|Vol. 14 No. 12 December 2012||
The Church of Christ is not a physical building nor is it a denomination. It is the blood-bought body of Christ. Paul wrote by inspiration of God, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). At the end of time the church which is the kingdom of God will be delivered up to God, the father. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:24-25). If you will do what the Bible teaches, the Lord will save you and add you to His church.
The church Jesus built is made up of saved people (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus did not build a denomination. His interest is not in a physical building. The Church of Christ is a living organism. It is composed of people saved by the blood of Jesus. If you have read your Bible, you have read about the Church of Christ. The Church of Christ exists anywhere people follow the Bible and the Bible only (Acts 2:38-47).
The church Jesus built is God’s promised kingdom (Daniel 2:44-45). The church is that kingdom which shall stand forever. The eternal kingdom was established in the days of the Roman kings. This was during the lifetime of some who heard Jesus speak. “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1).
The church Jesus built wears a Bible name that honors Him (Romans 16:16). The name “church of Christ” is a Bible name, and it is a name big enough to embrace all the saved. The Bible gives no specific name for the church. It does, however, identify the church with several Bible expressions. The members of this body are known simply as Christians (1 Peter 4:15-16).
The church Jesus built worships according to the New Testament pattern (Acts 2:42). The day of worship is the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). On each Sunday, we sing (Ephesians 5:19), study God’s Word (Acts 20:7), pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18), give (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) and observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Only these Bible things are done in worship! We cannot conclude our discussion of New Testament worship without looking at Paul’s warning to the Colossians. The apostle warned them not to be beguiled by religious ordinances that are merely “the commandments and doctrines of men.” He cautioned that such ordinances “have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:18-22).
The church Jesus built has no religious guide but the Bible (John 17:17). Churches of Christ have no “creed books,” “manuals” or “confessions of faith.” Our only rule of faith is the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Wise men and women learn to obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him. There is nothing more important in life than following the teachings of the Bible and trusting God to care for your needs.
It is in harmony with the Bible to use the name Church of Christ, to call oneself a Christian and to accept Jesus as the only Head of the church. It is scriptural to accept the Bible as the only rule of faith, to plead for unity in Jesus and to follow the Bible pattern in worship. Those who follow the Bible are Christians, members of the Church of Christ. Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Believers contact Christ’s saving blood by being baptized into His death. John said, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
We join with Paul in saying, “To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). Are you a faithful member of the Church of Christ?
But what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, “My son, go, work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I don’t want to!” Yet later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. “I will, sir,” he answered. But he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will? “The first,” they said.” (Matthew 21:28-31)
How important are good intentions? They are fundamental! Intention is our determination to act in a certain way, our resolve to achieve a certain goal. Good intentions are the desires we have to accomplish good. They allow us to plan, prepare and then perform the good we have in mind. Without good intentions there is no desire, no preparation and no initiative to reach out and accomplish good for the kingdom of God. Nothing good can be done without good intentions.
As basic as good intentions are, they must be carried out to accomplish anything good. You can have all the good intentions possible, but if they are never acted on, the result is no different from the one who has no good intentions at all. Either way, nothing positive is accomplished. Jesus emphasized this in the above parable. It was not the son who said he would work that did the will of his father, but the one who actually served (although he had originally said he would not). No matter the good intentions of the one son who said he would serve, they lay empty in his heart, unfulfilled and unproductive. In the end, it was he, even with good intentions, who was considered disobedient.
Most of us have good intentions. As recipients of God’s mercy, our desire is to live and serve faithfully from a loving heart. The question is what do we do with those good intentions, those noble desires we have for God? They should be the springboards from which good works proceed (Ephesians 2:10). If not, then no matter how much potential we have, our lives will remain idle and wasted, accomplishing nothing. We glorify God when our words and deeds join in His service. Let us plan what we can do for the Lord, and then let’s work, in the will of God, to make it happen. “But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability” (2 Corinthians 8:11).