When the Gospel was preached for the very first time, those responding were banded by the Lord together in a body. This body of people (the Church of Christ) was a distinct people from the outset. The Jews regarded it as a branch or sect from their religion. Discovering that it was not erupted in persecution. That spirit has not died to this day. Men strive to make the Church of Christ a sectarian body, that is to say, a denomination (a sect) among the many other denominations. If members of the Church of Christ would acquiesce, all would be well among the religionists. However, following the New Testament the Church avows that it is not a denomination, but holds to the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This prompts many to ask what is the Church of Christ? These articles are attempting to answer that question from various angles for your curiosity and pleasure.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST DOES NOT WEAR A NAME THAT EMPHAZES A PARTICULAR DOCTRINE
Viewing the many signboards and plaques on church building have you wondered why they have the name on them that they do? One of the main reasons is that they wish to distinguish those who gather there for worship from other people. Some call themselves Catholic because the word means universal and these want onlookers to know that they are all over the world. Another might have the word Baptist, which demonstrates this body of people believes immersion in water as the mode of baptism. Those having on their sign Methodist suggests that they believe in a certain method of doing the Lord’s work. Still another has the word Presbyterian proclaiming that they believe in a particular form of church government. A sign says Holiness meaning that these believe those adhering believe that one must live apart from the world in daily activities. And on the list goes, far toO many to list or to comment on through this paper. It is true that the Church is to be universal, that is, when the Gospel is preached in any community and people respond in obedience the Church exists in that place—every place. The New Testament emphatically teaches that immersion in water is the mode of baptism—is baptism. That the church is to prescribe to the method taught in the New Testament to do the work of the Lord is true. Each congregation is to be ruled by a selected group of men called the presbytery is a fact. And, that Christians (members of the church) are to live pure lives reflecting the holiness of Christ is right. To give emphasis to a particular doctrine by wearing such names has in the past and continues to this day fosters division among those who have a desire to follow the Lord. What doctrine is more important than another? Does the Lord wish us to promote one of His commandments above others—to the neglect of others? What is the Church of Christ? It is the Church called by a name that glorifies the Lord and Savior, not a particular doctrine Rom. 16:16.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST USES THE CORRECT ELEMENT INSIDE THE CUP ON THE LORD’S TABLE
At the institution of the Lord’s Supper Jesus took a cup, gave thanks, and gave the cup to the disciples commanding, “Drink ye all of it.” (Mt. 26:27). Each disciple understood Him as “they all drank of it.” (Mk. 14:23). This reveals that there was a drink element in the cup. The cup was not empty. Of the preposition “of” Thayer in his Geek-English Lexicon says “from out of, out from, forth from, from.” He also makes the comment that it denotes, “exit or emission out of, as separation from, something with which there has been a close connection.” The close connection of the cup and the drink element was separated by drinking the element out of the cup. Commenting further on the cup he states, “the thing out of which one drinks Mt 26:27; Mk. 14:23.” (All this is said on page 189). Jesus proceeded to tell us what the drink element was, “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day I drink it new in the kingdom of God. (Mk. 14:25). The element was the liquid produced by the vine, or, what we commonly call “grape juice.” Some contend that fermented wine is to be used, others say that it does not matter whether the cup contains fermented or unfermented wine as it is the thought that matters not what is actually drank. The word fruit in the expression “fruit of the vine” comes from the Greek word “gennema.” Meaning “that which has been begotten or born,” (Thayer page 1085). When this word is used of human beings or animals, it means progeny or offspring. If we are speaking of agricultural fruit or plants, it is produce. What is the produce of the vine? It is unfermented juice. It proves nothing to refer to various Old Testament passages that use the word wine as Jesus said nothing about wine. He did say “fruit of the vine.” And for those of us who are members of the Church, it behooves us to “speak as the oracles of God.” I do recall the time Joseph was cast into prison with the baker and butler of Pharaoh. Each of these men had a dream and asked Joseph to interpret. He told the baker that his dream was a forecast of the manner he would die. But, the butler’s dream was different, as it was a foretelling of his restoration to his office of butler. Explaining his dream to Joseph, he said, “in my dream, behold, a vine was before me;…and the clusters brought forth ripe grapes: And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” (Gen. 40:9-11). Here we see what the fruit of the vine is, as the grapes were pressed into the cup. There was no process of fermentation. Is there a Goliath that would claim that this is NOT