All the Churches of Christ Greet You

(Romans 16:16)

The best place to learn about Jesusí church is within the pages of the New Testament. Here God opens up for us how He wants people to respond to the wonderful good news of Jesusí sacrificial death, burial and resurrection for our sins that restores us to fellowship with God the Father in Christ. The New Testament word for church refers to those who are assembled in Christ as His body as Jesus said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). I encourage you to search the Scriptures as the Bereans did, for they "received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).

God has acted in history to bring us back into fellowship with Him and save us to be with Him eternally. He has acted to save us by His grace and forgive our sins, not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of Jesusí death, burial and resurrection. It is through Jesus and His sacrifice for us that we can be cleansed from our sins and live a holy life in fellowship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the people of God.

Churches of Christ seek to worship, serve and respond to Godís love in accordance with His teachings and will as He has revealed them to us in the Scriptures, the Bible. We seek to respond to the good news of Jesusí death, burial and resurrection in the way that Jesus and His Apostles taught that we should and as we understand the early Christians did in the New Testament.

Churches of Christ respect the authority of God and His Word and the lordship of Jesus Christ and appeal for the unity of all believers based on the truth of the teachings and practices revealed to us all in the pages of the Scriptures. For these reasons members of churches of Christ seek to be known as Christians only (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The name churches of Christ comes from the Bible in Romans 16:16 and refers to those who are members of Christís body, the church, and who assemble in His name to worship and serve God and bring Him glory.

Congregations of the churches of Christ each place themselves under the lordship of Jesus Christ and so are non-denominational and have no head office or organizational structure beyond the local congregation. In keeping with the teachings of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, most congregations with large enough numbers have elders and deacons to guide the spiritual and practical lives of their congregations.

In life and worship, churches of Christ seek to glorify God and accomplish His mission in accordance with His revealed Word. Congregational worship of God is simple and emphasizes the Lordís Supper, Biblical preaching, prayer, giving and singing songs of worship and praise. In keeping with Scripture, churches of Christ believe that anyone can become a Christian and live the Christian life by believing in Jesus and His sacrificial death for our forgiveness, repenting of sin, being immersed in the waters of baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-11), receiving the Holy Spirit and leading a faithful and holy life. Churches of Christ sing congregationally (together) and a cappella (voices unaccompanied) in response to the positive commands of God (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) and the practice of the New Testament church. Within their communities and around the world, churches of Christ are active in many mission and benevolence ministries.

Churches of Christ identify themselves most importantly with the church of Jesus Christ that you can read about in the New Testament. Historically, churches of Christ were enabled to reconnect with New Testament Christianity and set aside later additions and creeds in part due to the efforts of many believers who were part of what came to be known as the Restoration Movement. The movement began in the post-Reformation period and gained momentum in many places in the Western world in the 1700ís and 1800ís. Rather than reform Christianity, the movement seeks to restore what God has expressed as His will for His people through the church which in itself is a fulfilment of Godís promise to restore His people Israel with the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. A key focus of restoration is the reconciliation of people to God. New Testament churches continue to be established around the world as believers seek to worship and live for God in accordance with His Word and the fellowship of His Spirit and the body of fellow Christians.

While it is impossible to count the number of independent New Testament churches around the world by virtue of their autonomous free nature, some people have estimated that there are approximately 20,000 congregations of churches of Christ around the world with a total membership estimated to be over 2,000,000. There are approximately 100 congregations in Canada. Church of Christ missionaries are active in sharing the good news (gospel) of Christ and planting churches in many nations around the world.

Additional Resources:

The Churches of Christ: An Ecclesiology for Today, by Everett Ferguson.

The Family of God: A Study of the New Testament Church, by Batsell Barrett Baxter.

Directories of churches world-wide:

www.oldpaths.net

www.oldpaths.net/Words/Who/index.html

www.church-of-christ.org

Paul Birston

April 2005©

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