The world is filled with denominationalism to the point that most people think the Church of Christ as being a denomination or church among the many that they are familiar with—no better or no worse. This necessitates Christians to be vigilant in presenting the Church to them. The Church is not a denomination or as the word means “a sect or division.” The church is not a part cut off from the main body. We who seek to restore the Church just as it was in the time of the Apostles want others to know the things that make the Church stand out or the things that show its difference or as the title of this piece we should work to demonstrate the “uniqueness” of the Church. This I purpose to do by reflection on some statements of scripture. I can only hope that you will consult the passages and reason upon them with me. Let’s look now at some of them.
JESUS PROMISED TO BUILD THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
We are told that Jesus and His disciples arrived in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi prompting Jesus to ask an important question of them. “Whom” said He “say ye that I am?” Jesus was not asking this question for information—it was not something He did not know. Nor was He asking this to “pass the time of day.” He asked it to allow them to see the significance of it—so that these disciples and those through the centuries would understand what their answer would mean to the world. The answer given was one that would soon rock the world for time and eternity. It was Peter would declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This being true Jesus was in a position of making laws, precepts and promises. The Lord proceeded to make a promise, “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (See Mt. 16:13-18). Many promises had been made by men of greatness and power—promises that were hindered, abandoned or left unfulfilled. But Jesus affirmed that even the powers of the unseen world would not delay or hinder this promise being kept. The Church was so important, so magnificence, so glorious that the building or establishment of the Church was ever in Jesus’ mind. He foresaw that He would be put to death, but His going away would not keep the Church from being a reality. Remember when the assemblage gathered on Pentecost that Peter accused the people of wickedly putting Jesus to death, but reminding them at the same time that their action grievous as it was did not stop the promise of Jesus. He declared that hell itself did not prohibit the promise from being kept, “his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” This was speaking of the resurrection of Christ. It is in the same chapter later declared, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Read Acts 2). What other institution organization religious or not has Jesus promised to build? That makes the Church unique.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST HAS NO EARTHLY HEAD OR HEADQUARTERS
Most if not all-religious organization have a self appointed or chosen head to make rules and see that they are carried out in said institutions. These rules might in some instances have a basis in scripture or they may stand in the place or circumvent the rules established and made binding by God. It does not take much thought to realize that if there is not some sort of change or arrangement contrary to the revealed will of Christ in the New Testament there would be no need for these men to state the rules which are contrary to the scripture. Great men arrive with good intentions (we must acknowledge that), yet stop short of God’s will. The “Reformers” fall under this canopy—men like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and others which envisioned the Church like it is revealed in God’s Word. Problem was that they sought to accomplish this because they extended their effort and resources trying to reform the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of England. Perhaps had we lived in their time we would have applauded them because the shackles of Popery and the Royal Family were weakened if not broken. Yet these men and their followers fell into the trap that is common to man. While they rejected the prevalent errors at the time they replaced them with doctrines that were equally contrary to God’s revelation. Well do the words of the Apostle fit them, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (II Cor. 10:12). There is one appointed and recognized by members of the churches of Christ. He is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col. 1:18). Furthermore, we are told that there is “One Lord” (Eph. 4:4). Christ the head does have the right to “lord it over all members of the Church, because we are “God’s heritage” (I Pet. 5:3). There is one body—the church, and there is but one head on that body who is Jesus Christ. It does not matter how renowned a man may be or what heights he may obtain politically, in riches or in power, he and his name are insignificant when Jesus’ name is in the midst. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11). No man on earth is worthy of our bowing in homage before him. Members of the Church of Christ recognize only one head—Christ alone.
Consequently the headquarters of the Church of Christ is not on this earth. When Peter made known the fact that Jesus arose from the dead he declared “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32-33). Where is the place appointed for the head of the Church? It is at the right hand of God—in heaven. The same conclusion was made by inspiration when the Apostle Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”(Col. 3:1).
