Christian Living

Why I Love The Church Of Christ7 min read

May 5, 2014 5 min read

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Why I Love The Church Of Christ7 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you are able to attend a worship service of the church of Christ next Sunday, you probably wouldn’t see anything too fancy. The simple worship you will witness will probably fall short of the much more entertaining services of large denominational or ‘community’ churches. The methods you will see will probably not reflect the latest cultural trends or religious fads. The members you will meet will probably just be ordinary, friendly, down-to-earth folks, eager to meet you. And it seems most church buildings bearing the name “church of Christ” are modestly small and aging.

I don’t love the church of Christ merely because of the people (there are good, friendly people in other churches too), methods (other churches are sometimes more efficient and entertaining), or facilities (other churches often have prettier buildings and more to offer). The reason I love the church of Christ is because of what Jesus and His New Testament have said about it.

I love the church of Christ because of when it began.

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock (the rock-solid truth of Peter’s confession, BG) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:13)

Abraham, Moses, and King David – though they were great men – were not members of the church. Why? Because it hadn’t been built yet. They all lived before Jesus had been resurrected.

Nearly a year after Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:13, the church began in Acts 2. Peter, with the figurative “keys” (cf. Matt. 16:19), opened the doors to the church by preaching the first sermon (cf. Acts 2:14-41).

Thus, the church of Christ didn’t begin in Rome in 606 A.D., or Germany in 1520 A.D., or Holland in 1607 A.D., or England in 1739 A.D. The church of Christ began in Jerusalem in the 1st century, just as it was prophesied (Isa. 2:2-4; Dan. 2:44-45; Gen. 12:3; 2 Sam 7:12-13; Zech. 1:16; Mic. 4:1-3). It is, by its very nature, pre-denominational.

I love the church of Christ because of Who owns it.  

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:13)

“My” is possessive. Meaning, the church belongs to Jesus, which He paid for “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28; cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9-10). Therefore, the church doesn’t belong to Luther, King Henry VIII, Calvin, Knox, Smythe, Wesley, Smith, or Eddy (and therefore shouldn’t bear their names). When 1st century Christians started practicing sectarianism by wearing other names, they were quickly condemned (1 Cor. 1:10-13).

In the words of N.B. Hardeman, “I was not baptized in the name of Campbell, nor of Luther, nor of Wesley; but into the name of the spotless Son of God divine” (269). I simply want to be a member of the church that belongs to Jesus, claiming His name and only His name. And His blood cleanses me when I am baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13).

I love the church of Christ because of its distinctiveness.

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:13)

Jesus started only one “church,” not many “churches.” It is unique in that it stands alone.

In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul writes,

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

What is the “body” (v. 4)? The body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23). Therefore, there is one church, just as there is only one God. By asking someone, “What church are you a member of?” you may as well be asking, “What god do you believe in?” (Colley).

The fact that Jesus only started one church is evidenced in the New Testament by the lack of distinguishing names for the church. All references to the church refer to the same church:

  • The body of Christ (Eph. 1:22)
  • The bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2; Eph. 5:25
  • The house of God (1 Tim. 3:15)
  • The kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17)
  • The church of God (1 Cor. 1:2)
  • The churches (congregations) of Christ (Rom. 16:16).

Jesus specified that He did not want His church to be divided (John 17:20-21). In fact, the only way His church is to remain united is by adhering only to the apostles’ word (John 17:20-21), the New Testament. Any congregation of Christ is destined to become a different church when it goes beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13; Rom. 16:17).

Attending “the church of your choice” is foolish if you did not choose that church based upon whether or not it is THE church of Jesus (cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:15).

I love the church of Christ because of what it believes and practices.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions (inspired teachings, BG) which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thess. 2:15)

Do you want to know how the Lord’s church is to worship, organize, and govern itself? Do you want to know what the church should believe and practice? All you need is the New Testament. If you need to cite a creed book, head office, or ruling convention, you’re “going beyond what was written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

If all someone knew were the writings of the New Testament, he wouldn’t know enough to be a Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, or Baptist. All he would know is how to be a Christian.

For example, here are some things the New Testament says about the church of Christ. Notice how the Lord’s church is remarkably uncomplicated. They:

  • Were very loving (John 13:34-35) and benevolent (Acts 2:44-45; Gal. 6:10).
  • Worshiped and engaged in the Lord’s Supper every Sunday (Acts 20:7).
  • Contributed financially to the church (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:7).
  • Sang congregationally and a cappella, without mechanical accompaniment (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
  • Encouraged and taught one another (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 14:26).

Members of the church of Christ in the New Testament were simply called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). They didn’t need to designate themselves by different “flavors” of Christianity because doing so is sinful (1 Cor. 1:10).

