A Brief Introduction to the Churches of Christ
The church of Christ dates back to the days of the New Testament (Romans 16:16). It was established by Christ following His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, when the gospel was first proclaimed by the apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). In the years following, the church grew to fill Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and finally the whole Roman Empire (Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:23). Through the centuries that have followed, churches of Christ have been greatly blessed by God with significant growth both in America and throughout the world.
The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16– 17); the rule of faith and practice in all religious matters (2 Timothy 3:17; I Peter 4:11). All that is done in worship and matters of faith must be authorized by the New Testament (Colossians 3:17; Revelation 22:18–19). Churches of Christ are noted for their emphasis upon a return to Scripture and the New Testament pattern of Christianity.
There is a biblical pattern of salvation—obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17). Sinners are saved by faith, repentance, confession, and baptism into Christ for the remission of sin (John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9–10). It is at the point of full obedience to the gospel that one is redeemed from his sins by the blood of Christ and added to the church, the body of Christ (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:21-23).
Scripture also instructs that a Christian must remain faithful to the Lord after obedience by walking in the light of God—continuing steadfastly in the doctrine taught in the first century by the apostles of Christ (Revelation 2:10; 1 John 1:1-7; Acts 2:42). Scripture further instructs that living faithfully includes both our worship and our daily life. To worship God acceptably, man must approach God with the proper attitude and offer up worship according to God’s pattern (John 4:24; 1 Peter 2:5, 9), not according to human traditions or will of man (Matthew 15:1-9). For this reason, a cappella singing characterizes New Testament worship assemblies. The whole congregation sings praises together without the accompaniment of any mechanical instruments, choirs, praise teams, or solos (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17). Additionally, following the New Testament pattern, the Lord’s Supper is observed every first day of the week. All Christians partake of the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine which represent the body of Jesus Christ which was sacrificed for us, and His blood which was shed for our sins (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
All members of the church should be actively engaged in evangelism (Acts 8:4; 2 Timothy 2:2), strive earnestly to live a life characterized by godliness (Titus 2:11–12), maintain an attitude of love for one another and their fellowman (John 13:33–34; Matthew 5:43-48), and be prepared to help those in need (James 1:27; Galatians 1:10).
Additionally, the church of Christ is organized according to the New Testament pattern with elders, deacons, preachers, and members as in New Testament times (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
In a world characterized by division, it is possible to have religious unity by laying aside human traditions and following the pattern of the New Testament. Simply put, the churches of Christ are seeking to be the same church about which one reads in the New Testament. Teaching the same doctrine, imitating its worship, and living the same life with meekness and zeal for the word of God.
The one true God is revealed to man in the Bible. He spoke the world into existence and sustains all things today. God remains active and involved in this world and in our individual lives (Gen. 1:1; 2 Peter 3:7; Heb. 1:10-12, 11:3). Scripture reveals that there is one God that exists in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14; John 1:1, 14; John 16:12-15).
Scripture clearly reveals that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30– 31); that He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38), lived a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-22), shed His blood for all men by dying on a cross (Hebrews 2:9; Ephesians 2:16; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 1:20), was buried and raised from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Luke 24:1-6, 18-21). After forty days, Jesus ascended to the Father, received dominion and a kingdom and even now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Acts 1:1-3; Rom. 8:34; Phil. 2:5-11; Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 2:36; 1 Timothy 6:15).
Jesus is the only way to Heaven (Acts 4:12, John 14:6) and is the only one qualified and able to redeem man from sin (Heb. 9:11-15). He will, on a day unknown to man (Matthew 24:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10) return to take His kingdom (the church; cf. Matthew 16:18-19) home to God (1 Corinthians 15:24). At the time appointed by God (Matthew 24:36; Acts 17:31) Jesus will return in the clouds as He was received up (Acts 1:11; I Thess. 4:16-17); all in the grave shall be resurrected and stand to be judged (John 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 25:32); the righteous shall receive their inheritance of eternal life in heaven (Matthew 25:24; Mark 10:30; Romans 2:7; Titus 1:2; 1 John 2:25) while the unrighteous shall receive a sentence of condemnation (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:41).
Sin separates man from a holy God (Isa. 59:2). To sin is to violate God’s law and to rebel against Him (1 John 3:4). Sin is pervasive – it consists not only in the bad things we do but also in the good things that we fail to do (James 4:17), it manifests itself not only in word and deed but also in thought (Matt. 5:28). The Bible teaches that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23; I John 1:8-10).
God’s love and justice intersect at the cross. Because of His just nature God will neither ignore nor disregard man’s sin (Nahum 1:3). Because of His loving and merciful nature He has provided a means by which man might find forgiveness—a means by which man can be justified and while God remains just (Romans 3:26). God’s solution to the problem of sin was to provide a sinless sacrifice in the person of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:5-10) that through faithful obedience man might be saved (John 3:16). By His sacrificial death on the cross Jesus both paid the penalty and served as the propitiation for the sins of all men (Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:1-2). The salvation of man by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the very heart of the gospel! This is why the Gospel is Good News!
Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God has provided for man what man cannot provide for himself (John 15:5), but we must choose to either accept or decline God’s gift of salvation. We accept the gift of salvation through faith. But, faith is more than just intellectual assent (James 2:19); it involves obedience and is made perfect (complete) by our actions (James 2:22). Saving faith responds to the call of the gospel through obedience to the commands of Jesus and includes repentance (Acts 2:38), confession (Rom. 10:9) and baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Just as Christ died, was buried, and raised from the dead, we also we must be buried (immersed) with Christ in baptism and raised to live a new life (Romans 6:1-11). When one submits to the command of baptism his sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ (Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5; 1 John 1:7). Additionally, when we obey fully the commands of the gospel, the Lord adds us to His church (Acts 2:47).
About the Church
The church belongs to the Lord! (Matthew 16:18) He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). It is His body over which He is head and every Christian is a member of that body (Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:20). The church is the temple of the Lord and every Christian a priest under His high priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices (1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians ; 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5, 9). The church is the vineyard of the Lord and every Christian a laborer (Matthew 20:1; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 15:58; Philippians 4:3). The church is not defined racially, socially, geographically or ethnically (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). The purpose of the church is to glorify God (Eph. 3:10-11; 1 Peter 2:5, 9).
Some Concluding Thoughts
These are only a few biblical truths that one finds in the Bible. Catechisms and creeds are all products of manmade wisdom. They neither produce a saving faith nor can they be received as authoritative. The Bible is all that is needed. Any book held up by man as authoritative that has more than the Bible — has too much. Any book held up by man as authoritative that has less than the Bible — has too little. Any book held up by man as authoritative that has the same as the Bible is not needed — we already have the Bible! If your desire is to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent, we invite you to come worship with us.