WHO ARE THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST?
A prerequisite to new testament teaching and the church of Christ.
The following outline lends intself to those drawn to Christ by God - John 6:44John 6:44 [King James Bible]: 44. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day., grasp a better understanding of what the Bible teaches with regards to the church we read about in the New Testament. Now it's not overly unreasonable for us to conclude that not everyone believes what the Bible teaches. In actual fact, it's more unreasonable to believe the likes of what men teach with regards to climate change, same sex marriage and evolution; than the things that pertain to God. However, there is a sizeable minority who do take the word of God to heart. The crux, however, is the lack of unification of Bible doctrine as the final and authoritative standard in the religion that pertains to God, which, after all, is proving near impossible to achieve in light of such diversity of opinion that exists throughout the religious world. In other words, none of them agree on doctrine. You see, the one is taught after the precepts of men (bad), and the other after the word of God (good). One shall be saved (those who believe and do what the Bible teaches), and the other, lost (those who don't). The emphasis here is on the lack of sound teaching and the inevitable outcome at the judgement - Matthew 7:22-23Matthew 7:22-23 [King James Bible]: 22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.. Moreover, the scriptures warn us that only few will be saved - Luke 13:23-24Luke 13:23-24 [King James Bible]: 23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.. No doubt a large number in its own right; but compared to the total number of all that have ever lived, well, it's only a drop in the ocean in terms of the sum total of all of mankind since Adam and Eve.
God's will is for all men to be saved - 1 Timothy 2:41 Timothy 2:4 [King James Bible]: 4. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.. Yet the vast majority are so caught up in their own lives that they rarely consider their most prized possession, which is their soul. Most men are totally blind to the fact that the dispensation of eternity is hurtling towards them. Their so short-sighted to understand that the soul of man lives on into eternity, even after death. They are wilfully ignorant that man shall give account at the judgement. These are the same men and women who love the world and the things in the world. Their ambitions go before them. These are the same who deny God and the things that pertain to God. They refuse to retain the knowledge of God to their own detriment. My friend, are you one of those people? Then you need to lose that attitude and consider what the Bible teaches. The word of God has been around for a long time now. Yet no man has ever refuted the veracity, and indeed the authenticity of the scriptures, though they've tried. It seems they forget who the author is. In any case, the Bible teaches that no man lives to himself, and no man dies to himself - Romans 14:7Romans 14:7 [King James Bible]: 7. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.. At the end of the day, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation - Romans 1:16Romans 1:16 [King James Bible]: 16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek..
In fact, a considerable number of the population worldwide are subservient to the dominant religions of our day. For example, it's estimated that at least 2.2 billion call themselves Christian. Calling oneself a Christian doesn't make one a Christian, nor indeed can one inherit the role of a Christian as some church traditions would have us to believe. Despite the rants of evangelical preachers, Roman Catholic priests, denominational clergymen and wannabe preachers that come along on the wind, who all claim to be Christian, is that, what they say, and what God said, are simply not the same thing. It's not that they don't preach the Bible at all, but rather, how and when they preach it. The Devil used scripture on several occasions; but that didn't transform him into a proclaimer of the truth. Just because men quote the Bible now and then doesn't make it preaching after a godly sort. If they preached the truth in the first place they wouldn't be where they are. You see, most people prefer a religion that they are comfortable with. Others of course, make it up as they go along. Well that's not the way it works with God. It seems that a sizeable number of wannabe Christians appear to miss the point in terms of the doctrine. The conditional doctrine, that is. The thing is, you either do it God's way, or no way. There's no two ways about it - 2 Thessalonians 2:10-122 Thessalonians 2:10-12 [King James Bible]: 10. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.. When men go it their own way they go it alone. If you don't allow Christ to pay the price for your sins, you'll pay it. Either way, the decisions we make now will have lasting consequences for each and every one of us. It's not just a matter of who believes what; but what we choose to believe. That'll determine who goes where. Now in case I didn't mentioned, I should have said, heaven or hell. That's what the Bible teaches.
