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


In a humble attempt to help all believers become ONE in faith and practice in Christ, we offer this lesson. Please consider the below nine areas where the churches of Christ are NOT the only ones.




The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). What Jesus would do if He dwelt among us defines the purpose of the church. First and foremost, Jesus loved the souls of people unconditionally. From that flowed His ministry. He went about doing good, healed the sick, fed the hungry, preached the Gospel, spoke liberating truth, rejoiced (wedding supper) and wept (Lazarus' death). He prayed often and earnestly, but always obedient and submissive to the Father's will (even in Gethsemane). Jesus asked and answered His own question: “Why did I come down from heaven? It was not to do what I want to do, but to do the will of the One who sent me” (John 6:38). He was a perfect blend of being and doing, and models for us the ideal GOAL of the church with all of her variously gifted members.


The first century church was characterized by unflagging enthusiasm for the cause of Christ. They not only had possessions in common, they had a common goal: to share the good news with as many people as possible on a day-in, day-out basis (Acts 2:42; 4:32-35; 8:4). They were single-minded: their actions would indicate that they thought telling people about Jesus was the most important thing in the world.

The actual commands of Jesus are eye-opening and life-directing. He said, "Come," and He would give us rest (Matt. 11:28-30). He said don’t be afraid for He is with us to the end (Matt. 28:20). Thus equipping us, He gave us our marching orders. He said pray, study, submit, sacrifice, love, forgive with all lowliness of mind. He said the greatest among us will be our servants. He said except one becomes as a little child, he'll not be part of His kingdom. And then there's the judgment scene in Matthew 25:25 - "Inasmuch as you've done it to the least of these, etc."


With all authority given to Him by the Father, Jesus said go into all the world and preach the Gospel (His death, burial and resurrection for the sins of the world), baptizing the believers for remission of sins, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded, and I'll be with you all the way (Mark 16:15; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Acts 2:38; Matt. 28:18-20). Everything we do should have the intent that every person will have a chance to know Jesus in the forgiveness of his sins and so enjoy eternity with Him. Christ came to seek and save that which was lost. He is not willing that any be lost (2 Peter 3:9) - and we ought not be either. The aim and culmination of all that's done in the NAME (by the authority) of Jesus must be to RESCUE lost souls. Programs without that mission echo hollowly in eternity's corridors.




The ideal answer to the Lord's Prayer for the unity of believers would be to drop every human division, sectarian creed, name, dogma, etc., and to assemble worldwide as the church, the body of Christ, acknowledging Him as our Lord; commissioned and determined to do His will and His work in the world until His return. And our prayer and teaching, along with His (John 17:20-23), ought always to be that this blessed unity will one day come about.


But while we wait and live in a physically divided world, it is comforting to consider that there is a spiritual dimension to unity that supersedes and makes less important the physical and obvious separation that exists in the here and now. And there may be a great deal more spiritual unity present than this world knows. Our Lord knows the true membership of His church. He knows His sheep by name, and they hear and recognize His voice over the tumult, and they follow Him (John 10:26-27). Wherever we are God reads our hearts, knows our obedient faith, and recognizes us as His children - or else disavows us. This heart-reading ability belongs only to the Lord Himself (Acts 1:24; 15:8).

Thus far it has been humanly impossible to effect the physical unity of believers; even so, it behooves us to make sure we are spiritually united with Christ and the sheep of His fold. The truths illustrated in the parable of the wheat and weeds (read Matt. 13:24-30) seem applicable here. When the servants suggested to the householder that the tares sowed in the wheat fields by an enemy ought to be removed, his answer was to let them grow together until harvest time – they would then be separated and dealt with appropriately.

We would do well to continue to pray earnestly for the unity of believers, but not to waste our substance decrying the divisions among us or trying to force change. That is in the Spirit's realm. His Word will unify and save if the people will hear. The job of a Christian is to get the word to the people so they can have that opportunity to hear (cf. Matt. 7:24-27).


We MUST NOT allow ourselves to become bitter toward each other over the divisions among us (in and out of the church). That is also a serious violation of the Spirit of Christ. The Lord knows where His sheep are, and we recognize His voice. Our steady prayer for the ability to discern between good and evil, to try the spirits to see if they be of God, and not to listen to the voice of a stranger will protect us in a higher unity than physical. The wheat and the tares will grow together. The harvesting belongs to the Lord and we rest in His hands until that time.