There is no escaping the fact that the head of the Church of Christ is Jesus Christ and the headquarters of the Church is in heaven making the Church of Christ unique.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS UNIQUE BECAUSE OF THE WAY THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH TREAT THE LORD’S DAY
John while exiled on the isle of Patmos wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). There are at least two things that we can glean from his words:
- John esteemed the Lord’s day above other days.
- He used this expression knowing the readers would know what day he meant.
The ”Lord’s Day” is used in the New Testament interchangeably with the “first day of the week.” If John had meant the Sabbath why would he not say, “I was in the Spirit on the Sabbath.” Every one would have grasped his meaning. However he said what he meant referring to a day that is unique to Christians—the first day of the week. Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week (Mk. 16:2 & 6). Therefore the disciples met on the first day of the week to refresh their memories of His suffering and proclaim his victory over death “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break brad…” (Acts 20:7). Notice the passage carefully, there is not a question as to what day they assembled, the only question was “what time of that day.” So, Luke says “Upon the first day of the week WHEN the disciples came together…” It therefore behooves every member of the church to recognize the first day of the week by assembling with all the members of a congregation in order to break bread (partake of the Lord’s Supper). Furthermore, when Paul stated the fact of the Lord’s Supper he said, ”For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (I Cor. 11:26). So, while we recognize that Jesus died, we also declare His resurrection as we look forward to His coming again. Yes He died, but He is not dead—He resurrected from the dead. When? On the first day of the week!
But many churches in the land gather on the first day of the week. What then is unique about churches of Christ assembling on the first day of the week? Just this, an assembly occurs every first day of the week without exception. Some have decided that worship or homage can take place any day of the week, others contend for the resurrection of the Sabbath as practiced by the children of Israel, while others pick and choose which first day of the week thy will assemble on desiring their membership to be present on what they call Easter and Christmas. Others have decided that it is necessary to gather selected first days in each month. At stipulated times there are those who neglect gathering at all, for example a sign on one meeting house declared “No services from one date to another date because the pastor is on vacation.” There is no scriptural precedence for these and kindred practices, no command, no statement, no example and even an inference is lacking. Fact is the exact opposite is given. Writing to the Hebrew Christian some of whom had abandoned the Gospel to once again take up the Law as given by Moses, the Apostle warned and encouraged faithful Christians in the plainest of words, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25). One of the things that has not phased churches of Christ is the neglect of worship on the first day of the week in spirit and in the truth. Consider it well (dear Reader), since we cling to Apostolic teaching in this matter, churches of Christ stand out from others who claim to be following Jesus. That makes the Church of Christ unique in the present world as it did in days gone by.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS UNIQUE BECAUSE EVERY MEMBER IS EQUAL BEFORE GOD AND EACH MEMBER IS TO USE THE ABILITY IT HAS TO PROMOTE THE CONGREGATION AND GLORIFY GOD
An oft-repeated figure of the Church is “body.” As is true of the physical body there are features of the Body of Church—the Church, that demonstrate the idea just stated. If it is necessary for the physical body to remove one of its members there is reluctance because each member has a function peculiar unto itself for the betterment of the entire body. It is so with the Body of Christ. Every member is needed and each member has abilities, which cannot be fulfilled by another member for the good of the body. ”But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble are necessary.” (I Cor. 12:20-22 please read the remainder of I Cor. 12). The Church of Christ has no panel, board, committee or a group of any kind that can declare a member of the body unnecessary. Since Christ purchased the church with His own blood (See Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:23-27), every member of the church must ever keep before our mind that each member is included and that Christ loved that member enough to “give Himself up in death for it.”Methinks this makes the Church of Christ unique—different from the churches of men—peculiar in its work—assayed wonderful in the eyes of our Savior—pleasing to the Heavenly Father in all respects. May God bless the “Church of Christ” above all the institutions and organization religious in this world.
Barney Owens 1710
A young man was about to be sent forth as a gospel preacher by his home congregation. He stated that at one period of his life he was almost betrayed into the principles of infidelity. “But’” he added, “there is one argument in favor of Christianity which I could never refute—the consistent conduct of my father.