What is the
church of Christ?
- Feature Articles:
by: David Bragg
In considering the four
questions that follow one can demonstrate to the inquiring individual a
clear picture of the church, Christ's spiritual body.
1. Is the church of Christ a denomination? The church
revealed in the New Testament was unified in one body under one Head,
Jesus (Col. 1:18). This unity was essential to prove the identity
of Jesus as God's Son to the world (Jn. 17:20-21). Division and
denominationalism destroys this unity by dividing believers.
Unity is restored when Christ is again enthroned as head and reigns by
the authority of His word. As men realized the need to go back to
the Bible and find God's plan for His church and the unity of all
believers, the church of Christ as taught in the New Testament began to
be restored. The result was the original church established in
Acts 2, and not a new denomination. The church of Christ is not a
2. What does the church of Christ believe? If it were not
for the message of the Bible, man would not really be able to know God
or Jesus. Man would likewise be ignorant of the purpose and
organization of Christ's church, salvation, and God's will for man's
life. The Bible is God's message to man (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and is
the only source from which one can learn this message (2 Tim.
2:15). The one who does not study cannot know what to believe on
any of these subjects. The church of Christ believes the Bible to
be the ONLY authority and guide for ALL matters of religion.
Since the Bible is God's Word and Will for the church and every
believer today, the church must plead for mankind to join in a serious
investigation of God's Word and then believe and practice neither more
nor less than the Good Book teaches.
3. How does one become a member of the church of Christ?
One becomes a member of the church of Christ today in exactly the same
manner as one became a member of the church of Christ in the New
Testament times. When a person obeys the gospel they are
saved. Peter's audience on Pentecost verifies this. When
they obeyed (Acts 2:38, 41) they were saved (vs. 47). When they
were saved the Lord added them to His church (vs. 47; cf. other
examples: Acts 8:12, the Samaritans; 8:38, the Eunuch; 9:18, 22:16,
Paul; 10:47, Cornelius; 16:15, 33, Lydia and the Jailer).
Everyone who was saved after the church was established in Acts two was
saved in the same manner. They believed Jesus was the Christ,
repented by turning away from their sins, and were immersed for the
forgiveness of their sins (1 Pet. 3:21). When they did this Jesus
added them to his church. When one does this today Jesus will add
that person to the same church.
4. Why should I be a member of the church of Christ?
Because the church is the body of Christ, who is its Savior (Eph.
5:23). It is this body, with Christ as the head, that will be
saved. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance to be a part
of that body that will be saved by its Head. To be a part of
another body would require having another head, and the Bible plainly
teaches that salvation is only found in Christ (Acts 4:12).
The Bible tells man of God's will for him and what he must do to be
saved. Nothing is more important than to learn God's will for
one's life, thereby preventing their soul from being lost.
- David Bragg lives in Cape Girardeau, MO and worships with the Jackson
church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
by: Edd Sterchi
The title phrase is one
commonly heard when describing particular congregations. But what
does it mean to be a caring church? Is this church a caring
church? Let's find out.
A Caring Church is a Sharing Church. A caring church is thankful
Christ has shared with them and thus is willing to share with others
(Heb. 13:16; 1 Tim. 6:18; 2 Cor. 9:13). A caring church shares
with one another, both blessings and burdens (Eph. 4:16; 1 Tim.
6:18). A caring church shares the gospel with the lost and shares
with those who spread the gospel (Philemon 6; Phil. 4:15).
A Caring Church is a Declaring Church. A caring church is one
that declares Jesus as Lord and Savior (1 John 1:1-3; Rom.
1:1-3). A caring church is one which declares the whole counsel
of God (Acts 20:27; 1 Cor. 2:1). A caring church is one that will
declare praise to God in proper worship (Heb. 2:12; 1 Cor. 15:1-2).
A Caring Church is a Preparing Church. A caring church is one
that prepares for eternity (1 Cor. 2:9; Heb. 11:16). A caring
church is one that prepares its members to live pure, faithful, and
active lives for Christ (2 Tim. 2:21-22; Eph. 2:10). A caring
church makes all future preparations in harmony with the will of God
(Eph. 6:15; cf 2 Chron. 35:6 as an example).
A caring church cares for others, cares for what is right, and cares
for God, and as a result will always be sharing, declaring, and
preparing. Do you care enough to be a part of a caring church?