I love the church of Christ because of the kind of people in it.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:12-14)

There are no saved people who are not part of the body, or church, of Christ (cf. Eph. 1:22-23). The moment someone becomes a Christian, they are automatically added to the kingdom, which is the church (Col. 1:13; cf. Matthew 16:18). This is clearly evidenced in Acts 2, when the 3,000 souls who obeyed the gospel (Acts 2:38, 41) were added to the church (v. 47).

I love the people in the church of Christ because they are members of the “household of faith” (Gal. 6:10, 1 Tim. 3:15) –  a truly special people (Matt. 11:11; John 3:5). They have been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:20).

Conclusion

Why do I love the church of Christ? Because it belongs to Christ, and therefore is not a denomination of Christendom. Christ built His church, the church of Christ. It is His exclusive body. And it shall be presented to God “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).

(Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.)

Sources
Hardeman, N.B. “Restorers and Reformers.” Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons. Freed-Hardeman University: Henderson, Tennessee 1990.
Colley, Glenn. “Why I Love The Church Of Christ.” Polishing The Pulpit, The Wilderness Convention Center, Sevierville, Tennessee. 28 Aug. 2013. Sermon.

Ben Giselbach is the pulpit minister at the Edgewood church of Christ in Columbus, GA. He and his wife Hannah have two children, Ezra & Colleyanna. Ben is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and has written three books in his You Are A Theologian Series: Thinking Right about the Bible, Thinking Right about God, and Thinking Right about Salvation.
39 Comments
  1. happyhealthyholyhome

    An uplifting start to my morning! Every now and then it is just nice to hear what is right and true about something. Thank you. :)

    • Ben

      Thanks sister! Hope you are doing well. God bless!

  2. If all someone knew were the writings of the New Testament, he wouldn’t know enough to be a Catholic, Mormon, Methodist, Baptist, or CHURCH OF CHRIST. All he would know is how to be a Christian. I see your point here but it doesn't mean that your sect of doctrinal belief is the correct one. I agree with what you said; but you have to apply your argument to all denominations and that includes your own. Now, I'm going to play devils advocate; if I was to stretch your argument further than you intended (which people will do) then I could say that you are basically saying that no other sects of doctrinal beliefs will get a person into Heaven. Now, that can cause some problems. I identify myself as a Christian then a Baptist. I believe it is important to state that my belief and salvation is in Christ and not the church I attend. However, you seem like that you would rather identify yourself as Church of Christ than a Christian and that is not good.

    • Ben

      I invite you to read the article again, as the points you are arguing have already been answered. You are referring to the church that belongs to Christ as you would a denomination. I don't believe in the "CHURCH OF CHRIST" church any more than I do the Catholic or Baptist church. But I do believe in the church that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ - the church He talked about in Matthew 16:18 - the church that started on the day of Pentecost. It seems terribly brazen and presumptuous to me that you would refer to the "one body" (Eph. 4:4) - the "one" church started by Jesus - as a sect. The Bride of Christ (cf. Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7) has very unique characteristics, and any church that does not have those characteristics (as clearly presented in the New Testament, 1 Cor. 4:6; Rom. 16:17; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) is clearly not the church that belongs to Christ. I do not identify myself as "Church of Christ" like a member of a denominational church would identify himself as "Baptist" or "Methodist." I simply call myself a Christian, since that is all we read about in the New Testament (Acts 11:26). And ALL Christians are members of the ONE church that belongs to Christ. There are no saved people outside of the church of Jesus. Therefore, why would we want to be part of a sectarian body when we can simply be members of Christ's one church? Why would we want to settle for anything less? If all someone knew were the writings of the New Testament, then yes - he absolutely would know enough to become a member of the one church of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-47). But He would not know enough to be a member of a denomination. In fact, he would be opposed to the concept of denominationalism, because the Bible is clearly opposed to the concept as well.

    • R. Douglas Shipley

      Salvation. Do you really seek salvation or satisfaction? I am convinced that, given the education Americans receive they can read the New Testament and determine that whether they are doctrinally sound or not. I refuse to argue one religion over another, rather I prefer to have a person outline the ten most significant points in their worship service and then, once on paper, go to the bible (New Teatament only, for Christ ruled not in the Old Teatament) and get supporting scripture for their points. Two things have happened in every case this has been done. One, the person declines or provides non bible dogma rejecting the process. Two, they convict themselves and get right with God. Bottom line is - If you are reading this you can read the New Teatament. The question is really will a person bend to God's will. That is between they and God and I am not even in the picture.

