The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)

1.  When we refer to God's Only Choice - the church of Christ,
     a.  we are NOT referring to a denomination.
     b.  We are NOT talking about why we are a member
          1.  of one particular denomination as opposed
          2.  to being a member of another particular denomination.
2.  Nor are we talking about being “Church of Christ”
     a.  as opposed to being Catholic or Lutheran or Presbyterian or Baptist.
     b.  When we speak of the church of Christ,
     c.  we simply mean Christ's church.
3.  When we speak of the church of Christ,
     a.  we speak of that very same institution
     b.  that the New Testament refers to as the church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2),
          1.  the household of God (Ephesians 2:19),
          2.  the kingdom of God's dear Son (Colossians 1:13)
          3.  and the body of Christ, which is His church (Col. 1:18, 24).
4.  No discussion of the church of Christ
     a.  and reasons for being a member of that church
     b.  could be conducted without a consideration
     c.  of Christ's divine promise to build His church (Read Matthew 16:13-18).
          1.  Incorporated in this reading are several reasons for being a member
          2.  of that very church that Christ Himself built.

I.  The Church Was Established by Christ

1.  The Bible says, “Every house is built by someone" (Hebrews 3:4).
     a.  Every church in existence today was established by someone,
     b.  somewhere, at some time.
2.  The Lutheran Church was established by Martin Luther
     a.  in 1530 at Augsburg, Germany.
     b.  The Episcopal Church (Church of England)
          1.  was established by King Henry VIII of England in 1535
          2.  when he separated the Catholic Church in England
          3.  from the control of the pope in Rome
          4.  and declared himself the head of the church.
3.  The Presbyterian Church was founded by John Calvin
     a.  in 1535 in Geneva, Switzerland.
     b.  The Baptist Church was established in 1607
     c.  by John Smythe in London, England.
4.  Baptist doctrine and practices were first brought to America in 1637
     a.  by Roger Williams, one of the settlers of the state of Rhode Island.
     b.  The Methodist Church was formed by John Wesley in 1729
     c.  in London, England.
5.  A number of different kinds of Pentecostal Churches
     a.  were formed between 1900 and 1925 in the United States,
     b.  including the Assembly of God Church
     c.  which had its origin in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
6.  Christ's church existed long before these denominations were formed by men.
     a.  People were Christians and members of the church that Christ established
     b.  hundreds of years before these
            1.  and the many other denominations were ever established.
            2.  All denominations (except the Catholic) are less that 500 years old.
7.  But someone says, "I thought a man by the name of Alexander Campbell
     a.  started the church of Christ,
     b.  and that it broke off from the Christian Church."
8.  Alexander Campbell was born in County Antrim, Ireland (now North Ireland),
     a.  on September 12, 1788.
     b.  He migrated to America in 1809, and died in Bethany, Va. (now West Virginia)
     c.  on March 4, 1866.
9.  But in the New Testament, Paul says, "The churches of Christ salute you" (Rom. 16:16).
     a.  This was written around A. D. 60,
     b.  over 1,720 years before Campbell was ever born!
     c. Obviously, Campbell did not establish those churches of Christ.
10. Christ's church was established by Christ Himself
     a.  and did not break off from any existing church,
     b.  but was, in fact, the original church of the New Testament.
11. One of the reasons it is called the church of Christ is because Christ is its founder.
     a.  Christ's church was founded in Jerusalem on the first day of Pentecost
     b.  after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
12. The record of its beginning is in Acts 2.
     a.  On that occasion the Gospel of Christ was preached (vv. 22-36),
     b.  and the people had their consciences pricked
     c.  and asked what to do to be saved (v. 37).
13. They were told in plain and simple terms what to do (READ v. 38),
     a.  and those who gladly received the Word were baptized (v. 41).
     b.  At that point they were saved and added to the church (v. 47).
14. What church were they added to?
     a.  Whose church were they added to?
     b.  Certainly not to any denomination such as Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian,
          1.  Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Catholic, or Assembly for God.
          2.  Why? Because none of those churches existed at that time.
15. The people on the Day of Pentecost were saved
     a.  and added to the very church about which Christ Himself said,
     b.  "I will build" (Matthew 16:18).
16. If people do the same thing today (to be saved)
     a.  that the people did on the Day of Pentecost,
     b.  they will be added to the same church that Christ built (cf. Eph. 3:6).
17. "The seed is the word of God!” (Luke 8:11)
  And this PURE seed will produce the same thing today
     b.  that it produced on the Day of Pentecost - that is, a Christian -
    c.  not a Baptist, Mormon, or Catholic, etc.
18. If the seed produced people whose only church affiliation
     a.  was the church Christ established,
     b.  why will that same seed (Word) not produce people today
     c.  whose only church affiliation is the church that Christ established?

