The plea of the churches of Christ is very simple. It is a desire to “go back to the Bible” and let it be the guide for all that we say and do. Actually, this is a Biblical plea that has been true since the Old Testament era. During the days of Jeremiah the prophet, six hundred years before Christ, we read, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand by the ways, and see, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. . .” (Jeremiah 6:16).
God has always desired that men follow His way in every generation of time from the beginning of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to the present, and on until life on the earth will be no more when Jesus comes again. All men today will be judged according to the New Testament. Jesus said, “He that rejects me, and does not receive my sayings, has one that judges him: the word that I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48; Revelation 20:12).
Friend, are you ready? Are you prepared to meet God? Only when we lay aside the creeds, disciplines and tenets of denominationalism and go back to the New Testament can we be right with the Lord. We must accept God’s “ancient paths” as our rule of faith and practice. Let us go “back to the Bible.”
There was no hierarchy in New Testament times as is seen today in denominations of men. There is no clergy/laity system in the scriptures. The organization of the church in the Bible was simple in its arrangement. No one congregation had any authority over any other congregation. Each one was autonomous (self governing).
There were elders (also called bishops and pastors) who were the overseers of their own local congregation of which they were members (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:13). God has given them the charge to see to it that all is done according to His Word. There were deacons who were special servants of the church (1 Timothy 3:813; Acts 6:14). There were members who were baptized penitent believers (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; Ephesians 4:25). There were evangelists who preached the Word (1 Corinthians 9:16; Ephesians 4:11). Let us return to this Biblically authorized arrangement.
Our plea is for a return to the Lord's plan of salvation. It is not my plan or any man’s plan. It is God’s plan. We do not have the authority to add to it, nor do we have the authority to take from it. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said He came to “seek and save the lost.” Salvation is only in his name. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6).
He died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:9). He was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 1:25). He alone is the author and giver of salvation (Hebrews 5:89). He has the authority to speak about salvation and how to obtain it (Matthew 28:18). Why not let the Lord himself speak and tell us what to do to be saved?
Jesus said everyone must believe in him as the Christ, the Son of God. “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6). Jesus said all men must repent of sins to be saved. “I tell you, No: but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” ( Luke 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30). Jesus said all men must confess him before men. “Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32; Acts 8:37). Jesus said all men must be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of sins. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:36; 1 Peter 3:21). Jesus said all men must live a faithful Christian life. “. . .Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 10:22; 1 Corinthians 15:58). Let us return to the Biblically authorized plan of salvation.
Worship must also be directed by Christ if we expect to be pleasing unto God. God has not left men to themselves to devise what they choose in worship. When we do that which is not authorized in worship, our worship becomes vain and unacceptable. Jesus spoke of people who “ . . . honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:89). The New Testament reveals five acts of worship. These acts are included in worship, on the Lord's day, every first day of the week.
Singing: “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19). Singing is congregational and a capella, i.e., without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. There are no choirs, solos or “special music” in New Testament worship.
Giving: A freewill offering is collected from each member on the Lord's day. “On the first day of every week let each of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come ” (1 Corinthians 16:2: 2 Corinthians 9:6, 7). You will not find sales and fund raisers in New Testament giving.
Lord’s supper: Each member partakes of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine every first day of the week to remember Christ's death on the cross. “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread . . . ” (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:2329; Matthew 26:2629).
Praying: Members reverently pray unto God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ the Son. “. . .Prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God . . . ” (Acts 12:5; Acts 2:42). Jesus said true worship is “in spirit” (from the heart, sincere) and “in truth” (according to and directed by God's Word) (John 4:24). Does this characterize your worship? Let’s return to the Lord's authorized acts of worship.
We desire to teach and do only those things authorized in God's Holy Word. This is expressed in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” To do something in the name of someone means that we act upon their authority. Therefore, our teaching and practice must be according to a “thus saith the Lord.”
Churches of Christ wear an authorized name. “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). Members are called: disciples (Acts 16:1), believers (Acts 5:14), saints (Acts 9:13), sons of God (1 John 3:1 2) and Christians (Acts 11:26). Each Christian is a member of Christ’s one body, the church (Ephesians 1:22, 23 ; 4:4).
In the New Testament we learn that Christ: loved the church and died for it (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28), built it (Matthew 16:13), is its head (Ephesians 1:22, 23), adds the saved to it (Acts 2:41, 47) and will save it at the end of the world (Ephesians 5:23).
Followers of the Lord must “Preach the word; be ready in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). We must “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and “contend for the faith” once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). We must “buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23) for it is God's “power unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).
We live in view of the judgment “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in his body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
If we obey God's Word then we can enjoy God's promises! Are you ready to learn more? The plea of the church of Christ is to go back to the Bible to do Bible things in Bible ways and to call Bible things by Bible names. It is a plea to break away from the excess baggage of the doctrines and traditions of men and return to the simple teaching of the New Testament. Are you interested in the same?