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What Is The Church Of Christ?

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God promised to provide salvation from sin to "all families of the earth" through the seed of Abraham, which is Jesus Christ (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:16).  As a further explanation, God promised to set up "a kingdom, which shall never pass away" (Dan. 2:44).  In making final preparations for this salvation, Jesus told Peter, "I will build my church," and he said Peter would reveal the word of salvation in "the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:18-19). 
After Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice for sin, he arose and ascended to "the right hand of God" to sit on David's throne as "both Lord and Christ."   Those who wished to be saved were told by Peter, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."  Three thousand people obeyed the gospel that day.  As the gospel continued to spread, "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (see Acts 2:22-47). 
"Church" is translated from the Greek term ecclesia, referring to any group of people "called out" of one status or situation to another (see Greek-English lexicons).  The Jews were called out of Egypt to follow Moses in the wilderness ("the ecclesia in the wilderness,"
Acts 7:38).  When a mob of Ephesians gathered to protest gospel preaching, this "ecclesia was confused" (Acts 19:32).  The townclerk dismissed the riotous ecclesia and told them to take their objections to "a lawful ecclesia" (Acts 19:39).  All who are saved in Christ are called out of their sins and thus constitute an ecclesia, that is, a group, assembly, or church called to follow Christ.  
The gospel went first to the Jews, but when it went to the Gentiles, followers of Christ were given his name as their identifying name.  "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (
Acts 11:26).  They were to wear no other names, whether Paul, Apollos, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Mormon.  To wear another name is sinful (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3).  "There is one body, and one Spirit, hope...; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father" (Eph. 4:4-6).  God did not ordain denominational names and organizations. 
All Christians are "in Christ," in "the church" of Christ, in "the body" of Christ, and in "the kingdom" of Christ, i.e., they have spiritual fellowship with him (
Eph. 1:3, 21-22; 5:5).  "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).  This daily relationship with Christ requires that we put off the old man of sin and put on the new man in serving God in every area of life:  family, economic, civil, social, and recreational activities. 
In each local community, God ordained that Christians meet to proclaim the gospel and to worship.  Our work and worship together as a local church focus on Christ.  We focus on Christ when we sing, pray, and teach his word; we focus on him each Sunday as we eat the Lord's Supper and give money for his work (
Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 16:1-2).  Christ organized each congregation to be independent of all others with its own elders and deacons without any denominational name or affiliation (Acts 14:23; 20:28).  The church's mission is to preach the gospel, provide for scriptural worship and edification, and care for destitute saints (1 Tim. 3:15; Acts 2:42; 6:1-7). This church exalts God rather than entertaining men with quartets, choirs, dramas, instrumental music, concerts, jazz festivals, comedians, contests, social meals, ball teams, and parties.  
Local churches which follow the New Testament pattern of teaching are the true churches to which Paul referred when he said, "The churches of Christ salute you" (
Rom. 16:16). 

Ron Halbrook 

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