What is the church of Christ?
(Romans 16:16)

Introduction. If you are visiting with us this morning for the first time this may be the first time you have worshipped with a group identifying themselves simply as a “church of Christ.” There is a good deal of confusion and misinformation given regarding churches who bear this distinction. This morning we will try to address this and answer the question what is the “church of Christ?”

I. It is not a denomination.
     Example: Coins different denominations - all currency.
     In religious world - many different groups (they claim) - all churches of Christ. The Bible says -

  1. Those who abide in the word are Christ’s disciples (John 8:30-32).
  2. Division is sinful (I Corinthians 1:10-13).
  3. Men will turn from the truth (II Timothy 4:3,4).

II. It is not a religious movement.

     Throughout history there have been a number of religious movements. That is men with various religious convictions have stood up and renounced the excesses of their day and called upon others to revise their behavior. The result has been a multitude of different religious groups that follow the tradition of the various movements.
     While different efforts such as this may have been attempts to draw people back to the Biblical pattern when the movements take on a life of their own (which is distinct from the Lord’s church) this is inconsistent with God’s will.
     The Lord’s church is Christ’s religious movement (Matthew 16:13-18; Colossians 1:13).

III. It is not simply any group that bears the name.

     Since the church which belongs to Christ is not a denomination, nor a religious movement, neither is it simply any group which calls itself a “Church of Christ.”
Example: Set up a building name it IRS start collecting taxes. OK? Absolutely not! I haven’t been authorized to do that. Romans 2:28,29
     Those who identify themselves as a church which belongs to Christ gain authorization to do so when...
  • They follow the rules of admittance.
  • They follow authorized activities.
    (Acts 2:37-47) Note: vs. 41 “Received his word” - vs. 42 “Continued steadfastly” - vs. 47 God added to the church.
  • IV. It is the church which is talked about in the New Testament.

         The Bible speaks only of one church which belongs to the Lord. (Ephesians 4:4,5 - “One body” “one faith”) Though it may be referred to with different names these are not denomination titles (as men use them today). Instead they describe different aspects of the one true church.
  • Hebrews 12:23 - “church of the First born”
  • I Corinthians 1:2 - “church of God”
  • Romans 16:16 - “churches of Christ”
         Those seeking to follow Christ today should never imagine that they can be pleasing to God in any religious group identifying itself as anything more or less that simply a “church of Christ.” By the same token any group which follows the pattern of Scripture with regard to membership, work and worship is a “church of Christ.”
  • V. It is the people in a saved relationship with Christ.

         Perhaps one reason we struggle so much with these concepts is a failure to understand what the nature of a church.
    Example: Turkey - the Hagia Sophia “church” or “Church” of the virgin Mary. These aren’t churches. They may have housed churches but the church is people.
         Who are these people?
    1. Those who have obeyed the gospel (Acts 18:4-8; I Corinthians 1:2).
    2. Those who continue in faithfulness to God’s word (Revelation 2:4,5).

    VI. It follows the pattern of the New Testament.

    1. It is Scripturally organized (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9).
    2. It carries out work that is Scripturally authorized (I Timothy 3:14,15).
    3. It worships in ways that are Scripturally authorized (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1,2; Colossians 3:16).

    Conclusion. While the congregation which meets at this place does not seek to exalt themselves in any way over other religious groups, it is our goal to simply what is talked about in the New Testament. Any group rejecting what is not found and practicing what is found in Scripture can be confident that they are a church which belongs to Christ.