How to FindRight Church
According to Robert A Grove
With analysis by J Wayne Airy and Jim Langford
An article titled How to Find the Right Church by Robert A Grove is posted on the BibleTruth.org website. If you read the article hastily, some important details may escape your notice. Upon close examination, however, the sectarian error that typifies the Grove ministry becomes obvious. The terminology is familiar enough, but the way he presented it is deceitful. He pretends to give answers from the Bible which, while true in some cases, donít always match the questions. So Robert cannot be permitted to determine the ground rules for discussing truth Ė he cheats! The purpose of this critique is to strip away the subtle and arbitrary gloss he has applied to the truth and expose his false teachings as they emerge. It is our hope and prayer that those who have embraced the Robert A Grove teachings about "the right church" will honestly reconsider what they have been led to believe. Ė JWA & JML
1. Robert: The question is often asked, "How do I find the right church?" It is usually answered by giving the name or description of some denomination. However, we want to answer this question from the Bible, not man's opinions.
Jim: In claiming to answer this question from the Bible, Robert performs a trick with words that is easily missed by those who have little comprehension of the truth respecting the one true church. He uses the term "right church" throughout, not once referring to the "true church" Ė terminology familiar to all Christians as descriptive of the universal body of believers in Christ. And his answers, though sometimes true statements, arenít responsive to the question. He fails to make a distinction between the one truly universal church Christ is building and the local, visible, Christian assemblies that men establish. Not once throughout his article does he take the opportunity to clarify this point. Instead, he applies to these local churches passages descriptive of the one true church, an error that confuses an honest searcher for truth Ė and an error that is absolutely fatal to RAG's doctrinal position.
Wayne: Well, I'm inclined to believe his doctrinal error is aimed at trying to confuse truth-seekers, but truly honest students of the Word are not confused. I became suspicious when I read the words "often asked?" My first inclination was to ask: "How often?" I don't recall ever being asked that question. I have been asked what church I attend, giving me an opportunity to share my faith and the truth of my membership in Christ. When Robert claimed it's usually answered thus and so... I thought: "Answered by whom?" And when he claimed: "...we want to answer this question from the Bible, not man's opinions," I wanted to warn readers, "Watch out! You are about to read some Grove opinions."
2. Robert: In the writings of the Apostle Paul, the expression "body of Christ" and the word "church" refer to the same organization. *1 Neither of them refer to a "mystical, invisible" body, but rather, to a practical, living and very visible body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wayne: Sometimes the word "church" refers to the "body of Christ" and sometimes it doesnít. There was a church in the wilderness that was not considered to be the body of Christ that we recognize in this age. The word simply means congregation or called-out ones, as Robert observed later. And while the church may not be mystical, it is invisible to the human eye as a building or single congregation; it includes every believer inside and outside denominations Ė not one is missing; it is far bigger than any one particular group, sect or human assembly and it functions in a living, practical way that Grove and his sect can little imagine.
Jim: Iíll add here that the "body of Christ" is an organism, not an organization. It is a living entity and there is only one body (Ephesians 4:4). The word church appears in the plural (churches) many times. Who are they? Who is "the church of the firstborn" mentioned in Hebrews 12:23? Should we consider it a "practical, living and very visible body of believers"? They may not be "mystical", but they are certainly a mystery and very "invisible" to us. Robert bases his argument on truths applicable to the ONE truly universal church which Christ is building. That church is not fully represented on earth today since most of its members are now present with the Lord in Heaven. Those still in their temporal bodies are dispersed throughout the world. So the church can never be truly visible altogether in one place in this present age. That is why the word invisible is used as a theological term to describe the body of Christ! Robert cannot honestly tell us exactly where the "practical, living and very visible body of believers" is because he knows full well it is spread out in thousands (or millions) of local assemblies worldwide.
