their purpose, but they lack an in-depth knowledge of first century doctrine. I have to doubt their judgement when it comes to ICoC. The bible is very clear when it comes to how to live your life as a christian. And it is very specific on how to be saved. They disagree completely.
I have been involved in many christian faiths, including Wesleyan and Baptist. I've even been involved in the mainline Church of Christ. What I've learned, in the many years of searching, is how hypocritical and uncommitted they were. The only movement I found to be most committed to what they believe in was the Mormons. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to persuade a Mormon to believe solely in the bible. ICoC believes and adheres to only the bible. They are fully committed to fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in our generation. They are also very committed to each other. They meet each others needs not only physically, but spiritually too.
To say that this is a cult, one must understand the definition of a cult. A "cult", according to the Websters New World Dictionary, is "a system of religious worship or ritual; devoted attachment to a person, principal, etc.; a sect". If you agree with this definition, ICoC is a cult. They worship and devote themselves to Jesus Christ and his principals. I once read a story of a young girl who had been going to this church for quite awhile, but had not yet made the decision to commit herself to the group by studying the bible and getting baptized. She had heard many negative things about the church. A short time later, she began to study out what it really meant to be a disciple of Jesus, a true christian. She was asked her opinion about the church in regards to all the negative things she heard. She said they were not true. She was then asked if the church was a cult. She said "Of course it is!". There was a bit of silence, and then she continued, "It's the Jesus cult!". I think anyone who is a member of ICoC would agree, according to the dictionary's definition, that it is "The Jesus Cult".
The reason why I wrote this was to appeal to those who believe that ICoC is teaching the wrong doctrine. I really challenge those people to see for themselves what this church teaches instead of listening to other people's opinions. Look up the history of the first century church and examine your church to see if it teaches and lives the biblical lifestyle. If it doesn't, you need to re-evaluate your belief system. God will hold you personally responsible for how you live your life. If you're not living a true biblical christian lifestyle, you could be in danger... I feel so strongly about ICoC because I'm a member. And I've been a member for over 6 years. I've done my examination and I have evaluated my belief system. To this day, I haven't found any reason why I shouldn't follow it. I am currently studying the history of the first century church and I truly believe that God has restored his church in our generation.
There is another story of a young man I know who hasn't always had the good life. He was raised in a small town. He didn't have many friends and often got picked on. He became very insecure and felt miserable all the time. He never had any girlfriends until after high school. He was involved with a girl for a short time and fell in love. He thought he'd never find anyone like her again. Then she ended their relationship. He was shattered. His life would never be the same. He was at a point in his life when he wanted to give up. He started to hang out with the wrong crowd which led to his drinking and smoking. His life was leading to a disaster. He had a couple of girlfriends, but took advantage of them. He didn't care about their feelings and all he thought about was himself. Then he met someone that he thought would change his life completely. She was beautiful and she loved him. They were together about a year and then got married. For the first time in his life he was happy. They had a child and for about two years he began to feel like his life meant something. His life was shattered again with the news of his wife finding someone new. They were seperated and for about six months he lived wild. Sleeping around with women and getting drunk almost every night became a regular routine in his life. He was so blinded by the world that he thought he was doing well. His life did eventually change for the better. He became a man of God, a disciple. I know this young man very well, because this young man was me. And if it wasn't for the church, I would probably be dead. The disciples that are in my life have guided me through the rough times. I've finally filled the void in my life. ICoC was a tool used by God to save my life not only physically, but spiritually. I owe it all to God!
We all have to face our God in the end, so why not find out what he wants us to do in our lives. The scriptures are letters written to other christians. There is no reason to interpret and twist the meanings of the scriptures. Just read it like it is and do it. Don't listen to man's opinion. Listen to God's truth. You'll only find yourself living a better life than you've ever lived before.
My uncle is a preacher in New Jersey and I spoke to him about my church and what I believe in. He told me so many negative things about it. I showed him scriptures in the bible to back up what I believe in. Not once did he open the bible with me to prove his beliefs. He's been preaching for over 17 years and I've been a student of the bible for over 6 years. I think there is something very wrong here. I love my uncle dearly and pray for him all the time. But there comes a time when truth supersedes knowledge.
So take that old dusty bible off your shelf and start reading, because there is a whole lot of living that may be missing from your life. Start asking your minister questions about your beliefs. Tell him to show you in the bible. Study out what he tells you. Don't just agree with whatever he says. Most important of all, pray. If he's not preaching what the bible is teaching, then you need to really think about who is fooling who! Who are the real brainwashers and who are the real scripture twisters?
Wasn't it Jesus that said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only few will find it." Matthew 7:13-14
Over half the population of the entire world claim to be Christian. That's a pretty broad road. God leaves it up to you to decide!
I hope you make the right choice and follow the bible.
If you have comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org