"The Church" or Denominations?
The church of the New Testament is not denominational. In the first century there was only one church. No denominations existed at that time. It is just this simple, from about AD 33 forward for many years denominations did not exist but the church of Christ existed. The undenominational church of Christ is produced when the gospel of Christ is obeyed. "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18) As people obeyed this pure gospel of Christ they were saved and added by the Lord to His church. The New Testament church and denominational churches are far different from one another in origin, purpose, mission, and destiny.
Denominations were planned by men; the church of Christ was planned by God and Christ. We read, "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10-11) God planned the church in such a way as to have unity. Unity is possible when "All speak the same thing." (1 Corinthians 1:10) Denominations promote division instead of unity. The church of Christ promotes unity!
Denominations exist without blood; the church of Christ was purchased with Christ’s blood. To the elders from the church of Ephesus God said, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) Christ and His church cannot be separated because His blood purchased His church. Therefore, His church is as valuable as His blood. Those that reject the church of Christ do not recognize the connection between the church of Christ and the blood of Christ. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Denominations do not recognize Christ as head of the church, the church of Christ lifts up Jesus as head. Denominations have their heads and headquarters in different places around the world. Jesus is the head of the church of Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18) Neither the Pope nor anyone else can claim headship over the church. Jesus is head. He is king over His kingdom. Christians are citizens in the kingdom and thus must respect Christ's law. Denominations do not respect Christ as head because they do not respect His law. Christ, the Head instructs His body, the church concerning what to believe, teach and do.
Denominations do not teach God’s plan of salvation, the church of Christ teaches the gospel plan of salvation. Denominations teach people to go to an altar and pray for salvation, pray the sinner’s prayer, or to just accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. They do not tell sinners to hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized into Christ to wash away sins. (Romans 6:3-5) Denominations never tell people what Peter told the people on Pentecost. "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." (Acts 2:38) The church of Christ encourages gospel obedience. (Acts 2:36-41)
God has blessed us with the great privilege of being a part of the blood bought, God planned, heaven promised church. Jesus gave the world His church before and without denominationalism. Let's go back to the Bible, back to New Testament Christianity, back to the Bible church. You can be just a Christian! It is a great blessing to be a member of the undenominational church of Christ.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA