12 July 2014

The Fundamental and Essential Truth about The Church of Christ



THE FUNDAMENTAL AND ESSENTIAL TRUTH ABOUT THE CHURCH  OF CHRIST

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This article aims to present some of the fundamental and essential truths about the Church of Christ that the Bible teaches. Through the teachings of God recorded in the Holy Scriptures, we will seek to answer the frequently asked questions about the Church of Christ.


(1)    
What is the “Church of Christ” according to the Bible?

The word “church” was derived from the Greek word “ekklesia,” thus, “Church of Christ” is “Ekklesia tou Christou” in Greek. The following are the biblical explanation of what the “Church of Christ” is:

The Body of Christ

The Church of Christ is the “body of Christ.” This is what Apostle Paul teaches:

“Christ is the head of the church, which is his body.” (Colossians 1:18, New Living Translation)

Since the Church is Christ’s body, If we truly love and value our Lord Jesus Christ, then we should also love and value the Church.

Congregation of the Called out Ones

Etymologically speaking, the term “church” was derived from the Greek word “ekklesia” which is built from the verb kaleo meaning “to call”:

“The Greek term ekklesia is built upon the root of the verb kaleo meaning to ‘call.’ The ekklesia, then is the assembly or congregation called together.
“The Church, therefore, is more than an aggregation – people who choose to come together. It is a congregation – people who have been called together by the the Word of God…” (Shelly, Bruce L. What is the Church? Wheaton, Illinois, USA: Victor Books, 1978, p. p.20.)

The Bible indeed confirmed that the members of Christ’s body, the Church, were “called together in the one body”:

“The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 TEV)

The Religion of the True Christians

The Church of Christ is the Christian religion that the apostles and the true Christians belong:

“If I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion…” (I Timothy 3:15-16, Revised Standard Version)

The Bible explicitly calls rge true Church as the religion of the apostles and the true Christians. Apostle Paul, addressing to the true Christians, said, "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion..."


The Religious Organization Founded by Christ

 The Church of Christ is the organization where the Lord placed the apostles and the Christians:

“Here is a list of some of the parts he has placed in his Church, which is his body: Apostles, Prophets-those who preach God's Word, Teachers, Those who do miracles, Those who have the gift of healing; Those who can help others, Those who can get others to work together, Those who speak in languages they have never learned.” (I Corinthians 12:28, The Living Bible)

The following further proves that the Church of Christ is an organization having many members with different functions:

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:4-5 NKJV)

Thus, the Church of Christ is the “body of Christ,” the congregation of the called out ones, the true Christian religion, and the religious organization where the true Christians belong.


(2)    
Today, there are thousands of churches independent from each other, are all these churches considered the body of Christ?

Not all churches are considered the body of Christ. Apostle Paul clearly stated that there is only “one body”:

“But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” (I Corinthians 12:20, NKJV)

The body referred to by Apostle Paul is the Church which Christ is the head (cf. Col. 1:18). Thus, there is only one body or Church of Christ. What binds the members of the one body of Christ or the Church of Christ? They are one in all things:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:4-5, New King James Version)

According to Apostle Paul, there is one body (the Church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Hence, not all churches are of Christ, and any church that is characterized by sectarianism or denominationalism could never be the one true Church which Christ recognizes as His body. Another solid proof that there is only one Church which Christ recognizes as His body is recorded in the Gospel according to Apostle Matthew. Our Lord Jesus Christ states:

“ ‘And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church…” (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)

Notice the clause “I will build My church.” The word “church,” as far as the entire organization founded by Christ is concerned, denotes singularity. Hence, there is only one Church which our Lord Jesus built or established. Another important point is that the Lord Jesus used the pronoun “My” to show that the one true Church is His or belonging to Him, primarily because it is His body and He Himself established it.


(3)    
Is it true that as long as people believe in Christ, although they belong in different religious organizations, they are members of Christ’s body or the Church of Christ because the body of all professing Christians worldwide is the Church of Christ?

It is not true that true believers in Christ can be found in different churches or religious organizations. Apostle Paul enlightens us on this matter:

“We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.” (Romans 12:4-5, Today’s English Version)

Apostle Paul’s pronouncement is explicit: “we are ONE BODY in union with Christ” [emphasis ours]. What is the characteristic of this one body or Church that has union or fellowship with Christ? Its members, though many, “are all joined to each other.” They are not separated from each other and they do not have divisions, factions, or schisms within them. This is what Apostle Paul said:

“While our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (I Corinthians 12:24-27, New International Version)

God Himself “combined members of the body” or “jpoined them together in one body” for the very reason that “there should be no division in the body.” The New King James version renders the verse as follows:

“But our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” (I Corinthians 12:24-27 NKJV)

Because God combined or joined together the members of the body of Christ, thus true believers of Christ are not members of different churches or religious organizations, but members of only one body.


(4)   
 If there  is only one true Church that Christ founded, why there are thousands of churches today?

The Lord Jesus Christ established only one Church, so the other churches are not established by Christ but established by men:

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.” (Romans 10:2-3 NIV)

Not submitting themselves to God’s righteousness, they “sought to establish their own.” No wonder that today the number of the churches throughout the world reached to more than 20,000 as confirmed by Protestant authorities:

“There are 20,800 denominations in the world, supplemented by more than 15,000 parachurches agencies.” (Moody Monthly. Chicago, Illinois: Moody Bible Insttitute, September, 1984, p. 28)

The prolifiration of churches arose due to denominationalism, sectarianism and schism. On the cause of “divisions” among churches, this is what Protestantant authorities testify:

“Division arose from unfaithfulness to Christ thus marring the body of Christ.” (Ibid.)

Thus, the proliferation of churches today is the fulfillment of what Apostle Paul said in Romans 10:2-3 that, “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.


(5)    
Maybe all churches today are recognized by Christ because they all profess beliefs in Him?

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself declares that not all who calls in His name will be accepted:

“Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!' Then I will say to them, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!” (Matthew 7:21-23 TEV)

Thus, not alll churches are of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself testified that there are those that calls Him “Lord,” and they preached, drove demons and performed many miracles in His name, but they will not be accepted, instead, they will be rejected.


(6)  
 How can we recognize the one true Church amidst many false religions? What is the biblical name of the one true Church which Christ established?

When Apostle James sent a general letter to the brethren in the Church during his time, he made it clear that they were called by the holy name of Christ:

“Do they not insult the holy name of Christ by which you are called?” (James 2:7, Christian Community Bible)

Besides not having divisions, another identifying mark of the one true Church is the name by which it is called: called by “the holy name of Christ.” Thus, any church which is not called by the name of Christ could not be true Church which Christ established and recognizes as His body. Which Church is called by the holy name of Christ? In Acts 20:28, Apostle Paul explicitly teaches:

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.” (Lamsa Trasalation)

“Church of Christ” is the name of the Church which is called by the holy name of Christ. In Filipino as well as in other major languages such as Spanish, French, and German, it is translated “Iglesia ni Cristo,” “Iglesia de Cristo,” “├ęglise du Christ,” and “Kirche Christi,” respectively. It is only proper and just that the one true Church be called after the name of its Head, Founder, and Owner. Hence, “Church of Christ.”

How about those churches not called after the name of Christ or not called by the name “Church of Christ”/ This is what the Bible testifies in Acts 4:12:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
“then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:12 and 10, NIV)


(7)    
There are other churches today that are called “Church of Christ” different from your Church. How sure are you that your Church is the true “Church of Christ” amidst the many churches that also call themselves “Church of Christ”?

Aside from being called by the name “Church of Christ,” the Bible also gave other marks of the true Church. In Revelation 19:10, this is what the Bible says:

“At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10, NIV)

The true Church of Christ holds the “testimony of Jesus.” The name can be copied and that’s what we have seen that today many churches call themselves “Church of Christ.” However, aside from being called in the “Church of Christ,” the true Church of Christ holds the “testimony of Jesus” which according to the Bible is the “spirit of prophecy.” About this, this is what Apostle Peter says:

“We couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard — God's glory, God's voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it's not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word.” (II Peter 1:19-21, The Message)

Apostle Peter said, “The prophetic Word was confirmed to us.” Apostle Peter was referring to the “prophecy of the Scripture” (or prophecy of the Bible) that was confirmed to them. Thus, the true Church of Christ is confirmed by the “prophecy of the Scripture” or the prophecy of the Bible. This is the uniqueness of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) not only from other churches that are also called “Church of Christ,”  but also from the res churches throughout the world. The “election” of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is confirmed by the prophecy of the Scripture.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) that emerged from the Philippines in 1914 is the fulfillment of the biblical prophecy regarding the “sons and daughters of God” from the Far East:

“From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you.” (Isaiah 43:5 Moffatt)

History attests that the Philippines is indeed a country from the the Far East:

“The Philippines were Spain’s share of the first colonizing movement in the Far East.”  (Boak, Arthur E. R., Slosson, Preston, and Anderson, Howard R. World History. Madison United Dtates Armed ForcesInstitute, 1942, p. 445)


CONCLUSION

The Church of Christ is the “body of Christ,” the true Christian religion and the religious oranization that Christ establsihed and where the true Christians belong. This Church is called after the name of Christ (the head, owner, founder and Savior of the true Churh), thus, it is called the “Church of Christ.”

There is only one true Church of Christ, the one that is not only called in the nme “Church of Christ,” but also the one that is confirmed by biblical prophecies.
 
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2 comments:

  1. I love this blog. it's very enlightening and it answers my questions regarding the Iglesia Ni cristo and the Bible.

    thanks a lot and God Bless

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks sister Amanda. Please continue supporting this blog.

    God bless also

    ReplyDelete

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