|"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" II Timothy 2:15|
What We Believe....
It is our desire and intent, to the very best of our ability to be the church that you read about in the Bible. Not a man-made organization, but a church built by the hands of the carpenter from Nazareth. ". . . and upon this rock I will build my church . . ." -- Matthew 16:18.
The church Jesus built was established in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost 50 days after the death of Jesus. In Acts 2, Peter preached a sermon to the Jews who were gathered for the feast. Acts 2:41 says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." In Acts 2:47 we read, "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
Any church which was established at a later date, in a different place from the one we read about in the Bible cannot be the church that Jesus built. Why would men want to be a part of a man-made organization when they can be a part of the church of the Bible?
The church is not a building; it is a group of people. Remember Acts 2:47--"Praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." The church is the group of all those the Lord has saved from their sins.
In Ephesians 5:23 we read that Jesus is the Savior of the body. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."
- The body is the church. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23).
- . Since Jesus is the savior of the body and the body is the church, those outside of the church that Jesus built are not saved.
Those who are not a part of the church we read about in the Bible, but substitute a man-made organization instead have no promise of salvation.
The Lord adds people to the church. Praising God and having favour with all the people. "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47). Men do not have the right to alter the requirements for entrance into the church that Jesus built. The entrance requirements for the church and the process of becoming saved are one and the same. The saved are the church, and the church is the saved. We cannot add any requirements or restrictions that God has not commanded, nor can we lessen the requirements that God has set. Remember these three Bible truths:
- Men are lost and condemned because they have committed sin
against the law of almighty God.
- Sin is the transgression of the law. I John 3:4 says, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
- Sin separates us from God. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)
- Sin deserves death (eternial separation from God). In Romans 6:23 we read, "for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
- Jesus is the answer to our sin problem.
- Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and affliced. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isiah 53:4-6).
- It is the blood of Jesus that washes away sins. "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Revelation 1:5).
- We must respond properly to the message of Jesus and his
death in order to receive the gift of salvation which he offers.
- The salvation which Jesus offers is available to all men. "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:4).
- But, salvation is conditional on our obedience to God's will. Hebrews 5:8-9 clearly teaches, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
Everyone who wishes to be saved must do these things:
- Believe in Jesus -- "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:24).
- Repent of, or turn away from sin -- "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3); "And the times of this ignorance god winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30-31).
- Confess their faith in Jesus -- "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32); "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 6:3-4).
- Be baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of sins -- "Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:48). "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4).
No one who belongs to a church which has different entrance requirements belongs to Christ's church.
Examples of False Ideas of Salvation Taught by Many Churches:
- Some churches teach we are saved by faith only. It is interesting that the Bible teaches we are saved by faith, but never says we are saved by faith only. In fact, James 2:24 says, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
- Baptism by sprinkling or pouring. Some realize the Bible
truth that baptism is the point of salvation, but they do not
practice Bible baptism.
- In John3:23 we see the importance of much water for baptism: "And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim. because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized." It is obvious that sprinkling or pouring were not being considered here , for they don't take much water.
- Romans 3:3-4 says, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Here baptism is compared to a burial. Jesus came up out of the grave. Bible baptism is immersion in water.
Does it really matter? It does if you want to obey God rather than the doctrines of men. Remember, God has only promised to save those who obey. "Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." ( Hebrews 5:8-9).
- Baptism of babies. Some not only practice sprinkling or
pouring, they practice these things on babies.
- This is based on the erroneous idea that the sins of Adam and other ancestors are passed to children. The Bible does not teach this doctrine. In fact, it teaches just the opposite. Ezekiel 18:20 says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."
- Before a person can be baptized properly he must believe. Mark 16:16 says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
- Repentance (a change of mind about sin) must take place before baptism. In Acts 2:38 we see Peter's words, Then Peter said unto them, 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."
- Babies shall not be baptized, because baptism is for salvation. I Peter 3:21 says, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth now save us (not putting away the filth of the flesh but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
- Baptism is also to wash away sins. Acts 22:16 is clear, "and now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Babies do not have any sin. They are not in danger of being lost.
- Christ's church is under the law of the New Testament.
- The Old Testament is part of God's word, and is important for us to learn. Romans 15:4 says, "for whatsoever things were written afortime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
- But the law , written on stones, was the ministration of death. II corinthians 3:6-8 -- "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the childern of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away; How shall not ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?"
- Those who try to follow the Old Law, by worshipping on Saturday, sacrificing animals, ect. are not following the right guidelines.
- By the same token, any church which has a creed written by men,a cofession of faith, and catechism or manual is not following the pure, unadulterated word of God. In Matthew 15:9 Jesus said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
The New Testament church had only one head -- Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 reads this way, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." Since its head is in heaven, its only headquarters is in heaven also. All churches that have an earthly man as their head, or an earthly city as their headquarters are not Christ's church.
The church of the New Testament was taught to follow a pattern for worship. John 4:24 says, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." To worship in spirit means with the right attitude, and to worship in truth means to worship according to God's commands. There are five acts of worship considered in the New Testament:
- The early church met on the first day of the week to take the Lord's Supper. Acts 20:7-12 says, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preahing, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves: for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted."
- They were taught to pray. I Thessalonians 5:17 -- "Pray without ceasing."
- They were taught to give on the first day of the week. I Corinthians 16:1-2 -- "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
- They were to preach and teach to one another. Acts 20:7-12 -- "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered toghther. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him sain Trouble not ourselves; for hislife is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young mad alive, and were not a little comforted."
- They were taught to sing such songs as would praise God and edify (buildup) each other. Colossians 3:16 -- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Ehesians 5:19 -- "Speaking to oursleves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;"
An interesting difference that you will find at churches of Christ is that our singing is done without mechanical instruments of music. This is the way the early church worshipped, and we are trying to follow the same pattern. True, in the Old Testament they worshipped God with harps and timbrels, etc. but nowhere in the New Testament do we see any command or suggestion of using an instrument in worship to God. Does it matter? It matters to those who want to be the church we read about in the Bible. It matters to those who want to be pleasing to God. It matters to those who want to obey him rather than following the ideas and doctrines of men.
The New Testament church had a four-fold mission:
- Benevolence. Galations 6:10 -- "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." The early church believed that they must help others who had need. This is God's command and our duty.
- Evangelism. Mark 16:15-16 -- "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." The message of Christ must be told. Others must hear the gospel so they can be saved. Romans 1:16 --"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
- Edification. Hebrews 10:24-25 -- "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." It is our job to build one another up, to help one another to be strong in our service to God. We need to help one another to avoid falling prey to Satan's temptations.
- Glorifying God. I Peter 2:9 -- "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" In all we do, we want to show God's goodness and glory to others. We want to help others praise him and see his kindness, love, and mercy.
And this is our only goal--to be what God wants us to be so that he will be praised. We do not seek the praise of men, so we do not fashion the church according to men's ideas. We do not try to judge others by our own ideas, but we evaluate all men and all churches by the standard of God's word.