“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a overseer, he desires a good work.” 1 Tim. 3:1
“For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and
great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 3:13
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” 2 Tim. 4:2
About the church of Christ
The plea of the churches of Christ is very simple. It is a desire to “go back to the Bible” and let it be the guide for all that we say and do. Actually, this is a Biblical plea that has been true ever since the Old Testament era. During the days of Jeremiah the prophet, six hundred years before Christ, we read, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).
God has always desired that men follow His way in every generation of time ― from the beginning of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to the present, and on until life on the earth will be no more when Jesus comes again.
All men today will be judged according to “the old paths” which is the New Testament. Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48; cf. Revelation 20:12). Friend, are you ready? Are you prepared to meet God?
Only when we lay aside the creeds, disciplines, and tenets of denominationalism and go back to the New Testament can we be right with the Lord. We must accept God’s “old paths” as our rule of faith and practice. Let us go “back to the Bible.”
A RETURN TO NEW TESTAMENT ORGANIZATION
There was no hierarchy in New Testament times as is seen today in denominations of men. There is no clergy/laity system in the scriptures. The organization of the church in the Bible was simple in its arrangement. No one congregation had any authority over any other congregation. Each one was autonomous (self-governing). There were elders (also called bishops and pastors) who were the overseers of their own local congregation of which they were members (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3). God has given them the charge to see to it that what is done is done according to His Word. There were deacons who were special servants of the church (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-4). There were members who were baptized penitent believers (Acts 2:38,41,47; Ephesians 4:25). There were evangelists who preached the Word (1 Corinthians 9:16; Ephesians 4:11). Let us return to this Biblically authorized arrangement.
A RETURN TO THE PLAN OF SALVATION
Our plea is a return to the Lord’s plan of salvation. It is not my plan or any man’s plan. It is God’s plan. We do not have the authority to add to it, nor do we have the authority to take from it.
Luke 19:10 says Jesus came to "seek and save the lost.” Salvation is only in His name. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:9). He was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:25). He alone is the author and giver of salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9). He has the authority to speak about salvation and how to obtain it (Matthew 28:18). Why not let the Lord himself speak and tell us what to do to be saved?
Jesus said everyone must believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6).
Jesus said all men must repent of sins to be saved. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” ( Luke 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30).
Jesus said all men must confess him before men. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:37).
Jesus said all men must be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of sins. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Peter 3:21).
Jesus said all men must live a faithful Christian life. “...Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 10:22 1 Corinthians 15:58).
Let us return to the Biblically authorized plan of salvation.
A RETURN TO THE PATTERN OF NEW TESTAMENT WORSHIP
Worship must also be directed by Christ if we expect to be pleasing unto God. God has not left men to themselves to devise what they choose in worship. When we do that which is not authorized in worship, our worship becomes vain and unacceptable. Jesus spoke of people who “...draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).
The New Testament reveals five acts of worship. These acts are included in worship on the Lord’s day, every first day of the week.
SINGING: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Singing is congregational and a cappella, i.e. without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. There are no choirs, solos, or “special music” in New Testament worship.
TEACHING: A message from God’s Word is delivered. “And upon the first day of the week...Paul preached unto them...and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). Nothing but the pure and unadulterated Word of God is proclaimed. The whole counsel of God is preached without fear or favor of any man (Acts 20:26-27).
GIVING: A free-will offering is collected from each member on the Lord’s day. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him...” (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). You will not find sales and fund raisers in New Testament giving.
LORD’S SUPPER: Each member partakes of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine every first day of the week to remember Christ’s death on the cross. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread...” (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Matthew 26:26-29).
PRAYER: Members reverently pray unto God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ the Son. “...Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God...” (Acts 12:5; cf. Acts 2:42).
Jesus said true worship is “in spirit” (from the heart, sincere) and “in truth” (according to and directed by God’s Word) (John 4:24). Does this characterize your worship? Let’s return to the Lord’s authorized acts of worship.
A RETURN TO THE PATTERN OF NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING
We desire to teach and do only those things authorized in God’s Holy Word. This is expressed in Colossians 3:17, “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.” To do something in the name of someone means that we act upon their authority. Therefore, our teaching and practice must be according to a “thus saith the Lord.” Churches of Christ wear an authorized name. “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). Members are called: disciples (Acts 16:1), believers (Acts 5:14), saints (Acts 9:13), sons of God (1 John 3:1-2), and Christians (Acts 11:26). Each Christian is a member of Christ’s one body, the church (Ephesians 4:4; 1:22-23).
In the New Testament, we learn that Christ: loved the church and died for it (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28), built it (Matthew 16:18), is head over it, (Ephesians 1:22-23), adds the saved to it (Acts 2:41,47), and will save it at the end of the world (Ephesians 5:23).
In the New Testament, we read about one kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14). “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all...” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Followers of the Lord must “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). We must “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and “contend for the faith” once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). We must “buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23) for it is God’s “power unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).
We live in view of the judgment “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). If we obey God’s Word, then we can enjoy God’s promises! Are you ready to learn more?
The plea of the church of Christ is to go back to the Bible ― to do Bible things in Bible ways and to call Bible things by Bible names. It is a plea to break away from the excess baggage of the doctrines and traditions of men and return to the simple teaching of the New Testament. Are you interested in the same?
We want to invite you to visit the Clinton church of Christ.
(Written by Garland M. Robinson and used with permission, 2019)