We hear a lot about church denominations and various church councils and what have you? The world looks to such churches as if they are some kind of religious authority in the things that pertain to God. In fact, they have no authority inasmuch as the church that is of Christ has no authority of itself. The only authority in the church of Christ is deligated authority. That authority comes in the form of oversight, or in other words, the office of the eldership (or older men). They are the ones who will receive the greater condemnation. They are the ones who have the oversight of God's heritage. Indeed, there is no authority beyond that in the Lord's church. You see, denominational churches ignore Bible authority almost on all fronts, and to that end are utterly in bondage to Satan. How long do men think they will avoid answering to God? It's estimated that at least 151,600 people die per day. That's a lot of people and should serve to warn us that longevity is not forever. The Bible, and in particular the new testament; is the only authority in all things that pertain to the church and the doctrine. God has one church inasmuch as there is one God. The reality is that the faith of Jesus Christ is standalone. Your either in or your out.
Now most of what we read today about the church of Christ is either fundamentally wrong, or just plain old dubious excoriation. The following informative, however, is biblically correct. The church of Christ is not a denomination as some try to claim. The church of Christ is the original church as declared in the scriptures. Moreover, the faithful church of Christ have no such thing as a council of churches, let alone, any kind of general oversight or central administration; save that of heaven. Yet there are wicked churches of Christ, so called, who have formed to themselves councils of oversight far beyond what the Bible will allow for. They are the exceptions. They are known as apostate churches. The same have forsaken the fundamental principals of Bible doctrine - 2 John 10-112 John 10-11 [King James Bible]: 10. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. cf. 1 John 2:191 John 2:19 [King James Bible]: 19. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.. Such things should serve to warn men and women that not all churches of Christ adhere to Bible doctrine. Mind you, John said that they went out from us because they were not of us - 1 John 2:191 John 2:19 [King James Bible]: 19. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.. So these things are to be expected. That's bad enough until compared with all those other churches that claim to be Christian and have no part or say in the matter. When men and women refuse the Bible as the final authority they refuse salvation. The truth is that the vast majority of professing Christians are on their way to hell. It's also worth noting, that without the Bible we would lack the necessary knowledge of what it means to be a Christian, let alone, the church. Therefore, the Bible is the final authority in all things to the Christian and the church. The fact is, there is nothing beyond the Bible that will direct men to heaven. That is why the church of Christ is the only church the Bible teaches.
Knowledge, and having the understanding of that knowledge is two different things. Take Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, for example - Acts 8:30-31Acts 8:30-31 [King James Bible]: 30. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.. Most of us have the ability of learning to some extent; but that doesn't guarantee that we all understand what we learn, or indeed share the same understanding of what we learn. It seems that this an extensive problem throughout religious Christendom even though none of them have a right to exist. Moreover, none of them can agree entirely on doctrine, let alone, anything else. Yet the Bible teaches that God is not the author of confusion - 1 Corinthians 14:331 Corinthians 14:33 [King James Bible]: 33. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.. The terms church and churches of Christ are interchangeable, in that, they mean the same thing. The churches, referring to the plural form of what makes up the church as a whole, such as, what we observe in the synecdoche principal, which is a part for the whole and a whole for the part, is the church we read about in the New Testament. The individual churches that make up the church of Christ are entirely independent of each other in terms of accountability to the Lord. They are also independent of general oversight, that is, apart from the Lord. Yet they observe and teach the same doctrine because the Bible is the only doctrine that is authorised to be taught in the Lord's church, hence, the church of Christ - Galatians 1:8Galatians 1:8 [King James Bible]: 8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed., cf. 1 Timothy 6:3-51 Timothy 6:3-5 [King James Bible]: 3. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4. He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5. Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.. The church of Christ is unlike all other churches, in that, becoming a member depends entirely on one's obedience to the gospel - Acts 2:38Acts 2:38 [King James Bible]: 38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost., cf. Romans 6:17Romans 6:17 [King James Bible]: 17. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.. Faith, including confession of faith in Christ, repentance, and water baptism; are of the first principals of the oracles of God. After all, the Lord is the one who does the adding to that number, which is the church - Acts 2:47Acts 2:47 [King James Bible]: 47. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved..