II.  Christ Is Its Foundation

1.  Every church started by man is based on some distinctive doctrine,
     a.  some particular practice, some form of worship,
     b.  or some system of government.
2.  The foundation of the church of Christ is a solid rock, Christ Himself (Matt. 7:24-25).
     a.  Paul wrote, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
                    which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).
     b.  Thus, the ROCK foundation on which Christ established His church
     c.  is not the apostle Peter but the confession Peter made:
              "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16).
3.  If Christ is not the Son of God, there is no basis for the existence of His church.
     a.  Paul said, "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
                    And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain and your faith is also vain"
                        (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).
     b.  But Christ has been raised from the dead and has been
              "declared to be the Son of God with power" (Romans 1:4).
4.  Peter said, in quoting the prophet Isaiah, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone,
                    elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame"
                        (1 Peter 2:6).
5.  Members of Christ's church can be absolutely sure that Christ is the Son of God
     a.  and is the only foundation upon which to build
     b.  an acceptable relationship with God.
          1.  The church is said to be OF Christ
          2.  because He is its ONE and ONLY foundation (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4).

III.  The Church Has a Divine Head

1.  Every church originating with man has someone at its head.
     a.  The Catholic Church has its pope.
     b.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) has its president.
2.  Various protestant denominations have their ruling synods and conventions,
     a.  their conference bishops, and their decision making bodies.
     b.  The church of Christ has as its only head Christ Himself (Eph. 5:23).
                         "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning,
                    the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence"
                            (Colossians 1:18).
                    "And He [God] put all things under His [Christ's] feet, and gave Him [Christ]
                  to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him
                  who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23).
3.  All normal bodies have only one head,
     a.  and the spiritual body of Christ has only one head.
     b.  The body of Christ is the church, and there is only “one body” (Ephesians 4:4).
4.  Christ is not the head of a multiplicity of bodies (denominational churches);
     a.  He is the head of His one body, His church.
     b.  It is called the "church of Christ" because Christ is its head.

IV.  The Church Was Purchased with the Blood of Christ

1.  Many of the denominations were established at a great cost.
     a.  Many people in the early days of the Protestant Reformation
     b.  gave their very lives in order to break away from the corruption
          1.  and tyranny of the medieval Catholic Church.
          2.  Others made great sacrifices in time, talent and study.
2.  On the other hand, some churches have been established by fakes and frauds
     a.  preying on the emotions and finances
     b.  of innocent but biblically untaught people.
3.  The church of Christ was purchased at a great price - the blood of the Son of God!
     a.  To the elders of the church in Ephesus, Paul said,
                         "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the
                       Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God
                       which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28).
     b.  Christ's church is made up only of those people
          1.  who have applied the saving, cleansing blood of Christ to their lives
          2.  by their obedience to the Gospel of Christ.
4.  Peter also taught the people of God
     a.  that they were REDEEMED with the precious blood of Christ (Read 1 Peter 1:18-19).
     b.  Thus, another reason why the church is designated as the church of Christ
         1.  is because Christ purchased it with His blood - it is His church,
         2.  not my church or your church or some other person's church!

V.  After Obeying the Gospel, Christ Added Us to His Church

1.  This is what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2
     a.  when the church was established: "And the Lord added to the church daily
                  those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47; cf. vs. 41).
     b.  In accepting Christ as our Savior,
     c.  we did exactly what those people did on the Day of Pentecost.
2.  We HEARD the Gospel of Christ in its purity and simplicity (Romans 10:17).
     a.  We BELIEVED in Christ as the Son of God
     b.  and CONFESSED our faith in Him (Romans 10:9-10).
     c.  We repented of our sins (Acts 17:30).
     d.  We were baptized for (in order to obtain, not because of)
     e.  the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38).
3.  Because God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34),
     a.  He saved us and added us to His body or church! (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13).
     b.  From that day to this we have never JOINED a denomination.
     c.  We have stayed right where the Lord put us (in His church).
4.  This is getting at the very heart
     a.  of the difference between the churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16)
     b.  and the denominations established by man down through the centuries.
5.  The whole idea of denominationalism
     a.  is that a person can be SAVED from his sins
     b.  and then JOIN the church (denomination) of his choice.
6.  However, according to the Scriptures,
     a.  the same process by which a person is saved
     b.  is the process that makes him a member of the spiritual body of Christ,
     c.  the church (cf. Gal. 3:26-27).
7.  In New Testament times, as we have already noted,
     a.  no different denominations existed for people to join.
     b.  Denominational churches did not originate
     c.  until hundreds of years after Christ's church.
          1.  Yet, Christ's church did exist in New Testament times,
          2.  and all saved people were members of it (Acts 2:47).
8.  No one in New Testament times
     a.  ever thought of himself or herself as a saved person
     b.  but not a member of the church Christ had established.
9.  If it was possible for one to be saved
     a.  and a member of the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13) in the first century
     b.  without being a member of any denomination,
          1.  why is it not possible to be saved
          2.  and a member of Christ's church in this century
          3.  without being a member of any denomination?
10. In the final analysis, we are members of the church of Christ
     a.  because when we complied with what the Scriptures say
     b.  a person must do to be saved,
     c.  the Lord added us to His church.
          1. A wise Christian will be content to stay where the Lord Himself put him
          2.  without presuming to JOIN some religious organization begun by man.

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