fruit of the vine? That was the very thing used by our Lord when he sent the Lord’s Supper forth into the world as a memorial of His sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Furthermore, all leaven was to be removed from the Jews’ houses in preparation for the Passover. The Lord and His disciples were celebrating the Passover during which time He instituted the Lord’s Supper. What leaven is to bread, fermentation is to grape-juice, therefore there was no fermented wine in the house. In addition, it is no small matter that the fruit of the vine the pure juice of the grape is used to represent the pure (saving) blood of Jesus Christ. It is a mystery to me how anyone claiming to honor Christ would suggest that fermented wine, something that has brought a curse to the world could represent the pure blood of the Son of God. Worse than that, how can a member of the Church of Christ contend that fermented wine must be in the cup, or that it does not matter whether it is fermented or unfermented juice? The very idea of an intoxicating wine being in the worship of God’s people is of itself repulsive to the hearts of Christian people. “Wine is a mocker…whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Prov. 20:1). What is the Church of Christ? It is the Church that uses the correct drink element inside the cup when communing at the Lord’s Table.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST CONFESSES JESUS CHRIST AS THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH
Jesus asked His disciples the searching question, “Whom say ye that I am?” In response Peter spoke up saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:15-16). It was upon this glorious fact confessed by Peter (and since by every believer), that the church was built and is a full revelation of the Christian faith. The truth that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” is the foundation, mainstay, and central underlying truth in which the entire revelation from God to humanity centers and rests. When this truth is accepted the authority and His right to rule is admitted. All the prophesies of the Old Testament pointing to the Messiah and His Kingdom point to and find their fulfillment in Christ alone. Likewise the writings of the Apostles point backward to Him. Looked forward to by the prophets, looking backward the apostles focus on Him. Christ is established in Scripture as being the corner stone of the Church. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph. 2:20). The Church of Christ is the glorious institution that rests upon the Savior, as proclaimed by the prophet better than 700 years before He came to this Old World. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6). All these are embraced in the simple statement “Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Since all is dependent upon this confession of Jesus Christ those desiring to become His disciple must be asked or must affirm this truth. When Philip proclaimed Jesus to the noble man of Ethiopia, he was desirous of being saved by obeying Christ. “And the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized.” Such a question arose because in preaching Jesus, it is necessary to preach what Jesus commanded to do to be saved, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” In response to his petition Philip ask, “If thou believeth with all thine heart, thou mayest.” Notice carefully the response as he said, “I believest that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:36-37, Mk. 16:16). This “good confession” does not please some religionists as they think this is too limited. Proceeding they have formed more lengthy confessions which are forced upon the candidate before baptism. But, to those who find satisfaction in the revelation of God accept the fact that this confession embodies the whole system that Christ has authored. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven.” (Mt. 10:32). Faith in Christ was a requirement for all who wished to be saved by Christ in apostolic days. How was this faith to be known without such a confession? “That if thou shalt confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:9-10). The Apostle reminded the young preacher Timothy of the confession Christ Himself made was one and the same as he declared to others, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed (confessed) a good profession (confession) before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.” (I Tim. 6:12-13). To confess Jesus Christ to be the Son of God is the greatest confession that can ever fall from the lips of a human being. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow…And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10-11). What is the church of Christ? It is the Church that confesses Jesus Christ to be the foundation of the Church.
Barney Owens 1514
A heavy smoker lay in the hospital suffering from emphysema. It did not take a doctor to see his end was near. Talking with his wife the subject of doctors came up. I mentioned that my father really liked his doctor. Inquiring of his name, she said, I had heard the same, but I found out he wasn’t that good. “I went to him and he told me to quit smoking.” When I returned he asked me if I had quit. I said, “no.” He told me to find another doctor. The patient soon died and within a year she died of cancer caused by smoking. Without being cruel, two lives went up in smoke.
11560 Lippleman Road
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 7:30 P.M.
Saturday 6:00 P.M.
Lord’s Day 10:30 A.M. (and) 3:00 P.M.
Preaching By: Brother Frank Brancato of Bakersfield, CA