A congregation of the church of Christ is formed when two or more people have obeyed the gospel and includes at least one man for obvious reasons. They, then, become the church in that area, that is, if there is no local church of Christ. Contrary to what most people are led to believe, is that, the word "church" according to the Bible, refers to men and women that have obeyed the gospel - Acts 2:47Acts 2:47 [King James Bible]: 47. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.. That rules out the infamous "joining the church of your choice" we see throughout so called religious Christendom. You can't become a member of the Lord's church except you obey his gospel first. Men an women not only become Christians upon obeying the gospel; they become members of the church, the church of Christ. The church is made up of people. It's not a physical place as some teach. How could the church come together if it was a building? It wouldn't make sense, let alone, scriptural sense - cf. 1 Corinthians 14:231 Corinthians 14:23 [King James Bible]: 23. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?. The word church comes from the Greek ekklesia, or "called out." The church of Christ is the only church that believes, obeys, and teaches Bible doctrine as one under the commmandment of almighty God. The churches leadership is patterned after the New Testament; such as, elders, deacons, and evangelists (who are preachers). Women are forbidden to take up such roles - 1 Corinthians 14:341 Corinthians 14:34 [King James Bible]: 34. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.. The same things distinguish the church of Christ from all others churches. No one man has authority over the church, save Christ alone - Colossians 1:18Colossians 1:18 [King James Bible]: 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.. The church of Christ has no central administration here on earth (headquarters), such as, Rome is to Roman Catholicism. The head of the church is Jesus Christ, hence, the church which is of Christ. The Bible teaches that Christ presides over the church from heaven - Luke 22:69Luke 22:69 [King James Bible]: 69. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. cf. Matthew 28:18Matthew 28:18 [King James Bible]: 18. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.. Any authority within the church is delegated authority, such as, elders (who are older men) having the oversight of God's heritage (which is the church) - 1 Peter 5:1-31 Peter 5:1-3 [King James Bible]: 1. The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.. Deacons serve under the authority of the elders, and also serve the church. The qualifications for the officeship of elders and deacons is outlined in the New Testament - Titus 1:6-9Titus 1:6-9 [King James Bible]: 6. If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8. But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9. Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers., cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-71 Timothy 3:1-7 [King James Bible]: 1. This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6. Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil., 1 Timothy 3:8-138. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9. Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus..
Evangelists are preachers and Bible teachers, (not pastors); are essentially the same office, and serve under the delegated authority of the elders. The preferred, of course, is to do the work of an evangelist. Where there are no elders, the men of the church including the preacher make the decisions. No one man, such as, the so called "pastors" we observe amongst denominational churches; have authority over the Lord's church, save that of the elders. Elders, and only authorized in the plural by the Holy Ghost; are the one's who have the pastoral oversight of the local church. Anything that goes beyond that refuses to acknowledge Bible authority as the final authority. Men have absolutely no say in the matter apart from what the Bible record declares. The church of Christ is the only church the Bible authorises. All other churches apart from the churches of Christ are false churches - Psalm 127:1Psalm 127:1 [King James Bible]: 1. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.. None of them are Christian, and none of them can account for even one saved soul. What they offer up is strange or unauthorised, such as, that of the sons of Aaron - Leviticus 10:1-2Leviticus 10:1-2 [King James Bible]: 1. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. 2. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.. The churches of Christ - Romans 16:16Romans 16:16 [King James Bible]: 16. Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you., and the kingdom of heaven - Matthew 3:2Matthew 3:2 [King James Bible]: 2. And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.; are the selfsame thing. The Bible also uses those terms interchangeably. Now the church of Christ had it's origins on the first Pentecost after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. No other church save the church of Christ can claim this. Moreover, no other church except the church of Christ is mentioned in the Bible. That speaks for itself.
A SUMMARY OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
A brief and inclusive summary of the church of Christ. We need to perfectly understand this one thing: The church of Christ did not come out of the American restoration movement as some try to claim. Nor any movement of the minds of men save that of Christ and his apostles. The church of Christ has been around since the first Pentecost after the resurrection and ascention of Jesus Christ into heaven. That's what the Bible teaches. The church of Christ has certainly reduced in numbers over the years, but that is the be expected. The Bible teaches us that a falling away will happen before the Lord returns - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-32 Thessalonians 2:1-3 [King James Bible]: 1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;. We see that in all the different forms of Christianity we have today. Yet there is only one form that can be called Christian. That form pertains only to the scriptures. Those who are formed together in obedience are made the church. The church of Christ.