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Harrisburg Church of Christ in
Harrisburg, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
by: Ron Bartanen
Testament book of Colossians warned of teachers who promoted humanly
devised "doctrines" and "commandments of men" (2:22), imposing their
own authority over believers, and "not holding the Head" (2:19a).
The "Head", obviously, is Jesus Christ
(1:18). All that would desire
to restore the purity and unity of the church must look beyond the
sects and denominations of Christendom, remembering who is "the Head of
the body, the church". We can never hope to achieve God's desire
of unity for His people by seeking grains of truth in sifting through
the sectarian chaff that has accumulated through the centuries, for all
truth is in Christ alone, the Head of the church. In Christ are
hidden "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians
2:3). Jesus declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"
(John 14:6). Too long have men looked to popes, bishops and
church councils for direction, ignoring Him who declared, "All power
(authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew
28:18). For any to seek to usurp that which is the Lord's alone,
is to despise the authority of Him who is the Head.
Those who would submit to the Head must go to the New
Testament Scriptures, the truth He has revealed through His apostles by
the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14). Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them through
thy truth; thy word is truth" (John 17:17). It is "through the
knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord" that we have been given "all
things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter
- Ron Bartanen preaches for the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur,
IL. He may be contacted at email@example.com
Foolishness of Preaching
by: Bill Brandstatter
The apostle Paul wrote:
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know
God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to
save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21—NKJV). Why did Paul refer to
preaching as foolishness? From the viewpoint of many in the world
and perhaps some in the church the following may be part of the reason.
Preaching is not entertaining enough. Many today want to be
entertained. The Bible tells of a certain reverence and awe that
occurred during the Word being proclaimed. One of the Old Testament
Minor Prophets, Habakkuk describes the attitude during worship: “But
the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before
him” (Hab. 2:20). A worshipper today might declare: “How boring!” Yet
we cannot equate preaching with entertainment. They are two entirely
The purpose of preaching is not to entertain. The job of the preacher
is to proclaim the Word of God. David wrote: “I have preached
righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my
lips, O LORD, thou knowest” (Psa. 40:9). The first words Jesus preached
were: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 4:17). Peter
stated, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet.
4:11). John F. McArthur Jr., in his book Ashamed of the Gospel states
“Nothing in Scripture indicates the church should lure people to Christ
by presenting Christianity as an attractive option. Nothing about the
gospel is optional” (72). He further declares:
“There seems almost no limit to what modern church leaders will do to
entice people who aren’t interested in worship and preaching. Too many
have bought the notion that the church must win people by offering an
alternative form of entertainment” (70).
Preaching causes me to make a change. Throughout the Bible many were
changed by preaching. On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 thousands
were pricked to their hearts and gladly received the message and were
baptized. The jailer in Acts 16 heard the spoken Word and was baptized
(Acts 16:30-31). Felix however did not want to change and when Paul
preached to him he stated “Go thy way for this time; when I have a
convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25). There is no
doubt about it, preaching can change a person. Many unfortunately
simply do not want to make a change. If a person hears preaching long
enough, there is a likelihood something in that person’s life will
change. The Gospel may not be obeyed, but change might come. It is
easier for some to stay where they are than to make a change.
Preaching gives a message that means responsibility. In a day and time
when everyone seems to be a victim taking responsibility for actions is
not a popular message. Whenever evil occurs, excuses are made for the
person’s actions. Perhaps they were mistreated as a child. Maybe they
simply did not get enough attention. There may have been discrimination
of some kind in life, and that person reacted in a negative way. Sin
today is condoned because many do not want to take responsibility.
When Jesus said “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke
13:3), He was preaching a message that was hard for some to obey. If a
person repents, that person must admit wrong in life. There must be an
acknowledgment of sin and wrong doing. In our day where negativism,
truth, and responsibility are wrong, that is something few want to do.
For the above reasons, we can understand why preaching seems foolish to
some. To the child of God however it is “the power of God unto
salvation” (Rom. 1:16). If a person tells me “I enjoyed your sermon” it
usually means, I said something they found of benefit. Whenever
the Word of God is preached, great benefit can come. If the heart of
the listener is right, faith and obedience can result (Acts 2:41).
Thanks be to God for the foolishness of preaching!
- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the church of Christ in Vienna,
IL. Bill may be contaced at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can be involved in an argument. Paul and Barnabas are reminders
that even faithful brethren are not immune from having disagreements
(Acts 15:35-41). Occasionally, our disagreements get
out of hand and we end up saying things we later regret. So what are
some safeguards we can use in handling disagreements in a Christian
way? Here are a few suggestions with the help of the book of Proverbs:
Be friendly. Try not to be adversarial in your point of view. "He that
hath friends must show himself friendly" and "A friend loveth at all
times" (Prov. 18:24; 17:17).
Ever use kindness. Cordiality goes a long way towards maintaining
tranquility. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir
up anger" (Prov. 15:1).
Let up some. Most disagreements would remain friendly if we would just
back off a little. ". . .but he that refraineth his lips is wise"
Overcome with good. Oftentimes in the heat of an argument we lash out
in retaliation. "Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me"
Value their opinion. Listen attentively to what others have to say. "He
that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame
unto him" (Prov. 18:13).
Introduce soothing words. You can get your point across in a nice way.
"Pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health
to the bones" (Prov. 16:24).
Never engage irate behavior. If a disagreement becomes ugly -
conversation over! "Put away from thee a froward
mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee" (Prov.
Grow taller. The desire to win an argument often escalates it. Bigger
people will refuse. ". . . Therefore leave off contention, before it be
meddled with" (Prov. 17:14).
- Bulletin Digest; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin of the
Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.
What did you
bring to worship?
by: Ron Thomas
Each Lord's day, the
church of our Lord gathers together for public worship. We do this
because our Lord died for us and those who love Him desire to worship
His high and holy name. Those who love the Lord do not come to the
building to "get something out of it", but to serve the Lord. Mind you,
those who come seek to be edified, but edification is the result of
serving/worshipping the Lord not by being pleased because of what some
preacher says. It is not unreasonable, however, for the Christian to
expect a lesson from the preacher that does at least two things. First,
exalt the Lord's glory by proclaiming His will. Second, by bringing a
lesson that one can make application to.
Unfortunately, a great many people judge the worship of the church by
the sermon preached. Is that the standard by which we judge the worship
of the church? The worship of the church is much more than just the
sermon preached. It is also the singing of praise to the Lord's name,
participation in the Lord's Supper, our prayers, and our contribution
to the Lord's work. Yet, some people are wanting something "sweet"
rather than something substantive. "Worship is like cotton candy. A
great deal of sugar, but in a moment's time, nothing is left but a
pleasant taste" (William Woodson). Perhaps, too many people forget that
God is the object of our worship.
If you want "something out of worship," then you might put something
into it. You can do this by making preparations. You expect the
preacher to be prepared for his Sunday morning lesson (lessons if he
teaches Bible class). Perhaps the Christian needs to be prepared for
worship as well.
We can be prepared by going to bed at a reasonable hour in order that
we are fully rested by morning's light. This way we can give our
attention to the Lord and not go through the mere motions of routine.
When we come to the building maybe we need to leave earlier than we
normally do so that we are not rushed and, ultimately, arrive late.
This will allow us time to sit down and collect our thoughts. When we
sing our songs of praise we expect the song leader to be prepared,
don't we? It is unfortunate when our song leader is unprepared and just
"gathers some songs" to sing because it's his turn to lead. You expect
the song leader to prayerfully think about the message of the songs,
don't you? If so, then perhaps it is a good idea that all of us who
sing along with the song leader be prepared as well. Our preparation is
"A student came to a Scottish professor, asking him how long he might
safely put off decision for Christ. "Until the day before your death,"
was the strange reply. "But I cannot tell when I shall die," said the
youth. "True," replied the professor, "then decide now."" (Knight's
illustrations, p. 541)
Someone said, "The cross is something you wear, not just bear." If we
"wear" the cross of Christ, then preparation for our Sunday worship is
never a problem. It is like getting dress each day; unless we have lost
our minds, this is never a problem. I think too many Christians are
just trying to "bear" the cross on Sundays. Our exhortation from this
is that what we are supposed to bring to worship on each Lord's day is
our prepared heart to worship/serve God. This is not to much to ask for
the Lord, is it?
- Ron Thomas preaches for the Highway church of Christ, Sullivan,
IL. He may be contacted at email@example.com
and Quick Riches
- misc. goodies
Confronting the Lord's Church
Several years ago brother N.B. Hardeman, one of the greatest spiritual
giants of his generation, was asked what dangers he saw confronting the
church of his day. His reply was as follows:
1) A lack of Bible knowledge and a light regard with
what it says.
