CHURCH-04 - Misconceptions About the church of Christ
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CHURCH OF CHRIST
Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free."
It's always important to have the facts and the truth on one's side and make sure
that we understand what we're discussing in any situation. The same is true when it
comes to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes I hear some common
misconceptions that people think they know about the Lord's church, the church of the
Bible, but often those are not true.
For example, sometimes when I mention the church of Christ, I hear people say,
"church of Christ, you're of those people who don't believe in having music in your
assembly." We've got music. We have beautiful music. We have wonderful singing and
singing is music, so that's a common misconception. Sometimes I'll talk to people about
the Lord's church and they'll say, "church of Christ you're the folks who don't believe in the
Old Testament." We don't believe in the Old Testament? We believe it's inspired of God.
We believe it's from heaven. We believe it is God's word. We simply don't believe we're
living under the old law and animal sacrifices in the church of Christ. We don't believe that
there's anything mystical or magical in the water. 1 Peter 3:21, the Bible says that it's the
answer of a good conscience. Yes, baptism's essential. Acts 2:38, says it's for
forgiveness of sins.
Let's turn our attention to some of the misconceptions or misunderstandings that
are often propagated about the Lord's church. Sometimes I hear people say, "church of
Christ, those are nothing more than Campbellites. By that they mean that the church of
Christ was founded during the restoration movement by a man named Alexander
Campbell. That's not true nor is it biblically correct. Let's not really deal with the historical
aspect because history is not our guide. Is it the case that in the Bible 1500 or 600 years
ago the church of Christ existed, long before Alexander Campbell? If we can prove that
the church of Christ existed long before Alexander Campbell, then, that will negate the
idea that he founded it. We turn our attention to the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18;
Jesus said. "I will build my church." Whose church does that refer to? The church of
Christ. That's what it was going to be called. Did it actually come into existence? Acts
2:47, "The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Was it called the
church of Christ in the Bible? It absolutely was. Romans 16:16 says, "The churches of
Christ greet you."
We don't believe or teach that Alexander Campbell, Thomas Campbell, Barton
Stone or anyone else started the church of Christ. They couldn't have started it because
Jesus had already started the Lord's church. Acts 20:28, Jesus purchased the church
with His own blood. If it had already been purchased, if it had already been founded, if
people were already added to it in the first century, and if it was already in the Bible, being
called the church of Christ it's not accurate to say that the Lord's church was founded
during the restoration movement by Alexander Campbell. In one of our past lessons that
Alexander Campbell or any other man could not found the Lord's church. Jesus is the true
founder; 1 Corinthians 3:11 says, "No other foundation can any man lay except Jesus
Christ." I'll hear people say that Alexander Campbell founded the church, but when we
come to the Bible, he could not have founded the church. True members of the church of
Christ, they're not Campbellites, they're not followers of Barton Stone, they're not follower
of any man outside of Jesus Christ. "Nor is there salvation in any other for there's no other
name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," that is the name of
Jesus Acts chapter 4:11-12.
A second misconception that I often hear is that the church of Christ is just another
denomination. By that they mean that the Lord's church is one of many man-made
denominations that exist today. They say that the church of Christ is just one that you can
choose out of many. That's not the case. The church of Christ is not a denomination, it's
not nondenominational, and the church is anti-denominational. We are opposed to the
very idea of denominations because the Bible says God's people are to be unified. 1
Corinthians 1:10 "Let there be no division among you." In Psalm 133:1, the psalmist said.
"How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." If God desires
unity, if Jesus prayed for unity, and if denominationalism at its core is division or naming
after someone other than Jesus or division, the Lord's church surely is not a
denomination. That's contrary to Scriptures and the very mission of Jesus. The church of
the Lord Jesus Christ is not a denomination because it's not man-made. It doesn't carry
some man's name or some man's ideology. It was designed in heaven. The Bible says
that it is the eternal purpose of God in Ephesians 3:10-11. It was established by God in
the flesh, Jesus Christ while on earth. In Mark 9:1 Jesus said, "Assuredly he said to his
disciples I say to you that there are some standing here today who will not taste death
until they see the kingdom present with power." The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not
a denomination because it is the one church you read about in the Bible. The Bible says in
Ephesians 4:4 there's one body. 1 Corinthians 12:20, "There are many members, yet but
one body." That body is the church. Is the Lord's church, just another option to choose
among denominations? It is not a denomination. It's the church that we read about in the
A third misconception that I often hear about the Lord's church is that some will say
that the name is church of Christ. The Lord's church carries the descriptive term of church
of Christ, not as an official title, but more as a description of ownership to the one who
bought it. Do we call ourselves members of the body or church of Christ? Absolutely, but
not as the denominational title or anything like that. We're simply called members of the
body or church of Christ because that description does several things. First, it shows
ownership, when we say according to the Scriptures that we're members of the body or
the church of Christ, we're saying that we belong to Jesus Christ. Acts 2:36 says,
"Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, God has made this Jesus, whom
you crucified both Lord and Christ." When I become a member the Lord's church, I'm
giving myself to Jesus. My "body is not my own, it was bought at a price, therefore I must
glorify God in my body and my spirit which are His." I belong to Christ. The church
belongs to Christ. My ownership and my allegiance is to Him. When we talk about that
descriptive term church of Christ, we're talking about those who have submitted
themselves to follow Jesus every day. These are followers of Christ. In John 8:31 Jesus
said, "If you continue in my word, you are my disciples indeed." It's not enough just to say
look up into heaven and say Lord, Lord. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says that ‘it's not
everybody that says Lord, Lord, that is going to heaven, but those who do the will of my
Father’. In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked the Pharisees, "Why are you calling me Lord, Lord, and
not doing the things which I say?" So it shows ownership. It shows submission to the Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ. He's the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, so the
descriptive term and the name show Jesus’ ownership of the church. We're not using that
as an official denominational title at all. It's a descriptive term that shows who we belong
to and who exactly we have submitted our lives to.