Do you remember the old legend of the five blind men from India who were asked to describe an elephant? The one who felt the trunk thought the elephant "very like a snake." The one who examined the ear thought him like a fan. Another felt the leg and pronounced him like a tree. And another felt his side and thought him like a wall. Each statement was true in its own right, but all had to be assimilated to be the truth about the elephant. So it is with the church! In the Scriptures the church is called by different names and described in different ways reflecting different attributes.


Paul admonishes Christians to put on the "whole armor of God," for the church is at war. He also informs who the enemy is; the fight is not against human foes but spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). Ephesians 6 describes exactly the church as army. She is also called the bride of Christ (Rev. 22:17) - exhibiting purity and holiness and submission and obedience. She is called the body of Christ (Col. 1:18) - doing His work in the world until He returns. Her members are differently gifted (1 Cor. 12:4-27) - none superior to another - all necessary for the church to come in the unity of the faith, speaking the truth in love and growing up to the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:7-16).

We are the humble sheep of His pasture, contentedly following Him. In song we are called God's family on our way home. And the hallmark of the church is that we love one another so that the world will know that we are His (John 13:34-35). May God help us to know individually His will for our lives as we await His joyous return.




We beg each of you reading or listening to these words not to take the church lightly. Do not make the divinely instituted, blood-bought church accountable for the questionable actions of her flawed human membership. Christ established the church (Matt. 16:18), invested her with His grace and made her impervious even to the gates of hell. Part of her membership is in heaven and part on the earth (Eph. 3:15). Her earthly components are still being transformed into the likeness of our Lord (2 Cor. 3:18) - some further along than others - but none so far along that they can be held responsible for the validity of the church.


The whole of the church is much more than the sum of her visible parts, and she is not an apt subject for human judgment as to her efficacy. So when someone becomes disillusioned with our poor, inept, flawed human performance, and blames the church and leaves her fellowship, he or she is way off the mark. The church corporate is not on trial except before her Lord from whom she draws her reason to be. We are an imperfect people, but we belong to a perfect Lord whose grace He has promised and given to cover our human frailties (Eph. 2:5, 8).

We desperately need to be part of the church, God's family (Eph. 2:19). If it is hard to live in the world without being part of a human family, it is infinitely harder to live in the world without a spiritual family. God knows we work better and more happily together than by ourselves - His Book says so (search the Scriptures – Acts 17:11). Please do not desert your floundering brothers and sisters because we can't live up to standards you have set. Remember, love covers all sins (Prov. 10:12; cf. Matt. 5:44).


Brethren, if you walk away from the church, you will inevitably choose another body of human beings to fellowship, and you will have exchanged one set of faults for another. Perfection is not to be found on the earth. But the rewards are rich if you can love and forgive, bear and forbear; if you can laugh together and cry together, live and die together in God's precious family. O how we need each other as we wait to go home. The church is the spotless bride of Christ, and what a privilege to be among that glorious, heaven-bound band! By God's design the church is home away from home for His children (cf. Heb. 11:13). Please do not dismiss the church lightly; it cost the dear Savior His life's blood (Acts 20:28).




Dear church, sweet bride of Christ, let's not forget what we're about! We are bought by His blood, and only God and we know who we are, because His spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His by creation and redemption (read Rom. 8:9-17). We are here to do what Christ did while He was in the world, and what He would do if He were here now. The church is His body operative in the world. Our job is to spread the good news of the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God to save man’s soul (Rom. 1:16). It works in the lives of God’s people to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and meet the needs of the helpless.


As we obey the Gospel we illustrate our love for the Father by keeping His commandments and keeping ourselves pure. The Spirit living and growing in us will cause us to love, give, and forgive as freely as Christ loved, gave, and forgave. The Word living and growing in us will lead us to love, encourage, and uplift every soul we meet, especially those of the household of faith. Jesus, the Son, living and growing in us will teach us to walk humbly every day in joyful anticipation of the hour when He will return to claim us as His own and take us home to be with Him forever.

