The Identity of the Church (2)

Only one community of Christians is identified in the New Testament. It is variously called: “the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4),” “the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3); “the Church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15), “the Churches of Christ,” (Rom. 16:16); and “one body” (Eph.4:4). That is what we should be looking for exclusively — the one that follows the given New Testament pattern. Our salvation depends on it.

The Apostle Paul wrote the church in Galatia: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27). So, to be found in a justified state before God; we must believe the record about Jesus in the Bible. Then we need to act upon it. We must be immersed to “put on Christ.” Belief and baptism represent our understanding of the purpose for the sacrifice of Christ, which cleanses us from our sin. When we are “in Christ,” we “dwell” in both God the Father and in Christ. Once we meet those conditions, we need to assemble with other Christians to honor the Lord’s death and resurrection on his Day: The Lord’s Day – the first day of each week. There we partake of his simple two element Supper, sing songs and hymns, offer up prayers, teach each other and take a collection to meet the members’ needs. That’s all. If we are diligent and remain faithful, the reward is eternal life with God and Christ. And we are known as Christians – members of the only church and assembly that is patterned and named in the New Testament.

Both God and Christ ordained this single assembly, which is also called the “Temple of God,” (2 Cor. 6:16), and the “pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15). No other church or group matters. Simply put, to be out of this one church, or in some other, is to be separated from God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the blood of Christ, the life of Christ, and his justification or pardon for our sins.

It is of eternal importance then, to know that we are where we must be – in the one church: The Church of Christ. It is the only one Jesus established, and the only one where his hand chosen “ambassadors,” the Twelve Apostles both taught and worshipped. It is the only church over which the Holy Spirit gave them to watch, build up and keep a history.