A fourth misconception is that the church is the building. If somebody sees a sign
that says church of Christ and automatically thinks there's the building and that's the
church. More correctly, the church of Christ meets here. The building is not the church.
Mortar and brick and stone and stained-glass and a lectern or pulpit and pews, that's not
what the church is about. The church is the people. In 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 Paul said, "You
are the body of Christ and members individually one of another." “God does not dwell in
temples made with hands,” Acts 7:48-50, but He does dwell in the Christian. He does live
and reside in our lives through His word.
Another misconception is that you can join the church. Can I choose one day to
join the church? Can someone say, "I'd like to be a member your church and I'd like to
come down and join?” We don't find those terms in the Bible. It's not as though you can
arbitrarily say, "I think I'll join the church today." In the denominational world, that thought
is very prevalent. According to the Bible can you just join the church? Can you get voted
in, is somebody going to look at your character and select you or unselect you for
membership? That's not the way it works. In the Bible someone can’t simply join the
church. There's a different term: we're added to the church by someone else. In Acts 2:36
Peter preaches about Jesus as Lord and Christ. That message pricks the hearts of those
present. In verse 37, Peter told them to "repent and be baptized for the remission of sins."
The Bible then says that those who gladly received his word were baptized Acts 2:40-43.
Notice that those who heard the word responded correctly, and were baptized. What
happened to those people? In Acts 2:47. "Praising God and having favor with all the
people, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Do we join
the church? Not according to the Bible. How do we become a member the Lord's church?
I must obey the gospel. The Lord adds you to His church when you obey his gospel. Isn't
that wonderful news? I don't have to go before some committee. I don't have to give men
a letter of referral. I don't have to worry about things in my past life that people may bring
up that would keep me from becoming a member the Lord's church. No, when I submit to
the will of God, when I obey the gospel, when I become a New Testament Christian, in
heaven God recognizes my obedience and, with His divine pen, God writes my name in
the book of life and I'm added to the Lord's church. How refreshing is it to know that God
in heaven makes that decision? That it's made simply by obedience to the gospel, and
that is not dependent upon any men and their prejudice and bias or preconceived ideas.
It's wonderful to know that obedience to the gospel adds me to the church and that no
man can select or unselect me to become a member the Lord's church. Here's another
idea wonderful idea: if God adds me to the church, then wherever I go worldwide I'm a
member. I'm already a member of the church of Christ. Should I identify with Christians?
Absolutely, but I can't join the church. If I go to a different part of the world, I'm already
member the church. I ought to be identified and work with that congregation but it's not a
matter of joining the church.
Another misconception is that the church is optional. People want Christ but not
the church, they want to be a Christian but they don't want all that doctrine and worship
and all that. The church is not optional. The head is not optional to a body, and the church
is not optional in your life and mine. Jesus is the head of the church. The Bible teaches
that in Ephesians 1:22-23. That passage also teaches the church is the body of Christ. If
the head and the church is the body, can you be walking around without a body? Can we
be walking around decapitated? Can we be walking around bodiless? Of course not, thus
it's not optional. The church is not optional because 2 Timothy 2:10 says ‘salvation is in
Christ.’ If Christ and the church are inseparable just as the head and the body are
inseparable, you cannot be saved outside of Christ and His church. The church is not
optional because they're the ones who've got their names reserved in heaven. Hebrews
12:23 the Scripture says, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn whose
names are registered or reserved in heaven." If you have a reservation at a motel and you
go to that motel. What do you do? You say, "I've got a reservation, here's my name. They
look it up; your name's in that book. When I'm added to the Lord's church I'm added to
God's divine record and, if those whose names are reserved in heaven are those who are
a part of the church of the firstborn, then the church is not optional. In 1 Corinthians 15:24
the Scripture teaches that when Christ comes He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. If
the kingdom's the church and at the return of Christ He's going to take the kingdom and
deliver it to the Father, then I cannot say the church is optional. If they're the ones who are
going back with Jesus to heaven, it's not optional at all, it's essential; it's very important
that I become a member of the Lord's church.
Another misconception is that church of Christ doesn't believe in the Old
Testament. I've heard this on numerous occasions, "here are the people don't believe in
the 10 Commandments, the old covenant, or the Old Testament. They don't believe in it.