  3. nlr

    Dear Nottryingtostartafight: I struggled with this at first, too. The whole point is that the church of Christ was never supposed to be divided into sects or "denominations," and members of the church do not think of themselves as a denomination. Careful study of the New Testament certainly supports the concept of ONE FAITH. To address your concern about whether we believe that no other sects or doctrinal beliefs will get a person into Heaven, let me assure you that NO CHRISTIAN EVER SENT ANYBODY TO HELL. What WE think doesn't matter a whit nor iota. What WE think is only what Jesus and his apostles said. That's it. We think we should adhere strictly to the teachings of the Bible, and if some person wants to add something else, then "red flag!" ONE FAITH, ONE CHURCH. ONE. So if you belong to the church of Christ, then why do you also need to be a Baptist?

  4. Justin

    An interesting question is how doctrinally correct must a congregation be to be a church of Christ?

    • Ben

      Good question, Justin! In answer, I would first affirm the belief that people can know and agree on the truth of the New Testament, so long as it is only the New Testament, and not an incorporation of man's theories. There are definite patterns, practices, and beliefs the New Testament church observed, and careful study can conclude what they are (space does not permit an exhaustive list). Furthermore, there is a beautiful harmony and consistency among the different congregations of the one church of the Bible. I would then humbly point out that restoring New Testament Christianity should be a constant pursuit, and everything the church teaches and practices should be scrutinized and improved in light of Scripture.

  5. Michelle

    I am Eastern Orthodox, which is the ancient church of the time of the apostles, how does the Church of Christ claim to be the original church when it is lacking so many things stated in the New Testament? How is it the original church? The icons, incense, and liturgical worship stated in the New Testament doesn't seem to be present in the church. What about the teachings of the ancient fathers and apostles not in the Bible? Sola scriptura is not stated in the Bible. From doing a little bit of research I just don't understand how the Church of Christ can claim to be the original Church when it didn't come about till the 1800s.

    • Ben

      Thanks for the question Michelle. Let me skip down to the latter part of your question, and then I will address the Eastern Orthodox denomination. First, the principle of "sola scriptura," which teaches that Scripture alone is authoritative, is most definitely taught in the Bible. For example, Scripture "completes" and "thoroughly equips" man (2 Tim. 3:16-17; cf. 2 Pet. 1:3). If that is true, why would we need (or ever want) anything more than the Bible? The writings of the Spirit-inspired apostles (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Cor. 14:37) should be the only standard, or pattern, for how the church should operate (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13; Rom. 16:17). Jesus wants His followers to be "one in their (the apostles) word" (John 17:20-21) - not the "church fathers" or theologians of later times. Whenever we base our religion on the mere words of man, rather than inspired Scripture, we have left the Lord and His church. Second, the Eastern Orthodox church is not the "one body" (Eph. 4:4), or church, of Christ because it has clearly deviated from the teachings of the New Testament. For example, where in the New Testament is the church instructed to use icons and incense in worship? That is a man-made addition. Where in the New Testament is the church instructed to have a "Holy Synod," "patriarch," or "metropolitan?" Those are man-made additions. The Eastern Orthodox church sadly gives "tradition" the same level of authority as "Scripture." Subsequently, the Eastern Orthodox church teaches several other things that are contrary to the Bible, including (a) the perpetual virginity of Mary, (b) the prayer for the dead, (c) the idea that Scripture cannot be interpreted apart from tradition, (d) the possibility of receiving salvation after death, (e) the baptism of infants, and (f) the doctrine of original sin. The Eastern Orthodox no longer even resembles the pure and simple church that Jesus started in the first century. Additionally, nowhere in the New Testament do you read about "Eastern Orthodox" or "Greek Orthodox" people. Disciples of Jesus were simple called "Christians" (Acts 11:26). Third, there was a movement in the United States and Europe in the mid-1800s to restore the New Testament church (called the "Restoration Movement"), though other movements have occurred at other times with the same goal. The church of Jesus Christ didn't just "come about" till the 1800s, rather, it was started in the first century on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Throughout the ages, however, people have perverted and added to the simple teachings of the New Testament to apostate and become denominations, starting with the Roman Catholic church, which splintered into the Greek Orthodox church, and later - during the Reformation (not Restoration) movement - various denominations were started and would eventually become churches like the Lutheran church, the Methodist church, the Baptist church, etc. But instead of 'reforming' the perversion of Catholicism, those in the Restoration Movement realized that the pure Bride of Christ needed to be restored to its primitive state, not just fixed with duct tape. I don't want to be a member of a denomination. I just want to be a Christian - a member of the ONE church that belongs to Jesus. The church of Christ (cf. Rom. 16:16) isn't a name, it is merely a description. I'm not "Church of Christ" (like others may be "Baptist" or "Lutheran"). I am merely a member of the church of Jesus Christ - the one church that belongs to Him. I recommend this excellent video: http://whyaretheresomanychurches.com/

      • Chad

        2 Peter 1:3 & 2 Timothy 3:16-17 do refer to scriptures, but it is certainly not what is referred to today as the New Testament. They are referring to the TaNaK, commonly known as the law, the prophets, and the writings, or Old Testament as some would refer. The writings classified as the New Testament weren't even compiled and canonized together when these other letters were written. And if the NT was not compiled yet how can 2 Peter1:3 & 2 Timothy 3:16-17 refer to anything else but the Jewish scriptures?

