Vol. 12 No. 4 April 2010
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
It usually only takes but a brief visit by someone not familiar with the church of Christ to take note of the stark differences between the church that bears Christ’s name and religious groups that bear the names of men. One of those stark differences is easily seen in the observance of the church of Christ. What we observe each Lord’s Day by way of worship is quite different than most religious groups indeed. However, if one were to go back to the inspired Word of God, what observance would he find?
First, one can see the uniqueness of the church of the first century by its observance of a cappela singing. Staggeringly, there is not one reference in the New Testament regarding the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship! Each individual Christian (no solos, choirs, etc.) is commanded to simply sing from the heart (cf. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), and to sing with the spirit and the understanding (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15). So then, why do most religious groups use mechanical instruments of music? That I cannot fully answer, but I can know for certain that the church belonging to Christ will uphold and respect His Word regarding its observance of singing.
Secondly, one can see the uniqueness of the church of the first century by its observance of the Lord’s Supper. Each and every Lord’s Day (cf. Acts 20:7), Christians are commanded to partake, they are to remember the Lord’s death, and they are to examine themselves until the Lord comes again (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23-30). Why then, do some religious groups observe the Lord’s Supper only one time per quarter or once or twice a year? Again, that I cannot fully answer, but I do know for certain that the church belonging to Christ will uphold and respect His Word regarding its observance of the Lord’s Supper!
Thirdly, one can see the uniqueness of the church of the first century by its observance of prayer. Numerous occasions in Scripture show the church together praying (Acts 2:42; 4:24-31; 6:6; 12:5, 12; 16:25; 20:36; et al.). In fact, Paul commanded men (gender specific, meaning males) to pray in “every place” (1 Timothy 2:8). Interestingly, “When ‘in every’ is used with ‘place’ the usual meaning is ‘in the meeting places’ of the church (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:8)” (Olbricht 146). The church belonging to Christ will uphold and respect His Word regarding its observance of prayer!
Fourthly, one can see the uniqueness of the church of the first century by its observance of giving. The Holy Spirit’s command to individual Christians in the church was to give a portion of their money on the first day of each week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). They were to give purposely, cheerfully, liberally and willingly (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7). The church that belongs to Jesus will uniquely and reverently give each Lord’s Day in keeping with the Lord’s commands.
Lastly, one can see the uniqueness of the church of the first century by its observance of preaching and teaching. The church began as a result of preaching and teaching (cf. Acts 2:17ff). The early church continued steadfastly teaching and preaching what the apostles taught (Acts 2:42), and even Paul himself preached and taught publicly (Acts 20:7; 20; et al). Fancy speeches, political correctness and current events are not what comprise preaching and teaching, but rather a healthy dose of the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:1-4), expounded and explained (Nehemiah 8:1-8) is God’s idea of preaching and teaching! Thus, the church belonging to Jesus will continue in the apostolic tradition of preaching and teaching “the whole counsel of God” (cf. Acts 20:27)!
The church of Christ is truly unique! She stands in stark contrast to manmade organizations because of her unique origin, which includes: the Scriptural Builder, the Scriptural Base, and the Scriptural Beginning. She stands in stark contrast to manmade organizations because of her unique oversight, which includes: Her Head, Her Guide and Her Organization. She stands in stark contrast to manmade organizations because of her unique observance, which includes: a cappela singing, the Lord’s Supper, praying, giving and preaching the whole counsel of God. Dear Reader, Jesus, with a broken heart, prayed for religious unity (cf. John 17:20-21). It is up to you and me to carry out that request. Will you help or hinder? Please come back to the Bible!