The Lord’s Church – What’s The Difference?
A. Jesus prayed that those who believe in Him would be united.
1. John 17:17, 20-21 2. The division in the denominational and even among churches of Christ can only be displeasing to Him.
B. His apostles made the same plea for unity.
1. “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;” 1 Pet 3:8
2. “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Cor 1:10
3. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph 4:1-6
I. How Did We Get To This Present Divided State?
A. In the NT, there were no groups of congregations distinguished by distinctive doctrines and practices.
1. The churches were merely “churches of Christ.” Ro 16:16
a. Not a denomination, just a local group pf folks working together for the gospel cause.
2. Should be obvious that if nothing had changed, things would still be the same.
B. But things did change. Departures from the truth came and were even predicted by the apostles.
1. 1 Tim 4:1-2 2 Tim 4:1-4
II. What Can Be Done To Recover The Unity Jesus Prayed For?
A. The short answer: Get rid of the cause of division and you’ll get rid of the division itself!
1. If the present division is caused by additions, subtractions and modifications of the Lord’s teaching, could we be united if these things were eliminated?
B. God’s word is like “seed” (Luke 8:11). A characteristic of seed is to produce after its kind.
1. Other religious teaching is also like seed, producing after their kind.
a. The Roman Catholic Catechism will always produce a Catholic.
b. The Lutheran Augsberg Confession … a Lutheran
c. The Book of Mormon … a Mormon.
d. The Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer … an Episcopalian.
e. The Methodist Discipline … a Methodist.
f. The Baptist Manual … a Baptist.
2. Methodist Discipline won’t produce a Baptist, nor will the Baptist Manual produce a Methodist!
3. If the only seed sown was Christ’s teaching, what would it produce?
a. A Christian – Nothing more, less, and nothing else!
III. So, What Is The Church Of Christ?
A. One thing it is NOT – A Denomination
B. It IS merely the church that belongs to Christ.
1. ” … upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matt 16:18
2. “The churches of Christ greet you.” Rom 16:16
C. Its members simply disciples of Christ who wear His name.
1. “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Acts 11:26
D. In the NT, Christians were never any sectarian or denominational “kind” of Christians.
1. They were just Christians, the Lord’s people made His by virtue of having obeyed His gospel and had received forgiveness of their sins.
a. 1 Cor 1:2 2 Tim 1:8-10 Eph 5:25-27
E. We are warned about adding to or modifying His word
1. “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written..” 1 Cor 4:6
2. Jesus said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” Matt 15:13 3. Rev 22:18-19 2 Tim 2:15-19
a. Who are the ones who are His? The ones who haven’t gone astray from the truth!
F. If someone wanted to be a member of a denomination, one would be as good as any other for they all have the same origin: Man
1. BUT, if someone wants to just be a Christian, he can become one just like the ones in the NT.
How does one become just a Christian?
A. Believe in Jesus – “For God so loved the world…” John 3:16
B. Repent (turn away) from sin – “Unless you repent..” Luke 13:3
C. Confess your faith – “Whoever confesses Me..” Matt 10:32
D. Be immersed for forgiveness – “He who believes..” Mark 16:16
1. When we do these things we are added to the body of the saved, the church.
E. Live faithfully – “It is the one who has endured..” Matt 10:22
1. As long as we believe and practice only that which is the Lord’s will, we will be the Lord’s church – the church of Christ!
2. If we get outside of His will, we’ve severed our relationship with Him.
a. “Whoever goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abodes on the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John: 9
By Zeke Flores