3. Robert: Who is the head of the Church? Sometimes some one on earth will be referred to as the "founder and president" of such and such a church. A church described this way is not the "right church", because it has the wrong head. The church the Bible speaks of has as it's head the Lord Jesus Christ, not some man. *2 As the head of the church he is to be listened to and obeyed. He is the one who has given instruction in his word for the function of his body. This instruction is in the Bible which is able to equip us for every good work. *3 If we fail to study his word diligently or fail to obey his instructions, we will some day stand before him ashamed. *4
Jim: A "founder" is someone who establishes and forms, originates or fathers something. Paul, as a "wise master-builder", "planted", "laid the foundation", "fathered" and claimed as "the result of his work" numerous churches in various places. Must we conclude that none of them could be considered the "right church" because they had "the wrong head"? Paul, to our knowledge, didnít take the title "president", but he was commissioned as an apostle by the Head of the church with authority and supernatural credentials far exceeding those of some modern day, self-appointed church officer. We're well aware of professing ministers who have incorporated their "ministry" and taken the title of "president". I would like to see a list Ė just a few names Ė of evangelical Christian churches (not Bible colleges, missionary organizations or incorporated ministries, etc.), denominated or otherwise, that have men sporting the title "founder and president"!
Wayne: While you brought up good points about the outward manifestation of the church locally, Iíd like to focus on the universal aspect. Saints donít usually refer to Christ as Founder and President of His church, but itís certainly not out of line to view Him that way; He founded it and He presides over it. Although He was not elected by the general assembly of its members, a case could be made that each of them voted for Him when they placed their faith in Him. Yet they did not appoint Him Head of His church or vote Him President. Now, by way of contrast, Grove is the de facto head of all the churches associated with him. Of course, he will not admit that he presides over them, but the leaders of each local assembly defer to him for operating instructions; and his pretense that he operates according to the instructions given by the Head of the church in His word is a sham. It's certainly hard to believe he was listening to instructions from the Head of the church when he prepared a sex education manual to "equip" the saints in "the right church" for every good work, specifically to clarify the simple two-piece puzzle of human sexuality for his followers. As for his observation that saints will stand ashamed before the Lord for failing to obey His instructions: if anyone should stand before Him ashamed, it would be Mr. Grove himself for his failure to genuinely endeavor to settle his numerous disputes with saints before taking matters before the whole church.
Jim: I want to emphasize for the sake of our readers what you intended to be a facetious remark. Sex education is a major priority in the mind of this cult leader. To him sex Ė not money Ė "is the root of all evil". When RAG and his appointed leaders assume the roles of sex counselors, what makes them specially certified and impeccably qualified to fill such a role? What godly father or husband would entrust his daughter or wife to such intimacy with such men? Thereís something terribly insidious about such behavior on the part of those "leaders". And thereís a spiritual vacuum and lack of manliness in the person of those fathers and husbands who tolerate such activity in their midst!
Wayne: That's right Jim. I was hinting that in the whole of Scripture there's not one example of private individual sex counseling of virgins by church elders. The Word furnishes us to all good works. Sex counseling is the responsibility of the parent or guardian of a young man or woman. If Sunday School is an abrogation of parental responsibility, what makes RAG think his sex counseling practice isn't?
4. Robert: The membership committee in the right church is a committee of one. That one is the all important Savior and head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told, the Lord added to the church such as were being saved and that by one spirit we are all baptized into one body or church. *5 There is no man or group of men who can either put you into the right church or put you out of the right church.
Wayne: The "men" of Grove's sect put saints out of fellowship for disagreeing with their humanly appointed "leadership" and their decisions. Is that not one-and-the-same-thing as attempting to put saints out of the church? They claim the Lord approves their heresy, even going so far as to misapply Matthew 16:19, thinking whatever they bind on earth will be bound in Heaven. This proves that RAG and his stagnating sect have little to do with the ministry of THE RIGHT CHURCH.
Jim: Again, Robert confuses the body of Christ (the real "right church") with a local gathering of professing believers which may not be all that right! More saints have probably been put out of Robertís version of "the right church" than remain in it right now. For being "the right church", Wayne, they seem to have an inordinate preoccupation with "church discipline". It is also true Ė whether Robert likes it or not Ė that even those who donate to Robert A. Grove Ministries, Inc., who are "sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy", are "together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Ė their Lord and ours." Would to God he and his followers really believed that fact. If they did, they would practice it. By the way, I donít know of any truly evangelical church that claims membership in their church is equivalent to membership in the body of Christ. Most are Biblically literate enough to know better. The Roman Catholic Church makes the claim that the sacrament of water baptism can save a person apart from faith (as in the case of an infant, especially). Thus the priest administering that rite probably thinks heís adding a person to the "right church". And their practice of "extreme unction" does in some cases, they maintain, lead to the saving of a dying soul. But even their "excommunications" and "anathemas" donít condemn anyone to hell. That, they admit, is the prerogative of God alone. But Robert persists in playing games with these mystical arguments!
