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Overview of the Church of Christ
Bible study on the church of Christ.

This article is a brief overview of the church of Christ. I have tried to include several of the first principles with respect to the church and thus the basic qualities of the church which distinguish it from other religions and from denominations.

The Church was Built by Jesus

While on earth, Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). After ascending into heaven, Jesus established His church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47).

The Apostles were Jesus' Witnesses
On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and received power to be Jesus' witnesses (Acts 1:5, 8; 2:1-3).

The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4; cf. 2 Per. 1:20-21). That day, they preached the gospel exhorting the people to be saved (Acts 2:40). Those who received their word were baptized (Acts 2:41).

Peter's Sermon
Luke records the sermon Peter preached on Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36). He proved that Jesus was the Christ foretold of by God in the Old Testament Scriptures and convicted the Jews of putting Him to death with lawless hands (Acts 2:22-36).

Repent and be Baptized
Some of the Jews who heard Peter were pierced to the heart and asked, "Brethren, what shall we do" (Acts 2:37-38)?

Peter commanded them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). Those who received Peter's word, were baptized (Acts 2:41) because they had believed (Acts 2:44). And, the Lord added them to the church (Acts 2:47).


The Church is Subject to Jesus

Jesus built one church (Eph. 4:4; Col. 3:15) of which He is the Head (cf. Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22- 23).

The Church of Christ Obeys Christ
God put all things in subjection to Jesus making Him the Head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:24). A church of Christ (Rom. 16:16) obeys Jesus (Heb. 5:9; Eph. 5:24) and abides in His doctrine (2 Jn. 1:9; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

A Man-Made Church is not Obeying Christ
A church obeying man-made doctrines (Col. 2:20-23; cf. Matt. 15:8-9), is a man-made church (Col. 2:23). Its worship is vain (Matt. 15:8-9).

When we Obey Jesus, We are Added to the Church
Jesus has commanded us to:

  • believe (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:16; Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6).
  • repent (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38).
  • confess Him (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:10).
  • be baptized (Matt. 28:18-19; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
  • remain faithful until death ( Rev. 2:10).

After being baptized, the Lord adds us to the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27).

Jesus is the Savior of the Body
Jesus is the Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23), which is the church (Eph. 1:22-23). He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28; cf. Eph. 5:25; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

People who obey Jesus are added to the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:13) and saved (Heb. 5:9). People who do not obey Jesus are lost (2 Th. 1:8).


The Church is the Household of God

The church is the household of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). It is built on the foundation of the apostles, prophets, and Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:19-22).

The church grows into a holy temple in the Lord. It is built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:19-21).

We Must Obey God to be in His Household
Christians are in the household of God because they obey the gospel of God (1 Pet. 4:17; cf. 1 Pet. 1:22-23).

They are children of God (Gal. 3:26-4:7). People who do not obey the gospel are lost (2 Th. 1:8). They are sons of the devil (1 Jn. 3:10).


Doctrine of the Church

The doctrine of the church is revealed in Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Jn. 1:9). The church does not have any human creeds, catechisms, church manuals, or professions of faith (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1- 16; 2 Tim. 3:1-17).

The church does not incorporate the doctrines and traditions of men (Col. 2:16-23; cf. Matt. 15:8- 9).

The church does not practice or teach any gospel other than the gospel of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:6- 9; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Jn. 1:9).


Names Ascribed to the Church

We are commanded to speak and do the things which are authorized by Christ (Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 4:11). We cannot do anything that is not authorized in God's word (1 Cor. 4:6). Therefore, we can only use names identifying the church which are revealed in God's word.

Names ascribed to the church are:

  • My (i.e., Christ's) church (Matt. 16:18).
  • church of the Lord, church of God (Acts 20:28).
  • church of Christ (Rom. 16:16).
  • church of God (1 Cor. 1:2).
  • household of God (Eph. 2:19).
  • the body, the church (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23).
  • the church (1 Th. 1:1; Eph. 5:23).
    • Sometimes a particular congregation is distinguished from other congregations by including information regarding its location (e.g., the church of the Thessalonians, etc.).
  • house of God, church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15).
  • church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23).
  • God's field, God's building (1 Cor. 3:9).
  • the flock (1 Pet. 5:3; Acts 20:28).


The Church Worships in Spirit and Truth

We must worship in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:21-24).

God's word is truth (Jn. 17:17). And, Jesus as the word is the truth (Jn. 1:1; 14:6). Therefore, we worship in spirit and truth by worshiping according to the manner prescribed in God's word.

If we attempt to worship God according to the commandments and traditions of men, our worship is vain (Matt. 15:8-9).