Ways for the Church to Grow

This article is written with great care, concern, and compassion for the souls who are looking for God’s people, the church that Christ built. Jesus oversaw the church that He built and bought with His blood (Matt 16:18; Acts 20:28). Where is the church that Christ built?

One may first identify the church of Christ by their love and unity. Jesus instructed his disciples that all people can identify His disciples by their love for one another is as Jesus loves His followers (John 13:34–35). Jesus prayed that the church become one (John 17:20–21). The churches of Christ strive to speak the same thing with no divisions and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Cor 1:10). The churches of Christ strive diligently not to be a denomination since sectarian religious parties are a work of the flesh and those who do such will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (Gal 5:19–21).

The Church is God’s People as God’s House

The church is God’s people and God’s spiritual house (1 Pet 2:5). That is church is described as a house put together perfectly by Jesus Christ. Christ’s Spirit spoke through the apostle Paul to Timothy expressing, “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

God has a house that supports the Truth, the word of God (John 17:17). God’s House is often neglected as one can see when comparing Jesus’s church to many churches in the world today. God’s house is the church of the living God.

Jesus Built God’s House, the Church

The writer of Hebrews wrote about Jesus,

For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house […] but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Heb 3:3, 6)

Jesus is over God’s house. Christ said that He would build His Church as He called it “My church” (Matt. 16:18). Therefore, the church is the church of Christ that Jesus bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28).

The most expensive and greatest institution to ever be established is the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus purchased the house of God. He built the church with Himself as the cornerstone and His Apostles and prophets as the foundation. Christ’s Spirit spoke about the house of God in Ephesians 2:20, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Upon this foundation, Christ said through the Apostle Peter that each Christian is a stone built into the house of God (1 Pet 2:5).

Christ is over the house of God for He has bought with His blood. Therefore as Jesus said, He has all authority (Matt 28:18–20). Jesus designed and built His house. Jesus is sinless and infallible and so are His words (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 1 Pet 2:22). Therefore, no one has the right to modify God’s House, the church, because Jesus built it. Jesus gave His words to His Apostles, so that we know how to conduct ourselves in the House of God (John 15:20; 17:8). Therefore, Christians can maintain today the church as Jesus built.

The Leadership of the Church that Christ Built

The apostle Paul wrote that Timothy and those who he taught would know how to conduct themselves in the House of God, the church of living God (1 Tim 3:15). Paul was speaking specifically about how God organized  house was organized by each congregations being governed by qualified elders and served by qualified deacons (1 Tim. 3). Jesus built His Church to be pastured and overseen by an eldership in each congregation (Acts 20:28–30; 1 Pet 5:1–3). The apostle Paul and his associate Barnabas “appointed elders in every church” (Acts 14:23), and Paul instructed Titus to “set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5).

Paul instructed the elders at Ephesus saying, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to pastor the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Elders are the only church pastors mentioned in the Bible. However, many churches today call their preachers and ministers “pastors” when they not meet the qualifications. Christ gave these pastoring elders a great responsibility to oversee the church. The apostle Peter wrote to church elders telling them to, “Shepherd [pastor] the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Pet 5:2–4).

These elders were to meet specific qualifications and by this they are made overseers by the Holy Spirit (1 Tim 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9). Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:2–7,

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

The apostle also wrote Titus giving qualifications,

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:5–9)

Qualified elders are essential to the House of God. This is by Christ’s design. No one should change what God has put in order. Each person must consider if he or she is in God’s house and a part of His people.

The Church is God’s Temple for Worship

Jesus also built His House as His temple for worship (1 Cor 3:16–17; 2 Cor 6:16). The congregations that make up the House of God worship God whenever they can. However, they also worshiped when they gathered together for the assembly. In the New Testament, the whole congregation gathered together in what was called “the assembly” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 14:23; Heb 10:25). They gathered at other times, but when they gathered for the assembly, they worshiped on the Lord’s Day by partaking of the Lord’s Supper along with prayers, teaching, singing, and giving to the collection. The assembly gathered to praise God and to edify the minds of the congregation,  and to encourage one another for love and good works (1 Cor 14:6; Heb 2:12; 10:24). The writer of Hebrews urged and instructed saying, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Heb 10:24–27).

