Over 1900 years ago Jesus built His church. The centuries have witnessed its division. Now there are hundreds of denominations in the U.S. alone. The world is tired of such endless division. Homes are torn by it. Fine people are discouraged by it. And Bible study is neglected because of it. But there is a thrilling movement back to the unity of Jesus' church.

Churches of Christ are demonstrating that the simplicity of original Christianity can be restored.

This movement has had periods of rapid growth in America and the rest of the world. During one decade, the church doubled in size and during one period of 20 years, mushroomed at the astonishing rate of 580 percent.

In recent years the growth rate has been considerably less. The growth and the doctrinal positions taken by those who make up the churches of Christ, have stirred the thinking of thousands, and there have been many questions. Perhaps you would like more information about the church of Christ. If so, the following questions and remarks should prove helpful.

What Is Its Plea?

It is to end division by turning away from denominational error and to be the one church of the Bible. The original church was a united church. (Acts 2:42f & 4:32). The church of Christ pleads for the unity of all believers in that church. Experience and the Bible teach that division is sinful. (I Cor. 1:10 & John 17:20). The need of the hour is not for a new church but the original church with its unity. The need is for those who will lay aside party names, creeds and ties and be Christians only. Jesus' church can be restored if men will but do Bible things in Bible ways and call Bible things by Bible names. The early disciples were just Christians (Acts 11:26); neither Protestants nor Catholics. Protestantism and Catholicism were unheard of until centuries later. Thus the restoration of the Biblical church will lead us once again to be just Christians; neither Protestants nor Catholics.

Early Christians were not denominationalist. Paul was not a member of a denomination, Peter another, and James and John members of a third. Instead, they condemned division and the wearing of additional names as carnal (unspiritual). (I Cor. 1:10-13 & 3:3-4). Churches of Christ are pleading that all should be Christians only, members of the Lord's church. This is not a plea for a new church but for the restoration of Jesus' church in its unity and simplicity. It is a plea for undenominational Christianity and the abandonment of all denominational names, creeds and ways in favor of Biblical names, teachings and ways. This basic plea by the church of Christ is one of the reasons for its growth.

Who Is Its Founder?

Jesus alone is recognized as the founder of the church. (Mt. 16:18). Early leaders of this restoration movement are appreciated but are not viewed as founders of the church. If football should disappear for a century and then be revived, the new players would not have founded a new game. Neither should those leading in the revival of New Testament Christianity be regarded as founders of a new church unless they abandon the true pattern. (Heb. 8:5). Examine the Bible with us! Let's restore the church as Jesus would want it!

When Did It Begin?

Acts 2:1-47, describes the birthday of Christ's church in Jerusalem, (c. 30 A.D.). The church of Christ, therefore, views this date and place as the time of its beginning. To claim another date or place of origin is to forfeit any claim to being the church that Jesus built it.

Who Controls It?

Jesus is the only head of the church. (Eph. 1:22 & Col. 1:18). Elders and deacons are appointed in keeping with I Tim. 3:1-13 & Tit. 1:5-9 . These elders oversee the congregation of which they are members. (Acts 20:28). Since a hierarchy, synod, or policy making convention is unauthorized by the Bible, churches of Christ have no earthly headquarters. Instead each church is free to determine its own policies under the direction of its heavenly head -Jesus.

What Does It Believe About The Godhead?

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are personal beings in the Godhead. (Col. 2:9). They are one in purpose, doctrine and attitude, but are still separate persons. (2 John 9 & Lk. 3:21f). In like manner we speak of some as being of "one heart", (Acts 4:32), but understand that they are separate persons. Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. He was born of Mary, a virgin. (Mt. l:20f). He died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead. (I Cor. 15:3f). He now reigns over His kingdom. (I Cor. 15:24f).

What Does It Believe About The Bible?

The Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. They are sufficient unto every good work.(2 Tim. 3:16f). Creeds, manuals, catechisms, and disciplines possess no authority from God. Often they divide believers and help maintain existing divisions. They, therefore, should be abandoned, and the Bible alone should be exalted as the rule of faith. (Mk. 7:8-9). What God demands in the Bible, men should preach. What he has not demanded, they have no right to demand!

Moses' law guided the Jews until the death of Christ. It is not binding today. (Gal. 3:23f & Heb. 8:6f, and Rom. 7:6). Instead, Christians are under the law of Christ which is contained in the New Testament. (I Cot. 9:21). Men who add to this law are accursed! (Gal. l:Sf).

What Does It Believe About Heaven and Hell?

The good and the evil will be resurrected. (John 5:28f). The righteous are to enjoy eternal life with God. (Mt. 25:34, 46). The wicked are to be condemned to eternal torment. (Mt. 13:41f & Rev. 20:10). Purgatory is not taught by the Bible. Instead, the evil and righteous are to be separated by a gulf that cannot be crossed. (Lk. 16:26). There will be no second chance for salvation after death, for men will be judged by their deeds in this life. (2 Cor. 5:10).

What Does It Believe About Miraculous Gifts?

The nine miraculous gifts of I Cor. 12:4-1, ceased at the completion of God's perfect law. (I Cot. 13:8f & Jas. 1:25). Since that time, God has not given to anyone these gifts of miraculous knowledge; the ability to prophesy, to speak in an unknown language, to heal or to raise the dead.

What Does It Believe About Inheriting Sin?

