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Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-18
Is it a church of Christ?
1. A distressing trend has emerged among churches of Christ; more and more have removed “Christ” from their mode of identification.
a. We understand the church is not a denomination.
b. We also know the NT identifies churches based on various things: Location (1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2) and composition (1 Ths. 1:1) as well as on its relation to Christ (Rom. 16:16; Acts 20:28).
2. Our concern: Trend away from “church of Christ” hastens the obscurity of God’s people instead of promoting our exclusive identity with Christ and our relationship with Him.
3. Out with the old “Church of Christ” and in with the New “Church”.
I. THE “CHURCH OF CHRIST”.
A. Identification Requires Recognition.
1. ID is difficult, if not impossible, without the ability to recognize and distinguish.
2. Example: Without accurate names we cannot properly identify people. Names distinguish among people so they can be known (recognized).
3. Fact: “church of Christ” has served well for generations.
B. Church of Christ: Descriptive Term of Possession.
1. Distinguishes and enables identification.
2. Applied universally and locally, Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16.
3. The distinction between a NT church and the denominations of men is upheld and served when a congregation of Christians is identified as a church of Christ instead of merely as “the church meets here.” (Fine, but which church; Christ’s or men’s?)
4. We hear of congregations simply identifying themselves as the “______ Church.”
a. Are we to infer that since it a “church” it must belong to Christ?
b. Assembly: Of Christians, Jas. 2:2; of Satan, Rev. 2:9.
C. No Name Churches of Christ.
1. Why is Christ’s name removed from identifying His church?
2. This is how they want to present themselves to community: Distance themselves from “c of C”. (Prejudice, closed minds…) [cf. Instrumental music using the same logic (1 Cor. 2:4-5; Col. 2:8)]
3. What scriptural reasons exist for erasing the name of Christ from how a church identifies itself?
a. Does it matter at all how a church identifies itself?
b. Is it all only a matter of expediency anyway? 1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17
II. SOME SCRIPTURAL CONSEQUENCES OF REMOVING THE NAME OF CHRIST FROM A CHURCH’S IDENTIFICATION.
A. Is it a church of Christ (“a church that belongs to Jesus Christ”) when…
· It does not wear His name? Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 1:2 (cf. a bride, a family) Not identified with Jesus
· It does not speak of itself as His church? Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23
· It does not glory in His name? Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16
· It does not distinguish itself from the churches of men? 2 Cor. 6:17; 1 Pet. 2:9; Acts 28:22
· It tries to be non-confrontational by identifying itself as a “church” and not a “church of Christ”? Rom. 16:16; Mk. 8:38
· It markets itself to the world instead of preaching the gospel to the world? Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Ths. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:2-4
Put another way…
B. It is not a church of Christ (“a church that belongs to Jesus Christ”) when...
· It will not wear His name. Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 1:2
· It will not speak of itself as Christ’s church. Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23
· It will not glory in His name. Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16
· It refuses to distinguish itself from the churches of men. 2 Cor. 6:17; 1 Pet. 2:9; Acts 28:22
· It tries to be non-confrontational by refusing to identify itself as a “church of Christ”. Rom. 16:16; Mk. 8:38
· It markets itself to the world instead of preaching the gospel to the world. Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Ths. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:2-4
1. Some churches of Christ have fallen from the pattern of sound words.
2. That must not hinder faithful churches of Christ from continuing to identify themselves with Jesus Christ in their doctrine and practice as well as their name.
3. Otherwise, the light that reveals the truth of their relationship with Christ is being diminished and extinguished (2 Cor. 4:1-4).
4. “Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” 2 Tim. 1:8
By: Joe R. Price
Posted: October 11, 2013