        • Ben

          2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches that "all Scripture" (anything considered Scripture) is inspired by God. Therefore, if the New Testament is Scripture, then it too is inspired by God and therefore binding on all men today. What is Scripture? "Scripture" is anything that is inspired by God Himself, containing the very oracles of God (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). Therefore, if it is from God, it is Scripture. Should the New Testament be considered "Scripture"? Most certainly. Note the following: 1. The New Testament was penned by the apostles who were promised the Divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13). 2. When the apostle Paul quoted Luke 10:7, he referred to it as "Scripture" (1 Tim. 5:18). 3. In 2 Peter 3:15-16, we find that the apostle Peter considered Paul's writings to be Scripture. 4. Much of the New Testament had in fact been written by the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy 3:16, including 1 & 2 Thessalonians (which was written about 15 years earlier). In the first letter, Paul said that his writings were from the "word of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15). 5. The apostle Paul wrote, "For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12). He further acknowledged that His writings were a "command of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). I believe it should be very clear that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 should not be reduced to mere "Jewish Scriptures." Additionally, the context of 2 Timothy 3 & 4 demonstrate that Paul was referring not just to Old Testament scripture, but the entire "Word" of God, since it is the entire gospel (cf. Rom 1:16-17) which saves mankind. The gospel is the entire message of the Old Testament culminating in the New Covenant of Christ, which was transmitted by the Spirit given to His apostles.

      • Matthew W. Ashby

        To support your comments regarding the church being ever-existant since the Feast of Shavout following Yeshua's resurrection (that's Pentecost and Jesus for you Greek folks), Keith Sisman wrote a book a few years ago (and is working on another) regarding the church's history in Europe. The first book is called "Traces of the Kingdom," and provides some really interesting historical gems that are hard to find elsewhere. Good job, Ben, on an article you knew would stir things a bit. Such is in the spirit of the controversial Christ Himself.

        • johncml

          Traces of the Kingdom is a fascinating tail of the Lord's church through the ages. And is a true testament that the church (or the collective of believers) of Christ is not about the name on the sign, but the collective of believers in the church of The Christ.

      • sonja

        TY for great info. Listing the things that have distracted millions from the truth. Prayers for the HS to shine the light on all denominations and convict their hearts to seek the one truth so the remnant of the Body of Christ will be ready for Jesus's return. GBU

  6. Thresha Jones

    I just finished listening to the recommended video and it gives an excellent and simple presentation of why there are so many churches. Thank you Mr. Blackwell .

  7. Greg

    Where does God tell us to love a particular church? Love God, love neighbors, love brothers and sisters . . . all those, yes! But love your own historical church with its particular emphases? Even if your church is better than all the others, love like God . . . who loves the world. Even God does not love his church and those in it more than he loves everyone else.

    • Ben

      Your comment is deeply confused about the very nature of the church itself, and is offensive to everything the New Testament has to say about Christ's church. God the Son loved His church so much that He died for it (Eph. 5:25). He doesn't love just any church - He loves HIS church, HIS bride. Since the church is the saved (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27; Rom. 12:5; 5:23), saying both "God loves His church" and "God loves those in it" is redundant. God loves all of mankind (John 3:16), and the expression of His love and His plan to save mankind from their sin is manifested in the church (Eph. 3:10-11). When a person is saved - when he is "baptized into Christ" (Gal. 3:26-27) - he is automatically a member of Christ's church (Eph. 5:23; Acts 2:47). Yes, God loves a particular church: His church. And if we follow the greatest command to "Love God" and the second greatest command to "love our neighbor" (Matt. 22:36-40), we will love what He loves and encourage others to love what He loves by loving His church and teaching others how to become members of His church.

  8. Ben

    To first-time commenters, A friendly reminder of the comments policy: https://www.plainsimplefaith.com/my-comments-policy/. I have no interest in angry, bitter, sarcastic, drive-by comments. But kind, constructive comments (even if they are negative), are encouraged. Thank you for keeping up the conversation. God bless. -Ben

    • Jon Mitchell

      Been reading the comments and your answers. I have to commend you for your answers. They bring out scripture to support each point you make, and the tone of each answers suggests an attitude of love and patience on your part. Your answers to people's questions clearly provide an example of what 1 Peter 3:15 and 2 Timothy 2:24-26 teach. Keep up the good work.