For the congregation edified one another in the assembly. Paul instructed the order of the assembly “that the church may receive edification” (1 Cor 14:6). For the assembly was to “be done decent and orderly” (1 Cor 14:40). Congregations gathered to worship, to encourage one another, and to be edified in knowledge. In assembly and all times, Christians are to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). The Jesus and His apostles commanded not to worship in vain by the traditions of men (Mark 7:5–13; Col 2:20–23).

In the Christian Scriptures, congregations gathered into the assembly to partake of the Lord’s Supper, a meal established by Jesus, and these Christians were to pray, sing, learn from teaching, and give to the collection (1 Cor 11:20–34; 14:15, 26; 16:1–2). Jesus built the Church, and the order of these things are perfect and complete as  Christ established the church. Others have altered and modified these activities of the assembly adding to the church and taking them away from the House that Jesus built. Jesus revealed about the Lord’s Supper, “I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). What right does a person have to change “the fruit of the vine” in the Lord’s Supper into anything else? Did not Christ make it correct the first time? What right does any person have to change the praise of “the fruit of the lips” into musical instruments and body percussion (Heb 13:15)? Christians keep the simply purity of what Christ made perfect.

The Scriptures also teach that the assembly was on the first day of the week, which is the day when Jesus rose from the dead, met with His disciples, sent His Spirit, and established the church. This is called the Lord’s Day (Luke 24:1ff, Acts 20:7, Rev. 1:10). Luke reported, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). This breaking of bread was the breaking of bread of Christ’s body as seen in 1 Corinthians 10:16.  In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul instructed that the first day of the week was the day for storing up into the church’s collection (16:1–2). John referred to “the Lord’s Day” when Jesus was in the midst of the congregations (Rev 1:10). For when two or three are gathered in Jesus’s name, Jesus is in the midst of them. For this reason, congregations gathered as a whole on the first day every week (Heb 10:24–25).

Encouragement to Enter the Church that Christ Built

These are some essential characteristics of the House of God, and much which is lost among Christianity today. This minister writes this with great concern in heart to encourage everyone to turn the Christ and the church that He built. Many souls do not even know how to enter the House of God. When the church was established, God added the baptized who were saved to the church (Acts 2:41, 47).

Few know that there is only one baptism (Eph 4:4). This one baptism was done in Jesus’s name. For this one baptism was started being commanded by Christ. See, Jesus instructed His Apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). God commanded that believers enter the church through baptism (1 Cor 12:13; Col 1:24). When Jesus rose, he revealed, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Before baptism, one must believe and confess faith in Jesus to be the resurrected Lord (Rom 10:9–10), and they must repent from their wicked deeds (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30).

Baptism partakes of the reality of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of all sins (Col 2:12–13). Salvation comes from rising with Christ (Eph 2:4–6). Paul revealed, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:4–5). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the Gospel (1 Cor 15:1–4). The Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). Baptism is the moment of salvation when God forgives one’s sins and washes them away (Acts 22:16). Peter revealed, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet 4:17). Peter declared, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21; cf. 1:3).

 


See other sources about the churches of Christ by watching this video on their beliefs and practices by clicking this link, “Searching for Truth,” or briefly read specific points of beliefs go to “Who are the Churches of Christ?” Consider this article too, “Are the Churches of Christ the only Ones Saved?

Be aware that there are those with the name “church of Christ” on their sign who do believe the above and have no affiliation with the churches of Christ. These are denominational churches who vary in many doctrines and practices. These claim to be denominations by separate titles like “progressive,” “international,” and “united.” Know that the churches of Christ have been around long before these denominations. Seek the church that Christ built.