Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who Are We?

The rhetoric used by the retired preacher of a church where our president once worshipped was in the news a few years ago. The Chicago church where he preached is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Some have wondered if we in the churches of Christ are associated with that particular religious organization. Since the expression "Church of Christ" is used in the title of their religious group, I can understand the confusion. However, plainly and simply stated, we do not have any ties to them. The leaders of that church are fully capable of articulating who they are and I will leave that to them. However, in brief fashion, I would like to share with you some things about the churches of Christ.

We are a people who believe explicitly in the deity of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible teaches that prior to one's baptism, he must confess his faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 8:37). Every person in the churches of Christ has made that confession publicly. That affirmation of faith is the foundation upon which the Lord's church is built. When the apostle Peter confessed, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus responded, "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:16, 18).

We believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God and our only authoritative guide in religious matters. The apostle Paul said, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This passage points to the source of the Bible as being from God and to the sufficiency of the Bible as our guide in life. Manuals of faith, creedal statements, and synod and council decisions are mere human documents that do not possess the same authority or inerrancy as God’s inspired revelation, the Bible. The Bible alone should be man’s religious guide. We must "learn not to go beyond the things which are written"(1 Cor. 4:6).

In the churches of Christ we believe in the non-denominational nature of the Lord’s spiritual body, the church. We are not part of a denominational organization with a central office or headquarters. Each local congregation is self-governing under the headship of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18). Protestant denominations began in the 16th century, but the Lord’s church began in the 1st century (Acts 2:47). We have no political agenda that we are trying to promote; rather, prayers are made "for kings and all that are in high places" regardless of the system of government under which we live (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We advocate a moral standard that honors and respects our Creator and recognizes the dignity of our fellow man.

We recognize the God-given right of man to make his own choices in life, but we seek to fulfill the divine command to "preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mk. 16:15). When this life is over and man faces God in the judgment, he will be assigned one of two destinies: either heaven or hell. Jesus is the Savior only of those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). With the concern and urgency of dying men speaking to dying men and eternity hanging in the balance, we serve God.

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