5. Robert: There are no unbelievers in the right church. Since the head of the church is the membership committee there are no counterfeits in this church. Consistent with this fact, believers are instructed not to be, unequally yoked together with unbelievers. *6 It is obvious that believers and unbelievers wouldn't have the same goals, the same rules of conduct or the same love for other members of the body. In man-made churches there is much friction because of these differences.
Jim: Robert has introduced a real paradox here. Since "there are no unbelievers in the right church", and "counterfeits" canít get in it, why do believers have a problem with "unequal yokes"? Robert may scoff at this appraisal of his statement, but he canít expect to get by with his "meaningless talk" (1 Timothy 1:6) or "trickery" (Ephesians 4:15) indefinitely. For the first time, he mentioned "man-made churches", distinguishing them from the "right church". Other than the church which Christ is building Ė the only true church Ė all other churches must be ipso facto man-made! Was this not an inherent part of the commission all the apostles received, especially Paul? So, which one of the many churches Paul fathered as a "wise master-builder" was the "right one"? Robert canít name one local church in Paulís epistles that didnít have in it unbelievers, counterfeits or hypocrites. Not ONE! And he canít name one where all the members were in agreement on everything! Not one where there was no "friction" among its members! Not one where all coming together were added by the Lord! Not one that had escaped the polluting effect of a false teacher!
There are at least 35 references to churches (plural) in Scripture, yet not once did Robert mention this fact in his article. He artfully dodged the issue and failed to clarify which one of the many churches referred to is the RIGHT ONE. The confusion he has propounded, however, is unmasked by his own blunder! While he would have us believe differently about the local gatherings over which he usurps authority, pretending to contend for "ONE TRUE CHURCH", how do his local "representations" compare with those to which Paul devoted his life? We are told that we are "members of Godís household, built on the foundation of the Apostles and ProphetsÖ" (Ephesians 2:20) Paul told the church at Corinth that he "laid a foundation as an expert builder." However, he also told them that others are building on it too and he cautioned them to be sure "each one should be careful [or take heed] how he builds." (1 Corinthians. 3:10) The implication is obvious. By the time Paul wrote Second Corinthians and Romans, the Galatian church had already been corrupted, the Corinthian saints were being severely tested and Paul feared for the Romans. Then he gave that solemn warning to the Ephesian elders. None of these fit the description of the RIGHT CHURCH that Robert describes.
Wayne: It certainly would have helped if he had explained the distinction between the local manifestation of the church and its universal aspects; his obvious doctrinal confusion prevented that. The Lord's illustration of the tares sown among the wheat explains a lot of what we see in churches today, as you once observed, Jim. While Robert avoided using his oft-parroted ONE TRUE CHURCH phrase in lieu of THE RIGHT CHURCH in this article, he still publicly contends that he is a minister of Christ for the ONE TRUE CHURCH. Actually, he only contends for his own miserable little cult. When held up to the light of the body of Christ, the church which Christ is building, the church to which ONLY saved are added, he has counterfeit churches stacked with counterfeit leaders, members, doctrines and practices. They have bound themselves in a tight-knit little social sect just like some of the denominations and cults they condemn. Their exclusive attitude casts doubt over whether they have any part in the ministry of the right church.
