- O. S. ASAOLU. The Uniqueness of the Church of Christ. Presented on Sunday, June 17, 2012 @ The Auditorium of The Church of Christ, Akoka, Lagos. Outline. 1.0 Definitions 2.0Introduction 3.0The church is unique because it is of Christ 4.0 Manifestly distinct attributes :
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- O. S. ASAOLU
The Uniqueness of the Church of Christ
Presented on Sunday, June 17, 2012
@ The Auditorium of
The Church of Christ,
3.0The church is unique because it is of Christ
4.0 Manifestly distinct attributes:
(a) Attitude: Accepts sufficiency of the Scriptures and the ‘onenessproclamations’ therein as true.
(b) Appellation: wears His name
(c) Work: does only Evangelism to the world, Edification of the saints & Benevolence to its needy
(d) Worship: Acts include Prayer, Preaching/Teaching, Lord’s Supper as a memorial, Singing and Giving
(e) Organization: Independent congregations withlocal officers –Overseers, Deacons, Evangelists and Teachers.
Uniqueness could mean any or all of the following:
To be distinct
Un-paralleled or unequaled
To be solitary and one of its kind
To be of unmatched in (usually excellent) quality
The church means ‘the called out ones,’ an assembly of believers in Jehovah God; in particular, a plurality or group of people who profess faith through Jesus the Son of God.
The church of Christ refers descriptively to the body of disciples revealed in the New Testament scriptures and their successors .
To distinguish between the original church and other religious movements/denominations (factions), the phrase ‘Church of Christ’ (COC) is used as a proper name.
The uniqueness of the church of Christ means the distinguishing features that makes the church solitarily different, totally distinct from as well as superior to all other so-called ‘churches’.
The question ‘What is the identity of Church of Christ’ is meant to unveil either or both of the following:
a) What we are specially known for or how we are perceived by others?
b) What makes us unique from the crowd based on how God sees us in His word?
The most common remarks by denominational people about us are: “the COC people believe in ‘baptismal regeneration,’ they lecture themselves with the Bible, all the men have the opportunity so minister, their services are not lively because they do not use instrumental music and they believe that they are the only ones going to heaven.”
God says “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”-1 Peter 2:9
Men do not see as the LORD does, the testimony of God is better. Recall Mt 16:13-17
For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. -2 Corinthians 10:18
If the church is unique, (and it is!), that does not stem out of us as individuals who are better, smarter or holier than other religious folks. Neither does it originate out of what we do or do not do of ourselves, rather the uniqueness is based on the simple fact that the Church is of Christ.
That is, the church was purposed through Christ (Eph 3:9-11), is promised by Christ (Mt 16:18), He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28), built it as His own house (Heb 3:6) and it is the agency through which God is to be glorified throughout all generations (Eph 3:21). It is the body of the saved (Acts 2:47), as well as the kingdom of God (Eph 5:5, Col 1:13) over which Christ reigns as King (Acts 8:12, 17:7, 1 Cor 15; 24-26).
The church of Christ is unique in its origin also with respect to the time and place of its establishment –A.D. 33 in Jerusalem, which is a fulfillment of numerous Old Testament Scriptures (Dan 2:37-44, Mk 1:14-15 & 9:1, Acts 1:1-8 & 2:22-36).
The original and true church is established upon the divinity and resurrection of Christ (Rm 1:1-4) thus he is able to save to the uttermost those who trust in Him. He is the builder (Mt 16:18), foundation (1 Cor 3:11) and sustainer (Eph 5:29) and lawgiver (Heb 8:6).
All other religious groups, including all denominational churches, are conceived, built and ruled by ordinary, sinful, mortal men.
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth… 1 Pt. 4:11
… All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works - 2 Tim 3:15 -17.
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. -2 Jn 1:9
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. –Rev 22:18-19
The church today believes that the faith has been delivered once for all time, through the early apostles (Jude 3, Heb 2:3-4) whom Christ promised would be led into all truth (Jn 16:13).
The faith was established and thoroughly documented, we are not to go beyond the written message already confirmed through the apostles –Eph 3:1-5, 2Pt 1:2-3 & 3:2, 1 Jn 4:6, 1 Cor 4:6.
Faithful churches of Christ do not subscribe to human creeds or manuals but believe in the sufficiency of the scriptures for faith and practice.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. –Eph 4:4-6
The Lord is Jesus of Nazareth (1 Cor 8:6) not Jesu Oyingbo, Olumba, Guru Maharaji, etc. The body is the original church (1 Cor 12:27, Col 1:18), the faith is the totality of the NT gospel (Acts 6:7, Gal 1:23), the baptism is immersion in water into Christ for remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:47-48; 19:3-5) and the hope is eternal life in heaven (Col 1:5 & Tit 1:3).