  9. Ben

    Ben, I read your article and the comments with all of your responses. Thank you for such an articulate, faithful, and loving admonition of scripture and the God who authored it. I grew up attending a body of believers who had "Church of Christ" on the outside of the building. To those in that particular body and those outside of it, keeping straight the idea of "we are not a denomination" can be a confusing one. I understand the idea that we are simply trying to be Christ's church, and I believe that you are making the statement that anyone who is adhering to the standards that Christ set (regardless of denominational affiliation) is Christ's church. I think the struggle is that many in the church of Christ are operating as though they are their own denomination. I believe you are (at least in part) attempting to redirect that away from denominationalism into a more accurate portrayal of the body of Christ. However, I think you shoot yourself in the foot with your opening statement. By starting off with a statement comparing the differences between a church with "church of Christ" on the building and other denominations or community churches, you are painting a picture of "our church" vs "their church." I believe your readers, based on some of the comments, are stumbling over this. I hope this was beneficial and in line with your heart and desire. Blessings! Your brother in Christ.

  10. Eric

    I hope that I am misreading you, but it sounds like you consider the churches of Christ denomination(*) to be the exclusive (or at least, primary) manifestation of the true church. I appreciate your passion for unity - I share it. However, in seeking unity, you lose it entirely. In your advocation against denominationalism, you advocate something much worse: sectarianism. What you perhaps miss is that most Christian denominations, for all of their differences, do have unity with eachother. They agree to disagree about secondary issues, but they recognize eachother as members of the same universal church, the bride of Christ, because of their agreement on primary issues: namely, the unadulterated gospel. You seem to elevate issues that are clearly secondary (traditions involving communion, church economics, worship style) to primary issues. Not only are these secondary issues, but some, such as a mandate for a cappella worship can only be arrived at through a great deal of painful eisegesis (certainly not a conclusion someone who only knew "the writings of the New Testament" would arrive at). As I say, I hope that I misread you. I hope that I was simply confused by your lack of distinction between terms for the churches of Christ (denomination) and the church of Christ (true church). If I have read you correctly, then I am again greatly saddened by the unfounded sectarianism that seems to spring out of the churches of Christ denomination so often. * I know that you are going to take issue with referring to the churches of Christ (i.e., Stone-Campbell movement) as a denomination, but (1) it certainly is a denomination(**) and (2) it is important to make the distinction between "churches of Christ" (the denomination) and the "church of Christ" (true church) to avoid confusion. ** Although the churches of Christ refuse to self identify as a denomination, they have all the earmarks of a denomination. It is not necessary to have centralized oversight or a written creed to constitute a denomination. In practice, the implicit creeds and traditions of the churches of Christ denomination are actually much more granularly defined (and strictly enforced) than Southern Baptists (e.g., a cappella worship).

    • Steven

      Eric, I'd like to try to reply to what you've written. I hope this might clarify some things. 1. The church of Christ isn't a denomination (cf. Rom. 16.16), but is the body of Christ we read of in the New Testament (cf. Col. 1.18). Campbell and Stone did nothing more than Ezra and Nehemiah did -- they pointed the way back to God's Word. Yet, Ezra and Nehemiah wasn't accused of founding an Israeli denomination, but were a part of Israel's history. As a matter of fact, the Puritans, Baptists, Presbyterians (i.e. Calvinists) and all other denominations strove to return to primitive Christianity -- a plea that finds roots in the Dutch, Catholic priest Erasmus of Rotterdam. Campbell and Stone took the plea further to restoring the church that Calvin and others left unfinished. 2. The "secondary issues" are only secondary because people make them such. If Christ and His apostles spoke about them, they are not secondary, but God's Word. 3. The church worshiped the same in the first century. Note how many times Paul reiterated that what he taught the Corinthians was what he taught in all the churches (1 Cor. 4.17; 7.17; 14.33; 16.1). Moreover, the Thessalonians operated as the Judean churches (1 Thess. 2.14). There was greater uniformity in the church than people like to admit. 4. The term "acapella" etymologically means "in the manner of the chapel." It's only meant "without instruments" since the last two hundred years or so. Therefore, the original praise of the church was without instruments and likely in a chant. This isn't eisegesis, but plain history. Ambrose was the first to introduce instruments in the West, and he was met with great opposition. The Catholic Church made them common by the twelfth century. Even reformers (e.g. Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon, et. al.) in their writings denounced instrumental accompaniment in worship. Our entire goal is to do what they did in the New Testament. This is not only a scriptural investigation, but a historical one at times too. If you were to study the second century church, you'd notice that the churches of Christ are more aligned with primitive Christianity than any other group. Blessings.

