What do you know about the church of Christ? What makes it different from denominational churches? Is there something special about this church, or is it “just another church”? Let’s examine what makes this church unique.
Non-denominational ‘community’ churches all the rage these days. Different flavors of community churches seem to be popping up everywhere. Newer generations are increasingly dissatisfied with the concept of ‘denominationalism’ because it is divisive in nature (i.e. one church believes ‘this’ and another church believes ‘that’). After all, Jesus wished for his disciples to be united (John 17:21-22, cf. 1 Cor. 1:10), not divided into denominations (1 Cor. 1:13).
Is the church of Christ non-denominational? Yes. But we are more than that; we are pre-denominational. We only read about one church in the New Testament (Eph. 4:1-4); no denominations existed back in the first century. Only by pursuing pre-denominational Christianity can you have the pure religious unity that so many long for today.
How Can We Be Pre-Denominational Christians?
We believe Jesus wanted His disciples to be united, and He specifically wanted His disciples to be united through His apostles’ word: the New Testament (John 17:20). Therefore, the only way to have true, Christ-approved unity is by restoring New Testament Christianity.
The church of Christ is the only church you read about in the Bible – the church that existed before denominations came around. We therefore should model ourselves after the New Testament church, not after some ancient theologian with a funny name or a man-made creed book. Let’s put aside the man-made additions to the church, and simply be Christ’s church that He started immediately following His ascension (cf. Matt. 16:13-19)
The church of Christ began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven. Peter preached the first sermon, and gave instructions on how to become a member of this church (Acts 2:38). That same church “continued in the apostle’s teaching” (Acts 2:42), which today is recorded for us in New Testament. Only by following the apostles’ teaching can we find true fellowship with God (1 John 1:3).
A Church Comprised of Christians Who Are, Well, Just Christians
Those who follow Christ are merely called “Christians” (Acts 11:26, cf. 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). There aren’t any divisive names in the Bible, like ‘Catholic,’ ‘Presbyterian,’ ‘Lutheran,’ ‘Baptist,’ ‘Methodist,’ etc. Disciples of Jesus Christ are just “Christians” in the Bible.
How do you become a true Christian, or disciple, of Christ? By following Peter’s command in Acts 2:38 to “repent and be baptized.” Baptism is how one becomes a member of the Lord’s church. Jesus commanded that baptism (immersing in water) in His name to be saved (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:16, cf. John 3:5). The apostle Paul made it clear that becoming a Christian is dependent upon realizing the reason for Christ’s crucifixion (to save us from our sins, John 3:16) and then subsequently being baptized in His name (1 Cor. 1:13). Once you are baptized, God Himself adds you to the church (Acts 2:47).
We just want to be Christians. Nothing more, nothing less.
A People Who Are Headed by Christ
Christ is the head of His church (Eph. 5:23). He gave Himself for it (Eph. 5:25) and paid for it with His own blood (1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:22-23). Since Christ is the head, we cannot give weight to our own preferences and opinions at the expense of what the Bible teaches.
We recognize this fundamental principle: The church doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to Christ. We do not add to His New Testament, nor do we take away from it. Consider some of the following ways in which we practice this principle.
- We assemble every first day of the week (Sunday) to worship and take the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7)
- We sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19). The apostolic command of what to do (i.e. worship with congregational a cappella singing) implies what not to do (i.e. worship with mechanical instruments).
- We appoint qualified men to shepherd each congregation of the Lord’s church (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-5), as well as deacons who do special areas of work (Phil. 1:1; Acts 6:1-3). Members of the congregation live in subjection to the elders as long as they are following the pattern of the New Testament (Heb. 13:17).
- We strive to be obedient to God’s plan for living. This includes living a pure moral life (Gal. 6:16-24), living at peace with all men (Rom. 12:9-18), and being a hard and honest worker (Titus 2:9-10; Eph. 6:5-9).
- We model our homes after God’s pattern (Eph. 5:22-6:4) by respecting God’s plan for marriage and acknowledging different gender roles.
Governed By God’s Word
We recognize that the only authority in matters of faith and religion is God’s Word. Again, you won’t find the Lord’s church relying on a man-made creed or a plaque with a ‘statement of faith.’ The Bible contains everything one needs to know to get to Heaven (2 Tim. 3:16-17). And God won’t talk to you apart from the Bible (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-9). The idea that ‘we can’t understand the Bible alike’ is nonsense. We can read, understand, and agree upon what God’s Word says (Eph. 3:4; 5:17). If mankind is capable of communicating an objective message in a book, don’t you think God is just as capable?
We live according to the Bible. As the psalmist declared, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105).
When we restore the New Testament church, Christianity suddenly becomes pretty simple to understand. The New Testament gives us a perfect picture of what the Lord’s church is like when it follows the plain simple teachings of apostles. Should we not try to be that church today?
Want to know more?
If you want to know more about the church of Christ, the answers can be found in the New Testament. Still, there are some things that can be difficult to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). The Ethiopian Eunuch struggled to understand some of the truths of God’s Word (Acts 8:30-31), and needed Philip to “guide Him” through the scriptures. If you want to know more about the church, feel free to contact us.