We Are Not the Only Ones


Friends, the churches of Christ are different from every man-made church or religion in the world. Below, with the Lord's help, we will make plain this difference without getting lost in a forest of hermeneutics or sinking our souls in a sea of semantics.


We are not the only ones who respect the Bible as God's Book. It is true that many do not believe the Bible is inspired. They reject the Creation story and the miracles. Some religionists are surprised when pressure is exerted to learn that their own preachers deny the inspiration of the Bible.

2 Peter 1:20-21 – “This is the most important thing you should know: No prophecy of Scripture ever came about by a prophet’s own ideas, because prophecy never came from what man wanted. No, those men spoke from God while they were being influenced by the Holy Spirit.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 – “This is why we continually thank God: When you received God’s message that you heard from us, you accepted it as the true message of God, not a human message. It is working in you believers."

We make no apology for believing that the inspired writers gave us what God intended them to write. We know that the apostles believed that the words they were writing came from God (1 Cor. 14:37). This is one of the basic beliefs of the churches of Christ.


However, there are other groups who DO believe the Bible, so “we are not the only ones.” Evolution and humanism are being opposed by conservative preachers in many denominations. Some are trying to oust the modernists from their theological schools and are leading fights in the creation/evolution battles, so this point alone is not what makes us different.

We are not the only ones who recognize distinctions between the Old Testament and the New Testament. What is that distinction?

A. Jeremiah 31:31-34 - "Behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, declares the LORD, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

God promised a new covenant. The New Testament reveals that it has come: “Though the law was given through Moses, gracious love and truth have come through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

B. Hebrews 8:7-13 (direct quote from Jer. 31:31ff) – “If nothing had been wrong with the first agreement, then there would have been no room for the second agreement. But God found something wrong with the people. He said through Jeremiah: Listen! The Lord God says, ‘the time is coming when I will make a new agreement with the family of Israel and the family of Judah. It will not be like the agreement that I made with their ancestors when I took their hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not continue with my agreement. So I paid no attention to them. This is the new agreement that I will make with the family of Israel in the future. I will put My laws in their minds. I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God. They will be My people. No one will ever teach his neighbor or his brother like this: You must know the lord God! Everyone will already know Me, from the most important person to the least important person. I will show mercy to their wrongs. I will forget about their sins forever.’ When God said, ‘a new agreement,’ He made the first agreement old. What is old and worn out is almost gone” (cf. Heb. 9:15-17).


Romans 15:4 – “Everything that was written long ago was written to teach us. We should learn that we can have hope through the patience and comfort we get from the Scriptures.”

We must still study the Old Testament and learn from its examples (1 Cor. 10:1-11), but we look to Christ in the New Testament for Salvation (Hebrews 5:9).

C. Hebrews 1:1-2 – “Long ago, God used the prophets to speak to our ancestors many times and in many ways; but, during these last times, God used His Son to speak to us. God appointed him to inherit everything. Through him God made the universe.”

Acts 4:12 – “Jesus is the only one who can save people. His authority is the only power given to the world by which we can be saved.”

“We are not the only ones” who understand this. Look at the percentage of other religious groups who meet on the first day of the week rather than the Sabbath day for worship, and who reject animal sacrifices, polygamy, incense, Passover, etc. There are some others who apparently have believed Colossians 2:14 which says, “God wiped away the written code with its strict orders. It was negative; it was against us. He took it out of the way. He nailed it to the cross.”


We are not the only ones who worship without the use of mechanical instruments of music. There is a basic reason why we do not use them. The reason is the complete absence of authority for there use from the Lord (Col. 3:17). Every passage in the New Testament referring to church music identifies it as a-cappella, which is a Latin term meaning, "as in church."


In all the New Testament there are only nine verses that speak about church music:

Matthew 26:30 - After the institution of the Lords Supper, the disciples sang a hymn (song of praise).


Mark 14:26 - Parallel to Matthew 26:30.


Acts 16:25 - Paul and Silas in prison were singing.


Romans 15:9 - Mentions singing.


1 Corinthians 14:15 - The early church was to sing with the Spirit.


Ephesians 5:19 – “Strum (make melody with) your heart and sing to the Lord.”


Colossians 3:16 – “Use all wisdom to teach and warn one another with psalms, songs of praise, and spiritual songs, singing to God with your hearts.”