      • Eric

        Hi Steven, thanks for your response. 1. I agree that the churches of Christ referred to in Romans 16:16 do not refer to a denomination. It seems obvious to me that Paul is referring to various local congregations of the universal church. However, I strongly disagree with the implication that the churches of Christ denomination has any more claim to the universal church referred to by Paul than any other denomination does. I hope you are not getting too hung up on the name of the denomination. Should we exclude the baptist church down the road because it says "First Baptist" on its sign, rather than "Church of Christ"? 2. I think you oversimplify the issue. It is difficult to interpret the Bible. The most recent parts are 2000 years old. Christians, even in the churches of Christ denomination, disagree on many disputable issues. Would you say that someone was not saved if they disagreed with you on whether communion should be taken from one cup? Or here's another example: You say that there are no secondary issues. Romans 14 seems to say otherwise. Should I then consider you to not be a Christian because your interpretation of the Bible is flawed? Of course not - like me, you are saved by grace, through faith, because of what Christ has done. Whether or not you believe in secondary issues is clearly a secondary issue :) 3. Sure. I wish there was more uniformity, and I wish we didn't have all these denominations (churches of Christ, included). But the fact of the matter is that we do have denominations. People can't seem to agree on things, because the Bible is hard (see #2). Fortunately, even though we have a lot of churches named a lot of different things, those churches generally consider eachother Christians. We disagree on secondary issues, like tongues, music, predestination, etc (and for each of these things, Biblical cases are made on both sides!). But we agree on the primary issues (Christ crucified and resurrected for our sins, salvation by grace, etc). 4. History can tell us when Christians started using instruments in worship. But only eisegesis can tell us that they should not use instruments in worship. I don't take much stock in what the reformers thought about instrumental accompaniment (I know that the human heart loves tradition, and is capable of all kinds of rationalizing to avoid change); I'm much more interested in what the Bible says about it (and the answer to that, if we are honest with ourselves, is that it is encouraged in the Old Testament, and not discouraged in the New Testament). As an illustration let's take the same logic in your argument for a cappella-only worship. When do you supposed Christians started using hymnals in their worship? What about electric lighting? Dare I ask about microphones? None of these things were used in the early church, so by what standard can we allow these and yet prohibit instruments? I understand the goal of the Restoration movement, and I appreciate it. But I think that as long as the churches of Christ fail to distinguish between primary and secondary issues, and so exclude their brothers in Christ, they have some level of success at imitating the superficial aspects of the early church, and very limited success at imitating the most important and substantive aspects (like unity). Thanks again for your response, and your patience in reading mine. Feel free to respond. I will read your response, though I probably will not respond myself, because I believe that I have said everything that was on my heart.

