Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ
I wasn't looking for the Church when I found it: You may want to turn your Bible to the book of Acts, the second chapter. This is a description by Luke about the events on the day that the Church began. As you read the sermon by Peter from verses 14 through 36, you see that he reminds them of the God who made them (and to whom all ofus are accountable), of who jesus Christ was, and of their sin in putting Jesus to death. This is the flow of the message I heard nearly fifty years ago when I chose to obey Christ in baptism--who is God, why should I obey him, what does Jesus have to do with it, why did God add me to the church.
In Acts 2, when the people heard Peter's sermon on Pentecost, they didn't ask "Which church should we join?" They asked "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (verse 37). Their most immediate concern was to get right with the God who had made them and to Whom they were accountable. There was some element of fear. Fear is not an unreasonable reaction for man when he comes to the realization that not only there is a God, but that man is already in conflict with him because of sin. Please see Proverbs 1: 7, Hebrews 10: 31, and Matthew 10: 28. It is true that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4: 18), but how many of us on this side of the grave have perfect love? Therefore Jesus said "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10: 28). Gradually in our relationship to God some of the fear is replaced with love. No one is perfect in this life (Romans 3: 23); everything is perfect in Heaven; therefore perfection must occur at death for the Christian.
I was simply trying to do what God told me to when He added me: What did Peter tell the people on the day of Pentecost to do about the salvation of their souls? (verse 38). He told the people who had heard the word (verse 37) and believed it to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to receive the remission of their sins. That is exactly what I did, as a young lad of 8 who had been raised by Godly parents. I had a fear of water since I had not yet learned how to swim. It was faith that enabled me to allow the immersion. Baptism has always worked because of the faith people had in God to work for their better good. The water itself has no saving power.
Both verses 41 and 47 (KJV) in Acts 2 state that God added people to the church when they were saved. This eliminated a whole lot of confusion for people then and in the centuries to come. Salvation and church membership occur simultaneously and concurrently. Man is not saved only to have to pick his way through a maze of churches and doctrines and beliefs to try to find the right church or one that is a little less flawed than all the rest. God adds him to the right church, immediately.
I wanted to be a member of the church that had one of the acceptable names for the first century church: If there was any doubt about whether the name made any difference, I Corinthians 1: 10-16 took care of that. Acts 4: 12 says that there is no other name under Heaven (other than Jesus's) whereby we must be saved. Ephesians 5: 22-31 speaks of the Church as being the bride of Christ. Is Christ polygamous? Is He an adulterer, with many wives? If the church is His wife, why would the church wear some man's name? Names that the early church wore included the Church of Christ (Romans 16: 16), the Church of God (I Cor. 1:2), and The Way (Acts 9: 2). The members were called Christians first at Antioch (Acts 11: 26).
I wanted to be a member of the church that put God's word in proper perspective. The church of Christ regards God's word as inspired (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17) and they try to study it often so that they know it well (2 Tim. 2: 15). The church took Jesus seriously when he said "The word that I have spoken will judge you in the last day" (John 12: 48). The Church of Christ believes that "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path, " (Psalms 119: 105). The Church seeks God's wisdom in directing their lives (Jeremiah 10: 23), realizing that it is impossible for man to accurately direct his own steps. The Church resists efforts to add to or take away from God's word (Revelation 22: 18, 19) and tries to preserve the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
I was looking for the Church that had the love for each other that first century Christians did: The Christians of the first century had a deep love that went past demographics; it went past how "lovable" the recipients of the love were; it was a love that was unconditional. See I Corinthians chapter 13 for a description of what their agape' or highest form of love was like. It speaks for itself. It is so important for members of Christ's body to have that love for each other, for "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also." I John 4:20.
I was looking for the Church that worshipped like the first century church did: Christians are accustomed to singing in the Lord's church. Visitors frequently marvel at the quality of singing they hear. Part of the reason is that the singing is not covered up by instruments. And, lacking the support of instruments, we try harder to sing since that is all there is. The result is a cappella (with voices) singing that is very good. You know, the Bible commands us to sing. Colossians 3: 16; Ephesians 5: 18-20. The Bible makes no mention of playing an instrument as part of worship. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to God in a worship service--we read their obituary in Leviticus 10: 1-2. God favored Abel because the giving (worship) was more in line with his expectations than was Cain's. We see instruments as additions to God's plan for worship. It wasn't done in the early church. Secular history tells us that. God will add the plagues of the Revelation to those who add to the Bible--see Revelation 22: 18, 19. With regard to the giving of the church, c ongregational giving is done on Sunday, the first day of the week. I Corinthians 16: 1-2. Giving is to be done liberally and cheerfully. II Cor. 9: 6-8. Giving is not to be done for show. Matthew 6: 1-4. Other giving may be done as individuals see the need and have opportunity during the week as"acts of kindness." The Lord's supper is done on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). It is not repeated in meetings that happen at other times during the week. The instructions for doing the Lord's supper are summarized in I Corinthians 11: 17-34. This is the only religious holiday that we are commanded to observe. Easter--Christmas--All Saints' Day are all inventions of men. We have no authority to observe them as religious holidays. Weddings and funerals are civil ceremonies, not religious observances. Preaching and teaching are the means by which new souls are converted and older ones are edified. They are the means of showing the gospel to people. 1. Romans 1: 16-17, II Timothy 3: 16-17. Preaching and teaching fulfill the Great Commission of Christ, Matthew 28: 18-20. Preaching and teaching may be done anytime--not just limited to Sundays.
Other comments about the worship service: Women do not preside over men in worship. I Cor. 14: 33-36. 1Ti 2:11 "Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection.
1Ti 2:12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness." Worship is to be done in a serious and sober manner. I Corinthians 14: 26-33a, 37-40.
I was looking for the Church that had the same purposes that the first century church had: The first century church busied itself with evangelism, edification, and benveolence. See Acts 2: 37-47.
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