We must not allow ourselves to become the Judge, especially over those who are already in the hands of the Lord. It is our duty to teach the Lord’s will, to apply it in our own lives, and to help others in the understanding of the Lord’s will. We are not the Judge (James 4:11-12) and therefore we will leave the judgment of your mother and father to the Lord. Be assured that no one will be lost who does not deserve to be there. God is righteous and we can trust Him to be a fair judge.
However, we are not dead, and we will be judged by the words of Jesus (John 12:48). Therefore, regardless of whether our parents are saved or lost, we must be obedient to the Lord. Regardless of where our parents end up eternally, they would encourage us to do the right thing. In Luke 16:27-31 Jesus told of a rich man who died and was in torment. Did he want his family to come and be with him? No. He asked that Lazarus be sent back from the grave to warn them. Even if our parents are lost, they would want us to be saved by doing the right things instead of following them in the wrong things.
This is a difficult question that the Bible may not give us a clear answer on. Consider two texts. In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus condemns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because He had performed so many of His mighty works there and yet they had not repented. In condemning them He said, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” It is hard to imagine anyone worse than those of Sodom, and yet judgment would be easier on them than on many of the people of Jesus day because those of Jesus’ day had greater opportunity. Jesus expresses the same principle in Luke 12:47-48. Many stripes are given to the servant who knew the Master’s will and yet did not prepare himself accordingly. But only a few stripes are given to the one who did not know yet committed deeds worthy of stripes. The question is, do these passages imply degrees of punishment in hell or a difference in how much mercy each will be shown in the judgment based on how much opportunity each were given? What we do know is, we have been given a great salvation and a great opportunity. God’s word has been clearly revealed to us, and if we do not prepare it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom than for us!
Partaking of the Lord’s Supper as well as giving are requirements that can only be done on Sunday, but these are not the only requirements of Christians who are a part of a local body. Read carefully Ephesians 4:7-16. Notice all the things that God expects a local church to accomplish:
- Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip Christians so that they can do the work of ministry and the work of building up the body of Christ.
- This work is to be done till we all come to the unity of the faith and to maturity so that we are no longer children tossed about by every wind of doctrine.
- Instead, each member is to grow to the point of being able to speak the truth in love and grow up in all things like Christ.
- Each member is to be joined and knit together with all the other members.
- The body functions by every member supplying his part and doing his share. All of this put together causes the growth of the body as well as the edifying of the body in love.
Now, can all of this be accomplished by attending a one hour worship period on Sunday? Impossible. God has given the local church a great job to do which cannot be accomplished if individual Christians treat the local church as something they “go to” instead of a functioning unit they are a part of.
Hebrews 10:24-25 does not warn us of neglecting the assembly, but the assembling of the saints. The reason for the warning against such neglect is that we all need to stir up one another to love and good works so that we do not slip away as the Hebrew brethren were. Each member needs to both stimulate others as well as be stimulated himself to stay strong in the Lord. God did not tell us how many times to assemble, but we are to assemble enough to accomplish these goals He gave us. Certainly, an hour a week will not suffice.
The first point we must address in answering this question is, in what sense are we referring to the church? Usually a person asking this question is thinking of the church in a denominational sense. If God is pleased with denominationalism, then it doesn’t matter which “church” we are a member of. However, the concept that the Lord’s church is made up of many churches believing and following a variety of doctrines, is foreign to the scriptures. In fact, Ephesians 4:4-6 tells us that there is one faith, one baptism, and one body (church). In Revelation 2-3 the very fact that Jesus corrected both the practice and doctrinal beliefs of the seven churches of Asia shows that specific beliefs and practices at variance with the scriptures are not tolerated by Christ. He threatened each church who did so with a loss of fellowship.
Secondly, we must show that “churches” (whether used as a denomination or in the local sense), do not go to heaven, individuals do. I cannot find the “right church,” hook on board like a passenger on a train, and expect to go to heaven because I have joined the right church. Indeed, the Lord is the Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23), but that simply means He is going to save those who through faith and obedience to Him have become a part of His called-out group. The Lord doesn’t save local churches, He saves people.