        • Steven

          Hi Eric. Thanks for having this dialogue. I think discussing these things are important, so I appreciate your kindness and willingness to do so. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to address each point per the number you've listed for the sake of clarity. 1. I don't believe for one minute that a sign tells the story of a congregation. I do believe, however, that the sign identifies the local assembly according to its historical theology and dogmas. From my perspective, "church of Christ" on a sign is somewhat bothersome given how all others use the sign. However, when people travel, I know it's nice to see the name and know where to go should that be their choice. The name isn't a sole reason to "exclude" (your words). As I see it, my reasoning is thus: "Why would I call myself something that the Bible doesn't?" No group of believers are ever called Baptists, or even church of Christers for that matter. They're referred to by several names such as the church of God, those who belong to the way, the firstborn, etc. In an attempt to return to biblical Christianity -- which we believe to be apostolic -- we use their verbiage to show its foundation as biblical. I'll go further to contend that God doesn't save buildings or people in them. He will save the body of Christ (Eph. 5.23). How one is admitted into that body is stated very clearly in Acts 2.38-47. When a group claims that one has to say a "sinner's prayer" to be saved, or that one needs to "invite Jesus into their hearts" to be saved, I simply ask, "Where do you read this verbiage in the New Testament?" It's just not there. Why would I tell someone to do something that God hasn't told them through His Word? 2. I don't judge anyone's soul, because Paul told the early Christians to not do so over trivial matters in Romans 14. There's no clear command to use one cup or many. If some of my brethren want to use one cup, that's their choice. I don't judge them based on their scruple to do so or not to do so. Your usage of Romans 14 has cleared up my misunderstanding of what you earlier referred to as secondary issues, though I'm not sure I would have lumped all of the issues you identified as such in the "secondary" category. Of course, your saying that my hermeneutic is flawed is a whole other matter that we could discuss at length, but I think we can safely agree that we disagree with one another's hermeneutic. 3. I would agree that there are some issues that don't determine a person's salvation, but you and I would likely disagree on what those are. We can agree that if a clear command is stated and a clear prohibition is stated, we should do or refrain from doing what's clearly commanded. Correct? Furthermore, I think we could also agree that if the early Christians did it and were not met with rebukes or corrections, we too could do or not do based on their examples and the reception of their actions in God's sight. Would you agree? Inferences are an issue on which I'll not contend, because I've heard some horrible inferences from my own brethren that I wouldn't stake my life on if I had to. On these, we may be disagreeable and, I think, lump these into the Romans 14 secondary issues. 4. On to instruments. I'm glad that you see that it was used in the OT. However, I'm sure that you would agree that OT usage is not a basis for Christian usage. If it was, then we must also erect another temple, appoint another priesthood, and begin the sacrificial custom all over again. However, I think the Hebrew writer laid that baby to rest. Now, although the NT doesn't clearly prohibit them, it's clear from a reading of the NT that the early Christians simply didn't use them. Would you agree? Well, if they didn't use them, why would we want too regardless of theological reasons? Furthermore, God never told Nadab and Abihu to NOT use strange fire (Lev. 10.1ff), but they did and were punished because of it. God never said that the ark of the covenant was to NOT be transported on an ox cart, but when it was and it stumbled, and when Uzzah touched it, God showed His response to such by striking Uzzah. God HAD commanded the Levites to transport the ark. If God were to tell us everything that we were NOT to do, our Bibles would be thicker. Much more thicker. Let's think of it like this -- and I only ask you to consider this point: Let's say that I hired you to paint my living room. You agreed to do the work for a certain wage. Then, let's say that I specified as the color "tan." Since I specified tan, would you honestly go and paint my living room any other color and then say, "But you didn't say to NOT paint it this or that color?" I don't think you would. You're an intelligent person. I can tell by your reasoning. You would know -- as my painter -- that when I specified a color, that ruled out all other colors. I believe that the specific commands to sing in the New Testament -- with the absence of the command to use this or that instrument -- rule out any accompaniment. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to recommend a book to you by a Baptist preacher: John Price. "Old Light on New Worship." He concluded that instruments shouldn't be used in worship after studying the Bible on the subject. You might read his book to see why he concluded thus. Now you mention microphones and and hymnals and other things. Let me try to answer this. When Jesus gave His great commission to "Go into all the world," Christ did not specify HOW to go. He just said "Go!" In their time they went by caravan, foot, boat, etc. Today, we can go by radio wave, internet, airplane, etc. Since Christ didn't say HOW to fulfill the command, it's left up to our choice as to HOW we fulfill the command. When He says sing, He doesn't say to stand or sit, to chant or melodically sing, etc. However, the songbook and microphone assist us in fulfilling the command given our advances since the first century. When a person advocates using instruments in worship, they're advocating that the instrument is a part of the worship. Therefore, it is an addition to the command. It doesn't help fulfill the command, because the command could be filled without it. It can also be carried out without microphones, songbooks, etc. When God told Noah to build the ark, He specified the type of wood, but He didn't specify the tools to use. Noah used judgment and fulfilled the command, but he still used Gopher wood and not Pine. He didn't overlay the Gopher with cedar either -- which would have been an addition. Eric, forgive me for being so "wordy." This is the sort of conversation that would be best to have at a coffee table with a cup of coffee and a piece of pie :D God bless.

          • Nick Gill

            "All inspired Scripture is... profitable for doctrine...." - Paul We don't have to rebuild the Temple, for we *are* the Temple being built without hands by Jesus, as both Paul and Peter affirm in several passages. We don't have to appoint a new priesthood - Jesus is the High Priest and has already appointed all citizens of the kingdom of God - ALL citizens male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free - to be His royal priesthood. We don't have to restart the sacrificial system - it never ended! Jesus himself is the last and true atoning sacrifice, and we make freewill and fellowship offerings every first day of the week and every time we gather together. But none of that negates Paul's clear and unequivocal statement, "All inspired Scripture is profitable for doctrine."

          • Ryan S.

            Great response, brother. I will have to search for John Price's book to give it to my Baptist friends.

      • Vicki Simmons

        "Our entire goal is to do what they did in the New Testament." I believe in the early church they primarily met in people's homes and they sold everything they had and blended all of the proceeds together for the benefit of all. We don't do that today so that isn't really a true statement of fact. I think there is a denomination called Four-Square that does that. At any rate, I hear Church of Christ people saying this same thing all the time but it just isn't completely accurate.

        • Ben

          Yes, our goal should always be to restore the New Testament pattern of the church. However, simply because the early church often met in the homes of individuals does not mean we can onlymeet in homes today. The New Testament does command Christians (by command and example) to meet today (Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 20:7), thereby authorizing a place to meet. Yet the New Testament does not supply any exclusive pattern for a particular style of meeting place. While some Christians met in homes (1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15), they also met in the temple (Acts 2:46). It also seems that, at least in one instance, they also met in borrowed public facilities (Acts 19:9). Simply put, the Bible does not tell Christians where to meet, it simply tells them to meet. And a church building is a wonderful expedient to that command. The early church was most certainly benevolent and generous, but that does not mean they were communists. They gave to people "as they had need" (Acts 2:45), but they still were allowed to own property. Ananias & Sapphira, for example, still had full control as to what they did with what they owned (cf Acts 5:4). The early Christians were not stripped of all their property (i.e. Mary the mother of Mark still owned a house, Acts 12:12). Not everyone received money - only those in need were helped (Acts 4:35). Rather, Christians need to motivated by a heart that is eager to serve those who are less fortunate (Gal. 6:10; Jas. 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17). I like to think that many Christians are like that today, though many of us (including myself) could do better. Indeed, we must, if we truly desire to restore New Testament Christianity! I'm not a "Church of Christ" person. I'm just a Christian who wants to please God the best I know how. Therefore, I want to follow the same commands and patterns the church of Jesus Christ followed in the New Testament.

