Speaking the Truth in Love
The Church of Christ!
Tonight’s topic is the “church of Christ”. The lesson is a very basic one, however, it is the foundation of all we believe and practice.
2. When was the church established? Will it remain the same? The church was established on The Day of Pentecost. Peter and the eleven preached the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:14-40). About 3,000 souls were saved (Acts 2:41). After this day, the number of saved continued to grow as the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). Christ church will remain the same and one day delivered to Heaven for eternity (2 Peter 1:10-11).
3. What happened to the NT church? The Holy Spirit and the writers of the New Testament warned of an apostasy (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 John 4:1-3, Acts 20:28-31). Gradually over time many Christians departed from the teachings of Jesus in their organization of the church. The original structure of the church in many religious groups began to slowing erode. Multiple elders of a congregation gave way to one elder or bishop having more authority than the others, resulting in this man heading up a congregation. The authority of this bishop began to extend over regions rather than remaining over just the local congregation. The autonomy (self governing) of the local congregation soon began to disappear in most churches. And with this, false doctrine was easily introduced. As the years past, many practices were introduced which we do not see practiced in the 1st century churches. A few of these include infant baptism, sprinkling instead of immersion, pouring instead of immersion, instrumental music replacing vocal music, celibacy of priests rather than Christians marrying and having families, churches more involved in the social welfare of people rather than their spiritual welfare, etc. Along with these and other unscriptural practices came more and more fractionation and divisions among churches. Today there are literally thousands of different religious groups and denominations, who all claim the same God.
4. Faithful Remnant: Even though many Christians departed from the faith and added teachings of men, there has been and always will be a faithful remnant, no matter what happens in the world. And the Lord’s church is everlasting! Notice Isaiah 37:32, Daniel 7:14, Joel 2:28-32,Micah 4:6-8, Matthew 7:13-14, 16:18, Romans 9:27-28, 11:5, and 1 Peter 3:20-22. We Christians strive to be of that faithful remnant!
5. We believe that anyone can be added to the church Christ established (1 Corinthians 14:33, Ephesians 4:3-6). The gospels and epistles of the New Testament supply us with all the information we need to follow the examples of the early Christians and to worship in the same manner as they did (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3). If we are to worship God in a manner that is pleasing and acceptable to Him, then we must go to His word to establish the authority for what we hear, believe, and do (Matthew 7:21-24, James 1:21-25).
6. Scriptural Authority: We must have Scriptural Authority for all we practice (John 4:24). We have no separate by-laws or creed book. How do we establish Scriptural Authority?
- By command: Baptism (Acts 2:38) and partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) are examples of commands we are to follow.
- By example: The Book of Acts provides us with many examples of baptisms (Acts 2 - Day of Pentecost, Acts 8:26-39 - Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 9:1-19 - Saul/Paul, Acts10 - Cornelius, Acts 16:14-15 - Lydia, and Acts 16:22-34 - Philippian Jailer). We also have an example of early Christian’s partaking of the Lord’s Supper in Acts 20:7.
- By necessary implication - Baptism again (Matthew 3:16, Acts 8:38): Coming up out of the water implies that Jesus went down in the water to be baptized. If the eunuch asked what hinders him from being baptized, then the preaching of Jesus that Phillip did must have included teaching about baptism. While we do not have a direct reference to the disciples partaking of the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day, we do see they were steadfast in their practice. We see Paul remaining in Troas until the first day of the week (Acts 2:42, 20:6-7, and 1 Corinthians 11:26). We also know that under the old law when the Lord gave the command in Exodus 20:8 to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, His intention was that every Sabbath day was to be kept holy, even though He did not specify the frequency in the verse.
7. Church Organization [each local congregation is autonomous]: Christ - The Head (Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18); Elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9); Deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13); Members of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:3-5).
8. Authorized forms of worship: How are we to worship Him (John 4:24)? Our worship includes the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), teaching / edification (Acts 2:42, 2 Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 10:24-25), prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, Philippians 4:1-7), singing (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16), and giving (this is our only method of raising funds) (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
9. How does one become a member of the Lord’s church, a Christian (Acts 2:47)? The saved are those who:
- Hear the word of God (Romans 10:17, 2 Thessalonians 2:14).
- Believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Mark 16:16, John 20:30-31, Hebrews 11:1-2, 6). But it doesn’t stop here - it takes more than just belief because as we’re told in James 2:19“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” Our belief results in obedience of all the commands of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Repent (Acts 2:38, 17:30, 2 Peter 3:9).
- Confess (Matthew 10:32-33, Acts 8:36-38, Romans 10:9-13).
- Are baptized [in greek – Baptizo – transliteration – meaning immersion] (Acts 2:38, 22:16,Mark 16:16, Galatians 3:26-27, 1 Peter 3:21). In the same way Naaman was healed of his leprosy in 2 Kings 5 when he dipped in the Jordan River seven times. He was healed because he did what God told him to do.
- Remain faithful (Revelation 2:10, 1 John 5:2-3, 1:5-10). We must be diligent to remain faithful for it is possible to fall away and lose our hope of heaven (Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 6:4-6, 1 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Peter 2:20-22, 3:17-18).
- God is a God of love, which is evident by the fact He sent us His Son (John 3:16-17).
- He is a patient God who desires all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9 NAS).
- But God wants our obedience (1 John 5:3).
- God wants unity not division (Ephesians 4:3-6, Galatians 1:6-9)
- Christians must be able to give a Biblical answer for all we do and practice (1 Peter 3:15)
- All must be willing to submit ourselves to the will of God (James 4:6-10)
What about you? Have you submitted yourself to the will of God? Have you acknowledged that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that it is only through Him that you have a hope of eternal salvation (John 14:6)? Have you been baptized for the remission of your sins and put off the old man and have started living in the newness of life (Romans 6:4)? Are you worshipping God the way He tells us in His Word? We hope you consider these things. We encourage you to obey the Lord now so you can be added to His church. Please call us or e-mail us if we can help you come to the Lord! We also hope to see you next time on “Speaking The Truth In Love”!