Otherwise, people should call on the name of different lords and simultaneouslybelong to different denominations, practice sprinkling, pouring, caning and immersion as baptism, hope to inherit the earth, go to purgatory, and inherit heaven all at the same time, etc. Is God the author of confusion?
Any religious group can claim to follow the Bible and allege that they are the offshoot or continuation of the early church.
One simple, fast and clear way of verification is to compare whether the name they bear is scriptural, without addition or subtraction.
If their appellation is not found in and harmonious with the New Testament, THEN they are either a lying group of false teachers or a sincere assembly having zeal without knowledge or a combination of both!
Christ not only promised to build the church, He informed all that it is His –using the possessive phrase “my church” in Mt 16:18. He is the messiah who has all authority (Mt 28:18). Neither is there salvation in any other name (Acts 4:12), the family of believers is named after him (Eph 3:15) and His is the greatest name in the universe (Phil 2:9-10).
It is patently incongruous (odd) that anyone would claim to be a follower of Christ and yet refuse to bear or wear His name as a mark of honour and identity. Since He is God manifest in the flesh who redeemed us (Jn 1:12-17, Rm 9:5, Acts 20:28), the various congregations of His people in different locations are known scripturally as the churches of Christ (Rm 16:16), meaning that each Church of God is a Church of Christ -1 Cor 1:2.
God called the disciples (who are the members of the church –compare Acts 8:1 with Acts 9:1) Christians in Acts 11:26.
Thus members of Church of Christ are called Christians while the members of denominational churches wear humanly-given names. It is offensive and divisive to hold contrary to the teachings of the Lord and His apostles, e.g. on church ownership and designation.
Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. -Rm 16:16-18.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? -1 Cor 10:1-13
For a professing believer to fail to glorify God as directed (1 Pt 4:16) when s/he wears a human religious name or for a church to bear an uninspired name is carnal (1 Cor 3:3-4) and therefore …spiritually deadly (Rm 8:6).
The church glorifies God in all era by acts of worship and service. The Lord allotted spiritual work to His servants as individuals and as congregations –Mt 25:14-30, Jms 1:25 & 1 Cor 15:58, Rev 2-3.
Christ has not authorized the church to engage in trading or entertainment, rather He has given us the unique work of:
Evangelism –preaching the gospel of salvation to the humans lost in sin for their redemption before the world and heavenly principalities (Lk 24:47, Eph 3:10, 1 Tim 3:15, 1Thess 1:8)
Edification –building up and equipping the saints unto maturity (1 Thess 5:11, Eph 4:11-13)
Benevolence –providing material succour primarily for her needy –1 Cor 16:1-2, 2 Cor 8:13-15
For the church revealed in the Bible, its acts of worship are simple and uncomplicated, spiritual in nature not sensuous (Jn 4:24). We are to revere God in sincerity as His word directs. Otherwise it becomes vain, will or ignorant worship (Mt 15:7-9, Acts 17:23, Col 2:18-23). True worship includes prayer, preaching and teaching, Lord’s Supper, singing and giving.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. …And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved –Acts 2:41…47
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. -1 Pt 2:5
Another easy way of cross-checking whether a church is the uniquely scriptural one we can read about in the Bible is to compare the offices and titles it has with that in the New Testament.
If the structure is dissimilar THEN such group merely pretend to believe the word of God! No believer who truly respects Christ will ascribe divine titles such as Reverend, His Grace, His Holiness, etc. unto himself nor would s/he manufacture or support the usage of titles like General Overseer. True Christians who read and believe their Bible knows that Christ ALONE is the Head of the church (Eph 1:21-23). They also know that the true Headquarters is in heaven where the Head (Jesus) is presently –Heb 8:1 & 12:22-24.
The local congregation is the organizational unit for churches of Christ. Jesus remains the Head, the early apostles and prophets remain the foundation (Eph 2:19-21) while Christians are lively stones. The acceptable local officers are Elders, Deacons, Preachers and Teachers (Acts 14:23, 1 Tim 3 – 4, Eph 4:11)
There is one body IMPLIES that there is but one church (Eph 4:4 & 1:23), just as there is one Lord means that there is one saviour! Denominations give various EXCUSES as to why they do not and will not wear the Lord’s name or follow His word. They carry and quote the Bible but prefer to obey their founders and pastors instead of Christ.
The Church of Christ is different, and must be differentiated from denominational churches. Its uniqueness is so unambiguous in origin, founder, name, attitude to scriptures, work, worship and organization that it can not be mistaken. If we do not apostatize, the uniqueness of the Lord’s church is guaranteed in our land. ‘Brethren’ who are writing religious Constitution, electing national officers and making other faith-innovations are attempting to destroy that uniqueness (Gal 2:4). Take heed therefore unto yourselves…
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. -2Tim 2:19.