They don't preach from it. We believe in the old covenant. In Romans 15:4 the Bible says,
"Things that were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience
and the comfort of the Scriptures might find hope." Do we believe the Old Testament is
inspired of God? Absolutely, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Do we believe it's
profitable? Absolutely, “All Scriptures are given by the inspiration of God and is
profitable,” 2 Timothy 3:16. Do we believe that we are saved and that we worship the way
they did under the Old Testament? Absolutely not, unlike Noah, I don't have to build an
ark to be saved, unlike people who lived under the Mosaic covenant, I don't have to go out
every time I sin and make an animal sacrifice. That's wonderful to know I don't have to
follow that salvation system under the old law and I don't worship like they did. I don't burn
incense, I don't make sacrifices, I don't go to yearly feasts, and I don't set up booths or
Tabernacles. That system was written for the Israelites. The Bible says that Old
Testament covenant system, has been done away with. The Bible says in Hebrews
8:12-13, "In that He, God, says “A new covenant,” he's made the first obsolete. That
which is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." What did God say
about the old covenant? It's obsolete, like a rotary phone, like horses and buggies, like the
first computer you ever had, it's not useful for us. It wasn't designed to last forever. God
prophesied, in Jeremiah 31:31-34, that a new covenant was coming. Jesus completed
that covenant, finalized it, and the new covenant was ushered in. Jesus said, "I didn't
come to destroy the law but to fulfill it." Matthew 5:17-20. We absolutely believe the Old
Testament is from God. I'm going to be judged by the words of Christ according to John
Another misconception is that the church of Christ doesn't believe in music in their
worship. Again, that's not correct nor is it fair. Do we believe in music? You wouldn't find
any better music than the beautiful voices lifted up in praise to God like in the Lord's
church. ‘We sing and make melody in our heart,’ Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16. Do we
believe in music? Yes, but here's what's meant: you don't believe in mechanical
instruments of music. That's exactly right and here's why: if the New Testament is our law
today, if it's what we've got to follow, we find no command example or any kind of teaching
in the New Testament that authorizes the use of instruments. "Sing, make melody in your
heart, singing to one or teaching one another, admonishing one another" Colossians
3:16. "If anyone's happy, let him sing" James 5:11-14, Hebrews 2:9, Romans 15, and a
host of other passages. All we learn in the New Testament is that Christians simply raise
their voice in praise to Almighty God. For many years after the first century, history
records that Christians did not use mechanical instruments in their worship. We want to
do what the New Testament teaches. We find no use anywhere in the New Testament of
mechanical instruments for praise to God.
A final misconception is that the church of Christ believes in water salvation. That
means that in the water, there’s something mystical, magical, that the water saves. Do we
believe that there is a mystical, magical potion in the water? Of course not. If it was the
water, I'd stay in the water all the time to make sure I never was lost. It's not the water that
saves, that's not it. We believe in the Lord's church that baptism is essential to salvation.
Do we believe that a person must be immersed in water to be saved? More correctly the
question is: does the New Testament teach that? There are a host of passages where it
clearly does. In Mark 16:16 Jesus said, "He that believes and is baptized will be saved." In
Acts 2:38, Peter said, "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." In Acts 22:16,
Paul was told, "Arise and be baptized to wash away your sins." Jesus said in John 3:5,
"Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Galatians 3:27 says, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed
yourselves with Christ." The clearest of all is 1 Peter 3:21 and it says, "There is an
anti-type which does now also save us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh
but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ.” There the comparison is Noah and the ark. Noah built an ark. The water saved
them when it lifted that ark and drowned the rest of the world. They were saved by water,
the text tells us, and then he says there's a comparison that saves you as well, baptism
not the removal of the filth the flesh. It's not as though you get in the water and you wash
your sins off. What is it then? The answer of a good conscience. What's that mean? When
God says baptism saves, when God says you've got to repent and be baptized, when
Jesus said he that believes and is baptized, when Jesus said unless a man is born of
water and the spirit he can't enter the kingdom of God, and I answer with a good
conscience by obeying that. Regardless of what God could have said, I respond to what
God said properly by doing his will. That's the answer of a good conscience. Do we
believe there's mystical, magical properties in the waters? It's not holy water. That's not
what we're saying, but is baptism is essential.
We hope today that you'll consider some of these misconceptions, go to your Bible
check them out, and if you find these things to be true, we urge you become a member the
church of Christ.
Study Questions for: “Misconceptions of the church of Christ”
1. According to Acts 2:47, who did the Lord add to the church?
2. What is essential for the forgiveness of sins, according to Acts 2:38?
3. According to 1 Corinthians 1:10, there should be no what?
4. What must we continue in to be disciples of Jesus, according to John
5. According to Matthew 7:21, who will be in Heaven?
6. According to Ephesians 1:22-23, who is the head of the church?
7. What is in Christ, according to 2 Timothy 2:10?
8. Who inspired all scriptures, according to 2 Timothy 3:16?
9. According to Mark 16:16, who will be in Heaven?
10. What must we do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven according to