Ten Clear Characteristics of the Church of Christ

1. Faith: The church of Christ believes and trusts in the one God. God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are all one God, and are not created since God is eternal (Gen 1:26; 3:22; Matt 28:19; Luke 3:22; Acts 10:37–38; Rom 8:9–11; 9:5). God is the Head of Christ (1 Cor 11:3). Christ is God in the bodily form (John 1:1, 14; Col 2:9), and the Spirit is the Spirit of the whole of God (1 Cor 2:10–11). From the beginning, the Word was God who came in the flesh and dwelt among mankind (Isa 9:6; 48:16; John 1:1, 14; Phil 2:5–8; Col 1:15–20). As Christ affirmed the Creation account in Genesis, God created the world in six literal days (Exo 20:11; Mark 10:6–8). Jesus is the Christ who was born of a virgin and who God’s prophets predicted to come centuries before His birth (Psa 2; 22; 110; Isa 7:14; 9:6–7, 11; 48:16; 52:13–53:12). God sent Jesus who is His express image. Being tempted in all ways, Jesus did not sin and yet died (Phil 2:5–11; Heb 2:14–18; 4:14–15; 1 Pet 2:22). Therefore, Jesus did not earn death or condemnation in Hell,Jacksonville-Church-of-Christ and yet He destroyed the power of death by being raised from the dead (Rom 6:8–10; Heb 2:14). Jesus “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). In the end, Christ will be the Judge, and He will judge the nations giving the righteous eternal life in His heavenly paradise and sentencing others to eternal punishment (Matt 25:31–46; Rev 20:11–15). Therefore, the saving Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1–4).

2. Love: Christ’s church truly loves God and one another. Christ’s disciples are known by their love for one another (John 13:35; 14:21–24; 1 John 3:10, 16; 5:1–3). Their love for God includes their love for one another in which they observe all that Christ has commanded (John 14:23–24, 1 John 5:2–3, cf. Matt 28:20). The church loves one another so much that they follow Jesus’s pattern and lay down their lives for one another for there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another (John 15:13; Rom 5:8; 1 John 3:16–17). The church practices true religion in the care of true widows and orphans (1 Tim 5:3-10; Jas 1:27). They give freely without having to follow the obsolete command to tithe (2 Cor 9:6–15; cf. Acts 2:44–45; 4:32–35). They love their neighbors as oneself, and do to others as each would have others do to them (Luke 6:31; 10:27). The church of Christ opposes the abuse and murdering of the innocent, and this includes the cruel dismemberment of unborn babies (Prov 6:17).

3. Truth: The church in Christ believes that the words of Jesus Christ are infallible truth (John 14:6; 17:17). The church of Christ has no creed, but Christ and His words. Because Jesus is perfectly sinless, His words and those of the Holy Spirit are without deceit — inerrant and perfect (Isa 53:9; John 6:63; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22). Jesus gave His infallible words to His apostles and prophets (John 15:20; 17:8; 1 Cor 2:13; Gal 1:11–12). Christ’s apostles and prophets wrote a record of the New Testament, which is the Christian Scriptures. They wrote through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The first churches collected these Scriptures under the oversight of the Apostles (John 16:7–13; 1 Cor 14:37; Eph 3:3–5; 2 Pet 1:16–21; 1 John 1:1–4). The church of Christ knows that these Scriptures can make one complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16–17). The church does not add or take away from God’s Word (Gal 3:1; 2 John 9; Rev 22:18–19). While Jesus’s words are spirit and life, the Law of Moses and the commandments written on stone brought death and are now obsolete (2 Cor 3:7; Heb 8:13).

4. Grace: The church of Jesus Christ stands by the Gospel — the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1–4). Christians consist of believers who God saved by grace raising them with Christ after they have died with Christ to one’s sins and have been buried with Christ in baptism (Rom 6:3–7; Eph 2:4–6; Col 2:12–13). There is one baptism that is in Jesus’s name and is an immersion in water (Eph 4:5; cf. Acts 10:47–48). The one baptism is for those who believe, confess faith, and repent in dying to one’s sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom 10:9–10). This baptism is for the forgiveness of sins by which the Lord adds the saved to the church. These are born again through Christ’s resurrection (John 3:5; Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 22:16; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3; 3:21). Through baptism, one is born of the water and the Spirit having been washed in Jesus’s name. At baptism, the Spirit sanctifies and justifies the believer (1 Cor 6:11). The saved walk in the newness of life and continue in the faith (Rom 6:4; Col 1:22; Rev 2:10). God predestined those who love Him, and those believers must make their election sure (Rom 8:28–30; Eph 1:3–6, 11–14; 2 Pet 1:10).

5. Leadership: Christ’s church maintains the name of Christ in identity, because Christ is the Head of the Church, which is His body (Rom 12:4–5; Eph 1:22–23; Col 1:18). Being the Head, Christ built the church and bought it with His blood (Matt 16:18; Acts 20:28). The church of Christ bears His name as His bride (Acts 20:28; Rom 16:16; Eph 5:22–34; Rev 21:9). Christ is the chief Pastor of His church (1 Pet 5:4). Christ’s Spirit established that two or more elders are to manage each congregation and lead by example (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Tim 3:1–7; 4:14; Titus 1:6–9; 1 Pet 5:1–4). There is no mention in the inerrant and complete Scriptures of archbishops, reverend fathers, church priests, presidents, senior pastors, popes, and the like, and the Scriptures exclude such man-made traditions for adding or taking from God’s Word. These elders are married to one woman, have faithful children, and meet other specific characteristics (1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9). With Christ being the Head, Jesus established the man as the head of the wife (1 Cor 11:3, 8–9; Eph 5:22–24). God’s Spirit instructs women to subordinate to their believing husbands. Husbands are to love their wives by nourishing and cherishing their wives giving their lives for them (Eph 5:25, 28–29, 33; cf. John 15:13; 1 John 3:16). Women are not to teach or rule over men, because God gave men this leading role for God created man first (1 Tim 2:11–15). However, unlike men, women are the glory of man who have a great influence upon men by their example (1 Cor 11:7; cf. 1 Pet 3:1–7). Men and women are both one in Christ and share in the same eternal inheritance (Gal 3:28; 1 Pet 3:7).