Robert claims that, "Consistent with this fact, believers are instructed not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers." We need to remind him that to be truly consistent with this tenet, Grove & Associates, if genuine, should recognize their equal yoke WITH ALL believers no matter where they are placed in the body, and work side-by-side with them in a demonstration of their yoke with them through the unity of the Spirit and compassionately help them break all carnal yokes. They should notice that unequal yokes affect the effectiveness of the individual believer, not the ministry of the church. When he pointed to the obvious conclusion that believers and unbelievers donít have the same goals, code of conduct or the same love for "other members of the body" (Don't ask me how they could be members if they're unbelievers!), it is only fair to point out that it's no excuse for saints in his churches not to love ALL the members of the body of Christ! And itís no excuse for not demonstrating the love of Christ toward the unbelievers in denominations. Finally, his reference to "man-made churches", where there is "much friction because of these differences", reminded me that the man-made churches he heads have created inexcusable friction among professing BELIEVERS. They have improperly applied the word of truth in maneuvering their assemblies to avoid other saints. Where the rubber meets the road, Robert's cult does not even come close to representing the church in either the local or universal sense!
6. Robert: All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are members of the church the Bible speaks of. All are members because this is an organism into which the Savior of mankind places those who accept him as their Lord and Savior. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we become members of his body. *7 We are not made members by participating in any physical act such as baptism in water or physically eating bread or drinking wine. The Bible says we become a member of the church by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. *8 Everyone who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior has received this baptism. *9 Since man doesn't put members into this church, and all who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are put into the church the moment they are saved, there are no counterfeits and all believers are members.
Wayne: This statement condemns the actual walk of Robertís cult; they confess that all believers are members of Christ, yet they have millions of excuses to avoid 99.999+% of them. EVERY believer is baptized BY one Spirit into ONE body without regard to any other tie or yoke they may have on earth. God sets every member in the body as it pleases Him (I Corinthians 12:18). It behooves Grove & Company to learn to be pleased with the way He has set every one of them.
Jim: Up to and including this paragraph Robert has repetitiously described the ONE TRUE CHURCH, the body of Christ and the "mystery hidden in ages past". Is this "the right church" that he promised to help us find? If so, he finally told us how we can become members of it, namely, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. All evangelical, born-again believers readily accept this revelation about the church. However, because of an unfortunate handicap Ė Robertís extreme separatist attitude that has plagued him his entire life Ė he has never really experienced spiritual affinity with brothers or sisters in this glorious church other than those scanty few confined in his own corral. He pays lip service to "the right church", but falls far short of the Christianís responsibility to "love the brethren" Ė all of them! In case Robert didnít know, we have no half-brothers or stepsisters in the Lord.
Wayne: I never thought of it quite like that before, Jim. The way Robert demands that his followers treat saints outside their sect evokes an image of the way the ugly stepsisters treated Cinderella. Now, I know you have several good observations to share about Groveís next paragraph, so if you donít mind Iíd like to take the liberty of inserting my observations [in brackets] right into his text.
Jim: Fine; go ahead. I only hope that others will appreciate your input as much as I have.
7. Robert: There should be unity among all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. [Should be? There IS unity. There IS one body, as we learn from Ephesians 4:4. Robert just refuses to walk in unity because he does not see it.] Since all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are part of the same church, have the same Savior, and read the same Bible, we should be together in the way we walk. [We cannot walk in Him any other way. If Robert truly recognized this, he wouldn't discourage saints in his sect from walking in that light with ALL other believers. They need not embrace carnality, false doctrines or any ordinances of darkness to do it. All they need to do is treat them like saints and brethren.] Christ prayed to the Father that believers would be one as He and the Father are one. *10 [His prayer request was granted. There IS one body. ALL believers are one in Christ. It is astonishing that a man, posing as a Minister of Christ, presumes to teach a doctrine that amounts to claiming the Father did not grant that earnest request of His beloved Son.] The apostle Paul rebuked the church at Corinth for the divisions among them. [It was still the church at Corinth. Paul rebuked them for divided fellowship, not for having different mentors.] They were saying, I am of Paul, I am of Apollos and I am of Cephas. Paul rebuked them by saying, you are carnal and walk as men. *11 Today a parallel to this is practiced by most members of the church, "I am a Methodist", "I am a Baptist", [or "I am a Grovist" of RAG Ministries, Inc.] etc., and sad to say most Christians think this is the way it is supposed to be. [Grove and his associates would be surprised to learn how many do not think it is supposed to be that way. Unfortunately, many, like Grove, think there should be one church Ė their church. Paul did not rebuke the sect names (Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ), he rebuked the sectarian attitude in the heart of everyone who did not recognize, accept and embrace the unity of all believers in the body of Christ.] Many well-known Bible teachers and preachers know these divisions are sin. See The Sin of Sectarianism by Jack Langford [a certified false prophet], for quotes from various well-known religious leaders on this subject, (We will be happy to supply you a copy free of charge). Religious leaders know this truth but they won't walk in it. [And, as we have observed, RAG and his leadership elite know this truth, yet they do not walk in it either. Furthermore, they mislead others by encouraging them not to walk in it; and they, perhaps more than all others, should know better.]
