What is the church of Christ?

Many people ask, “what exactly does the church of Christ believe?” This page is my attempt to help people to understand what the church of Christ is.

The church of Christ is the one that you can find in the New Testament. It is guided and run by the precepts set forth in the Book. The New Testament is the sole authority for the church of Christ.

Characteristics of the Church of Christ

We can see certain characteristics that will mark the Church of Christ as set forth in the Scriptures:

  • Christ created it. As He says in Matthew 16:18:

    And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.

    This is not saying that Peter is the head of the church, but that Christ is, and it is His.

  • It is Christ’s body. Not only did He build the church, it is His body, also.

    And [Christ] is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).

    It is also worthy of mentioning here that Christ is the head of the church by this same verse.

  • There is only one church which Christ created. If you notice the verses above, there are no plurals in them. Christ did not set up “churches,” He set up His “church.” As Paul says in Ephesians 4:4:

    There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.

    The idea, therefore, of having more than one church is not what Jesus intended.

  • The church, or body, is made up of many different parts. Paul makes mention in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and Romans 12:3-8 that the body (church) of Christ is made up of many different individuals fulfilling different roles in the church.

Who is in the Church of Christ?

Now that we can see what the church is, who are the ones in the church?

  • The church is made up of those who believe in Christ. The book of Acts is replete with the examples of people believing in the Lord and being added to the church (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 8:12, 8:38, 9:17, etc.)

  • To enter the body [church], you must be baptized into it. The Bible is clear that in order to walk with Christ, you must be baptized in His name. We read in Romans 6:3-7:

    Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him
    in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our body of
    sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

    And in Galatians 3:27,

    For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    These, and many other verses, show clearly that the church is made up of those believers who are baptized into it.

Functions of the Church of Christ

What, then, are the functions of the church?

  • The church assembles to encourage itself and to serve the Lord. As we are told in Hebrews 10:25,

    not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

    Many churches of Christ assemble twice on Sunday for assemblies and once on Sunday and Wednesday each for Bible Study, where we explore more of His Word.

  • As part of the assembly, the church performs the following:

    1. Praying. We are told to “pray fervently” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and so we have prayers in our assembly.
    2. Singing. In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, we are told to sing to the Lord with cheerfulness, and this we do. We do not see any authority for anything but singing, as explained here.
    3. The Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-34, we are commanded to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We see the Apostles in Acts 20:7 fulfilling this commandment on the first day of the week, Sunday, and that is what we also do. More information on this practice is here.
    4. Offering. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, we see an approved apostolic example of “lay[ing] by and store,” and give cheerfully back to the Lord. A discussion of where this money goes is here.
    5. Lesson. We see Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:19 that he wishes to give “instruction” to the church, and in Acts 20:7, we see him giving a talk to the church in Troas. We also have people give talks during the assembly, always based upon the Word of God.
  • The body also does more than just assemble three times a week: it often organizes other times to get together, for association and edification. Life in the church is not a Sunday and Wednesday thing; it is a lifestyle and a life commitment. Everyone in the church tries to take their commitment to Christ and each other very seriously, and try to live lives which glorify Him.

For More Information

This is the church of Christ as outlined by the New Testament. We, as Christians, are continually attempting to be more in harmony with God and His will as presented through the New Testament, and we welcome anyone to help us find things which we do that are not authorized in Scripture.

ELDV

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