Thirdly, there are not “different paths” leading to heaven. Where in the scriptures is such a thing taught? Galatians 1:8 tells us that even if an angel preaches any other gospel than that which the apostles taught, he would be accursed. II John 9-11 teaches that if anyone goes beyond the doctrine of Christ and does not abide in that doctrine, he does not have God. Further, if anyone comes and does not bring this doctrine he was not to be received or even bid God’s speed else one would be a partaker of his evil works. This shows that it is important to be careful about the local church we are a member of. If the church is practicing error or teaching doctrines that would lead people to be lost eternally, then we cannot be a part of such a church with participating in their deeds.
This same principle is presented in I Corinthians 10:14-22. We cannot participate with a church or assembly of people in an activity that suggests we condone sin or are not honoring the gospel/doctrine of Christ. We cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
This point leads us to the question of when we can no longer have fellowship with a local church? We must caution that we must not severe relations with a church just because individual members differ in how they believe. A local church is a group of Christians who have agreed to work and worship together on the points that God said Christians are to do collectively. With this, there may be a number of individual beliefs upon which members would differ but still be able to work together. Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8 show that members could differ and yet were still expected work together in the same church. However, fellowship with a local church would have to be severed when:
- The church was practicing or supporting something in violation of the scripture thereby bringing me into support of the sin.
- The church tolerated a sinful member; refused to discipline this member and thus condoned the sin.
- The church was teaching doctrines that would cause people to be lost if believed and followed.
Remember, that in any of these situations a member would not withdraw himself until he had done all that he could to lovingly correct what was wrong.
Consider the MARVELOUS FIT OF ORGANISMS TO THEIR ENVIRONMENT.
For example, consider the many large fish with sharp teeth that feed on shrimp and smaller fish. Their mouths begin to accumulate food debris and parasites. How is such a fish going to clean its teeth? The answer is a visit to the local cleaning station where there are certain shrimp and small brightly colored fish. After eating, a predatory fish will literally swim over and take his place in line to have his teeth cleaned. It opens it mouth, baring vicious teeth and allows the little cleaner fish to swim in its mouth and through the gills picking off parasites in the soft tissues of the mouth. And when the cleaning is done the big fish does not eat the cleaner fish but allows it to escape. Then the big fish swims off hunting for other little fish and shrimp to eat. But how could this cleaning symbiosis have evolved? Evolutionist and Nobel Prize Winner Albert Szent-Gyorgi writes the following about mutualism among living things: “All this may sound very simple, but it involves a whole series of most complicated chain reactions with a horrible complex underlying nervous mechanism…” “All this had to be developed simultaneously.” In commenting on Szent-Gyorgi’s observations, Dr. Gary Parker writes, “It’s the same thing for cleaning symbiosis; it’s no good if the little fish gets the idea to go into the big fish’s mouth before the big fish inherits the final random mutational change to let it back out again.” Szent-Gyorgi continues that he odds of getting all these random favorable mutations to happen at the same time is…ZERO. He says it just can’t come about by time and chance and the natural process of mutation. Instead, he postulates “syntropy” or basically an impersonal creative force. He recognizes creation can be logically deduced but denies the Creator. (CREATION: THE FACTS OF LIFE, page 35).
There are many other similar examples such as the Nile crocodile that will open its mouth for the Egyptian Plover to walk in and pick off the parasites. The Yucca moth that lays it eggs in the seed chamber of a yucca plant providing not only food for its young, but the only means of the yucca plant pollinating itself.
Consider also the Bombardier Beetle. The following story is told by Dr. Duane Gish (FROM FISH TO GISH, page 145-146):
THAT MEAN OL’ BEETLE-EATER
“Although he looks like an ordinary beetle, he is really a very unusual beetle. When some mean ol’ beetle-eater comes and threatens to eat him, BOOM! –an explosion goes off right in the face of this mean ol’ beetle-eater.
“It turns out that this beetle mixes hydrogen peroxide and hydrogen quinone and puts it in a storage chamber. The remarkable thing about this is that it is a very explosive mixture. It would blow up if I did it in the laboratory. But the beetle adds an inhibitor. When the mean ol’ beetle-eater comes up, he squirts this solution into twin combustion tubes. At just the right moment, he adds an anti-inhibitor which neutralizes the inhibitor. BOOM! An explosion takes place. Noxious gases are expelled at 212 degrees Fahrenheit right in the face of the mean ol’ beetle-eater. That’s enough to discourage any mean ol’ beetle-eater!