Jim: Unity is the work of the Holy Spirit. Not even Robert and the feeble efforts of his "viable representations" can ever produce it. Our responsibility is to endeavor "to guard", "to hold fast", "to preserve" it. Thatís what "to keep" means. The manner in which we are to do so is stated in plain words: "With ALL lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love." The first two words describe our internal character and disposition. The following words describe our relationship to others. This is the secret of preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. When we manifest these characteristics, we are keeping the unity. Indeed, this is manifesting the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Jack Langford makes a pertinent and helpful statement in his preface to The Sin of Sectarianism: "We agree with the observations made by these famous preachers who say denominationalism and sectarianism is sin, who preach the one true church, and who advise young Christians to walk in that church only." Note that these men did preach the truth in these three vital areas. And note also that "denominationalism" is only one aspect of sectarianism! The "sin of sectarianism" is not limited to denominationalism. Sectarianism is an attitude of heart and mind that manifests itself in various ways. Not all in denominations are sectarian, and not all sectarians are in denominations. The most extreme form of sectarianism is found among those in cultic sects who separate themselves from all other believers, claiming they are "the only viable representation of Christís church on earth today"!
Wayne: If you donít mind, Jim, Iíd like to comment on Groveís next statement in detail line by line.
8. Robert: All members should be endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. *12 [The word "keep" in the passage cited in his footnote simply means observe. Grove claims to be a believer, yet he does not observe the unity of the Spirit; he does not accept the unity of the body of Christ; he does not see church unity. All he sees is church division. There IS one body; it is not divided. RAG just needs to observe the unity of the Spirit that exists and join with all saints in that glorious bond of peace.] It should be our commitment to speak the same things and be joined together in the same mind and judgment. *13 [As long as "the same mind and judgment" means you agree with RAG, you will have few problems with him. In combined context, the passages he cited in his footnote clearly indicate that the only way saints can be of one mind and speak the same thing is to AGREE with one another in one spirit, a team spirit. Sports fans have team spirit; they're excited for their team. This is no minor observation. Paul appealed to saints to try to agree with ONE SPIRIT like that. In that way there was hope they would become of one mind and one speech.] In doing this, rather than divide and take a name to identify us apart from our fellow members of the church which is Christ's body, we will endeavor to resolve differences, that we might speak the same thing. [There is a great disparity between resolving differences with a team spirit and forcing unity on carnal, intellectual terms. We can't resolve differences unless we discuss issues of agreement AND disagreement. Robert is reluctant to do that, except on his own terms. When members of his churches go along with his view and judgment, he thinks they are joined together in unity. He thinks they are of one mind and are speaking the same things. What he calls unity is uniformity, far from the pleasant reality of the team-spirit unity all saints enjoy in Christ.] We should not join or support or help build something in the way of a church which is not authorized in the Bible. ["In the way of a church"? What is RAG Ministries, Inc. if not something "in the way of a church"? The title "Ministries" indicates an intention to be perceived as something in the way of a church. If anything, it gets in the way of the church; it interferes with the true ministry of the church. Robert has failed to acknowledge his own hypocrisy of incorporating solely for financial purposes (a motive far less noble than our denominational brethren) and of taking a name not authorized in the Bible.] If we are a part of such an organization we will obey the instruction, "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." *14 [Robert needs to check the context of II Corinthians 6:14 -7:1. It is addressed to individual saints, and refers to separation from wickedness, not from churches, as he implied. Paul cited the several sets of polar opposites (of righteousness and wickedness, light and darkness, Christ and Belial, believer and unbeliever, temple of God and temple of idols) saying we (individual believers) are the temple of the living God. This is a consistent reminder of what he wrote in his first letter (I Corinthians 6:19) where he told them that the physical body of the believer, not the body [church] of Christ, is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And he summarized it all by noting saints should keep themselves pure from everything contaminating body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. It is safe to say this would prepare us for being receptive to the team spirit of the church. The subject is not the sin of sectarianism or denominating; it is personal purity, as RAG should have noticed when he inserted the phrase he quoted in his next sentence.] This will enable us to, "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God". [You see, individual believers, body and spirit, are the subject, not the church as a whole Ė that glorious body of believers, without spot or wrinkle, purged and cleansed by its Creator and Head.]
