Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Is the Church of Christ?

The definitions of words and phrases are critical to good communication. It is often the case that words translated from one language to another lose something in the translation. An example of this is the explanation an American provided a foreign news correspondent regarding the fact that he missed a plane that was hijacked after take-off. He told the reporter that he guessed the man upstairs was looking after him. The newsman recounted the story with these words in his report: "The lucky American had an accomplice stationed on top of a nearby building who was able to warn him of what was taking place so that he could avert getting on the plane."

Some have questioned our affiliation with the organization known as the
United Church of Christ. Others have inquired about our relationship with the National Council of Churches of Christ. The truth of the matter is that the Lord’s church has absolutely no affiliation with either of these organizations. Some brethren among us have used poor terminology with reference to their own identity. They have described themselves with such language as, "I'm a church of Christ-er," or have referred to a minister of the gospel as a "Church of Christ preacher." Even though one may do so innocently, such language places the Lord’s church in the position of being one denomination among many. The identity of the Lord’s church is discovered by properly employing biblical teaching to the research.

Consider the etymology of the term "church." The word refers to a "called out assembly."   As such it has been used to refer to a political body (Acts 19:39), a riotous mob (Acts 19:32, 41), or a religious body (1 Corinthians 11:18). The Lord’s church is composed of those who have responded to the call of the gospel by being obedient to it (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

 Reflect on the negative parameters. The Lord's church is not a material building composed of brick and mortar (Acts 17:24-25; 1 Peter 2:5). The church is not an extension of Old Testament practices. Jesus’ death on the cross took away the old law and established the new covenant (Galatians 3:22-25; Colossians 2:14). Neither is the Lord's church a denominational part of the whole of Christianity; that is, it is not a fragmented part of the whole. The church of our Lord IS Christianity (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Jesus promised to build only one church (Matthew 16:18) and only one was constructed (Ephesians 4:4; 1:22-23). The various denominations that have arisen over the years are the result of man’s efforts, not God's!

Examine the biblical comparisons that are made. The church is described as a body (Colossians 1:18). Christ is the head of the body and all members are subject to Him (Ephesians 5:23). Within the body there is diversity (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) as well as coordination (1 Corinthians 12:15-17). Likewise, members of the body have a mutual concern for each other (1 Corinthians 12:25). The church is called a family (1 Timothy 3:15). Since the church is God's house, is it possible for one to be a child of God and not be in His church? To ask the question is but to answer it. Furthermore, the church is described as the bride of Christ (Romans 7:1-4); 2 Corinthians 11:1-2). Do you suppose Christ would be married to more than one bride? If denominationalism were true, wouldn’t He be guilty of spiritual adultery? Perish the thought! The church is also described as a kingdom. The synonymous use of the terms church and kingdom prove this (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus said His kingdom would be established in the lifetime of the generation contemporary with Him ( Mark 9:1). In the early 60's A.D. Paul wrote that he was in the kingdom (Colossians 1:13). All who presently obey the same gospel Paul obeyed can likewise be in the same kingdom of which he was a part. Hence, the kingdom is not something yet to be established as advocated by premillennialists, but is now in existence. The church is called the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2). In his touching speech with the elders of the Ephesian congregation, Paul stated that the church (God’s flock) was purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). Here's a question for consideration: Can the blood of Jesus save one without being a part of the group His saving blood purchased?

It is imperative that we reject the husks of human opinion and embrace the truth of heaven's instructions. Why not obey the gospel of Christ and become a member of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ?

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