“What is the Church of Christ?” – Jess Whitlock

Jess Whitlock

The church you can read about in the pages of your New Testament is known by various appellations: the church of the Firstborn (Heb. 12:23); the church (Acts 8:1); the church of the Lord (Acts 20:28); the church of God (1 Cor. 1:2); and the churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16). The “church of Christ” is not a denomination.

The Establishment of the Church of Christ

Christ made a powerful promise in Matthew 16:18 when He stated, “Upon this rock, I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Take note that the word church is singular, and the word it likewise is singular. Jesus also said, “There are here some of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power.” (Mark 9:1). Jesus Christ is the only one with the authority to establish the church which He had promised to build. Jesus indicated that men living at that time, would be alive to see the fulfillment of that promise to build His church.

In Luke 24 following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:3-4), Jesus spoke to His apostles saying, “Behold, I send forth the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on High.” (Luke 24:49). The promise of the Father involves the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon those men, as prophesied in Joel 2:28-ff. The time is not specified, so they were to tarry in Jerusalem until that time would come. Let’s fast forward to the book of Acts and,

being assembled together with them, He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which said He, ye heard from Me: for John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence…ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Acts 2 states:

And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).

The apostles preached the first Gospel sermon to a crowd of thousands. Peter concluded that sermon saying,

Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (Acts 2:36-37).

Here we see the beginning of the church on the earth for which Christ died. (Matt. 16:18).

Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). Notice what happens next in this context, “They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41). The chapter concludes that the Lord added to the church that day those that were saved (Acts 2:47).

Are you a part of the church that Christ built? Continue reading about the church that you can find in the pages of your New Testament.

The Worship of the Church of Christ is Ordained by God

It has been established that Jesus Christ built one church and it is His church. Jesus said,

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24).

You must consider the church where you worship. Does that church worship God? Does that church worship in spirit (with proper attitude), and does that church worship the Lord God in accordance with the Holy Bible’s teaching? We must worship Him on the first day of the week; i.e., Sunday, the Lord’s day. “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them…” (Acts 20:7).

  1. There will be the singing of praises, and the singing is “acapella” which means “in the manner of the church.” There are no mechanical instruments of music, no choirs, no quartets or solos. No authority can be found in the New Testament for organs, pianos, drums, guitars, etc. to be used in worship to God the Father. All Christians are commanded to sing! “Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19; cf. Col. 3:16).

  2. There will be the offering up of prayers to God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul tells Christians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Christ taught His disciples how to pray. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven…” (Matt. 6:9). He did not pray to His mother, to the Holy Spirit, or to Himself! Our prayers are to be addressed to the Father in heaven, and to no other.

  3. The work of the church is financed by free-will offerings of the members. “Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that no collections be made when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:2; cf. 2 Cor. 9:7). In the Lord’s church there will be no car washes, garage sales, the selling of pies and cakes, auctions, festivals, et al. to raise funds. There is no Bible authority for such in the pages of the New Testament.

  4. The observance of the Lord’s Supper is on the first day of every week. Not once a month, three or four times during the year, or for weddings, etc. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7; cf. Acts 2:42). The Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper Himself (1 Cor. 11:23-28).

  5. The study, teaching, and preaching of God’s Word. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). Paul told Timothy to “preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season: reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2). In the “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) you will note these items of worship on the “first day of the week.”

You will quickly discover that such is not the case in many churches that are established by uninspired men. How does the church where you attend measure up to the teaching of God’s Word?

God’s Plan of Salvation is Preached in the Church of Christ

The church which Christ purchased with His own blood had its beginning in the city of Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s ascension. The date was circa A.D. 33. Christ is the head of His church (Eph. 5:22-25). Above we considered the five acts of worship commanded in God’s Word. Does the church where you attend wear the name of Christ (Rom. 16:16)? Does it worship like the church of the first century (Acts 2:42)? Does it teach God’s plan of salvation?

The Lord’s church is made up of obedient believers. What is the Biblical plan of salvation as recorded in the pages of the New Testament? Let your fingers do the walkin’ and let the Bible do the talkin’.

  1. There must first and foremost be belief in Christ as God’s only begotten Son! “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24).

  2. There must be a willingness to repent of sin in your life. Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.” (Luke 13:3; cf. vs. 5). Paul preached, “The times of this ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent.” (Acts 17:30). Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of life, actions, and turning from sin. The Lord desires that all men repent (2 Pet. 3:9).

  3. There must be made of the beautiful confession of Christ as Lord.

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:9-10).

Notice please, Paul did not say “into” salvation, but “unto” salvation. Salvation is not yet attained. Jesus Christ said,

Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).

It is called the “good confession” (1 Tim. 6:12-13).

  1. There must be baptism into the name of Jesus for, unto, in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins. When the church of Christ was established the first Gospel sermon was preached by Peter and the rest of the apostles.

Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).

Herein we find the answer to the age-old question of what a man must do in order to be saved from his sins. Jesus said, and all the demons of hell cannot change it, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16). Remember that “…they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38). The one baptism of the New Testament is an immersion, a burial, an inundation in water (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:3-4). Baptism is the final act that saves us (1 Pet. 3:21).

  1. Do not put a period where God has only placed a comma. One must be found faithful unto death. To the church at Ephesus, the Lord Jesus admonished, “…Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10d).

By obedience to God’s plan of salvation you can be added to the church of the Bible today. “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16).

Which Church Shall I Join?”

We have considered the establishment, the worship, and the plan of salvation in the church of Christ. The only question that remains in the minds of many is the burning question:

All up and down this troubled land confusion reigns today,

As honest folks on every hand in doubt are heard to say;

I do not know which church to join, there are so very many.”

To whom we offer this advice, you never should join any!

You cannot join the church of Christ and no man can vote you in;

The Lord Himself will add you, when He saves you from your sin.

Then take no chance, brother, this race but once you’ll run,

A church you would join must be of men, and not the proper one!

Beware a church you cannot find within the sacred pages;

Be safe, dear sinner, rest your soul upon the Rock of Ages.

Be added to His blood-bought church, and drink salvation’s cup;

For every plant God planted not…it shall be rooted up.

No mourner’s bench on Pentecost the inspired Peter fitted,

But said, “Repent and be baptized, that your sins may be remitted.”

The Lord Who saved and added those who did, that day, His will;

Will do the same for you, dear friend, for He is adding still.

Let not false teachers lead you wrong, nor close your eyes in slumber.

When Jesus said He would build His church. ‘twas not the plural number!

No choice of churches, neighbor, you will find beneath the sun,

Though men may have ten thousand, our Lord and Savior built but one!

Let us invite you to investigate the “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) this coming Lord’s Day. Compare the worship and the teaching with what you read in your own Bible. You have nothing to lose and you will gain the hope of eternal salvation on the other side of death’s door!

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Author: Editor

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