Jim: Robert advocates a contrary method: either "speak the same things" (sic: plural) and "resolve differences" or "separate". His frequent abuse of 1 Corinthians 1:10, wielding it as a sword to enforce uniformity Ė not unity Ė is an example of ripping verses out of context and using them in a divisive way! In the context, Corinthian saints deceived themselves by thinking they were wise in "boasting about men". Paul told them rather to be of like mind and boast in the fact that "you are of Christ". (3:18-23) In Romans 14, we learn that disagreements were causing disunity. Paul's appeal to them was not "to endeavor to resolve differences", but to achieve "peace" (14:19) by not "pleasing themselves", by being "likeminded one toward another" and by "receiving one another as Christ received us." (15:1-7)
There is subtlety in Robertís words: "rather than divide and take a name to identify us apart from our fellow members of ÖChristís body, we will endeavor to resolve differences." How can this be, even in his world view? He divides before he endeavors! And his followers may not have denominated themselves, but they identify themselves apart by claiming to be "of Christ" or "some members of the church which is Christís body", or "the only viable representation of Christís church on earth" - all to the exclusion of all others. Their organization may not have a name, but the incorporation of Robertís own name makes it clear to all that its members are of Robert Grove! We are still waiting to find out exactly what constitutes "a church which is not authorized in the Bible"?
The party spirit requires wresting of the scriptures to justify separation. The whole tenor of Paulís revelation from God is to encourage unity and condemn division. To select a passage such as II Corinthians 6:14-18 and interpret it in such a manner as to contradict the very purpose of God is a tragedy Ė it is heresy! The passage begins with the admonition, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," and concludes with the command, "come out from among them, and be ye separate." This is quoted by factional leaders such as RAG to enforce a boycott directed against other members of the body of Christ who happen to have a name, or who may differ by only jot or tittle on some disputable point. Was that Paulís intent? He was appealing to members of the Corinthian church to "purify [themselves] from everything that contaminates body and spirit" (7:1). He was certainly not urging them to separate from fellow saints. The warning here is no different from that which Paul addressed to the believers at Ephesus (Ephesians 5:3-16).
9. Robert: Man-made religion does two things the Bible condemns:
● Joins saved and unsaved people together. [RAGís churches and incorporated "Ministries" are no safeguard against this.]
● Divides brothers and sisters in Christ from each other. [Few sects or cults divide saints more dramatically than RAG, Inc.]
Both are condemned in the Bible and both are sin.
Wayne: In a sense, every local church (a gathering of professing believers) on the face of the earth is man-made! When two or three (or more) agree to gather together as the Lord has bid them, they have decided to function together as a group; and Christ has promised to be in their midst. The apostles were commissioned to go into the world to preach the gospel, making disciples of all nations. Those believers were subsequently organized into local assemblies. This was not a mysterious, mystical occurrence. It was carried out by men as they were led by the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles records the beginning of that God-given responsibility. Using his own criteria, Robert couldnít recommend a single one of the churches that Paul planted for believers to attend today. Yet he apparently claims infallibility for the little bodies he tutors and would recommend that you join. After all, thatís the aim of his entire article.