6. Communion: The church of Jesus Christ assembles every first day of the week to commune with Christ in the Lord’s Supper. The church maintains the traditions of God just as delivered (1 Cor 11:2). The congregation partakes of the Lord’s Supper when gathered together as the whole congregation in the assembly (1 Cor 10:16; 11:17–34; 14:23). The assembly meets every first day of the week, which is the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:20, 33; cf. 1 Cor 16:1–2; Rev 1:10, 13, 20). Churches of Christ follow the example of Christ by blessing and breaking bread representing Christ’s sacrificial body, and next, they bless and partake of the cup of the fruit of the vine representing Jesus’s sacrificial blood (1 Cor 10:16; 11:17–34; cf. Matt 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:19–22).

7. Worship: The church of Christ consists of true worshipers worshiping God in spirit and truth. These believers worship with their spirit and mind according to the Truth — the Word of God (John 4:23–24; 17:17; 1 Cor 14:15). Jesus revealed that true worshipers do not worship as David brought the physical worship into Jerusalem (John 4:21). The church is God’s temple in which His followers are priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God, which are their praises, good works, and sharing (Heb 13:15–16; 1 Pet 2:5). Christians are not to forsake the assembly, but seek to come together to worship, edify, and stir one another to love and good works (1 Cor 14:26; Heb 2:12; 10:24). All who speak, sing, and pray in the assembly must do so by understandable and meaningful words and not with unintelligible sounds and soulless instruments (1 Cor 14:7–19). The congregation sings among themselves with one voice in thanksgiving to God and to teach one another (Rom 15:5–6; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). Christians are diligent not to worship for show or for display of talents (Matt 6:1–8; 23:4–6; Mark 12:38–40; Rom 12:3–8).

8. Unity: The church of Christ is one united body without sects and denominations. Jesus said that He came to build His church and not many churches (Matt 16:18). Christ declared that there is “one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). Jesus bought His church with His blood (Acts 20:28), and His church is God’s special people who are the saved (1 Pet 2:5). No one has the right to alter Christ’s church. The church is a part of God’s eternal purpose, and it is the kingdom and nation of Christ on earth (John 18:36; Eph 3:10–11; Col 1:13; Heb 12:28; 1 Pet 2:9). Christ prayed that His believers become one (John 17:20–21). The church can unite in the same mind and the same judgment without divisions (1 Cor 1:10–13). Christ’s church opposes denominations, because those who practice divisions and sects cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven (Gal 5:19–21). Therefore, the church of Christ is diligent to avoid and withdraw from false teachers and those openly practicing sin (Acts 20:28–29; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5; 2 Thess 3:6, 14; 2 Tim 4:3–4; Titus 3:10).

9. Family: The church of Jesus Christ maintains God’s institution of marriage, which is the foundation of the family. According to the words of Jesus Christ, God established marriage to consist of one man and one woman from the beginning (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4–6; Mark 10:6–9; 1 Cor 7:2; Eph 5:31). A husband and wife are to love and respect one another (Eph 5:28–33; Titus 2:3–5; 1 Pet 3:7). Father and mother figures are essential roles for the basis of the home (Eph 6:1–4). Therefore, all must honor marriage (Heb 13:4). Furthermore, all extra-marital sexual relations disregard God’s institution of marriage and are sexually immoral (Heb 13:4). The church of Christ recognizes that those who practice sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God and will suffer the punishment of eternal fire (1 Cor 6:9–10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5; Col 3:5–6; Jude 7; Rev 21:8). Jesus defined adultery to include marriages where one has divorced and married another. The one exception for remarriage is when the other spouse has committed fornication, which is extramarital sex (Matt 5:32; 19:6, 9; Mark 10:11–12; Luke 16:18). God commands that someone can only marry another when that marriage is not adultery (Matt 19:9; Mark 10:11–12; Rom 7:3; 1 Cor 7:39). Churches of Christ maintain that the separation of spouses is sometimes necessary for reasons other than fornication or adultery; although, God commands those separated to not marry another and they can only return to each other and should return to one another (1 Cor 7:2, 5, 10–15). In summary, marriage is one man and one woman for one life with one exception.

10. Message: Christ’s church is diligent to proclaim the Gospel message and make disciples of all the nations. Christ commanded His apostles to make disciples teaching them to observe all things that He had commended them including that very command to make disciples and to teach them all things (Matt 28:20). This is the perpetual instruction to evangelize as seen throughout the Scriptures. From Stephen and Philip to Priscilla and Aquila, Christians proclaimed the Gospel throughout the nations of the world (Acts 8:4). Christians confess Christ before humanity (Matt 10:32–33). The church does not proselyte through traditions and creeds but evangelizes through the Gospel. The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to teach others and to train others, which is perpetually for all faithful Christians (2 Tim 2:2). Christ’s church is obedient to Christ’s words, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt 12:30; cf. 1 Cor 3:6–8). God desires to save everyone, and He wants all to repent (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). By their love for Jesus, the church proclaims the praises of God (1 Pet 2:9; cf. 2 Cor 5:14–21).

Christs-Church-Jax-FL

About Scott J. Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christian, Church of Christ and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Ten Clear Characteristics of the Church of Christ

  1. Pingback: What is the Difference between an Evangelical and a Christian? | Seeing God's Breath

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