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by Bernie Parsons 08/17/02
What Is The church Of Christ?
by Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Westwood, KY, church of Christ on 08/17/02
We hear people of all
denominations talk about "the church". The Catholics speak of themselves as
"the church". Protestants speak of themselves as being "the church".
In the churches of Christ, we consider ourselves "the church". In fact, we often
refer to the church as an organization, or an institution. Folks, that kind of talk and
planning leads to denominationalism. But what does the Bible mean when it speaks of
Matthew 16:15 "He saith unto
them, But whom say ye that I am?
Jesus said that He would build His church, and death itself would not prevent Him. The word church, or kirk, is an English/Scottish word that means, "of the Lord". Unfortunately, many have equated the church to the meetinghouse, which is incorrect. For centuries, men have referred to assembly-places as the "house of the Lord", or the church. This is an erroneous statement. But even in the churches of Christ we don't always understand what the church is.
The New Testament word for church was in Greek, ekklesia, which means, "a called-out assembly". When Jesus referenced His ekklesia, He meant His "called out assembly". His "called out assembly" was not built upon Peter in particular, as some suppose, but rather, upon the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. This fact alone gave Him the authority--the power--to build His "called-out assembly", or church. This gave Him the authority and power to overcome death and be resurrected from the grave, and to establish His called-out assembly with spiritual foundations.
1 Corinthians 3:9: "For we are
labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
1 Peter 2:1: "Wherefore laying
aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
The church is not so much an organization as it is an organism. It is a living being, the body of Jesus Christ. He, and the apostles, are the foundation of the called-out assembly, and we Christians are lively--that is, living--stones that comprise the spiritual house of God.
Ephesians 2:19: "Now therefore
ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the
household of God;
God lives in us as the body of Jesus Christ, of which Jesus is the head..
Colossians 1:18: "And he 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."
Ephesians 5:23: "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."
1 Corinthians 12:27: "Now ye are
the body of Christ, and members in particular.
As the human body is a living organism, so is the body of Jesus Christ-that called out assembly to which we refer as "the church". The time spent trying to organize the church into a denomination would be better invested in listening to Christ, who is the head of our body. When Jesus was here on earth, He stated that He must be about His father's business.
Luke 2:49: "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
We need to follow the leadership of our head, and devote ourselves to our Father's business, rather than dreaming up new business over which to fuss, fight, and argue. If we will devote ourselves to the Father's work, we will have little or no time in which to wrangle and wrestle.
What did Jesus instruct His disciples to do? What was the Father's business?
Matthew 28:19: "Go ye therefore,
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost:
I wonder what would happen if we
were to follow those instructions? I hear so many of the church members whine and complain
that the church is withering away. Have you ever analyzed that statement? What causes the
church to wither? We find an important hint in:
John 15:5: "I am the vine, ye
are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:
for without me ye can do nothing.
Is it possible that the body of Christ would be much healthier if we actually followed His lead?
Mathew 5:13: "Ye are the salt of
the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is
thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
If salt loses its ability to season, it is worthless, and men will tread it under foot. Have we lost our savor? Are we building the city in plain sight? Are we putting the candle up on the candlestick?
John 3:14: "And as Moses lifted
up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
We Christians carry the light of Christ in us. As the apostle Paul says, we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus, and Him crucified. Jesus is the light of the world, reflected through us into all the world, for we are the called-out assembly of God through Christ Jesus, His Son, and our Savior.
2 Corinthians 4: 5: "For
we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus'
We are not a building of stone, or wood, or concrete and steel. We are a living building, earthen vessels that contain the light of Christ. We are a spiritual city, that new Jerusalem, the city of God, set on a hill, not to be hidden, but to give light to the world. We are the called-out assembly of God, the church of Jesus Christ.
Our goal is not to argue and fight, or condemn and destroy. Our goal is to preach the gospel to the world that is cloaked in the darkness of sin and ignorance. Our aim is to know only Jesus, and His crucifixion.
1 Corinthians 2:1: "And I,
brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring
unto you the testimony of God.
We are not a denomination unless we
act like one. If we follow men, then we are just another denomination. If we look to
gatherings of men to determine our doctrines, we are a denomination. If our goal is merely
to declare "our church" to be superior to "other churches", then we
are a denomination. My friends, we are the called-out assembly of God, and ought to behave
Christ died to take away the sin of the world. That is our message. The power of God rests in that message. The light of God is projected into the whole world when we present that message. We are called out of the world to be a holy people, a royal priesthood.
1 Peter 1:15: "But as he which
hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1 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:"
Colossians 1: 9: "For this cause
we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye
might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
We are snatched from the jaws of darkness, from the maw of Hell, and are translated into the blessed and glorious kingdom of light. Therefore, we are to conduct ourselves as the children of light, the children of God, whose children we are. When we do, we give praise to God.
2 Corinthians 6:14: "Be ye not
unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with
unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
The called-out assembly, the body of Christ--that is, the church of Jesus Christ--is to depart from the ways of darkness, the ways of the world. We are to be a light to the world, and we are to walk in the light that is the love of Christ. Our love towards one another, and others, proves who we are.
Ephesians 5:1: "Be ye therefore
followers of God, as dear children;
As the called-out assembly, or body, of Christ, we are to put sin from our lives. In this, we work to save ourselves, while showing others the way to eternal life, the way that is in Christ Jesus. It is not enough to rest within the "ark of safety", as we are fond of calling the church, but we must work tirelessly and diligently to bring others to the Lord. If we walk in sin against God, if we disobey Him, then we walk in darkness, and not in the light.
If you are here tonight, and are not a Christian, you are not in that called-out assembly. Forsake the ways of darkness, that is the ways of sin and disobedience against the God of heaven. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the true and living God? If so, repent-that is, turn your heart from the ways of the world, and turn it over to God. Allow God to take charge of your life, to give you leadership and direction. Boldly confess your faith that Jesus is the son of God, and be buried in baptism, washing away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord. Let the blood of Jesus wash you white as the snow.
Isaiah 1:16: "Wash you, make you
clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
The Lord will add you to His called-out assembly, His body, His church. From there, born again of the water and of the Spirit, you will be a babe in Christ, ready to learn the ways of the Lord. You will grow and mature in Him, walking in the light. Won't you come and let the Lord add you to His church today?