Jim: Robert has made the switch from "man-made churches" to "man-made religion" as if they are one and the same. He has just directed our attention to the evils of pagan temple worship and the idolatrous practices of wicked unbelievers, biblical examples of man-made religion; then he argues foolishly by making broad and indiscriminate accusations against Christian bodies in general. Big or small, I am not aware of any Christian group in this modern era that surpasses his in its penchant for separating "brothers and sisters in Christ from each other". His brand of so-called "church discipline" has proven to be utterly devastating to families within the body of Christ! And few evangelical Christian assemblies, denominational or otherwise, deliberately or conscientiously "join saved and unsaved together" for fellowship. Many do not have "membership" requirements Ė a fact Robert deliberately doesnít mention. And those who do, usually have them for the purpose of identifying the unsaved. Furthermore, doctrinal differences have long been the scapegoat for divisions among Christians. However, the real culprit is the sectarian attitude that pervades the hearts and minds of many saints. Robert and his followers exhibit more than an adequate supply of both.
10. Robert: The following are characteristics of the "right church":
- Jesus Christ is the head of the church.
- Jesus Christ is the membership committee.
- The church operates under the name of the head of the church, Jesus Christ.*15
- All of the members have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
- Every person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior is considered to be a member of the church.
- The church, being the pillar and ground of the truth earnestly contends for the faith once delivered to the saints and endeavors to "rightly divide" the word.*16
- There is a commitment to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace, with all Christians everywhere.
- The Bible is considered the final and complete revelation from God for the function of his people.*17
When you find a group of Christians who really and honestly live and work together as stated above, you have found a representation of the "right church."
Jim: Are we being led to believe that items 1 through 8 truly characterize the few bodies under the leadership of RAG Ministries, Inc. which are scattered "across the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America" and that when you walk through the unimposing portals of one of their rented or mortgaged meeting halls, you have found "a representation of the right church"? A more honest and accurate appraisal, borrowing Robertís introductory terminology, would be that we have before us the claims of a very "mystical" and "visible" body.
RAG Ministries, Inc. has been building on the foundation laid by wiser men before them, but is using materials of hay and straw. The quality of their work will be tested by fire and it wonít survive (1 Corinthians 3:1-15). Paul advised Timothy about men who had wandered away from the truth, and were destroying the faith of some. He said, "Nevertheless, Godís solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ĎThe Lord knows those who are his,í and ĎEveryone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.í" He then explained that in a large house there are articles "for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the master and prepared to do any good work." You brethren in the cultic, RAG sect have the responsibility to put out from among you those ignoble, divisive men who are destroying your faith, and open your hearts to all your brothers and sisters in Christ who long for your fellowship and companionship.
Wayne: Youíre right, Jim. Robert has tried to lead people to believe something we know is not true. The eight points he cited resemble the articles of faith or believerís creeds denominational saints compose to unite themselves in fellowship, but his false doctrines are sectarian to the core. The words "all" and "everywhere" [characteristic 7] cut to the very hypocritical heart of Robertís cult, which exhibits an exclusive rather than inclusive attitude. No specific group of Christians, no matter how honest or compatible, is the only representation of the church. Yet every individual believer joined to Christ is a representative, an ambassador of Christ. And the LOVE of saints FOR ONE ANOTHER is not merely a representation of the right church, it is the evidence of the fact we are true followers of Christ. We do not need to seek the right church; we need to seek the Lord. We do not need to look for leaders; we need to look for lessons. As long as members of the Grove faction continue to cling to their exclusive, separatist doctrines, we cannot expect them to function freely with us as even a part of the representation of the right church. They will only continue their fruitless task of trying to show saints How to find the RAG cult.
Following are Groveís original footnotes. The reader would be wise to read them carefully in their context:
*1 Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18 *2 Ephesians 1:22, 5:22, Colossians 1:18 *3 2 Timothy 3:16-17 *4 2 Timothy 2:15 *5 Acts 2:47, 1 Corinthians 12:13 *6 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 *7 Ephesians 5:30, 1 Corinthians 12:27 *8 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 *9 Romans 8:9, Acts 5:32 *10 John 17:21 & 23 *11 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 1 Corinthians 3:1-7 *12 Ephesians 4:3 *13 1 Corinthians 1:10, Philippians 1:27 *14 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 *15 Colossians 3:16-17 *16 1 Timothy 3:15, Jude 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:15 *17 2 Timothy 3:16-17
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