“Let us imagine how this might have happened by evolution. Millions of years ago, there was a little beetle. Let’s call him ‘Beetle Bailey.’ How he got a storage chamber, I do not know. One day he decided to throw in some hydrogen peroxide and hydrogen quinone. BOOM! He blew himself up. You see, he didn’t have the inhibitor. But why would he evolve the inhibitor until he had the two chemicals? He would have no use for it. It would have no evolutionary adaptive value. But if he had the two chemicals first, it’s too late! He’s already blown himself up.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! For thousands of generations little beetles are blowing themselves up. They can’t pass the information down to their offspring because they didn’t have any offspring. There is no way that evolution could work that out.
Let’s suppose that by some miracle some little beetle gets the inhibitor. You say, ‘That’s tremendous!’ No, absolutely not. What good would it do? It would just soak and sour and corrode his innards. It would do no good. He still doesn’t have the anti-inhibitor. Why would he invent the anti-inhibitor until he had the inhibitor to begin with? But why would he invent the two chemicals and the inhibitor first? It does no good. There is no evolutionary rationale for it.
“Let us suppose that finally, by some miracle, some little beetle invents the anti-inhibitor. You say, ‘We have arrived.’ No, he doesn’t have the twin combustion tubes yet. He adds the anti-inhibitor and BOOM! He blows himself up again. There would be no evolutionary advantage to invent the anti-inhibitor without the other chemicals. but if he invents it with the other chemicals, he blows up.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Again, for thousands of generations little beetles are blowing themselves up. They don’t have those twin combustion tubes which are incredibly complex. An amazing genetic apparatus is needed to evolve those twin combustion tubes. Why would they need the twin combustion tubes until they had the two chemicals, the inhibitor, and the anti-inhibitor? But they would have no use for the other until they had the twin combustion tubes. You have to have it all together.
“Let’s assume that by a tremendous miracle of evolutionary mutations or mistakes that some little beetle evolved the twin combustion tubes. ‘Now,’ you say, ‘we finally are there!’
“No, not quite. He doesn’t have the communication network. He doesn’t have the signal worked out. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if his friend, Joe Beetle, comes up, pats him on the back and says, ‘Hi, Friend!’ BOOM! He will lose a lot of friends that way.
“But, why would he need the communication network and the signal until he had everything else? But everything else without the network does him no good either. You see, you have to have everything complete. You must have the storage chamber, the two chemicals, the inhibitor, the anti-inhibitor, the twin combustion tubes, and the communication network. Then and only then will you have a bombardier beetle. Up until that time you have nothing but disaster. You have no way of getting from one to the other. You must remain little old ‘Beetle Bailey.’
Mean ol’ beetle-eaters should be enthusiastic for evolution. It is because of creation that those mean ol’ beetle-eaters are not able to eat more bombardier beetles.” (FROM FISH TO GISH, page 145-147)
THE FLICKER WOODPECKER
“Here’s a bird that makes its living banging its head into trees. Whatever gave it the idea to do that in the first place? Was it frustration from losing the worm to the early bird? How did banging its head into trees increase its likelihood for survival–until after it had accumulated (by chance?) a thick skull with shock absorbing tissues, muscles, etc.! And what would be the survival value of all these features (and how could they build up in the population) until after the bird started banging it head into trees?
And what about the beetle under the bark? The beetle is surely aware of all the woodpecker’s pounding. So, while the woodpecker is pounding, the beetle is crawling further down its hole or digging another hole. So, before any of the drilling adaptations can have any fitness, the woodpecker must have a long, sticky tongue to reach what it somehow knows is good food under that tough tree bark.
But if you have a long, sticky tongue and you’re a bird, where do you put the long tongue? For the woodpecker, the answer is to wrap its tongue under the skin and bring it clear around the head and insert it in the right nostril! Now, if you start as an ordinary bird with a short tongue and no tongue sheath, what would you do in the intermediate states–perhaps, for example, with a tongue too long for the bill but too short to catch the beetles you’ve just been beating your head into trees to catch?” (CREATION: THE FACTS OF LIFE, page 51). Further, think of this bird in the intermediate stages of developing each of these traits. Before he develops a thick skull with shock-absorbing tissues, he will immediately give himself severe brain damage the first time he bangs his beak into a tree, not to mention what would happen to his beak!