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Establishment Of The Church Of Christ
Author: Guy V. Caskey
Members of the church of Christ contend that the church was established on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ in A.D. 33 in the city of Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah said, "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths'" (Isaiah 2:2-3). The expression, “the house of God,” refers to the church (I Timothy 3:15).
Every phrase of Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled on Pentecost, the record of which is given in Acts 2. Joel said the church would be established in “the last days” (Acts 2:16-17). This marks the fulfillment of the first phase of the prophecy.
Isaiah said God’s kingdom would extend its blessings to include "all nations." We read in Acts 2:5 that on Pentecost there were "dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven." "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39). The phrase “far off” refers to the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-13). Christ has also told His apostles that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).
During His earthly ministry, Christ declared, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2)! "At hand" means imminent or nearby, but not an accomplished fact. When Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 16:18, "On this rock I will build [future tense] My church,” the church was still in the future. We read in Mark 9:1: "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power."
Jesus was telling them that the kingdom would be established during the lifetime of some of those to whom he was speaking. Jesus further said, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:18). Jesus was telling them that the kingdom would come with power, and that the power would come when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles.
(Acts 2:1-4 reads, "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Before the Day of Pentecost all scriptural references to the establishment of the church indicate it as a future event (Isaiah 2:2-4; Daniel 2:44; Micah 4:1-2; Matthew 3:1-2; 6:9-10; 16:18; Mark 9:1). After Pentecost the church is spoken of as an established institution (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13-14)"
Members of the Church of Christ believe there are certain steps which must be taken, in obedience to the commands of the New Testament. We believe that these steps bring about salvation and at the same time make one a member of the church.
There are 4 steps:
Faith. The results from hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) and is stated as essential to salvation (Mark 16:16; John 8:24; 20:30-31; Hebrews 11:6).
Repentance. This too, is commanded (Acts 2:38; 3:19). Repentance is a change of mind which causes one to turn away from sinful practices. It is commanded for everyone (Acts 17:30).
Confession. This is an outward confession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10).
Baptism. Baptism is not taught by members of the Church of Christ as a "church ordinance," but as a "command" of Christ. We believe the New Testament teaches baptism to be an act which is essential to salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:28; 22:16).
Following obedience to these commands we believe it is important that the Christian live faithful, because the Bible teaches the possibility of falling from the grace of God. Paul said he had to guard himself, lest after preaching to others he himself should be disqualified (I Corinthians 9:27). He warned the Christians at Corinth to "take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). He told some of the Galatians they had "fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4). The Hebrew writer sounded the warning, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).
One Faith, One Baptism.
There is not in all the religious world another body of people who accept and wear only the name of Christ, who subscribe to the Bible only with the New Testament for its rule of faith and practice rejecting all human creeds and wearing the name of Christ only, who in their worship reject mechanical musical instruments, and sing only, who observe the Lord's Supper each Sunday, and who baptize believers only. Being unable to find another body that teaches and practices as designated, the CHURCH OF CHRIST must exist as a separate body of Christians.
Dallas West Church of Christ
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