The New Testament is the only place to which we can turn to learn about the church of Christ. We recall that the church is described as the eternal purpose of God (Eph. 3:9-11). It is obviously very important. It is necessary, therefore, that we are educated by the New Testament and not by the ideas, philosophies, ideologies and traditions of men ( Matt. 15:1-9). The New Testament teaches us what the church is, its origin, what the church should be called, what the church is made of, her way of worship, membership, mission, organization, and what the church should be today, according to the plan of God.
The word “church” is from Greek word “ecclesia” which means the called out people of God through the preaching and teaching of the soul saving gospel of Christ. The church are the followers of Christ, the Christ like people. The are the chosen people, peculiar people of God, the loyal and royal priesthood, the holy nation and disciple of Christ or the assembly of God’s people (1 Pet. 2:5-9).
First, the church was built and purchased by Christ (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). No one has the right to start a church as a divinely approved institution (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10-13). Christ, the Son of God, is the only one qualified, and he has established his church (cf. Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23). After religious division arose within the church at Corinth, Paul asked some probing questions. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:13). The church belongs to Christ on the basis of these gospel truths. He died for it. He built it. He lays down requirements through which we can belong to him. The church belongs to Christ. He is the head of the church (Col. 1:18).
Second, the church that belongs to Christ began on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. Religious bodies that have their origin in Rome, Zurich, London, or any other place but Jerusalem, are ones that started in the wrong places. The Lord’s church was founded by Christ through the preaching of the apostles in Jerusalem, corresponding to Old Testament prophecy (Isa. 2:2-4). When the gospel was preached by Paul, and others, throughout the ancient world, different denominations were not set up. Whenever the pure gospel of Christ was taught, just as it was preached for the first time in Jerusalem, the result was simply Christians who belonged to Christ collectively is the church of Christ when people obeyed the gospel. If there was no congregation of the Lord’s church in your hometown, village, or state and you start teaching others about the death of Jesus, the benefits of his redemptive blood, and the requirements of the New Testament to have the forgiveness of sins, then, you would not be setting up a denomination but the church of Christ in your locality. Rather, you would be following the New Testament pattern, and those who obey the gospel would be a part of the Lord’s church; and to be called and known as Christians (Acts 11:26). The church of Christ would then exist in your hometown, and the New Testament alone would be its guide for work of service and worship unto God (Rom. 12:1-2).
Third, only divinely appointed names were worn by the church. Such designations like church of Christ (Rom. 16:16) and church of God (1 Cor. 1:2) are scriptural names among others, that describe the church as belonging to Christ and God “The church of Christ” or “The church of the living God” is not a denominational title that describes a religious institution or organization established by men. Rather, it is the collective reference to the people of God in the world and the people who follow the New Testament teaching regarding the church in its totality.
Fourth, being saved is the way to membership in the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47). There should be no mistake as to the method by which salvation may be realized. A person must have faith in Jesus as the Son of God (John 20:30-31; Jn. 8:24), repent of sin (Acts 17:30), confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9,10), and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). When a person is saved according to the Lord’s instructions that are in the New Testament, when he or she is “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27), he or she is at that time a member of his church (Eph. 5:23). “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Fifth, the Lord’s church honors the authority of Christ. From the start, the church respected the Lord as the head of the church, for “… they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The church has a divinely appointed mission (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16). In submitting to the Lord’s authority, Christians ought to worship according to the New Testament in Spirit and in Truth (John. 4:24; Col. 3:16-17). In subjecting themselves to the headship of Jesus Christ, congregations of the Lord’s church in each locality must govern themselves according to the New Testament teachings and principles. If Christ is the head of the church, we can not implement our own worship styles or leadership preferences. Christ is mindful of what goes on within his congregations which he died for by purchasing her with his previous blood on the Cross of Calvary. He will discipline them, and he will consider them apostate if they persist in unscriptural practices (cf. Rev. 2:5; 2 John. 9). The New Testament gives a clear picture of what the church was under the leadership of the Lord’s apostles.
Sixth, the church’s origin was divine; it continues to be subject to the authority of Christ. Should it not be the same today — simply, the church of Christ?. The church was established in A.D. 33 on the day of Pentecost through the power of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the sound gospel by apostle Peter with the rest of the apostles in Acts 2:14-47.
Seventh, the church of Christ has the following as the items of spiritual worship: prayer, singing, teaching, preaching, giving, and communion; otherwise known as the Lord’s Super (Acts 2:41-44).
Eighth, in a scriptural organized local church, the church will be made up of plurality of elders (also known as bishops, shepherds, overseers, presbyters, stewards, superintendents) deacons, evangelists, teachers and members (Eph.4:11-12; 1 Tim. 3:1-13).
The church of Christ is the only one true church established on earth on the Pentecost Day, in which one must be added to be saved (Acts 2:46-47).
I am proud to be a member of the church of Christ. If you are already a member, remain faithful to the end (Rev. 2:10) but if you are yet to be a a member, then, follow the requirements or terms of admission mentioned above in “fourth” and ” fifth” schedules respectively for the forgiveness of your past sins and for your redemption and salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. May God bless you as you obey to be a member of the only one true church of the only one true living God!!!
Scripted by Bro. Dr. Sunday U. Onah (Bishop)