Sin is an action. (I John 3:4 & Jas. 4:17). The actions of others cannot be inherited. Children do not inherit or bear the sins or righteousness of their fathers. (Ezek. 18:20). Hence, the sin of Adam is not inherited. Infants are without sin. Therefore, if they die, they are not lost! Instead, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such little ones. (Mt. 19:14).

What Does It Believe About The Church?

Jesus died for the church! (Acts 20:28). He has promised to save it. (Eph.5:23). As men are saved, God adds them to it. (Acts 2:47). The saved then are not outside the church but are in it. No, the church does not save! But God adds the saved to the church! (Acts 2:47). God teaches that the church is the body. (Eph. 1:22-23 & Col. 1:18). There is but one body as there is but one God. (Eph. 4:4-7). And Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers in this one body. (John 17:20-21).

What Is Its Worship Like?

True worship must be in spirit, (from the heart) and in truth, (authorized by the Bible). (John 4:24). God is not honored by insincere, ignorant worship, (Mt. 15:9 & John 4:22); or vain repetitions, (Mt. 6:7); or worshippers seeking to be seen of men. (Mt. 6:5-6). Worship in the early church consisted of prayers, (Acts 2:42); communion on every Sunday, (Acts 20:7); and contributions according to prosperity. (I Cot. 16:1-2). The church of Christ worships in the same manner today. To the early church communion was a memorial - not a sacrament. (I Cor. 11:23f). Prayers to saints, masses, rosaries, images, instrumental music, and liturgies were not employed in its worship. Neither were cake sales, gambling, raffles or the like used in financing Christian work. Such unauthorized practices have crept in over the centuries. God is not their author. (Mk. 7:6-9).

How Can One Enter It?

Neither a vote by the church nor completion of a study course were necessary to entering the early church. (Acts 8:36f & 16:25-34). God did not require such then nor now! To be saved and thus added to the church, one must believe, (Acts 16:31); repent of his sins, (Acts 2:38); confess Jesus, (Rom. 10:9-10); and be baptized to obtain the forgiveness of his sins, (Acts 2:38 & 22:16), and to enter the one body. (I Cor. 12:13). Everyone doing these things from the heart is saved and added by the Lord to the church. (Acts 2:47).

What Mode of Baptism Is Used?

In Bible times the preacher and the one to be baptized went down into and came up out of the water. (Acts 8:38 & Mk. 1:10). Baptism involved a burial and a resurrection (Col. 2:12 & Rom. 6:4), and a washing of the body. (Heb. 10:22). Jesus spoke of it as being "born of water". (John 3:5). These references indicate that immersion and not sprinkling was the practice of the early church. The church of Christ, therefore, only recognizes immersion as baptism.

Why Is Baptism So Important?

Baptism is in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Mt. 28:19). This alone indicates it is important. Baptism unites us with Christ and His death. (Gal. 3:27 & Rom. 6:3). Salvation, (I Pet. 3:21); cleansing, Eph. 5:26); forgiveness, (Acts 2:38); and the washing away of sins, (Acts 22:16); are received in baptism. Being "born of water and the spirit" is essential to entering the kingdom of God. (John 3:5). Obviously, water itself cannot remit sins. But God can! And he has conditioned salvation on this act of faith. (Col. 2:12 & Mk. 16:16). Baptism, then is not to show that we are already saved. Instead, it is to obtain the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:38).

Who Should Be Baptized?

In Bible times baptism was preceded by teaching, (Mt. 28:19); belief, (Mk. 16:16); repentance, (Acts 2:38); and confession of Christ. (Acts 8:36-37). Infants are unable to obey these commands and, therefore, are not to be baptized. Thus, the Bible does not record a single case of infant baptism under Christ's law. Infants are without sin! (See section on inheriting sin). Hence, they are not lost and thus have no need of baptism for the remission of their sins. (Acts 2:38). This is why the Bible only speaks of believers being baptized. (Acts 8:12f & 18:8).

What About Those Already Baptized?

Everyone baptized in keeping with the Bible is a Christian. He does not have to be baptized again to enter the church of Christ but is already a member of it. (Acts 2:47). Anyone whose former baptism is not according to the Bible must be baptized again to please the Lord. (Acts 19:1-5). Those merely sprinkled as infants need to be baptized, for baptism is immersion, (Col. 2:12), and is only for believers, (Mk. 16:16). Likewise, those immersed without a desire to obtain the forgiveness of sins, (Acts 2:38 & 22:16), or to enter the one body, (I Cot. 12:13), must be baptized again to please the Lord and be added to His church. The church has no right to demand more than God has demanded in this matter. Neither should it condone less than He has demanded. If a person's baptism is Scriptural, he has no need of rebaptism to enter the church. He is already a member of it.

Closing Remarks

The Bible only makes "Christians only"! It takes something more than or less than the Bible to make one a "type" of Christian. Anyone reading the Bible alone would never conceive of being a member of any denomination. For the Bible only encourages us to be Christians and members of Christ's church. (Rom. 16:16). Churches of Christ do not claim perfection. Neither was the church perfect in Biblical times. However, the principles upon which it stands are perfect. And they are the same principles upon which the first century church stood. Hence, members do claim to be an example of what the New Testament church would look like in the 20th century. Weigh the evidence! We only ask that you be fair to yourself, your family and to God. Search the Scriptures concerning these vital truths. Compare the Biblical church with the church of Christ as it is today. Ask yourself if they aren't the same. Our plea is that you will "ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jer. 6:16). "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened." (Mt. 7:7).

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