  11. Vincent J. Eagan, III

    With regard to the question, "How doctrinally sound must a congregation be to be a "church of Christ?"....... It can't be. There are no congregations that are part of the church of Christ. Hold on before you get out your clubs ... there are only INDIVIDUALS who make up the church. There's a very common misconception that local churches make up the "body of Christ", but that is taught nowhere in scripture. The church is universal. Second, I have probably just missed it, but if I didn't .... I'm surprised to not see 1 Corinthians 1:10 mentioned. Any time I have had someone ask me about denominations, this scripture clears that confusion right up .... denominations were directly prohibited. "10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" How easy would it be to replace that with, "I am of Luther, I am of the Baptists, I am of the Methodists..."? Interesting to see that "I am of Christ," is in that list as well. I suggest the point is the divisiveness of it, and I would go so far as to say there are many members of local "churches of Christ" who also display this spirit, essentially turning it into a denomination for them.

  12. Barbara Simmons

    Thank you for creating this web page. I attend Tri County Church of Christ in Beloit, Ohio

  13. Shiny

    I was baptised when I was in my high school,and since then I have been a part of COC -Church of Christ, that's how we call it here in India. Mr Ben, I am thankful to God who made me read your article, something which I have been taught since my school days..I thank The Claytons family who shared the scriptures with my family. Bro Kyle Clayton is my first teacher in Christ. I read all the comments and your replies to them, and I was smiling at all their questions but the confusion regarding the "church" that most of them have is alarming. You have explained it very well to all of them and I hope and pray to lord that all "Christians " need to convert to being a true christian.

  14. Becky

    Thank you, Ben. You have explained the Word of our God in a way that anyone who is earnestly seeking God can understand. It is simple to understand if you put everything out of the way that you have previously been taught or just believed. May God bless you with a long life in His service. May there be many that find the truth and obey it.

  15. Clay Gentry

    May I reprint this article in our congregation's bulletin but simple say "the church" instead of "the church of Christ"? Thank for considering my request.

    • Ben

      Of course! Such would denote the same thing. Take care!

  16. Phyllis Davis

    Most people do not understand the difference in "church (lower case c) of Christ" and Church (upper case C) of Christ. I would rather see a sign on a building where Christians meet say "The saints meet here" or "the church meets here" or "Christ's church meets here". The sign could also have the times that the congregation meets and even the name of the preacher. Just because a building has a sign that says "Church of Christ" does not necessarily mean it is a "church of Christ". It is important to identify the building with a name so others can find it (when directions are given) and in order to get mail. Sadly, there are many people calling themselves "Church of Christ" that have strayed very far from the church described in the New Testament. I am not a member of the "Church of Christ", I am a member of the "church of Christ". I am not a member of a denomination but I am a member of the church that Christ gave his life for, the church that will remain until the end of time when Christ will come in the clouds to take his church to heaven.

  17. momaof3boys

    Ben, thank you so much for beautifully saying what so many of us are feeling. I have been a member of a Church of Christ all of my 32 years. I guess because I have never known anything else, it seems crazy to me that there are those who think of "us" as anything other than followers of Christ. In the last year or so I have found myself having to defend my beliefs. "You are a fundamentalist!" Well, I guess maybe I am. I do all that I can to follow the word of God, aka the Bible, as it is written. Add nothing and take nothing away. Before anyone has a chance to throw stones at me.... I said I TRY! I am not perfect, all I can do is my best, and praise God! Blessings to you and your family!

  18. Roy Moore

    I like ability to respond. There is something else that I have found to be a misnomer. I agree with Ben that the sinners plea is not in the Bible stateded the way preachers portray it from the pulpit. And John 3:16 is a promise in the New testament for all those in this day born and unborn , his blood has been applied. But it is not a Command as I've heard Manny preacher's think that it is all you have to Believe. And you are Saves. Should look it up means future tense.

  19. JoeLouthan

    Could you give resources that would explain how churches of Christ (those who gather to worship in buildings with the church name that contains "Church of Christ" within) are non-denomination? This is under my assumption that you are speaking of church of Christ (those who gather to worship in buildings with the church name that contains "Church of Christ" within).

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