2) A tendency to make the church a social club of
3) A disposition to compromise the truth and
to discourage sound preaching.
4) A love for the praise of men more than the praise
Consider these four things and note how the growth of each of them is
causing problems to the church in our day.
- Copied; I apologize for this vague but oft cited source. I try
to identify each item's source when used in BulletinGold.
However, in this case I failed. My sincere apology to whomever
submitted this insightful piece. Although I do not know who you
are I, and all our readers, am very thankful for you sharing this with
As a young minister, I was asked by a funeral director to hold a
grave-side service for a homeless man, with no family or friends. The
funeral was to be held at a cemetery way back in the country, and this
man would be the first to be laid to rest there.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost! And being
the typical man did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour
late. I saw the backhoe and the crew, who were eating lunch, but the
hearse was no where in sight.
I apologized to the workers for my tardiness, and stepped to the side
of the open grave, where I saw the vault lid already in place. I
assured the workers I would not hold them up for long, but this was the
proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their
lunch. I poured out my heart and soul.
As I preached the workers began to say "Amen," "Praise the Lord," and
"Glory," I preached, and I preached, like I'd never preached before:
from Genesis all the way to Revelation. I closed the lengthy service
with a prayer and walked to my car.
As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of
the workers saying to another, "I ain't never seen anything like that
before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
- This item came to us via The Lantern, the weekly bulletin of the
Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL.
by: Gerald Cowan
If you are old enough to remember the Ma and Pa Kettle movies (or have
seen the occasional re-runs on TV) you will appreciate this excerpt. In
one movie two situations stand out indelibly. The first involved the
Kettle family at the dinner table. Pa offered a four word prayer:
Thanks for the vittles." A mad scramble of forks and elbows followed.
The second situation involved the Kettle family at a church service. As
the collection plate went from hand to hand, each member of the Kettle
clan rapped the underside with a knuckle, counterfeiting the sound of
money dropping into the plate. But the plate was still empty when it
got to the end of the pew.
Maybe it was all in fun, it did make a lot of people
laugh, but it contained a good deal of realism too. A proper attitude
about prayer and a sense of financial responsibility to the church are
both highly important to the Christian. I wonder how many pots would
call the Kettles black.
- Gerald Cowan lives in Marion, IL and preaches for the Dongola
church of Christ, Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
Valley I Grow
----poetry this issue
Sometimes life seems hard to bear
Full of sorrow, trouble, and woe,
It's then I have to remember
That it's in the valleys I grow.
If I always stayed on the mountaintop
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.
I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountaintops,
But it's in the valleys I grow.
I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing:
My Lord will see me through.
My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross.
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.
Forgive me, Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.
Continue to strengthen me, Lord,
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.
Thank you for valleys, Lord,
For this one thing I know:
The mountaintops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow.
- Via The Sower, weekly bulletin of the Arthur church of Christ,
by: Janice George
For temptations met
>From day to day,
and trials encountered
Along the way,
For the opportunity to go
To Him in prayer
To relieve your burdens
Toils and care,
For grace bestowed
And blessings received,
For forgiveness of sins
And heartaches relieved
For the refreshing rain
And the evening's sun,
For a crown of life
When our tasks here are done,
In every church, in every clime,
When there's some work to do,
It's very likely to be done
By just the faithful few.
Many folks will help to sing,
And some are glad to talk,
But when it comes to doing things
A lot of them will balk.
"I can't do this", "I can't do that",
"Excuse me please, this time",
"I'd be glad to help you out,
But it's not in my line".
So when the elders look about
For some who'll help to do,
They nearly always have to go
And ask a faithful few.
They know full well they're busy, too,
And always hard at work;
Yet they are sure they'll not refuse,
Nor any duty shirk.
They never stop to make excuse,
But always try to do.
Some day the Lord will come again
With judgment wise and true
And then with him to heaven fair
He'll take the faithful few! !
- Author Unknown
----quotes & sayings for
bulletins and signs this issue
""We must not change the
message; the message must change us" (Galatians 1:6-9) [via The Mathis
Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the Mathis church of Christ, Mathis,
TX; website: www.mathiscofc.org e-mail: MathisCofC@stx.rr.com]
Fortune does not change men, it unmasks them (Suzanne Necker).
"Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they
hit a triple" (Barry Switzer).
"Courage is being scared to
death and saddling up anyway." (John Wayne; via the APRIL 2006 MSFYi;
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Internet Newsletter).