The Greatness Of The Church
The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it is composed of all Christians and of only Christians. The good news is that it is possible for people living today to be members of the church that you read about in your New Testament, the great church of Christ. The church of Christ is not just another denomination among denominations but is Christ's one, blood bought church. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:25) The church of the New Testament is so great that there is the need for only one church or one body. (Ephesians 4:4) We accept as our mission the responsibility to glorify God in this one body or one church. (Ephesians 3:21) One way that we give honor to our Creator is to carry out the great commission. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20) Those who become baptized believers have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27) They are added by the Lord to His one, great church. (Acts 2:47)
This great church, the church of Christ is a body of people that respect the patterns found in the New Testament. (Acts 2) The Bible is our only rule of faith and practice. It is our purpose to glorify God; therefore we identify ourselves simply by the name Christian. Concerning salvation our emphasis is a Bible emphasis. People are taught to (a) Hear the Gospel (Romans 10:17), (b) Believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Acts 8:37), (c) Repent of sins (Acts 17:30), (d) Confess faith in Jesus as the Christ (Romans 10:10), (e) Be baptized into Christ, by immersion in water, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and (f) Live a righteous life before God and man until death. (1 Peter 1:14-16) Peter wrote, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." We invite all obedient believers in Jesus Christ to join us in uniting on the New Testament way of salvation and Christian living.
There are a number of pictures of the greatness of the New Testament church pictured in Acts 2:36-47. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.' And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.' Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Let us reproduce in our day the great church that you read about in your New Testament.
1. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it began and continues with its focus on Jesus. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36) Peter had proven that Jesus was the Son of God by His great miracle working ministry, His fulfillment of prophecy and His death, burial and resurrection. (Acts 2:22-35)
2. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that Christ demands the hearts of all the members of His church. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) Those who are in Christ and those who are faithful in His church must love God with all their heart. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." (Matthew 22:37) Nothing less than whole hearted service will please Jehovah.
3. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it is made up of all those who repent are baptized. "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." (Acts 2:38) Those in Christ and His church are received by God on equal terms, regardless of exterior circumstances.
4. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that these are the people who have received God's promise of salvation through Jesus. "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation." (Acts 2:39-40) You, or anyone else, can be part of this body and can enjoy God’s salvation.
5. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it started and continues with people who gladly receive and obey the gospel. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41) You personal Bible study and faith in God is of utmost importance.
6. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was and is a learning church. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) Their service was not a Joel Osteen, feel good kind of service, but it was a service where there was reverence for God and His word was taught with conviction.
7. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a praying church. "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) David said, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (Psalms 55:17) Let us imitate that spirit.
8. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a reverent church "And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43) If the history of our nation is ever written correctly it will say these people knew little about reverence.
9. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a united church. "And all that believed were together, and had all things common." (Acts 2:44) Our goal is to learn how to surrender to God and love Him with all our hearts and minds, and then to treat other people with that same love as we serve together in the one body of Christ.
10. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a sharing church. "And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." (Acts 2:45) These are difficult times. When I think of the church I see a church sharing, reaching out to serve those who are in need, and especially serving other Christians.
11. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it had Christian fellowship. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46) In the New Testament, what is shared in common is shared first of all because of a common relationship that Christians have together in Christ.
12. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a happy church. "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." (Acts 2:46) You always have problems when there is murmuring. "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." (Acts 6:1)
13. The greatness of the church of Christ is seen in that it was a growing 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) Evangelism builds churches. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2)
These are characteristics which makes it possible for other to see the greatness of the church. Our goal is simply to be Christ's church. The church of Christ is not a denomination; it is the kingdom of God. We are pleading for primitive Christianity just as it was before being polluted by men. To begin your Christian life hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of your sins (Luke 13:3, confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) After being washed in the blood of Jesus at baptism be among those that are blessed by serving as a faithful member of the one body or church of Christ.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA
Should We Display a Cross in the Church Building?
What Does the Bible Say About the Cross of Christ versus the Body of Christ?
The cross of Christ occurs 22 times (tree, 4 times) in the New Testament:
Mat 27:32, 40, 42
Mark 15:21, 30, 32
John 19:17, 19, 25, 31
Acts 5:30 (tree); 10:39 (tree); 13:29 (tree)
1 Cor. 1:17, 18
Gal. 5:11; 6:12, 14
Phil. 2:8; 3:18
Col. 1:20; 2:14
1 Pet. 2:24 (tree)
The physical body of Christ occurs 26 times in New Testament:
Mat. 26:12, 26; 27:59
Mark 14:8, 22; 15:43, 45
Luke 22:19; 23:52, 55; 24:3, 23
John 2:21, 19:38 (twice); 19:40; 20:12
1 Cor. 10:16; 11:24, 27, 29
Heb. 10:5, 10
1 Pet. 2:24
What does Scripture command us to remember, reflect upon, or discern as an act of worship?
We are told to remember Christ’s body and blood in Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor. 11:24-29.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to remember the cross, or tree, on which Christ’s body hung, as an act of worship.
Therefore, if there were a need to display a physical symbol during worship, logic would make it a crucifix, which has the body of Christ on it, not just a bare wooden cross.
But we are not left to guess what physical symbols we should use in worship.
What physical symbols of remembrance do the Scriptures specify?
The Bible already specifies the physical symbols that we are to use in worship to help us remember Christ’s death on the cross.
The Bread, representing Christ’s body (Mat. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:24, 26-29).
The Cup, representing Christ’s blood (Mat 26:27-28; Mark 14:23-24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:25-29).
Do any Scriptures authorize the display or use of physical symbols other than these during worship to help us remember Christ’s death on the cross?
There are none. Therefore, adding any additional physical symbols would be going beyond the authority of the word of God.
Some passages that address this are:
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Romans 10:17 …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
And Romans 14:23 …whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
-The Elders, Austinville Church of Christ, 2833 Danville Road SW Decatur, Alabama 35603