Hebrews 2:12 - Mentions singing in the midst of the congregation.


James 5:13 – “If one of you is happy, he should sing praises.”

Again, the reason we do not use mechanical instruments of music in our worship is (1) they were not used by the apostles; (2) they were not used by the New Testament church; (3) they were not used by the church for several hundred years after the church was established.

To add mechanical instruments of music to our worship is to presume what God desires, and man has no right to presume what God desires; he simply must humbly obey what God has revealed. The fact that instruments were available but left out of New Testament worship holds significance often overlooked.


Old Testament sacrifices and worship involved outward ceremony that became routine. It ceased to be from the heart. A Jewish child of God was such by birth, not conviction. He had to be taught who God was. Their worship opportunities became chores and duties that they did not put themselves into (Malachi 1:7-14). Worship became a burden to them.


As a Christian, one learns of God and loves Him before becoming His child (see again Jeremiah 31:31ff). His obedience and worship is to be from the heart (Rom. 6:17; John 4:24). His life is a sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2). And instead of some mechanical substitute, the Christian, by singing, gives of himself in worship.


However, “we are not the only ones” who reject the mechanical instrument. Throughout history there have been groups that have realized the importance of worship according to the New Testament design, rather than according to the traditions of men.

We are not the only ones who include in worship the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis. WHY DO WE DO THIS?

Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper and placed it in the church for regular observance “in remembrance” of Him. As a memorial the Lord's Supper has beauty and purpose. It provides an opening to teach small children as they grow up. Paul said in First Corinthians chapter 11 that he delivered to them what he had received of the Lord. He said "as often" as they observed it, they would tell about the Lord’s death until He comes again.


Some say the Lord's supper was not taken on a weekly basis by the New Testament church, but Scriptures reveal that it was.


Acts 20:7 – “On Sunday (the first day of the week), we all met together to eat the supper of the Lord.”


The terminology we use identifies frequency. If I say my birthday is February 18th, you do not ask, "Which February 18th?" February 18th pinpoints it as a yearly event since each year has a February 18th. If your boss were to tell you that you were to be paid on the 1st & 15th, you would not ask "which month?" Each month has a 1st and 15th. Likewise each week has a first day (Sunday), and it was known that the disciples came together on that day to break bread (cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-2).


However, there are other religious groups that observe something which they regard as the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis, so at least, on this point, “we are not the only ones.”

We are not the only ones who teach and practice the matter of baptism as we do. We stress that baptism should be immersion because that's the definition of the original Greek word. The Bible says:

Matthew 3:16 – “After Jesus was immersed, he came up from the water immediately. Suddenly, the sky was opened for him. He saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove.”

Acts 8:36-39 (READ) - This passage shows that baptism is to be by immersion.


Romans 6:3-5 (READ) - This passage shows that baptism is to be by immersion.


Colossians 2:12 – “You were buried with Christ by immersion. You were also raised with Christ through believing in the power of God who raised Christ from death.”

However, “we are not the only ones,” for we know of other religious groups that also teach that baptism is by immersion rather than sprinkling or pouring.


We teach that baptism should be “for the forgiveness of sins” (or the remission of sins) because of passages like:

Acts 2:38 - "For the forgiveness of sins" (the Greek {for} means "in order to receive" – cf. Matt. 26:28)

Mark 16:15-16 – “When you have gone into the whole world, preach the Good News to all mankind. The person who believes it and is immersed will be saved, but the person who doesn’t believe it will be condemned.”


Acts 22:16 – “Rise up, get yourself immersed and get your sins washed away.”


Galatians 3:26-27 – “You were all immersed into Christ. So, you were all clothed with Christ. You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”


1 Peter 3:21 – “Today, this is a picture of how immersion saves us through the raising of Jesus Christ from death.”  

Baptism is essential to salvation, as the Bible clearly demonstrates. . . but there are some other religious groups who teach and practice baptism as essential for salvation, so “we are not the only ones" who at least include it as a command from God that stands between the accountable sinner and salvation.

We will illustrate this matter further, but to save space and time we will do so more rapidly.

We are not the only ones to stress a congregational type of church Government. Christ, not Peter (or the pope), is the head of the church.

