Jerry C. Brewer
The religion of Jesus Christ is the religion of reason. It is addressed to that part of man which is reasonable—the mind—and, consequently, one who professes that religion must be able to give a reason for so doing. The apostle Peter admonishes us to, “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Every religion has a basis and Christ’s religion is based upon the Bible. Without the Bible no man would know anything of the love of God, Jesus Christ, heaven, or hell. The New Testament is God’s will for you and me as expressed through the Son of God. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). God has given Him all power—or authority—in matters religious. That’s why Paul said all we do in religion must be done in Christ’s name, or by His authority. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).
To do a thing “in the name of the Lord Jesus” means that He has authorized us to do that thing. We cannot simply pick out a practice that suits us and say, “This is in the name of Christ.” No one can act “in the name of the State” without authority from the state. One might say he is acting in the name of the state, but unless the state has authorized that person to act, his action is vain and has no authority.
Even so, unless Christ has authorized what we preach and practice we are not acting in His name—even though we say we are. Jesus has all authority (Matt. 28:18) and the inspired writer of Hebrews begins with the assertion that God “has spoken unto us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1-2). God has spoken and His final revelation to man has been made through Jesus Christ. For one’s religion to be right with God, his preaching and practice must be ordered by the word of Christ.
That’s why the church of Christ seems peculiar to many people. Faithful churches of Christ preach and practice only those things revealed in Christ’s will and that is our concern in this article. Why does the church of Christ preach and practice the things it does?
What We Preach (“In Word”)
We preach the same message which Jesus commanded the apostles to preach. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). The only way you and I can be saved is through the power of the gospel of Christ. That’s what Jesus commanded us to preach and that’s what Paul said God uses to save men. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
The gospel of Christ is the message of the church of Christ. We have no creed book but the Bible. Creeds are written by men, but the Bible is from God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). In fact, men’s creed books contradict the Bible and lead souls to hell. That’s the way it was in the first century and Paul condemned men’s creeds. “But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).
What We Practice (“In Deed”)
Why do we use the term, “the church of Christ?” Because Christ promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18), He died for it (Eph. 5:25), He is its foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), and He is the head of it (Eph. 1:22-23). If Christ promised to build it, died for it, is its foundation and head, what would you call it?
The church has no name. The term, the church of Christ is a designation of ownership, like the phrase, “the farm of John Brown.” When we say, “the farm of John Brown,” we aren’t naming his farm, but simply stating who owns it. The same is true with the phrase, the church of Christ. That isn’t its name, but a phrase indicating that Christ owns the church. You see, the church of the New Testament has no name. It never needed one to distinguish it from others in the New Testament because there were no others. Christ built only one true church—the one you find described in the New Testament. All modern denominations came into existence long after Christ built His church and they are neither the church He built, nor any part of it.
What are individual members called? They are called the same thing they were in the first century. Members of the church of Christ are simply Christians. The New Testament knows nothing of “hyphenated” Christians. The name Christian is the only name God gave His people (Acts 11:26), the only name found in the Bible for Christ’s followers (Acts 26:28), and the only name in which God is glorified (1 Pet. 4:16).
Why do members of the church of Christ worship as they do? Because the worship in which we engage is authorized (Col. 3:17) by Christ in the New Testament. Our practice is guided by what Christ has authorized in the New Testament.
We pray in worship, with prayer led only by men because that’s what we are authorized to do in the New Testament (1 Tim. 2:8).
We give of our money on the first day of the week to support the cause of Christ because the New Testament authorizes that (1 Cor. 16:2). We refuse to engage in fund-raising activities like bazaars, car washes, carnivals, games of chance, or other worldly means of raising money because they aren’t authorized in the New Testament. To engage in such things is to go beyond God’s word and that is sin (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19). Neither do we beg for money from those who aren’t members of the church of Christ. The support of Christ’s cause is solely the responsibility of members of Christ’s church.
Men preach in our worship assemblies to teach those who aren’t Christians and to edify the church (Acts 20:7). Women are expressly forbidden to speak in the public worship and for them to preach is sin (1 Tim. 2:11-12).
We observe the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week because that is the approved apostolic example we have in Acts 20:7. The disciples in the first century met to “break bread” in memory of Christ’s death and suffering as he commanded (Matt. 26:26-29).
We sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to praise God and edify one another (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), and we do this without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. We do this because the kind of music God wants is specified in these verses—singing. To play a mechanical instrument of music in worship adds an element which is not authorized and is rebellion against God’s authority.
Why do we insist upon baptism for the remission of sins? Because that’s the plain teaching of Scripture: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
New Testament baptism is immersion in water for the remission of sins. If you had water poured or sprinkled on you, you were not baptized. Baptism requires a going “down into the water” and a coming “up out of the water” (Acts 8:38-39), and Paul says we are “buried with him by baptism” (Rom. 6:4).
Neither do we baptize babies because no such practice is authorized in the New Testament. Baptism is “for the remission of sins,” but babies have no sins to remit (Ezek. 18:20-22).
Will you not come and take your stand with us upon the Word of God? The Bible only makes Christians only, and the only Christians.