How to Be the Church of Christ

By Royce Frederick

A person may call himself a “Christian,” while his actions show he is not. In a similar way, it is possible for a church to call itself “the church of Christ,” yet teach and practice things which are not “of Christ.” What must we do to truly be Christians and truly be the church of Christ?

Obey the GOSPEL of CHRIST (Mk. 16:15-16; 1 Peter 4:17). A sinner must believe the gospel, repent, confess his faith, and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:37; 22:16). Only those who have been “baptized into Christ” are in His body, the church (Gal. 3:27; Eph. 1:22-23).

Follow the EXAMPLE of CHRIST (1 Pet. 2:21). We must have the mind of Christ — an attitude of humble obedience and unselfish service (Phil. 2:2-8).

Show the LOVE of CHRIST (Jn. 15:12; Eph. 3:19). He gave His life for the church (Eph. 5:25). We too must love the church and every member in it (Jn. 13:34-35; 1 Jn. 3:16). And we must also love all people (Lk. 10:25-37; Matt. 5:44).

Submit to the AUTHORITY of CHRIST (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:36). He is the only Head of His church (Col. 1:18). He did not set up any regional, national, or worldwide organizations over His church. He governs each local church through His New Testament. The work of each local church of Christ is overseen by a group of its own men called “elders” (also called “bishops” and “pastors,” Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3). As soon as the church has qualified men, the local members select elders according to qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. “Deacons” (servants) are men selected to help the elders (Acts 6:1-6; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-13).

Continue in the DOCTRINE of CHRIST (Jn. 8:31-32; Matt. 28:20). He revealed all the truth through His disciples in the first century (Jn. 16:13; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3). If we add or omit teachings and practices, we depart from His doctrine and from God (2 Jn. 9). We must study His word, obey it, and teach it faithfully (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:2, 15; 4:1-5).

Worship according to the WILL of CHRIST. Our worship must be guided by His New Testament, not by teachings of men (Jn. 4:24; Matt. 15:9, 13). In worship, burning candles before images, burning incense, and playing musical instruments are not teachings of Christ. His word does teach us to sing and make melody in our hearts (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19), pray (1 Cor. 14:15), give on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2), and partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 11:17-29; Acts 20:7).

Abound in the WORK of CHRIST (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 2:10). The work of the church is threefold: saving the lost, strengthening the saved, and helping people in need (Mk. 16:15-16; Eph. 4:1-16; Gal. 6:1-2, 10).

Honor the NAME of CHRIST. Christ died for His church, built it, owns it, rules it, and will deliver it up to God. Local churches which truly obey Christ are “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16), not churches of John, Paul, Peter, Mary, or any other person (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:4, 21-23). We must “ all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). There is “ other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We honor God the Father by honoring His Son (Jn. 5:23; Eph. 3:20-21). Followers of men use religious names which they have chosen, but followers of Christ merely wear the name “Christian” (Acts 11:26; 26:28). We must not dishonor this name by doing evil, but honor it by enduring evil (1 Pet. 4:15-16).

Christ “is the head of the body, the church” and should have “the preeminence” in all things (Col. 1:18)!