Colossians 1:18 – “Christ is the Head of the Body, the people called out by God” (the church).


Ephesians 1:22-23 “God appointed Christ to be the Head over all things among the people called out by God. This community is Christ’s body” (the church).


Philippians 1:1-2 - There Paul addresses all the holy people, including the “elders and deacons,” in Christ.


However, there are many others who do not accept Peter as having been the head of the church. So “we are not the only ones” who follow the kind of government given to us by God in the Scriptures.

We are not the only ones who stress that the Bible makes use of the name "Christian," and terms such as "church of God" and "churches of Christ." These are the Scriptural names:

Acts 11:26 – “In Antioch, God called the followers of Jesus ‘Christians’ for the first time.”


Acts 20:28 - The "church of God" is mentioned.


Romans 16:16 – The "churches of Christ greet you."

However, we must admit that “we are not the only ones” who use these Biblical terms to identify the church.

We are not the only ones that stress the Bible teachings of godliness, holiness, and abstinence from the world.

Titus 2:11-12 – “The gracious love of God has appeared to save all mankind. It trains us to say no to….”


Hebrews 12:14 – “Try to be at peace with everyone. Try to be holy. If you are not holy, you will never see the Lord.”


1 Timothy 4:12 – “Be an example for believers by what you say and how you live, with love, faith, and purity.”


1 Thessalonians 5:22 – “Stay away from every kind of evil – even from what looks like evil.”

But “we are not the only ones” who teach this; and to be honest, we must admit that there may be some who show more dedication to these goals than many of our own!

We are not the only ones that stress the importance of benevolent work and evangelistic work to relieve human suffering as we share the Gospel with the lost.

Galatians 6:10 - "Therefore, when we have the chance to do good to anybody, we should do it, but we should give special attention to those who are within the family of believers."

1 Timothy 5:16 - Exhorts us to help dependent widows.


Acts 8:1-4 - People preached even when they were persecuted.


Mark 16:15-16 - We are to go into the whole world with the Good News.

But we must admit that there are other religious groups who are active in benevolent work. There are many who may be supporting missionaries to preach their doctrines with a greater per capita level of giving than we have. We would not endorse the plan of salvation being taught by all other groups, but we do note that they use evangelism to teach what they do believe. So “we are not the only ones” in this regard.


1) We are not the only ones who respect the Bible as God's Book.

2) We are not the only ones who recognize distinctions between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

3) We are not the only ones who worship without the use of mechanical instruments of music.
4) We are not the only ones who include in worship the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis.
5) We are not the only ones who teach and practice baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.
6) We are not the only ones who believe that the New Testament teaches a congregational type of church Government.
7) We are not the only ones who stress that the Bible makes use of the name "Christian."
8) We are not the only ones who stress that the Bible teaches godliness, holiness, and abstinence from the world.
9) We are not the only ones who stress the importance of benevolent work and evangelistic work to relieve human suffering as the Gospel is shared with the lost.

These nine examples are enough to illustrate the point: We are not the only ones” involved in these key areas of practice identified in the Scriptures.




Is there any sense in which the churches of Christ are different? Is there any sense in which we are truly "the only one?" Even though in each case above there are some other religious groups who teach and practice the same basic things we have studied, there is one big difference:  



Illustration: You may find that church "A" believes in baptism by immersion, but does not baptize for the remission of sins; church "B" may baptize for the remission of sins, but does not worship without adding mechanical instruments of music; church "C" may wear a Scriptural name, but does not take the Lord's Supper each week, and so on.

The man-made churches may have a mixture of one or two of these cardinal matters of faith and practice, but omit the rest. You may find a dozen groups practicing tidbits of truth, but who do you find (beside the churches of Christ) making the plea that we get back to the Bible on all points of doctrine at the same time?

The plea of the restoration movement is: (1) That we be Christians, and Christians only. (2) That we speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent. (3) That we return completely to the New Testament for our authority in all matters of faith and practice. (4) That we speak the Truth in love, and nothing but the Truth (John 17:17; Eph. 4:15; 1 Peter 4:11).


We do not apologize for saying, "We must obey and follow God, not man" (Acts 5:29). Our plea to all is that we all unite under the unity of the Scriptures. When this is done, human traditions will fade into insignificance.

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