The church of Christ is not a denomination. Denominationalism is separtist by nature. It divides! Nor is there such a thing as "unity in diversity" as claimed by those within the denominational churches. You'll find no example of that in the Bible. Most of the diversity we see in religion stems from Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism is the apostate Roman church of Christ of old. Others, however, sprang out of nowhere, and without any kind of scriptural authority. That's not to say that the Roman "Catholic" church has authority. A goodly example of this is the Baptist church. It was found in Amsterdam, Holland, in 1608-09 by John Smyth. John Smyth is now dead. He wasn't raised from the dead by God. He's not seated at the right hand of God in heaven. John Smyth is not Jesus Christ, therefore, the wrong church if you want to numbered amongst the saved, that is. That alone should speak volumes in terms of directing men and women to the right church, even that. In saying that, the church of Christ is one of the most persecuted churches of all time. Every attempt has been made to bring it to nought, and even from within it's own ranks. Satan will stop at nothing. Nevertheless, it is the church that Christ gave his life for. The church that wears his name. My friend, it's the church you need to be in.
Now it seems important that we mention that there are two types of the church of Christ. The right one and the wrong one. The latter, of course, are those who fail in keeping with the first principals of the oracles of God. They do things that are not authorized in scripture. None of them represent the God of the Bible even though they claim to. In fact, they contradict the Bible by what they do. Therefore, it's advisable to avoid all those who contradict Almighty God. After all, their not able to save themselves, let alone, anyone else. Since Christ alone is the one who does the saving; then why follow the teachings of anyone else? What glory is it to Christ to call his church by some other name? Those who are saved by Christ will happily wear the name of Christ. Those who wear the name of Christ are called the church of Christ. The church of Christ is made up of Christians. Christians are those who believe and obey the teachings of Christ. It can't be put any simpler than that.
Now the term "church of Christ" is found in Romans 16:16. The designation alone implies ownership. It was the Holy Spirit who said that the church was of Christ, hence, the church of Christ. So why call it anything else? Men were moved in those days by the Spirit of God. The apostles, of course, were set aside for that purpose. Paul said he never learned the doctrine, nor was he taught it. The apostles were hand picked by the Lord. That doesn't happen today. They were the men in whom God chose to deliver his word. Now we have it in the form of what we call the Bible. The Bible is a collection of sixty six (66) books. The Bible has two main parts that make up the whole. Thirty nine (39) of those books are in the Old Testament, and twenty seven (27) are in the New. The old is for our learning whilst the new is for living. The Bible is the final authority in all things to the church. No other text is acceptable with God. Indeed nothing else is authorized of God save that of the record of the scriptures.
Finally, partaking of the Lord's supper, also known as the Lord's table, is a privilege only for Christians. That means, if your not a member of the church of Christ; then you have no right to the Lord's supper. Now I've heard several of our own argue the point that it makes no difference whether unbelievers and non-Christians partake of the Lord's supper; but I strongly disagree. If the Lord's supper is a privilege, then that rules out the unprivileged. Take for example, 1 Corinthians 10:211 Corinthians 10:21 [King James Bible]: 21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.. Now I understand that the context of the verse is speaking about idols, however, the same can be applied to other instances where disobedience is evident. If one part is worshipping God having obeyed the gospel, and the other part is not; then how can there be fellowship? It's safe to say, then, where the one part is not authorized to partake, and the other part is not honouring the Lord as they ought; there is a fault. Who in their right mind brings their dog to the dinner table? So how serious of a matter is partaking of the Lord's supper? Well, the Holy Ghost went so far as to say, "eating and drinking damnation" - 1 Corinthians 11:291 Corinthians 11:29 [King James Bible]: 29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body..
It's also noteworthy to mention, that the "fruit of the vine" is not an alcoholic beverage as some try to claim. The fruit of the vine is the grape, inasmuch, as to drink of the fruit of the vine is to drink of the juice of the grape. Alcohol is made from a process of the fermentation of more than one ingredient. Therefore, alcohol is not directly of the fruit of the vine. Alcohol is a leavenous drink, whereas, the fruit of the vine is pure. No doubt the Bible was referring to red grapes for obvious reasons. The bread also is said to be unleavened. That means, without a leavening agent, such as, yeast, or any other type of raising agent. In other words, a flat bread made with just flour and water. Most things work well when they're kept simple. Men complicate things when they go on and on about something to no end. As for alcohol of itself is not evil. It's how men abuse it. That's where the evil is. I for one don't consume alcohol at any time, nor indeed do I even like it. Therefore, I neither condone nor condemn. In my opinion, unless you need alcohol for health reasons; then I'd say, stay well away from it. Alcohol never done any man a favour. In saying that, let's keep the Lord's table as pure as the Lord intended. Therefore, and as the Bible says, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup" - 1 Corinthians 11:281 Corinthians 11:28 [King James Bible]: 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup..